Blog 6 – Kira Petersons

Last week, we wrapped up biomimicry and jumped right into the new topic of empathic design.  During the final biomimicry lecture we learned about Devens and their 7 areas of focus on sustainability and Sustainable Stillwater showing what you can recycle and where specifically in the city of Stillwater you can do that.  I liked this because as Dr. Aditya always says, it is our own sustainability journey; with this link provided we have all the information at our fingertips to start that journey right here in Stillwater.  We also learned a little bit about Dr. Aditya’s concept of the moveSIT, which is very cool to think that our own professor is creating products to solve human problems and enhance human lives.  He is doing exactly what we are prompted to do in our in-class exercises.

An in-class activity we did on Tuesday was the business canvas model.  My group paired with the World Wildlife Fund and came up with the idea to create an animal preserve called “Stillwater Endangered Species Sanctuary”.  We would rescue endangered animals, nurse them back to health, and with the help of WWF, could breed the endangered species and eventually release them back into the wild.  I liked this exercise because it directed my mind towards a way of designing to utilize the charity of non-profits, and although your company may not be a non-profit, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be doing good for the environment and society.

I will use this in the future as I progress into my career by thinking about how my company can give back, whether alone or paired with another company.  I personally am a huge advocate for companies giving back, especially in apparel and fashion companies when everything can seem so superficial.  We have to remember that big fashion companies can be very influential with their famous names; they can use that influence and industry power to make a difference.  I gave a lot of thought to this at my internship with Michael Kors this summer because sometimes the things I did on a daily basis didn’t seem to make a difference in the world, but MK as a company partners with “God’s Love We Provide” and gives millions of meals to children in third world countries.  It’s stuff like that that matters in this world no matter what industry you are a part of.

One of the TED talks we watched about biomimicry was Vijay Kumar’s flying robots.  The videos of these robots were absolutely amazing because the robots could react to their surroundings and adapt accordingly.  Kumar gave examples of how they designed the robots to do this, saying they mimicked the movements of animals.  One specific example he gave was the way the flying robot picks up an object while it’s flying by – mocking the movements of a bird diving down to grab a fish out of the water with its talons.

In our empathic design lectures on Thursday we watched another TED talk, this time from Paul Bennett about getting into the mind of a hospital patient and trying to relate to how they feel inside the hospital.  He showed a video of the view most patients have – a 5 minute video of staring strictly the ceiling tiles.  The speaker talked about ways to improve their stay including decorations on the ceiling, distinct change in flooring to make the room feel more personal and private, and a customizable dry erase wall for notes from loved ones.  When I watched this video I thought of the several times in my course studies that we’ve had to put on a suit simulating the bodies of elderly people and design store layouts for them.  Empathic design is truly the way to solve human problems for groups of people that need special attention.

On, I would want to design with the Immersive Workshop method, taking an initial idea and processing through it with multiple people in a workshop setting.  To me, this is the best way to achieve success because you’re getting a chance to hear other people’s inputs that may be different and a better-fitting solution than yours.  I like this method for the same reasons I like our learning communities in class.

If I had to choose a person off the website to design for and assist, it would be Susan with her dexterity problems.  Obviously for shopping, mobility is a major factor – many of these people do not have the ability to do so anymore.  This means, shopping would either have to be completely virtual or completely wheelchair-friendly, which is most often not the case with bulky clusters of visual displays.  There are many design options to be explored with Susan’s disability.

Overall, great 8th week in Sustainability and that concludes my blog 6!


About Kira Petersons

college student. fashion merch.
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