Designing for Solitude

Session Title

Designing for Solitude


Ben Fullerton, IDEO

Session Type: Presentation

We live in a world where our ability to be connected and constantly available has changed in a remarkably short period of time, with profound effects on our behaviour. As designers, we are often asked to reflect this always-on state in the products, software and services we help to create.

Because of this, finding solitude – our ability to switch off and contemplate – is becoming more difficult. What are the affects of this on us and our relationships with each other? Is it important for our creativity to detach ourselves from the world around us? And what might the products and services we design for an off state look like?


Ben is an interaction designer with an interest in exploring the implications of the increasing influence of design and technology on our lives. He currently works at IDEO in the Bay Area, having previously spent time at Twitter. Before moving to California, Ben worked in London at Samsung’s European design studio, pioneering service design and innovation consultancy live|work, and digital full service agency Oyster Partners (now LBi) during the early years of the web.

Ben has produced work for clients including Orange, the BBC, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Vodafone, Samsung, Twitter, T-Mobile, the V&A Museum, the Rothschild Foundation, Boots, the Design Council, Qwest, BAA, the US Government, and Macmillan Cancer Research. He has written for the ACM’s “Interactions” magazine, has been a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Arts, the UC Berkeley iSchool and NYU’s ITP, and has spoken at Design Engaged and SXSW Interactive.

He holds a BA in Contemporary Literature and an MA from the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King’s College London, where he explored the development of technology within the context of the academic study and experience of material culture. Projects that Ben has worked on have been nominated for a BAFTA and won a Spark Award, among others.