Defuse 2018

Tobias Michaely


November 7th saw Defuse 2018 on in Dublin and Graphic Mint was proud to be the main partner for the event. The night was also an occasion to mark ten years of Defuse and Graphic Mint. 12 speakers in total gave 12 explosive talks through 20 slides, with 15 seconds per slide. The speakers discussed a broad range of topics like Augmented Reality (AR), Content Creation, Learner Experience Design, storytelling through senses and how to be a rebel in Design. Three talks, in particular, stood out for us.

Defuse Logo on background theme

Can the future of Augmented Reality be ‘Calm’?

Conor Bergin is a recent graduate of the MA Interaction Design in National College of Art & Design (NCAD). His presentation “Can the future of Augmented Reality be ‘Calm’?” scratched the surface of how a ‘Calm’ AR platform should be designed and used.

With the rise of AR, we have been shown various interfaces that flood the user with stimuli and are not goal-oriented. Instead, Conor showed interface concepts that are ‘calm’ and support the user with their daily problems and simplify them. As an example of a calm AR interface, Conor showed us a situation where the AR Interface could read out our Leap Card information (such as card balance) on command.

In the end, we were introduced to the concept of a virtual stick with which such an interface can be used more easily. Instead of the two-dimensional interactions of a  touchscreen, you have the possibility to operate the interface three-dimensionally with AR technology. This makes it easier to choose which interaction point we want to serve.

Conor presenting his topic about calm augmented reality

Designing for Death

Rachel Marsden is a recent graduate from the MFA Design course in NCAD. She focuses on Human-Centered Design and her work is influenced by her background in History of Art, French and Textile Design. Her 2018 graduate project “Death Wishes” was selected as a case study for the United Nations “Communications for Development” course in Turin.

Rachel told us that there is a taboo about discussing death in our society which has lead to environmental, economic and spatial issues. She informed us in 20 years time all of the cemeteries in London will be full, which will raise the price of burial plots and increase funeral poverty. The alternatives to burial have their own issues as well. Every single cremation uses the equivalent of a month’s domestic energy use.

“Do we really want our last act on earth to be something that damages it further?”

While doing her research on how much people know about death, and if they are planning ahead, Rachel hosted co-creation sessions. These sessions led to the creation of a set of cards which drummed up a lot of interest. These cards listed different types of funerals and their impact. They later on, evolved into a game called “Death Wishes”. It aims to create a conversation about death and encourage you to reflect, discuss and make the essential decision about the send-off you desire.

Rachel presenting her topic about design for death

Designing Happiness

The last speaker of the night was Hugo Welke, a Product Designer working for HubSpot.

Hugo began his talk with the question ‘Are you happy?’. He said that when he usually asks people this question they either reply ‘Yes’, ’No’ or ‘What the heck? Why are you asking me that question?’. When someone tells him ‘No’ he instantly feels useless and thinks of what can he do?

He asked the question ‘What can we do to make people happy?’. There are three steps that are incorporated into a design that answers this:

  • anticipation
  • interaction
  • afterglow

Hugo discussed companies such as Disney and Uber as examples that incorporate these steps. With Uber, ordering your car creates anticipation because you can see it is only 4 minutes away and driving down the road. It creates interaction because you can rate and tip your driver. The afterglow is how the cash interaction disappears so you remember your experience, not the money you spent.

He asks that as designers we should put happiness before everything else in our designs: ‘don’t settle on usability, look at happiness’. This talk was overall very impressive and something that we should consider as designers is to bring joy and make people smile with our designs.

Hugo presenting his topic about designing happiness

Defuse 2018

Each speaker had a unique way of presenting their thoughts at Defuse 2018. Some of the speakers used constant memes while others used only their voice. There was even a competition for the night – to redesign an everyday object into its most useless form. The winner was the ‘Waterproof Teabag’.

Defuse 2018 was definitely one to remember, and it keeps getting better every year. Roll on another 10 years! And we hope to see you at next years event.