2 min read

House of Cards: Design Edition

Not the Netflix only series, though that’s deserving of its own attention in a number of ways.

No,  I’m referring to the number of design cards around. There have been a couple pop up recently online, but there are also some older ones worth mentioning in general.

Design Taxi have written about some cool CMYK playing cards are cool, but I think they’d be even better if they were on transparent plastic, thus allowing you to simulate screenprinting overlays. There’s a Kickstarter idea there…

…just like one project that’s got well over their needed push for funding, Intuitive Design Cards. I have to admit that I’m not overly keen on the language, as “A synthesis of Design, Tarot and Gestalt Psychology” sounds like it could have come straight from The Arty Bollocks Generator. Still, if they are based on ‘a year’s worth of research’ as they say they are, they could be interesting.

At least The Ultimate Deck are unashamedly art card decks just for recreational purposes.

Some other ones worth mentioning are:

  • Stephen Anderson’s Mental Notes are still in my opinion the most beautifully designed card set to date. Of course, the notes about various cognitive issues relating to interfaces is useful too.
  • The Fabrique Insights cards attempt to provide some guidelines for designing websites.
  • I’ve already written about how impressed I was with Cards Against Humanity’s infographics, but their actual cards are also wonderfully subversive.
  • Dan Lockton’s Design With Intent cards (part of his doctoral research on the topic, I believe) are meant as prompts for considering interactions, mainly in an urban/architectural context. Available for free download under CC or for order as physical cards.
  • I have to admit I haven’t used them, but I’ve been intrigued with Eva Hornecker’s cards made for interrogating her tangible interaction framework, and could be increasingly useful as tangible interaction becomes the norm. Available for free download.
  • I bought a paid download of Nathan Shedroff’s Experience Design Cards (based on the  book of the same name) a few years ago. Apparently there’s to be a (welcomed) new version of both the cards and the book, but no dates as of yet. I’d be interested in the new cards as I feel that the current ones are let down by very much having that late 90s aesthetic [PDF].
  • The SILK Method Deck are an interesting range of methods and prompts, separated into the categories Plan, Communicate, Workshop, Insight, and Design.  Available for free download under CC or for order as physical cards. ( Mike Press, see also his blog post on them)
  • And arguably the design cards that began them all, the IDEO Method Cards. The actual card set will put you back a cool $US50 (though thanks to the changing values of the USD, this isn’t as killing as it was in 2001), though thankfully there is now an iPhone app that includes 4 cards for free only costs $US5 for the full set.
  • And an honorary mention to the (non-design but still influential) Oblique Strategies card set by Brian Eno. They were designed to give musicians a way out of creative blocks and so include interesting but specifically music-related terms. Several versions exist.

Any other memorable design card sets worth mentioning? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

EDIT: I came across a set of critical theory playing cards, and the comment that a critical thinker could see them as being an ultimate triumph of the spectacle as per Guy Debord.