During this semester, I chose to do several SDL activities to compliment my development throughout the modules and the project. I followed workshops, provided some small electronics labor to a company in exchange for the experience, presented at the Dutch Design Week, and emerged myself in a completely different culture and context in Shanghai
The workshop helped me gain insights on what it means to design for the public space. It is hard to design for a context when you don't know what you're users are going to be. I feel like I can involve users in more steps of my own design process. By emerging myself in different cultures, I can get design insights through first person experiences. If it comes to presenting my work outside of the context of the study, I have some experience now with involving different professional parties and fellow designers, as well as how the presenting can be a design process in itself
Workshop Designing for the Public Space
During this semester, I made an effort to broaden my experience and knowledge of designing for the public space domain. I followed a workshop from the Brabant Academy platform, which focused on the redevelopment of the Strijp T area in Eindhoven. Even though I was one of the few parties that had no knowledge of the area, it was interesting to see how my mindset as a designer could be of use in workshops like this by providing fresh perspectives. The workshop was led by a design company that developed the new line of furniture for the NS stations in the Netherlands. While I appreciated their final design, there was some distance between it and the wants of the users. Their design process only involved users in its initial phase: afterwards, design decisions were based on assumptions instead of a cooperation with the end users. Only at the end was a pilot run, but never were the users approached during the design process itself.
The initial exploration was so beautiful in how users were asked to tell what the station and traveling means to them. I feel like this really grounded the base of the design in an appropriate societal and cultural context, but in my mind they failed to take this beautiful approach through to the conceptualization process. Perhaps it is hard, because of the ever changing nature of the public space domain. It is through this experience that I decided to involve my end user in multiple points of my own projects process. I feel like involving the user at different steps instead of just the end and the start will bring out the essence of the design and what it can mean for someone. Instead of aiming for a perfect end result, I think I should work in multiple small iterations, evaluated with users along the way. I intend to take this attitude with me in the next steps of my education.
"You created a great intercultural design, combining poetics with technique. I very much appreciate your into depth investigation on making 3 variants. They show how your intercultural technique can be applied in multiple ways, and are opening a field of innovation. It also shows that you explored different expressions of your intercultural concept, iterating to find the essence of your story. Like said in the over all comment; exemplary involvement in the module. It felt like a cooperation, with enough space to keep a teacher-student interaction." - Sietske Klooster
Presenting at the Dutch Design Week
Our group had the opportunity to present the result of the DB411 Intercultural Markers module during the Dutch Design week. I had the honor of our group to present the dish to experts from the dairy industry, serving them the dish we designed and the story behind it as food for thought. We had a lot of work to get our dish presentable and ready, as it involved making a lot of practical decisions. I feel like the method of serving and presenting is a design in itself, where you need to consider what information you provide the user with through speech and the menu, the order of serving, the spatial composition and timings; it all had to come together at one crucial moment. By going through this process up until the presentation, I feel like I have gained more first hand experience of all the obstacles I might encounter in presenting my future projects to a broad audience through cooperations with different professional parties.
Empathy through Emerging in Shanghai
Before the module in China started, I had the opportunity to spend some days in Shanghai. Shanghai is strange in that it is so segregated when it comes to its Chinese inhabitants and the Western people and expats that live there. I noticed a big barrier in connecting, maybe because of prejudices both ways. To go into detail here would take too much text, but it wasn’t until I made friends with a Chinese girl who could openly talk in English with me about anything, that I felt I could get a glimpse behind the touristic image of Shanghai we were getting in the days before I met her. She showed me her favorite spots and there she opened up about tons of design ideas she had herself and how she saw the Chinese culture. The hard working Chinese generations who grew up outside of the rapid development that is taking place in China now, maybe aren’t used to all the supposed freedom they now have. With more wealth and time for personal development, the Chinese sometimes simply don’t know what to do for fun. In a strange contrast, social interaction is hindered by the development of cities, through demolishing of traditional Chinese homes that are build around squares.
The current high skyscrapers don’t allow for much playtime with neighboring friends outside of school. It is strange and inspiring to see the effect of such rapid development as an outsider. I did not really think about this at first, but now I can see a lot of opportunities for designers to help overcome the problems the Chinese might face in their own social development. Perhaps this outside perspective works both ways, as I am sure Chinese designers would have a completely new take on the social issues we face in our own society.
The fellow students in the workshop were all so open and accepting of us. Once I opened up to them, they showed me a lot of their daily life and different social dynamics. It must be strange for them to go from a family with no brothers and sisters, to shared dorms in huge universities. Maybe their friends feel like the siblings they never had to them. It’s things like these you take for granted in your own life, but you do not start to think about until you fully emerge yourself in a situation where everything is so different. I will try and place myself in auto ethnographic situations like this in the future. As a designer, If feel like I can gain lots of insights from this first person perspective as opposed to only observation from a distance.
nicky liebregts / 2015