Episode 48: Designing Harmony into Law with Derek Lomas

Derek Lomas.

Harmony can be considered as a universal goal in life. We want to find our yin and yang whether it was about our health, wealth or work, and live in connection with other people and nature.

Harmony plays an important role also in design. We want our everyday things to be fit for purpose, user-friendly and aesthetically appealing. The same goes also when designing legal services, products and information. However, although the desire for harmony is something that we all humans seem to naturally share, there are some misunderstandings related to the concept that may distract the use of harmony as a guiding principle in design. Contrary to the common belief, harmony is not about sameness or lack of controversy. As we learn in this episode, it is quite the opposite. True harmony can only be found by accepting chaos, conflicts and diversity as part of the design process. 

In this episode we meet Derek Lomas, assistant professor of “Positive AI” at the department of Industrial Design at the Delft University of Technology. Together with Haian Xue Derek has researched how the universal philosophy of harmony has manifested through time in music, physics and cultural traditions, and how to use that knowledge in design. We discuss how harmony can also translate into the fulfillment of justice, and how to strategically design such harmonious legal solutions. We also hear what the new King of United Kingdom, Charles III, has said about the natural relationship of harmony and the law. 

Derek Lomas is an assistant professor of “Positive AI” at the department of Industrial Design at the Delft University of Technology. In 2014, his PhD thesis described the optimization of learning and enjoyment in education games using online experiments and artificial intelligence. As a member of the Delft Institute for Positive Design, he designs AI systems to support positive human experiences: for instance, to enhance wellbeing, beauty, and education. Originally from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, he now lives in Amsterdam with my wife and three children.
Prior to TU Delft, Derek was a postdoctoral Design Fellow in the Design Lab at UC San Diego, mentored by Don Norman. He received his PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science. Derek received an MFA in Visual Art from UC San Diego and a BA in Cognitive Science at Yale University.

Derek’s article can be read here