Practising Qualitative data analysis through affinity diagramming in M1.1
Last semester was about discovering what design research is, and exploring what it is like to build spatial installations. I placed doing alongside thinking, and through this thinking through making approach, managed to get a lot of physical work done. I kept this attitude with me in my this project, where I tried to combine spatial installations with meaningful solutions for societal and cultural issues.
The choice to do my FBP with a focus on Socio-Cultural Awareness (SCA) was to fill in a gap in my
education, but ended up becoming one of my strengths for the past semesters.
Applying a sometimes artistic approach to the design process, I hope to create experiences for the users that connect to them on an emotional level. In the past, I have focused a lot on creating a foundation of Ideas & Concept (IC) skills and developed my Forms & Senses (FS) competency heavily through always working on the aesthetics of group projects and presentations. The shift that I have noticed in the past projects is that I feel more challenged focusing on other aspects of the design process like SCA, and use my experience in IC and FS as tools in the background to do so.
My artistic and designer side have clashed a lot in the past, and I feel like this semester, I am finding tools to constructively combine strengths from both sides
I like to involve the user by building experiential prototypes, in order to observe or co-experience the use ot the project with them. I still lack some tools in gaining user empathy, and in the realization of the experiental prototypes.
I can also be a bit abstract at times, and have to be careful about what I assume and what can be validated. Making prototypes, gaining skills for user empathy, finding a way to combine my artist and design side, and creating overview in my design process are topics I adressed in this semester.
Working in the workshops
The first focus of this semester was on making. By creating a lot of physical and digital iterations for my project, as well as doing workshops and practicing making skills in machine workshops, I have become more equipped in the realization of prototypes. During the making of these prototypes, I am still doing last steps in my concepts design, coming up with solutions for material challenges. Because I test these prototypes with users, I have to become conscious about the steps I take in designing its form, and I feel like this awareness is something that grows with
the experience of trying more and more different techniques and making more models. Making is a tool that I use for my design process; with the skills to realize prototypes quickly and extensively, I can do more iterations and get the most out of them. I will keep practicing and applying these skills also in my project, where this semester the making skills were used more on interaction design than the physical design, where programming technology replaced physical construction. In a way, Integrating Technology and Forms & Senses come together here to create a physical vessel for the digital interaction.
During my last assessment, my assessor Hans Leeuw expressed doubts concerning my role as a designer. I was asked to look at where my vision belongs with respects to design, to separate this perhaps from my artistic side.
I have used tools like the worth map structure in different modules and the inspiration of my own project as a tool to abstract qualities from interesting works of art, and apply these qualities to envision new scenarios for design. Stories for example, integrate and connect culture, physical objects, contexts and users, and can also serve as a tool to co-create products with users by helping them
imagine possible scenario's. I will use these tools to apply strengths from both parts of my identity in my final master project.
Hans also asked me to find role models in the design world, and I have to admit I have yet to find them. I will use the next semester and discussions with Caroline Hummels to more clearly place me as a designer within the picture of Industrial Design.
I already feel that in design, we are working on finding solutions and shaping preferable future scenarios, and as an artist, we are perhaps communicating or adressing a problem in society. I elaborate on this below.
An example of the Worth Map structure, made for the Poetry in Design module. in the bottom are concrete qualities, in the top abstract values.
“Work on the role that you want to take in the future. As that becomes clear it can also guide you in your design direction and decisions."
"Stay aware, and push yourself at the right moments to connect personal claims, opinions, reflections to observable evidence. Connect the why with a what.”
The process Overview in my report
I also struggled with the contrast of solving problems versus finding opportunities. This project was not about adressing a problem, but imagining a possible future scenario for the users I design for. All the time, one of the answers has been in my own identity. When I talk about how listening to exciting music can help you feel energised, I talk about transformative qualities of a product; Instead of just a reflection, it shows an alternative behavior, a possible future.
I feel that as designers, we need to be careful with dictating certain behavior for users. It feels arrogant to claim that we know what is the best future, but what
we can certainly provide them with is possible future scenarios, alternatives beyond what they might have imagined. Perhaps I should start doing this with my own designs; to not just provide users with a reflection of their behavior and making them aware of the problem, but also showing them a scenario where there are new positive opportunities to be explored.
I feel that my project already contains some of these transformative qualities in the way that it gets users out of their shell and to start to move and dance. I will look at implementing these qualities in my FMP
Users dancing in front Soft Bodies
Problem to Opportunity
"Your report is, like you yourself, very personal and a bit poetic. However, this does not mean that it is fuzzy or vague. On the contrary, you succeed well in being to-the-point about a design that could have easily resulted in cloudy language." -Bart Hengeveld
The advice of my previous coach Stephan Wensveen, was to connect the what and the why in my work, and create more overview in how I connect the abstract and the concrete. I have tried to practice this in this semester, by applying overview methods like the worth map structure to my own design vision and project. Especially in the project report, the focus was on the process behind the project. Because of the dynamic nature of the project, exploring first in one direction, than overcoming obstacles in another, I forced myself to come up with a good overview.
Especially in such an open project, it was easy to get lost, and I feel like focusing on taking a step back and describing the bigger whole helped me to keep track of my progress. Finishing the report was also the final step that I needed in grounding my project in an academic approach by seperating assumption from validation. I do feel that I should have spend more time to place my own work within that of a design framework, and will do so in my FMP. Perhaps by finding relevant design literature frameworks, I will also become more aware of my role as a desinger.
My FMP will focus on the aftercare of natural disaster survivors (PHOTO BY: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
From product design...
During the past semester, my focus was more on the design of an experience rather than a physical product. I want to show that I have these qualities to make something more physically refined in my Final Masters Project. By becoming acquainted with tools like the lasercutter, machines at Atelier Eindhoven, and techniques such as goldsmithing this semester, I feel prepared to apply these skills in the design in my final Masters year.
In the next semester, I will start to look at how design can contribute to the long-term aftercare of victims of a natural disaster. I expect that my design will focus on creating a product for the individual, that will be part of a connected system that somehow works on the level of a community. An example of such a project is Rural Spark., where the individual product of an energy cell creates new job opportunities and solves energy problems on a communal level.
"Try to make your FMP design your flagship; the design in which you sell all your qualities as a designer. You are already very strong graphically and in interaction, so add the physical formgiving and you're done!"
- Bart Hengeveld
Rural Spark is an example of a similar societal transformation design project
By having Caroline Hummels as a coach for my FMP, I feel like I am well equiped with expert knowledge in the area of social design and societal transformation.
The extrinsic motivation in my own vision is still a bit unclear to me, and in order to become a Master level designer, I feel like I will have to connect my own intrinsic motivation to an external motivation to design for. This semester was a valuable one on changing from problem oriented approaches to opportunity driven approaches, and creating overview of the concrete and the abstract.
It did not however, alow me to focus on solving societal issues. The motivation for creating the Disaster Aftercare FMP project description, was to find a societal context to apply my own design vision to. I feel like I can combine my strengths in User Focus & Perspective, Socio-Cultural Awareness and Forms & senses by design a product on an individual level that has a greater social function on a community level.
By finding and designing a system for such a context, I also hope to adress the Designing Business Processes competency which I have not touched to much during the first year Masters.
Tornadoes, tsunami's and earthquakes; the context I will design for will be an emotionally intense and foreign one. (PHOTO: Koki Azechi)
...to societal Transformation