Design Research Studio

Day 1, August 29, 2017

With the first day of class, learning about transition design, was little bit too much for me, because I didn’t have a good understanding of transition design before this class. When I listened to Terry talk about how transition design is more like forecasting what will happen, I felt what we are about to learn will be different from what we have done so far. Until now, we put emphasis on the bottom of the “T”, and maybe little bit more above.

In transition design, the most crucial skillset required is to know the world, the economy, the trend, and predicting the future. As a designer, or just as a person, having knowledge and skills about something never hurts. I hope to take advantage of what we learn this semester and test my abilities and broaden my skillsets.

During studio, what Terry said in class about the oil spill was interesting, because one irrational decision can have a big impact on the environment. Without taking the environment into consideration, all the natural habitats near that area was destroyed and polluted. Many companies neglect the fact that even little things they do can damage the environment. They need to start taking environment into consideration when they make choices.

Day 2, September 3, 2017

The result of Trivia was shocking. Even though it has been 5 years since I first came to Pittsburgh, I knew almost nothing about the city. I think I got about 15% correct with some luck. During the lecture, we talked about the “Wicked Problems” that has exists at multiple layers and has no single solution. The wicked problems, as I understood, were similar to the projects that I had done in HCI program called User-Centered Research and Evaluation.

In UCRE, the topic that my team got was food scarcity and we expanded on this topic and learned that food scarcity leads to lack of education that leads to poverty. It is an endless cycle that poor people have to suffer. Lack of food leads to lack of education, because parents barely have money to eat; therefore, they are unable to send kids to school. Kids have to start to work early since even couple hundred dollars would really help the family. For the people who we interviewed, their main goal is to survive. Many of us are totally different from us. The problem that we found was also wicked. There were no single solution that can solve the whole problem and break the cycle. Even though we didn’t really get to come up with practical solutions, I learned a lot from this semester long project. I hope my experience will benefit me in this project and guide me to dive deeper to the real problem.

The reading of the workshop in Ojai was really interesting. Lack of water lead to many other problems and became a wicked problem. The solution, even if there is one, might take decades to become effective. The really interesting aspect during the reading was that the outline of the workshop was similar to the steps we learned last semester with Wayne and the steps in UCRE. I learned that many of the problems can be tackled with what we learned so far in 3 years in the program. I heard that we learn the real stuff, but this was the first time that this really came to me. Since I fortunately got to have similar experience, I am confident that I can tackle the air quality problem hard and well. I hope it is not too tough.

Day 3, September 6, 2017

Our team’s first attempt at diagramming the clean air issue in Pittsburgh consisted of a lot of post-its that were unclear to readers, but only clear to us. Many post-its lacked context, the problem, and the consequence. “Acid rain” in a post-it doesn’t really mean anything unless it is provided with context of the problem. This was made clear to us during the class workshop where we talked about the importance of making diagrams comprehensible to others.

Initial Affinity Clustering + Diagraming for Wicked Problem

Initial affinity cluster diagram on air quality in Pittsburgh

Revised Affinity Clustering + Diagraming for Wicked Problem

Our revised diagram had better hierarchy that framed and categorized the problems we had uncovered. We divided the clusters so that each show a category that air quality affects, such as health risk, stakeholders, causes of pollution…etc. The post-its themselves were getting closer to being better written with refined context and additional information. In each post it we tried to include the problem, the cause and the consequences.

Refined affinity cluster diagram on air quality in Pittsburgh
Digital version of affinity clustering in Mural

Response to “Deep Ecology: a New Paradigm” by Fritjof Capra

The main point that I got from the Capra reading was that many people in the world have limited worldview that limit people’s capabilities to solve problems that exist in the world. Before I came to college, I had a belief that what I think is right, what I say is right and so on. I was really arrogant that I was the best in everything; however, I realized that I was stuck in a small pond whereas some other people were swimming in the ocean. What I didn’t realize was that people have different thoughts and everyone is different and has different worldview. Many people here seem to care much about the environment and the things that happen around the world. However, I am not really into these topics, because I never found it useful or helpful to me. The varying world view is due to the cultural and intellectual diversity that this campus has to offer. Now as a designer, particularly working on this project, I am starting to see the world through a sustainability lens.

Maaping a Wicked Problem

Mapping a Wicked Problem

Day 4, September 11, 2017

Dive into Transition Design

Today, Terry presented the Ojai project to us, and how she approached the wicked problem based on conversations with the many, many stakeholders. The water shortage in Ojai is a long-term wicked problem that requires breaking down a highly complex, high level system. This system involves stakeholders at every level of context , with very different motives and interests.

As designers, our role is to observe, facilitate, and encourage communication among the different stakeholders involved, trying to empathize, understand perspective, and hopefully ultimately coming up with solutions as to what might/might not work.

“Stakeholder relations are the ‘connective tissues’ within wicked problems.” That’s why facilitating interaction between different stakeholders is so crucial. Our goal is to observe different or existing perspectives and relationships between stakeholders. The next step for our Affinity Clustering will be to identify the links between the different stakeholders

Mapping Stakeholders

Day 5, September 13, 2017

Coming up with personas:

  1. City budget planners

2. Climate change activists

3. Factory workers

We splited into pairs within our group of 6, and came up with “hopes + aspirations” and “concerns + fears” for the 3 personas.

Lucy and I worked on as a Climate Change Activists
In class, we made a short skit of our personas discussing issues we’re concerned with.

Final Board

We then looked for the opportunities in points of leverage and the points of resolution between the different post-its

This exercise is only a small snapshot of what needs to happen in order for us to realize that issues that manifest in the micro-levels including conflicts between individuals’ interest is a product of all the higher level structures.

Response to “Future Workshops: How to Create Desirable Futures” by Robert Jungk

The anecdote about suppression and individuals in the workshop was really fascinating to read. It’s crucial that all members of a workshop feel empowered to speak up about their opinions, which can bring everyone on the same page. However, it can be challenging to get a consensus when there are multiple stake holders with conflicting opinions on the topic.

The reading gave me a new perspective on the history of futurism. For decades, people have been trying to bring groups of stakeholders together to design a better future. I wish that there are less prejudice, racism, and sexist stereotypes that underly discussions in future workshops, which will not yield a great result. Based on how the skit performances went, I can imagine the tension that there will be from people who are directly effected by the problem (e.g. factory workers, climate change activists, and city budget planners). There has to be some sort of common ground which eliminates any hostility in the environment. Some sort of understanding and common goal between both parties. I think this responsibility mainly lies on the moderator. Collaboration is the key to the success of a workshop.

Day 6, September 18, 2017

Haiku Exercise:

Day in my life in 2047:
Tech is everywhere 
The environment is suffering
Take responsibility
Day in the community in 2047:
What happened here?
No more trees and animals
What’s going to happen?

Response to “Caring for Future Generations” by Jim Dator

I enjoyed this reading because it helped me realize my value as a designer for the future. How and what we think set us apart, not our visual skills or programming. Its our openness and willingness to explore variety of ideas, and think critically about the problem. We have been trained to become comfortable with ambiguity. Our strength is in challenging traditional ideologies and ways of doing things.

Design does not have right answer. It can have a wrong answer. We are encouraged to push the boundaries and articulate what the users would want. I experience this for the first time last semester with Wayne’s studio. Our team used a mix of creativity and technology + climate change trends to envision a floating city where Miami once was. Interesting thing was that my worldview is essential. Each member in my group came from a very different world view. This helped us to work well and get along well as a team, but also surfaced conflicts on how we should design the future since each had different priority that each of us thought as important.

In envisioning the future, drawing skills and making skills are not that crucial. How we think and envision the future is crucial. However, in order to succeed, we have to consider many perspectives and many possibilities

Day 7, September 20, 2017

STEEP ideation poster for air quality in Pittsburgh

Stuart’s lecture on futurist methods made me think about my role in design and my role as a person living in the world. I realized that I am negatively contributing to the environment and to the world. I maybe responsible for damage that I did to the environment; however, I have already adapted to my current living style. For convenience, I use plastic bags and plastic water bottles. I don’t always look for recycling bin even though I should. There needs to be a change. We often remove our selves from the equation because “we are not the users”. However, more emotional and personal stakes need to be considered in transition design. We live in the world as people in the world, not just designers. We should be conscious of our actions.

Response to “Four Futures for Hawaii 2050” by Candy, Dator, Dunagan

This reading was really helpful to our group. Unlike how futures are portrayed in the media (e.g. terminator, matrix…etc), there is not going to be a complete utopia or dystopia. There will always be negatives and positives in our world. The 4 futures for Hawaii were really convincing and well thought of because they had balance of both positives and negatives. This is also something we tried to do with our writing. Each future considered a direction that this future can lead to and depicts how Hawaii could change.

However, the fourth future seemed too extreme. The fourth future focused on augmented reality and humans living forever. The current VR/AR technology is not moving quickly; the adoption rate of VR is slow. VR/AR is currently mainly used in entertainment industries; however, I see more value in VR/AR than just for entertainment. I can envision this technology implementing into healthcare and education as well as in our daily lives.

I really liked the first future which was Hawaii’s response to rising sea level. When I did a similar project(floating Miami from last semester), I envisioned that there’s nothing we can do about disappearing land, so we shifted our focus to putting the whole city onto the ocean. However, instead of just waiting until rising sea destroys the whole city, people took it as an opportunity to rebuild resorts and hotels. Many citizens in Hawaii can benefit from increased flow of tourists and visitors. In this future, people used a tragic situation to actually bring positive aspects that can actually help other people.

Response to “The World Made Me” by Porritt

This reading was really interesting. I found the timeline most interesting. I could envision the world turning into this desolate place. Such as 2045, the year with the worst record for climate change disaster. Currently, the climate is changing weirdly and many more natural disasters are occurring. I hope that there some sort of crisis before something like 2045 happens that would trigger behavior change that can slow down or actually make the environment better. In order to accomplish this, everyone has to take part in. Designers cannot predict the future; however, we can use our skill sets to forecast how our lives will change due to evolving tech and how we should behave.

Another interesting aspect about this reading was envisioning how our world will look like with solar panels everywhere. Based on this reading, I can imagine every street, every roof has ugly blue/black (traditional) solar panels. However, with Tesla’s new solar panels (which look just like a roof) can enable the world look prettier, or almost exactly the same as now. I really hope for the Tesla’s version of future homes, not the ones described in this reading.

Day 10, October 2, 2017

Backcasting the future of 2050

During class, we had a crit for our timelines. I initially thought of this as just a simple timeline; however, many aspects needed to be considered. During the crit, I learned about more successful practices for communicating our thoughts using diagrams:

Have a starting point: Color coding, high level executive summaries, titles, clustering…etc. Multiple levels of hierarchy is necessary to communicate our thoughts clearly

Communication is the key: Our thoughts are supposed to be shared to someone else and they should be able to understand by just looking at the diagram itself.

Give context: Readers should be able to understand and connect the dots just by looking at the diagram without additional explanation.

Day 11, October 4, 2017

Max-Neef Met + Unmet Needs Activity

An experience that undermines needs
An experience that does not undermine needs

Response to “Sustainable Lifestyles: Today’s facts + Tomorrow’s trends”

It is extremely important to transition people into sustainable behaviors; otherwise our world will not be able to sustain mankind too much longer. It is extremely difficult to change our behavior all of a sudden. However, when motivated, people can actually make a difference. Even though this is ideal, I can only imagine us, people, changing our behavior once the crisis hits our world.

In the reading, there was a section about identifying areas of focus for sustainable lifestyle, but they are not really effective, because they lack tangible ways to make the difference. I think this is where designers come in to play. We all know what habits and actions lead to sustainable lifestyle. The only reason we are not following those habits is due to convenience. The role of designers is crucial at this point. We should be the ones to think about how to integrate sustainable habit into our daily lives without asking users too much. We are too used to convenient lifestyle because every thing is disposable. Because we live in a world of convenience, there has to be something more attractive about adopting these behaviors. Otherwise no one will adapt to changes and can’t really make a difference.

Defining Potential Pros and Consequences for Interventions

During class, we documented the major events from our time line and came up with interventions. Based on each event, we labeled what Max-Neef’s needs it satisfied and inhibited. We were able to see the breakdown of each event and determine whether it has positive, negative or neutral impact based on how many needs it inhibited or satisfied.

Initial Intervention Mapping

Mapping Air Quality Interventions

For our interventions I focused on repurposing unused land such as repurposing a parking lot into a community garden. The intervention I chose is to repurpose unused land into a community square, which each community can build a community square to their own taste. The community square can act as a way to represent each community, which can unite the people in the neighborhood and constantly do green practices.

Revised Interventions

Response to “Service Design 101” by Lauren Chapman Ruiz

This article was similar to what I read in Molly’s Service Design class. Service is a really special thing that it intangible. Last semester, I worked with Philips to help the children with asthma. So, we did research and found out that the only way to teach children about the topics that they don’t like is through games. So we developed series of games, books, badges that kids like. By implementing asthma into games (e.g. we made a tag game so that “
asthma” runs around and catches “healthy person”. When the health person is tagged, he or she becomes ill and has asthma and so on.

Day 12, October 9, 2017

Service Design Activity

During the activity, our group came up with an app, HearHere that users can download to interact with stickers placed around cities on street lights, inside buildings, bus stops, and occasionally inside ride-sharing cars. Once users scan the sticker using their phones, user can access collaborative Spotify playlist specific to each sticker. Users can listen to what previous people who have visited the location have added to the playlist, or just add their own.

We also talked about monetization of the service, and its potential influence on understanding a community’s culture and providing opportunities for local bands to make themselves heard. If a band is interested in sharing their music on a specific sticker, they can pay a fee in order to have their songs be at the top of the queue each time a person adds a song.

Response to “Practical Service Blueprinting” by Erik Flowers & Megan Erin Miller

Service blueprint is the perfect diagram to show front-end, back-end, and relationships between stakeholders and how each interact with each other. My first real time using a service blueprint was during Service Design class last semester. It was really challenging for my team at that time.

During this class, we first came up with all the actors and then found relationship and connected the dots. Even though I took a service design course and did this activity, I don’t see myself going into service design because I prefer tangible things/products. Although it doesn’t currently align with my interests, service blueprinting is a good tool to use in other areas of design.

Day 13, October 11, 2017

Presenting 6 interventions

Like what you read? Give Jeong Min Seo a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.