For this week’s topic, our class had the opportunity of executing a design probe. We were given the task to document our life through images that happened periodically throughout the day. I thought this assignment was going to be fun and entertaining; I mean, come on, it was a project that I could create that was all about MY LIFE! But as the week went by, I came to the realization that I do not appreciate my life as much as I think I do. Now now, I know you may be confused, so let me explain.
I am not saying that I am the most privilege kid; but I am not saying that lived in the dirt-poor slums of south Dallas. But have you ever had moment – maybe an hour, day, week, month, even a year – that you cannot recollect a small moment of your life? Maybe taking a walk with a friend, or going to the movies, I have not thought of this type of activity as something that I should cherish in my life. However, I have never looked through this form of experimentation assigned to us this past week. In relation to the reading “Design Probes” by Tuuli Mattelmäki, capturing my life’s moments on camera and documenting them on a presentation allowed me to look at my life through a new perspective. By capturing these moments as small as simple activities to what I ate throughout the day, I began to cherish the moments about my life. I began to feel an appreciation to things that I owned, the food I ate, the moments that were literally taking my breath away. I live my life not fully living in the moment and I know that I do not take advantage of the time that I have on this earth. I look at my clothes now with an appreciation that I did not have to own them. I wake up every morning giving praise, for I was not guaranteed another day of life. Although this project was the document the small things, it gave me a prospective of what these small things meant. Now, as far as what the assignment was really designed for, I think I am TOTALLY off the map for that particular purpose. But I can say that what I took from this assignment was a new appreciation for my life and how to live it. I want to cherish and gain an emotional and sentimental attachment (but not psycho, lets not get crazy!) to the objects that I own.
In addition to the Design Probes assignment, we were presented with the article “I Love this Dress, It Makes Me Feel Beautiful! Empathic Knowledge in Sustainable Design” written by Niinimaki and Koskinen that talked about the emotional attachment consumer attain with products that we purchase. And as I was working on this design probe, I came to realize that some of the products, pictures, and items presented were things that I had a strong sentimental value for. For instance, you may not have known from the pictures but there is a distinct pair of black jeans that I wear religiously listed as one of my favorite outfits. Everyone knows that I pretty much do not go anywhere without these specific pair of jeans. They’re my babies and I have grown an emotional attachment (listed under the attachment attributes in the article) for the five years that I have owned them. Sadly, their quality is dwindling away as they are fading, holes and distressed areas are starting to appear and they are becoming slightly too big for me (and thank the LORD I don’t have to worry about the other way around! PHEW!). But as these jeans seem to age, they begin to become more beautiful in my eyes. The quality is fading, yes, but they once obtained the durability of a horse. Also, these jeans were functionally enough to wear everyday. I could go on and on about talking about these pants, but I want you to get the idea that empathic design through these jeans (though, not really sustainable… Sorry!) had a great affect on the long-term relationship between me and these jeans. Its simple design, as well as functionality allowed me to appreciate something that was simply just bought. If designers could continue to create products that focused on customer preferences, wants, and needs, consumers would allow for less disposal of goods. That way, the long-term relationship of these products can potentially lead to product satisfaction and a positive outlook on empathic design.
From this assignment and this week’s readings, I learned that these two methods of design combined could help designers create products for consumers based on their preferences. The probes allows for a visual understanding into a consumer’s life which then can lead the designer/researcher into their specific market. As the class continues to learn about empathic design, I want to explore the concepts of finding products (not just keeping it in the apparel industry, but everything that I use in daily activities) that will cater to specific markets. Allowing for consumers to participate in fun experiments is a great (and inconspicuous, maybe?) way to engage your market, as well as learn basic information about what they do or do not like. If designer took on the approach, I believe that emotional attachment to products would continue to increase and thus, lead to less waste to accumulate in landfills in the future.