Failing forward

This blog post serves as a reminder to not lose sight of who you are as a designer. Some of the themes mentioned are still relevant in terms of my new research direction , but it is purely for me to look back on and see where my mind was at this stage.

I have always been quite aware of context and the importance of acknowledging diversity in making sense of the world. It has, however taken being displaced from my own context, not only geographically, but in the time of a global pandemic for that fact to really sink in.

Starting out I knew I would not have much of physical network here and covid regulations made changing that hard. I therefore set myself a challenge for the semester. I wanted to categorise my current knowledge and re-contextualise my research and question to define experts and debates in this new context. 

Exploring through design.

The first five keyworks look at the design research methods. I delved into the all the methods, working with participants in different ways to explore the idea of value. I find myself displacement from home, but I know that around me people are also displaced from reality or normal life because fo the pandemic and I thought there could be trail to follow. My role in this regard was facilitating in creating valuable connections, to gather media and form insights to map out relevance and context.

Personally I found value in connecting, which is one of the lessons of Ubuntu ‘to seek connection’. I looked at these moments of connection as conversation pieces, where I could further my research. I looked at my participant set, who were mostly expats except for three. Luckily I already knew all of them so starting the conversation was easy and they are all creatives, so they very willing to participate in my research. 

I reached out to friends on online platforms in an approachable manner to start looking into the design research methods. Connecting with people in this way and on a platform they were comfortable with made the interactions seem friendly and by guiding the conversations to be about the things the participants love, value and that they wanted to share, I was really able to empathise with my participants and gain valuable insights to redirect my research.

Design Research Methods

I asked participants them to empty the contents of their bags and then take away items leaving only the most valuable to them. New ideas started coming up like:

Value vs Perceived value.

How do we attach value to things and why?

I reflected on what I value most and being displaced from home I attach sentimental value to things.

To iterate on my conversation pieces and since social opportunities scarcely presented themselves, I started working with the idea of socially distant probes and combining them with embodied research methods. These iterations and my deepening personal connections with my participants made it possible to adapt the probes and questions asked according to each participant. 

I went on guided walks in person and on video-chats to share my new context and space and asked participants to share their experience of these interactions. I collected recipes and the sentimental stories attached to them, then shared these with those who wanted it. I gathered sound-clips of snippets in time from all over to show connectivity in displacement through audio. 

Savannah Whiting, Robertson Winery. Packaging and bottling factory. Robertson, South Africa. 11/12/2020, 11:59am.
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I really want to work on my communicative ability. I am usually quite good at getting my ideas across whether it is in design or writing, but in retrospect I have always been around others to whom the philosophies I am dealing with is part of their knowledge base. My work is about discovering solutions through exploration and therefore I time-lapse and video any physical tasks that I take on. I also create notes where I write down my thoughts and ideas for the way forward. I document a lot, but lack the organising of that, which in turn reflects on my storytelling and communicative ability.

I want to be able to tell the story better. I think its still to complex and that is why I struggle. Also the philosophy of ubuntu is very intertwined so I am going to have to be very smart with my tags, and categories. 

I want to tell the stories of discoveries and memories of every day things by people that might not have the skills to get the message across in a way that is understandable accessible to the common man. There is value in this. We can learn from this. We can create networks and therefore systems to empower this. The we is just missing so far.

Design Orientation Poster Essay

I was listening to podcasts about Ubuntu and how it is implemented all around the world. This made me start to question where I fit into it and how can I adapt these lessons in a new way that is relevant to my process and practice. 

If I look at what stand out to me it is the ideas of value, shared culture, empowerment community, unity and creativity. Most of these link to all the lesson of ubuntu but my role is to kill the darlings and keep what makes sense.

I kept referring back to my new design question going back to the idea of using the principles of ubuntu guidelines to create a platform / process / methodology of working towards sustainable connections.

I find it very helpful to be able to look up and keep being reminded what I am working on and towards. I work by creating physical moodboards and timelines in my workspace which has helps me map ideas. It is clear to me that where everything is online, I need to adapt in order to communicate better.

My mappings have been very text based and I can immediately see that this is something to look at. I am missing the show part of show-and-tell. In terms of my creative ability, I need to iterate with designs and creations and not only ideas.

Exploring with Axis and Maps

This was not the right direction for me and upon further reflection and generative sessions with peers and experts I was able to define and establish relevance.

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