Experiences with stigmergic prototyping

Experiences with stigmergic prototyping 

Dejonghe W. ; Detand J. ; De Couvreur L.

Industrial Design Center, HOWEST - University College of West-Flanders,

Associated member of University Ghent.



Designing is an activity that aims to change reality. The most challenging design assignments are wicked: the problem cannot be defined until the solution is found. Stigmergic prototyping is a method for handling wicked aspects in the development of new products, tools and services since it takes into account that not only will happen what was intended by the designers of the prototype but also something different that will emerge (express itself, organise itself) in the chosen context, embodied by the spontaneous behaviour of the interacting agents. The prototype will even make the unpredictable observable, because in the process of mutually adapting states it lets happen also something different of what was expected. The prototype is the changing mediator in the interaction, it is designed using time as a design aspect: as a changing trace of interactions. To achieve this, four mutually exclusive attitudes are distinguished giving rise to the adaptive loop of product development instead of the more traditional waterfall method. Examples are given that this method always results in solutions and exploitations. Moreover, these results could not be expected from the start.


Industrial Design, Stigmergy, Prototyping, Cybernetics, Co-Construction





Slides of the talk



Short biography of the team members

Lieven De Couvreur: (°1980) has a Master degree in design engineering. After his graduation he worked several years as a professional designer in the front-end of innovation and has build up a practical experience on participatory design and systematic innovation. Today Lieven is active at the Industrial Design Center as a research assistant. On the one hand he organizes design practicums and on the other hand he started a PhD on ability-centered design in cooperation with the TuDelft Medesign group. His research focuses on the role of open-design assistive devices within community-based rehabilitation contexts.

Jan Detand: (°1963) has a PhD and Master degree in mechanical engineering. He lectures in the domain of technological product development and production systems at undergraduate and postgraduate level (IDC Howest). Moreover, Jan is coordinator of the IDC research group. His research focuses on changing configuration and behaviour of flexible production systems and the role of prototyping in product development.

Walter Dejonghe: (°1952) has Master degrees in chemical engineering and general product development. He has a broad experience in the development of high quality products with an essential user interface and has worked in the industry during 25 years on a management level with high- and low-tech companies in an intercultural environment. He now lectures in design methodology and ergonomics at the undergraduate and postgraduate level (IDC Howest) realizing a synergy between academic research and industry. He conducts novel research on a non-deterministic and dynamic approach for designing products realizing different potentials in different contexts, opening a new road for the development of more sustainable systems and providing a formalism to handle the context dependence of truth. contact: walter.dejonghe@howest.be