1) Choose one of the objects you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?
Chopsticks! Initially, my mind was still relying on its instinctive perspective of chopsticks: your hands hold the chopsticks here (near the top) and the chopstick holds your food object here (at the bottom). I had been accustomed to dividing a chopstick into these two parts, the top and the bottom.
Exploring the chopsticks’ other capabilities, I made sure to also avoid seeing the chopsticks as another object, namely, a stick. It was easy to do so, since the chopstick is rigid and able to hold weight.
Through this exercise, I found that an object’s affordances can go beyond how we use the object — it is our mind and its mental blocks that prevent us from seeing these additional ways of usage.
2) Given that affordances is a relational property between a person and an object, how did the manipulation of the object and the person’s abilities inform your understanding of the concept? Did it give you inspiration or insight for how to work with affordances as a designer? Discuss this through the specific objects you explored in the exercise.
It was instructive to see how differently Elektra, my partner, and myself handled our objects. Clearly, we had different ways of relating to the same objects, and I really learned to think outside of my own mental box by watching how she conceptualized the extra uses of our objects.
The insight I directly derived from the chopsticks was about aesthetics: simple tools are straight-forward in form and function, and encourage users not to fiddle or investigate any further.
As a designer, this exercise highlighted how different users would be able to perceive affordances with different levels of ease.