IDEA9106 Design Thinking

Design is a state of mind



Design Project Presentation – Urban Nature, Group 13 – FacePlant

Interrogating Affordances

  1. Choose one of the objects you selected and describe how your initial understanding of its affordances changed over the course of the exercise?

The object I chose is a plastic disposable water bottle. The familiar household item that acts as a container for water, with a space to hold the liquid and a cap for sealing in the material inside. There is also a plastic label attached to the bottle. My initial understanding of the bottle was drawn from standard systems such as standing the bottle upright, and using the lid thread to unscrew and tighten the cap.


Sketching ideas helped me to explore different ways of interacting with the object, such as how orienting the bottle in a different way can lead to new uses and purposes. The cylindrical shape of the bottle can be used as a roller, and the patterns on the underside can be used as a stamping tool. The longways strength of the bottle is quite significant, whereas when compressed sideways, it offers little resistance to being re-shaped. There were a lot of affordances that the bottle offed once I viewed and sketched it from different perspectives.

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.


The exploration of the relationship between a person and object helped me to understand new ways the bottle can be used and re-purposed. For example, surrounding the bottle with foil allowed not only the foil to be shaped to a cylinder, but also can act as a protective layer around the contents, allowing for insulation and a variety of creative uses. It was interesting to observe how different people interacted with the bottle and foil, unscrewing the cap and using the foil as a thin insert to create a base, and covering the opening of the bottle to create a seal. I think this method is a valuable tool for exploring design possibilities and helps to widen the creative application of simple household objects.

Week 7 – Bodystorming

  1. How did physically acting out help to explore ideas?

As were were discussing and writing down ideas, it helped to physically act them out, as we would quickly become aware of further issues relating to the immediate space of the human body in the design process. Many of our design ideas became more focused on the user rather than overall design solutions to the system. When brainstorming on paper, it was easy to come up with ideas related to the topic, however when physically acting them out, the realities of the problem space we were working within became apparent.

  1. Did you refine your ideas and solutions to the problem through bodystorming? In what way?

After testing out some initial ideas on paper, we soon adapted our ideas to better include aspects of the physical space between our actors in bodystorming. For example, instead of creating design solutions that affected the entire plane design, we looked at how passengers are physically seated. From there we looked at what design solutions we can create within this limited space, such as power-pedals to keep circulation going, and bunk beds to maximize sleeping space.


  1. What was difficult or challenging about bodystorming?

Bodystorming was challenging as it created only a very limited suggestion of the real-life situation that we were aiming to design solutions for. The technique required a significant amount of imagination in order to truly visualize the problem space and how people would act and react within that space.


  1. Does bodystorming lend itself to certain types of problems?

I think bodystorming is a useful tool to use alongside others, as it can provide a reality check for the situation or make you realize obvious factors once the scene is executed. I feel it is a useful exercise to double-check you are not missing any obvious factors when designing something on paper and can lead to innovative and creative ideas.

Research Report: Summary Poster

A1 Poster - small.jpg

Week 3: Creating Personas

1. Describe your experience of creating personas from different users’ perspectives gathered in the interview data. Was there enough commonality between the 4 people interviewed to form a coherent persona? Or did it make more sense to create a second different persona?

Gathering information to create personas was an interesting exercise, I found that four people is not really enough to find any strong enough links between the data to create a successful persona. Of course, with more people, the more data will become available and a more accurate persona can be drawn. It was interesting to view the differences and similarities between the user experience and to identity what was common in the experience of visiting a supermarket. I think there were enough threads of similarity to create a very brief, light sketch of the beginnings of a persona.

2. Do you think your final persona was successful in generating empathy with users? What would you change to make it better?

Again, I feel the data just was not strong enough to be able to make a judgement of the level of generating empathy with users. I feel much of the data collected was very broad and not focused enough to generate a truly reflective persona about the experience of supermarket shopping. I would change the dataset to be at least twice as large, then I feel there would be enough material and data to determine a stronger persona with ties to discovering the empathy experience.

Week 2: Interpreting Data

  1. How did this exercise help you build empathy with the prospective users?

This exercise required me to understand the user wants and needs through a first-person narrative. The use of phrases starting with ‘I’ and ‘my’ was a different approach to analysing data than I am used to, and I also helped to re-frame problems and wants from a more personal, empathetic perspective in order to understand their point of view.

  1. How did the clustering of information help you to understand the users needs?

Creating the affinity diagram proved quite difficult due to the sheer amount of notes we had, however it soon became clear that certain notes belonged with others and began to form a comprehensive idea. The needs and desires of the interviewees was re-framed to show overall patterns and continuing threads of certain themes such as use of technology and need for security and safety.

  1. What was difficult or challenging with the technique? How would you do it better next time?

Due to the amount of information we had collected, the initial determining of threads and groups was extremely difficult. Also the more personal empathy approach was difficult to comprehend, but ultimately patterns began to form and logical groupings we established. For next time, I would probably try to simply use less, more specific information in order to establish wider patterns of user desires and needs.


Week 1: Sketching as a thinking tool

1. How is this sketchnoting technique different to the traditional note taking?

I find sketchnoting circulates around central ideas and expands outwards, rather that the traditional list-based ordering of information. Combined with the network-style of linking concepts and information, sketchnoting serves to identify the core concepts that are easier to draw from a brief examination of the notes. Traditional note-taking requires identification of important information from a uniform presentation of the style.

2. How does this visual approach facilitate communication of your ideas? Conversely, how does it prevent it?

I think the visual approach helps to encourage broader thinking about a topic and to explore connections that may otherwise not have been made. The rejection of the uniform style is inherently creative and helps to provide the space to understand issues and ideas from different perspectives.

Sketchnoting can also act as a barrier to deeper concepts, as these can be very difficult to accurately present as an image. I feel sketchnoting has it’s place in outlining broad ideas and how they interrelate, but is not particularly efficient for deeper, more complex information.

3. Personal challenges as a sketchnoter.

Personally I find sketchnoting difficult as I will tend to spend too long trying to make the notes look nice rather than actually form the ideas and linking structures. I feel with more practice in drawing and sketching this would be made easier. I also found it challenging to sift through the information and only draw out the most important topics to spend the time to draw. Again, with practice I feel this could be improved.


Blog at

Up ↑