Design Thinking Project 1: Desk Organization

Group: Rachel, Sam and Joyce

As a group, we were challenged to pick a space in the house to delve into more detail. Our group decided that we would be looking into the desk space of the average high school student. After conducting a series of interviews, we uncovered certain repeating issues that needed to be addressed. We have broken up our evidence into some subcategories that group the evidence in various ways.

Our subcategories include organization, lighting, comfort, and lack of space. These different categories allow us to see various aspects of the desk space, and many of our interviewees had similar problems in these areas. The importance of organization can effect the user’s productivity rate, along with the experience they have at their desk space. Lighting is a key factor in being able to complete tasks effectively. Not only does it set ambiance and mood, but proper lighting is essential in maintaining healthy eyesight. Comfort is highly valuable to the user when working on tedious and monotonous assignments, such as school or work projects. The lack of space is also a recurring problem we saw; the user often creates “workarounds” to temporarily and inconveniently solve this issue.

Work Timeline:

  1. Chose Desk Space as targeted home area; interview variety of high schoolers who worked on their desks
  2. Through the interviews we addressed a few issues that became repetitive; we took them into further detail
  3. Once we narrowed down our topic to focusing on the main issues; we then realized what the right questions were to ask our interviewees so we would be able to get a lot of valuable information rather than nonsense.
  4. After, we went back to talk to some of our interviewees and realized all of the ones we talked to had the same issues of being lazy, needing comfort, as well as more space.
  5. Lastly, we went over all the videos to really narrow down the area in which we want to work and create a solution to solve a problem.


In our first interview with Marina we found that organization for teens is a big issue; all our interviewees had similar problems with how to be organized.

Marina was giving us a tour of her desk and we realized that her necessities to do homework were spread out and her draw was a little unorganized. She feels as if she had more space and compartments on her desk, she would be a lot more organized.

In our video with Sebi, we realized he was very unorganized with his school supplies as well. He told us about how he and his siblings got all of their stuff mixed up; as you can see on the table which is very unorganized. Also his desk doesn’t have much space for him to organize his papers. Sebi has a lot of loose unorganized papers as well. Lastly, Sebi’s drawers in his desk happen to be very unorganized as well as the pile of junk near (on the right side of) his desk.

In our interview with Shelby, we realized she has the same type of organization problems. In her case, she has many different piles of paper scattered around her room and her draws aren’t organized in anyway that helps the situation.


A common theme throughout many of the interviews was the lack of proper lighting around the desk space.

In an interview with Sebi, he explains how he deals with the lack of light:

As a result of the combination of lack of lighting, as well as extracurriculars (sports and work), Giana is forced to do her homework in the morning:

We learned that it’s not just lighting, but outside things that play a role on when/how efficient it is to do homework at certain times.

Charlie’s desk, unlike the other interviewees, has a more practical source of lighting with a both a lamp, a ceiling light, and even decorative lights:

We learned from Charlie that a good source of lighting really does help when trying to get work done efficiently.


Shelby uses her chalkboard for to post reminders for herself and also uses it as display decor:

Shelby also has found a way to have things on her desk that make her happy without taking up space ( a work-around)

Shelby has sacrificed some space on her desk for her candles so she can enjoy them, in this case, her comfort is more important than her available space:

Much like Shelby, Sebi’s desk is full of things that are there for comfort, they remind him of various family vacations. The space that is being occupied by this objects could be potential space for his books or more practical things:

Lack of Space:

In an interview with Marina, we learned about the issue she has when trying to find enough space for all her books on her desk:

Giana finds that when she needs to use her computer and a text book, there isn’t really enough space for both:

General Finding:

Second Round of Research:

Week 1: After learning about the 4 things that we found were common among a group of teenagers regarding their desk space, we have decided to do further research in 2 specific areas. The 2 areas that we will being conducting more research on is lighting and an individuals definition of organization.

When looking into lighting we want to learn more about different types of lighting. For example, what type of lighting is optimal for reading compared to when using an electronic device. We also want to learn more about different peoples opinions on the convenience of the lighting around their desk.

When talking about organization we want to see how a parents definition of organization compares to that of a kids. Does a parent have an influence on how organized a child’s desk is?

For this second round of research we will be conducting more interviews with teenagers except this time we will ask their parents to be answer a few questions as well. We will ask both the parent and the teens the question: “what is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘desk organization’?” We will also ask both of them what an ideal organized desk looks like. We will ask the parents if there is any incentive for the teens organizing their own desk.

To look further in the topic of lighting, we will be conducting research online to see what products already exist that are trying to solve the problem. Not only will we be doing research online but we will continue to ask our interviewees questions regarding the convenience levels of the lighting around their desk.

Sophie describes the problems that she has come across when reading different materials and how the light creates shadows or glares.

In this short interview, we talked to Shelby about the lighting on her desk (and in her room) and how it could affect her studies. She has one chandelier in her room as her main (usually only) light source (most of the time one of the three bulbs on it is out as well). However, she does have a light on her desk but she rarely uses it as it is too “white”, she mentions how she usually only turns it on when her dad yells at her for doing homework in the dark. She also talks to us about how she doesn’t use the light when she’s doing work on her computer. Lastly, we asked Shelby questions about the lighting when she would do homework on her bed rather than on her desk. For example, she said usually if she’s doing last minute things on her computer she’d just do it with no lights on that way she doesn’t have to get up again to turn off the lights (and the computer screen gives off enough like).

A few of the current light options on the market:

  • The Satechi Smart LED Desk Lamp features easy-to-use touch controls, a variety of light-intensity modes and brightness levels, and a timer function that causes it to turn off after it has been inactive for some time. (check out this site:
  • The Z-Bar Mini LED Desk Lamp from Koncept is flexible and highly functional making it the perfect desk lamp for smaller workspaces. This LED desk lamp brightens any area while adding unique, modern design. This adjustable desk lamp’s LED head spins in its socket, which allows optimal movement and spreads light in any direction desired. The energetic Z-Bar Mini LED Desk Lamp is available in red, purple, orange, green, black, or silver. This fun and appealing desk lamp manages to stand out from the crowd due to its touch strip. Simply slide your fingers along the strip to dim the desk lamp gradually, or touch the strip anywhere to go directly to any brightness (including off). Includes 9 foot cord. Available in warm white (3500K) or cool white (4500K) color temperature. CRI of 85. Rated average life of 50,000 hours. Includes 28 LED modules totaling 6.5 watts. Task light distribution. UL listed. 7.5 inch width x 12.7 inch height x 26.6 inch length (

Research about desk lighting:

According to “All About Vision,” 50 to 90 percent of computer users experience eye strain or other annoying visual-related symptoms. Here is a list of known things that will help with the lighting situation when you are working with a computer on your desk: Harness the Bright Sunshine, Tweak the Overhead Fixtures, Target the Task Lighting, and Adjust Your Computer Screen. (

When you work on a desk without a computer screen but rather a textbook and notebooks the lighting will need to be stronger and more direct to the sheet. Although during our research we came across people having too bright of lights so the solutions we have researched have different shades and tones.

Non-Obvious Observations:

Map of Lighting/Movement:

The photograph above is a map of the top view of a desk. This map shows us how different materials cause different lighting issues (shadows, glares, etc.). When looking into this problem, it’s important to note that if two materials are being used at the same time, for example a text book and a computer, having a light that only fits one of the 2 materials can cause problems.


  1. What is the ideal level of comfort that allows for maximum productivity?
  • distractions
  1. How many levels of lighting would be most practical to be able to use different materials (textbook, computer, book) at the same place without having to move because of the lighting?
  2. How to compress storage of essential tools to maximize production and use limited desk space efficiently?

Conceptual Prototypes:

Conceptual Prototype Interviews:

Interview 1: Shelby Meksto

Interview 2: Sebi Soltero

Full Interviews:

Interview 1: Marina Romero

Interview 2: Sebi Soltero

Interview 3: Giana Mitchell

Interview 4: Charlie Brown

Interview 5: Shelby Meksto

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