Generative Design through Co-Creation

Week Seven: 02/27–03/05

Over the past week, our team iterated on creating a workshop that enables our stakeholders to share their knowledge of connecting with parents in an engaging and creative way. Our goal for the generative workshop was to distill insights from our stakeholders’ experiences in order to synthesize and determine our design directions.

The Workshop

We wanted to conduct this workshop with two adult children cohorts:

  • Adult children between 20–40 years of age, who are independent from home but may not yet be responsible for their parents
  • Adult children between 40–65 years of age, who are the heads of their own households but may also be responsible for their parents

Our rationale for breaking our workshop into two sessions is to engage adult children of similar demographics / backgrounds together in the same workshop so that more thoughtful discussions may ensue.

Activities 1 & 2: Collage your conversation + experience with your parents

We asked our participants to collage, using the materials provided, their most recent conversation with their parents. After this activity, we had a round of discussion where our participants walked us through what they had made. Materials they used included photographs of objects, places, people, as well as words describing feelings and emotions.

A participant creating a collage of her most recent conversation with her parents.

In our second activity, we asked our participants to collage together their most recent memorable experience with their parents. They used the same set of materials we had provided earlier.

Activity 3: Create the communication device of the future

In our final activity, we asked our participants to create a tool of the future to connect with their parents. Our prompt was intentionally open-ended and blue sky. We provided the participants with velcro objects and attachments, as well as printouts of the five senses as well as a series of superpowers they may employ. We then asked them to walk us through what they had built, and why.


We have done an initial round of synthesis with our findings from the workshop, and will be wrapping up this synthesis process over the next few days. Overall, it was interesting to see certain threads emerging from the discussions. They include:

  • Touch. Being able to see and hear a loved one is great, but many participants wished to be able to physically touch or hug their parents.
  • Missing out. Many cited wanting to catch up on things they missed out on during their absence from home.
  • Worry. Being far away from parents induces a certain level of worry, which our participants hoped to resolve with the superpower of ‘precognition’.
  • Frustrations. Many cited wanting to present a certain image in front of parents, to show them that they are doing okay even if they are anxious or frustrated with their realities.

Challenges & Difficulties

We faced many challenges when designing this workshop. They are:

  • Workshop Design. For one, it was difficult trying to create a workshop that would elicit the types of information we were seeking from our participants. We wanted to create activities that were not too leading, or too difficult, but were still ambiguous enough that our participants can lead us to novel insights.
  • Recruitment. It was very difficult trying to recruit participants. Because of mid-terms week, many around us were unavailable to participate. We were unable to recruit enough participants for the 40–60 year old group, so we are giving ourselves a bit more time to complete this portion of our generative phase next week. We tried using Craigslist, but because of a limited budget we decided to try to find altruistic participants who are willing to take snacks and cookies as payment.

Next Steps

We will be speaking with two more individuals, Joe (father of a small child) and Jim (father of adult children who have households of their own) to flesh out the demographic gaps in our research.

We are also waiting on survey responses from our social networks to get more quantitative data regarding communication between adult children and their parents.

Finally, we are implementing a diary study where participants are asked to record the ‘most memorable’ event of each of their conversations with their parent(s) over the course of a week.

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