“Folk Interfaces” by Maggie Appleton is a fascinating summary of an aspect of design that is actually somewhat related to my interest in “non-use” as a gradient: the “other-use”, so to say…
Folk interfaces are when users reappropriate existing software to solve their own problems. Rather than using applications in the ways designers and developers intended, they creatively reconfigure them to do unexpected things.
From browsers to spreadsheets, the author eventually references Papanek’s “designing for the real world” and the Japanese concept of “mingei” (cherishing everyday items created by nameless craftsmen”).
This – users appropriating products for their own use – is hands-down the most fascinating aspect of qualitative design research. And it’s also something that may drive a certain type of designers into desperation. But really it should be a source of inspiration: it does not matter if users “abuse” our creations, but we can learn so much from how they are doing that!