Generative Workshop

by mo on Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bringing all my contextual research together, I devised a workshop with a group of nine non-designers to further my research by more generative means.

The following are the points that I wanted to address by means of this generative workshop:

– A sense of their “everyday lives. I decided to confine it within the domain of the office/workspace because it is a domain that everyone shares, although it may be individual to each person. By developing a better picture of the “everyday” objects that they use, I can develop a foundation on which to come up with a design resolution that visually translates the “malleable mind” idea (as derived from the phantom limb research) in everyday objects by redesigning them so that they compel the user to rethink their perception of the body self.

– The way a non-designer would address somewhat abstract concepts as “creating a visual language” for a particular idea. In this case, it was trying to come up with a “visual language” that would communicate the idea of that the mind is malleable in how it projects our body and the relationship of all of its parts (relating to phantom limbs) – in the end, its my responsibility as a designer to come up with the final resolution, but as a part of my generative research, I wanted to enlist the contribution of non-designers so I have a more concrete idea of what the general public engages with.

So the brief of the generative workshop was as follows:

Each participant is given a camera with 27 frames.

For the first 12 shots, they are to spend two days taking photos of their office, and in particular, the objects, environments, buildings, etc. that they find themselves interacting with on a regular basis during work hours.

For the last 12 shots, they have three days to take photos of the following:

“Something you can touch, but can’t touch.”
“Something you can see, but can’t see.”

I kept the brief very open, and sent them away to take the photos. The following are shots of the kits that I made, each of which includes a disposable camera, and instructions. The participants were all very enthusiastic, but because I did not give them any background regarding my research, they were left on their own to decipher it in any way they wanted.

To be honest, I didn’t really have a clear idea as to what would come out of my research, but I guess that’s the whole point of generative research – and particularly that which involves dialogue with the general public ie non-designers. You have to wait for them to say something, and from that, I can make a conclusion as to the research findings.

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