Our new design project is focused on creating a plan for making lifestyle changes in light of the new Coronavirus onset. While such occurrences present serious challenges, they also offer the opportunity for positive changes, and we are choosing to focus on the latter so that all of us can make the best of our immediate futures. The following quote captures the spirit of the project:
Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.– Steve Maraboli
In the context of the pandemic we are experiencing there is much that is out of our control creating a lot of uncertainty. Our goal will be to intentionally design our habitats to adapt as well as we possibly can to our new environment.
MODEULE 1: Inspiration & Identification
Post ‘Constraint Map’ to site with a reflection on all activities in this module.
Scan the media to get a feel for the variety of ways people are responding to this virus crisis. Especially look for positive examples. Focus on how people are responding in terms of changing lifestyles and daily routines and habits.
Seek out and read about a historical event that parallels what we are experiencing today.
Create a constraint map, exploring various aspects of the design challenge. Adapt the book template to this specific case. (example)
Turn constraints into opportunities by… highlight / circle constraints on your map that present opportunities for change.
Constraint mapping certainly has similarities to mind mapping in that you will be visually depicting the connections between the constraints related to the categories of end user, designer, and production (as described in the book).
Think about how you are going to adapt the generic constraint map shown below to our specific design challenge.
In addition to recent news and historical comparisons, most of your constraints will come from your general background knowledge. So, to state the obvious, one constraint that you as end user will be experiencing is related to the various dimensions of social distancing. What are the nuances here that should be included in your map?
The other activities in this module (scan media, historical examples) are intended to be ‘inspiration’ for this design challenge. Reflect on these activities as well as the process and content of your constraint map. Especially focus on explaining the opportunity areas you have highlighted.
MODULE 2: Conceptualization
Post ‘Concept Board’ and ‘Brainstorm’ to site with reflection on why these ideas seem most interesting.
Check in: Share your top ideas
Read ‘Stage 3: Conceptualization’ from The Design Process (Karl Aspelund).
Create a concept board, envisioning what you want the next 6-12 weeks of practicing ‘social distancing’ to look and feel like for you, your community, and beyond. As stated in the reading, this an exercise in visualizing what the results will feel like, not defining the solution.
Concept boards are a metaphorical collage of images and words composed to define and communicate the essence of an idea before we really know what ‘it’ is going to become. This is an essential step to getting things out of a designers mind and into a place that can be communicated and discussed. The board does not represent the design or ‘thing’ itself, but rather helps to convey the ‘feel’ of the idea or direction.
You will be creating a concept board for the design challenge, so let’s dig a little deeper. Check out the exercise below to get a better feel for what a concept board is all about:
Below are some more examples of concept boards. Each of them is intended to convey the feel of the idea and yet it is not totally clear what the solution will be in the end. These boards are specific enough to give clear direction, and yet open enough that they can be inspiration for any kind of designed solution, be it a website, clothing, app, retail space, etc.
Concept boards can be created digitally in a program like Photoshop or Powerpoint. Concept boards can also be made physically and documented by photo or video.
The video below shows a bit of the process of how Prof Smith created a concept board for a professional design project:
This is also a good example not including the solution in the concept board… the apron project shows no aprons in the concept board, but rather provides a feel for the type of solution that will come later.
One aspect of concept boards that you might have noticed is that composition matters. Where you place things, what size, etc. greatly impacts the clarity of the message. Utilize the lessons learned from mind mapping to help you make decisions about your layout. Consider visual hierarchy created with scale, proximity, weight, color, etc. Be iterative. Zoom in and zoom out. Show others to get feedback.
Check out more about concept boards in The Design Process – Stage 3: Conceptualization, page 109.
Brainstorm ideas that could help you reach the vision.
Practice the rules of brainstorming outlined in the readings (have an agenda, define success, write all ideas down, don’t criticize ideas, focus on have many ideas, build off ideas, have wild ideas, set a time limit, edit / consolidate, revisit).
Use one or more of the brainstorming tools suggested in the book or look for others online. Come up with ideas that could help you reach the vision you created with your concept board. Consider these areas as you brainstorm:
– Environment around you
– Connection to others
– Personal Health and Self-care
– Use of technology
Once you have come up with and documented a significant quantity of ideas (push for 50 ideas), circle 3-5 of these ideas that seem like they would be most impactful to helping you achieve the vision you created with your concept board.
MODULE 3: Exploration/Refinement & Definition/Modeling
Post ‘3 Concepts’ to site including sketches and evaluation / refinement using the designers hierarchy of needs.
Create 3 sketches, exploring the details of some of the solutions you picked. Note: ‘sketching’ involves any tool or medium that helps you explore and communicate preliminary visions. The Design Process readings explain this well… also DesignKit.org has even more explanation.
Evaluate and refine your concepts using the designers hierarchy of needs explained in the readings.
Write a paragraph about each of your 3 concept directions, including thoughts about the hierarchy of designers needs for each concept.
MODULE 4: Communication & Production
Post ‘Prototype’ documentation and a reflection on the process of creating the prototype.
Check in: Share experiences
After prototyping, reflect… how do you expect this concept will impact experiences during this quarantine time?
Make a plan to start implementing and using your prototype to test, learn, iterate.
Post ‘Test & Iterate’ documentation and reflection
Check-in: Share experiences, wrap up
Over the next week; ‘Test & Iterate’
Describe what changes you made to your concept after using it for a bit.
Document your prototype and how you have interacted with it.
– Your experience with your design.
– How did it change your experience?
– Where would you take this idea next?
– How might you add a ‘wow factor’ and take it beyond the obvious… moving up the designer hierarchy of needs?
– The overall experience utilizing the design process.