Friday, November 09, 2007

Research Methods for Design (event)

Yesterday was the first Product Scotland workshop (supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Methods Network programme). The subject for this workshop was the use of ethnography as a research method in design. The schedule and brief were as follows:

Emerging Research Methods for Product Design Workshop
Thursday 8 November, 2007

10:30 – Arrive Napier University, Merchiston Campus and have tea or coffee
11:00 – Meet and Greet – introduce the day’s activities
11:30 – Introductions (between people)
12:00 – Kick off Project

Future Body, Future Food, Future City
What will the future body, food and city look like? How have the things we carry on our body changed during the last decade? What do we regularly carry to and from work? Will our body have to adapt to the pressures of the future?

How have our food consumption patterns changed? How do deal with the transaction of food for cash? What kinds of conversations do we have about food? Do we really enjoy eating or is it a task that we just do to survive?

Are cities of today prepared for tomorrow? How do we exploit the physical man made structures of the city? How do we alter or adapt the purpose or context of things in the city to meet our end needs, wants and desires?

Please remember, that it may be the little things (minutiae) that will reap the real insights into the future body, food or city. Someone once said “The Devil is in the detail”, so perhaps you should focus on the little things and leave the grand phenomena to someone else.

12:30 – Research – explore – investigate - observe
13:30 – Return to studio – Food served - analyse & interpret data collected
14:00 – Analyse & interpret data collected
14:30 – Start presentation
15:00 – Prepare work for presentation
16:00 – Pin up work
16:30 – Reflection and discussion of the day’s activities
17:00 – End of the day’s activities

Move exhibition and materials to Edinburgh College of Art (eca)
18:00 – ‘Open Evening’ opens
19:30 – ‘Open Evening’ closes

There were about 30 participants in the workshop from very diverse backgrounds. After a brief introduction we were all sent out into the city armed with digital cameras to explore aspects of 'user-artefact interaction' and to listen to and observe people doing everyday things. Then it was back to the studio to compile our findings as montages of images and texts. Karen Magazine was indicated as an example of what we were aiming for. One of the reasons we created Product Scotland was to create a network through using our design skills rather than talking about it - as at a typical conference. This was certainly the case. Each participant produced a book within a few hours and we gathered at Edinburgh College of Art to look at these and round off the day with a drink. I think everyone's expectations for these books were surpassed. There are some outstanding individual efforts and collectively they offer up insights about familiar activities. Eventually some of these will appear on the Product Scotland website.

The next workshop will be held at University of Dundee on 23 November 2007.

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I am exploring a hybrid form of art and design practice through the use of computer-based design and fabrication tools. I am interested in experimental objects and spaces that are dynamic and responsive and seek to challenge perceptions, expectations and established behavior.

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