As a follow-up to the speculative product assignment, we were tasked with creating a newspaper of the future, to fully flesh out the sociopolitical context of the worlds that we were imagining through the articles found on the front page of the newspaper. Opposite the front page is always a full page ad, giving us an opportunity to create an advertisement related to the product that we created. At first, I struggled with this assignment, realizing that the idea of a newspaper in the year 2075 was surely a conceit - in a world with bionic implants and devastating environmental damage from global warming, what place would there be for printed newspapers?
Design thinking is in vogue, being used in more contexts than ever, with periodicals constantly heralding this epoch in business as the age of design, and championing job titles such as Chief Design Executive. While this certainly makes now an interesting and exciting time to be a design student, it also incorrectly suggests that design thinking is the only methodology with which to approach product design. Sometimes, though, it's just as important to identify where society ought to be in the future as it is to identify where it is now. For those cases, futuring is a useful tool and design methodology.
Happy New Year everyone! This will be my last scheduled post for the blog, and so I thought that publishing it today and speaking about next steps for my thesis in the coming semester would only be appropriate.
I only prototyped one more product for the two week product design sprint. This didn’t make onto a more refined model, despite this final prototyped idea also being one that I’ve been toying around with since the original 100 sketches that we did for thesis.
The other product idea that I wanted to prototype for the product design sprint was another idea that I had from the very beginning of thesis. One of the hardest things for people with spinal cord injuries to adjust to is the incontinence that they develop as a result of the injury.
One of the first ideas that I wanted to prototype for the product design sprint was the rollable ramp. Longtime followers of the blog will recognize this idea as an iteration of something that Chris P, one of my users who participated in the co-design workshop, came up with. Chris, a New York City resident, told me about the problems facing wheelchair users in New York City, especially around food and restaurants. A ton of restaurants in the city are still not ADA complaint [a theme that I touched on earlier in the blog when talking about the service ADApt], and many feature [somewhat maddeningly] a single step up or down into their premises. The rollable ramp is meant to counteract that tendency.
My last design for social innovation utilized a mix of public perception and disruptive tech in order to combat ableism. Near school is a Juice Shop, one of those fancy places that offers fresh blended fruits and vegetables as a supplement or replacement for meals. That people would willingly forego full meals in favor of liquids in a world where hunger and famine are epidemics affecting people everyday is actually surprisingly [given how much I eat] an idea that has appealed to me in the past [though my grad school budget would never permit me spending $50/day on juice for an extended period of time]. On the topic of food, I also thought about what seems to be a perennially recent trend of blind eating - where people dine in the dark, depriving themselves of their sense of sight in order to be better able to taste their food. All of this combined and conspired in my mind and got me thinking: what if disability were rebranded?
My second app explore new territory for my thesis. So far, I think I've been focused on very practical things - my services and products all address the physical aspects of paralysis and wheelchair use, without delving into the psychological. My thesis interviews and additional reading that I've been doing on the side [design meets disability by Graham Pullin - a great read] suggest that I can't begin to design for my users without addressing their psychological needs as well. A lot of those needs originate in the physical condition that my users have, but that doesn't mean that addressing one necessarily addresses both. Recognizing this, I designed my second app to really try to get to a deeper and more profound place than any of my previous designs.
Today will be the last post [for now] about the services that I came up with as a part of my thesis. The original assignment asked for the 2nd year students at Products of Design to come up with two service ideas by using a presentation template as a generative tool for fleshing out our concepts. In addition to this, we were to brand the services in order to better convey the meaning and intent of them, and to make them seem more real. The human imagination is like a vine - if you put a structure in place that it can grow and wrap around, it can ascend to heights that are unbelievable [irony sort of unintended]. And so, I want to walk you through the decisions that I made when pulling together a brand for each of my services.