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design research



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  • Observation Participant observation (unobtrusive). Contextual/ immerse in flow of everyday life. Engage in same activity and observe when engagement is not possible. For design research: n eeds to have some structure to ensure useful info is collected. To avoid just describing what your participants are doing make specific headings on a checklist relating to what you are aiming to evaluate e.g. engagement, inter-generational social interaction to focus your attention. Other relevant techniques: shadowing (obtrusive).
  • Representing relations of people in space on a map after observing people’s behaviour in real world situations like a public square or a classroom; the maps show hierarchies and connections between people.

design research design research Presentation Transcript

  • Design Research Methods
    • Design research methods are themselves “products” that need to be designed for different audiences, purposes and contexts – it really does all depend on what you want to do
    • (Eric Dishman: “Designing for the new old” in Brenda Laurel’s “Design Research: Methods and Perspectives)
  • The paradox of design research
    • Both empirical and imaginative:
      • Must go beyond what is visible…
      • Yet grounded in the context of use…
    • From insight to performance:
      • Ethnographic field methods
      • “ Informance”: performance, design improvisation for new kind of products or completely unknown users …(Bonnie Johnson in Design Research )
  • Observation techniques
    • Originally from anthropology…
    • Different forms of participant observation
    • Contextual: immersing in the flow of everyday life
    • Guided: shadowing, following people and activities
    • Engaging in an activity to observe when engagement is not possible
    • Different for design (time, resources, objectives)
    • Needs to have focus/ structure to collect useful information for a design (e.g. observing social interactions, use of objects, behaviours, use of space - these can be headings, representing research questions)
  • Documenting observations
    • Photographs, video recording
    • Still image diaries
    • Notes on an observation sheet (1 per person or group)
    • Mapping, sketches, of places and people
      • Illustrating particular points of interest
      • Time-based recordings: observing change or processes taking place over time
  • How does observation inform design?
    • What you make it out is crucial:
      • Looking for patterns or exceptions
      • Observation >interpretation > inspiration
      • Communicating observations to a team
  • Abstracting observations
    • Susani, M. (2002). Mapping communication. Flow . Amsterdam, Doors of Perception. 2004: Conference report.
    Word of mouth Intimate Daisy The fish Butterfly
  • Communicating observations
    • Telling stories…
    • … documentaries
    • … photo strips/ diaries
    • subjective
    • personal
    • details of everyday
    • context-specific
  • VIDEO: In the land of the deaf – Nicolas Philibert, France, 1992
    • Two situations: deaf kids learning sign language and deaf adults learning sign language
    • How are these two stories told? In what ways are they different?
    • What does the filmmaker try to illustrate?
    • What kind of observations can we make out of this?
  • VIDEO: Lift – Marc Isaacs, United Kindom, 2001
    • The filmmaker spends a few weeks in the lift of a London apartment block
    • In what way is the observation study different from the previous film?
    • What is the film maker trying to achieve and how?
    • What kind of detailed observations can we make out of this?
  • Observation <……………..> Intervention
  • Being There?
    • When do you need to be a hidden shadow and when do you need to engage with people?
  • Mapping observations - previous experience?
    • Different ways of representing space, movement and changes in time
    • Time-based sampling to get a sense of change
    • Use of maps as a creative process
  • Practice it
    • Choose a site of production (one already visited, or which you know) and plan a research visit:
    • 1) What would be some interesting questions/points to investigate?
    • 2) Which kind of observation would be appropriate?
    • 3) Plan a script to capture specific activities (e.g. time-based filming, interview in situation, still photo diary)
    • 4) Think of different questions you would like to ask people - try them out with others
  • Observation + time-based mapping
    • 45 mins - choose a production process (workshop in Design or coffee making)
    • Identify a role: ‘fly on the wall’ or active participant
    • Time based maps: one for 10 minutes of activity, two for 5 minutes and two for a minute of activity
    • Identify ‘characters’ based on their role in the process and typical (or unusual) behaviours