The article that the interior designers were asked to read focused on the importance of design research. It emphasized on the fact that you cannot successfully design for individuals by simply trying to put yourself in their shoes. The key to design is to do your research, understand the individual’s likes and dislikes and using what they value as a design tool. One term that the article mentioned product personality profiling, which taps into the user’s perception’s of who they feel certain products are created for. Proponents of this technique believe that the qualitative data that is collected is helpful in understand client’s personalities. This technique not only taps into emotional perceptions, but it also feeds into social value systems. Product profiling and the lessons it is trying to get across can be helpful to me in my future as an interior designer.
My most memorable item was a charm bracelet that was my grandmother’s when she was alive. It had guardian angel charms on it with both my sister and I’s name and birthdays engraved on the back. I was given this bracelet after my grandmother passed away, for my sixteenth birthday. Going around the class and listening to everyone speak about their valuable items, helped me realize an important aspect of design. I plan on going into senior living design when I graduate and I can take lessons that I have learned in this class, and apply it to my field. After listening to the class, I gathered that many people valued items that were passed down to them, and were valuable to a loved one at one point in time. Designing for older individuals, you have you understand that they sometimes are forced to isolation and become distant from their family. As an interior designer, I think that it is important to allow them to make them feel at home when they are put into a nursing home or other senior residency. With that being said, giving them the opportunity to somewhat design their own space and make it their own is very important. Encouraging them to bring valuable items into the space and surround themselves with material objects, sounds, scents and anything else that reminds them of home or creates a comfortable and relaxing environment.
I had never realized the importance of empathic design until I started studying to become an interior designer, and taking this class. Empathic design is a way to understand an individuals likes and dislikes and use what you gather to successfully design products and spaces for users. On the other hand, market research is more based on statistics and whether a product is selling or not. This type of research looks and realizes that there are changes in sales; however, it does not make an effort to understand the users of the specific products. I was able to understand more about empathic design when we completed the design probes package. In class, we were given another students package and with the information given, we were able to gather their likes and dislikes and certain things that were of value to them. After gathering this information, we were asked to create something for this individual, using the information given to us in the package. This exercise really opened my eyes to the fact that you do not need to personally know the user to successfully design something for them. If you know what makes them tick and things that would truly be useful to them, you can use creativity to create something they will value. The most important part of this exercise was asking the user, after they had been shown the idea, whether they would like it and what they would change about it. Most times, as designers, we design a space and leave right after and just hope that people will like it. I think it is important to go back and truly see if your design is being valued by the users. Ask what they would change and use their experiences with the space as a way to make the design even better next time.
Now that I have a better understanding of what empathic design truly entails, I now realize that the 5 steps of this process are very important when wanting to integrate empathic design into all designs processes. The 5 steps include observation, capturing data, reflection and analysis, brainstorming for solutions and developing prototypes of possible solutions. Is any one step more important than the other? In my opinion, absolutely not. As I mentioned earlier, it is one thing to design something beautiful, but it is another to go back and check up on how the space is being used. In this process, you cannot skip a step or value any one more than another because then you would not truly be understanding an individual’s connection to a product or space. You cannot only observe how a user interacts with a product, but you have to follow through and get to the end where you are looking for even better solutions than the first ones.