In Week 2, myself and a team were provided with the following persona and asked to prototype designs of chairs.
“Grandpa is an old man who is achy and sometimes a bit grouchy. He has trouble getting around, so he walks with a cane. He also has difficulty get in and out of his chair, though he sits in his chair most of the day.”
How did working through different materials help you to explore and express potential solutions to a design problem?
I had to consider my idea in a three dimensional way, to scale, therefore I identified flaws and found solutions that I may not have been able to do with a sketch of an idea. I was also forced to improvise and use materials which would not have been my first choice. This taught me to be more flexible, problem solve and utilise new and interesting materials in my design.
What kinds of information and inspiration did the new materials give you? Did you have a favourite material?
The bending qualities of the pipe cleaners inspired me to design chairs with bending, movement and flexibility incorporated. Without the pipecleaners I may not have considered movement qualities in my chair ideas such as rocking and bouncing, and this opened my eyes to potential solutions to the user needs. For example, the user identified a need for a walking stick, therefore I devised a chair design which incorporated a bending functionality in the chair to allow the user to reach the walking stick in a fluid, simple motion.
I also enjoyed working with the constraints of the matchsticks and corrugated paper. For example, I felt that the limitations of the corrugated paper and sticky tape influenced the visual design of my chairs, and encouraged me to think harder about a way to embrace these materials to produce a suitable visual design for the persona.
What did you change along the way? What did you learn from your prototypes?
Firstly, I simplified my designs between sketching and prototyping with materials. It was only upon using the materials one at a time that I realised I wasn’t able to achieve my sketches realistically.
I decided that my chair would visually take on a comfortable recliner appearance and functionality, and most of my prototypes were based on this. I made this decision because it was possible to achieve in time and material constraints, and also responded to all identified user needs.
I also changed my design to better respond to the users need for a walking stick when leaving the chair, and the user’s need for as few strenuous movements as possible, and my final prototype included an easy-to-reach walking stick holder incorporated into the chair. This change was a result of a few iterations and refinements, and I decided that this was the most effective response to the user’s needs.
How well did you address your user needs in the various design models you created?
I think I successfully responded to the user needs I identified in my models. The following are the user needs I identified and how I responded to them in designs:
- As little strenuous movement as possible
- I designed chairs that sit taller and flexibly sink in/move lower as someone sits down
- I included comfortable arm rests
- Comfort when sitting for long periods of time
- I designed a supportive shape that would not compromise on comfort
- I (hypothetically) included materials to mould to the user’s body slowly and become more comfortable
- Ease getting into and out of the chair
- As previously mentioned, the chair sits higher so it can be reached easily, then slides downwards into a more comfortable position
- One design included a lever on the side to make the seat move upwards so the chair was easy to get out of