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MFA Embedded Design

Francesco Chiarini

Exploding (Dys)functions


In my master course I had the chance to take the perspective of a courier in a delivery service company in Gothenburg, dealing with ‘quick-commerce’: the new growing field of e-commerce where deliveries are carried out faster and within a shorter range.In this field, I explored the dynamics and let challenges emerge to see where design can contribute. Technology, with automation and artificial intelligence is the medium that allows these new organizations to thrive.

By applying research methods of ethnography I came across the socio-technical challenges related to gig-economy. The findings, points to the design of the whole interface in use by couriers, from the digital app to supporting structures and the gear: in these layers of interactions, the exertion of technocratic power and the social conditions entangled are less perceived by the end users: couriers, customers, vendors. At the same time unquestioned design practices are supporting this proliferation of quick-commerce firms in this ever-faster business, in where no specific design has been put in place for couriers. The current design is a manifestation of the conditions of gig-workers.

To materialize my project, I’ll draw on critical and speculative design as an approach to create a vehicle interface for couriers contextualized in a future or parallel world. Here, different organizational and labour market conditions, foresees the couriers as the user at center of design and not just a value to be exploited in outsourcing. This interface would make use of multiple screens, buttons and levers instead of smartphones and would provide relevant informations to carry out the tasks as well bringing to the surface the intrinsic tensions.

This project aims at raising questions about the design and use of technology a means of control to shape society in which the designer role can be either as an agent of change or as supporter of an ever-faster business.