Stories from SXSW: Finding the Harmony Between Music and Interaction Design

BY Lauren Knapp  March 16, 2011 at 6:46 PM EDT

SXSW’s 2011 Interactive Festival was buzzing with pitches for new ideas, products, online tools and start-ups. New apps were a dime a dozen at the trade show, and QR Codes (the little smart phone-scannable bar codes that are popping up on billboards and in magazines) abounded. Cennyd Bowles and James Box, two presenters from Brighton, England, decided to re-evaluate their work in interactive design by way of a metaphor that taps the festival’s 25-year-old roots: music.

Rhythm, repetition, harmony, dissonance — these are all musical concepts that are also applicable to user experience design and have an impact on consumers. Citing the infamous riot that took place when composer Stravinsky debuted his “Rite of Spring,” Box and Bowles note that defying a user’s expectations of the experience they are going to have — like redesigning a commonly used website like Facebook — is bound to produce strong reactions (angry comments, perhaps, rather than riots).

Art Beat talks to Cennydd Bowles and James Box about User Experience Design and music: