• A New Language for Movement

    Last week Adaptive Path brought together designers from IDEO, Adaptive Path, IDEO.org, Rackspace, Granular, Capital One, Samsung, SAP Labs, Narrative, TechSoup, and Chase for what was probably the weirdest workshop we’ve ever done: Laban Movement for Design. The workshop is based on the work of Rudolf Laban, who’s known as ‘the father of modern dance’, and explored the effort category of his movement framework, Laban Movement Analysis. The Laban Design Framework consists of three binary switches that he called analyses: space, weight, and time. Different combinations of these three binaries produce archetypal efforts.

    Composition of an Effort

    I developed the workshop at Involution Studios in late 2012 with Erik Dahl and Rachel Mock for Interaction13 in Toronto. The workshop evolves from physically acting out each binary, experimenting with various combinations of the binaries to create efforts, and then actually using the efforts in something that resembles a really really weird bodystorming exercise. The value comes from the physical exploration of a framework–you really learn a lot just from taking an abstract thing and making it real with your body, and in doing so, it becomes very clear that the relationship between our cognition (especially from an emotional perspective) and our physicality is a two-way relationship.

    Eight efforts

    The workshop is hard to explain, but it looks exactly like this:

    After the workshop, we got some really great feedback on potential applications of the framework, such as gestural input, observational research, developing video personas, service design, interface design, and more. The most common feedback was around the re-framing of the fundamental understanding of movement:

    As I walked down the sidewalk, it was as though there were a new UI inside my brain–like ‘virtual reality’, except it was just ‘reality’–and the meters in the heads-up display had labels of weight, space, and time.
    Then I started messing with the dials, and it was kind of crazy exploring that 2x2x2 while passing as a passerby. (I also realized that my default walk-to-work gait is strong, direct, and sustained, though kicks into sudden within two blocks of Market Street.)

    If you’re interested in bringing the workshop to your studio, email me at scott@adaptivepath.com

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