There is a really interesting Wired article in the newest issue about digital design (and really a lot about UX design) and technology as it becomes embedded in the world around us.
I worry a bit that the writer glosses too quickly over how current designers handle work, which I think diminishes the intense effort put into our work, “they know down to the pixel where to place a button, how fast a screen should scroll, and how to make an app simple without making it simplistic,” as if designing simplicity has been “solved”, but in general I really think the article presents a good look at where experience design and product design are heading.
One point I really agree with, and think UX designers are concerned with but can focus even more on moving forward is “as designers move off of screens and into the larger world, they’ll need to consider every nuance of our everyday activity and understand human behavior every bit as well as novelists or filmmakers.”
Film makers have a term “mise en scene” or ‘everything that appears before the camera and its arrangement.’ (wikipedia) Mise en scene is about making a film as believable and close to reality as possible. The focus is of course about the set and costumes, but it is so much more when you consider lighting, space, composition, make-up and hair, acting, film stock, and even the aspect ratio.
In the same way product designers must of course focus on the interaction with the on screen elements, but as a profession we must be concerned with the whole picture. That picture includes so much more than just visual design and even interaction design and the screens themselves. The users environment, device, state of mind, context of use, and all other experiential qualities they are immersed in as they interact with a product (even those on a screen today and not yet embedded in our world) should be understood as a designer does their work. Every single detail and decision made through the product design process should be considered with a purpose driven by all those experiential qualities.