This week’s design outsider was Emily, a school teacher with a background in traditional and non-traditional educational environments. She was invited as a guest as the design challenge was to create a unique piece of play furniture.
On our affiliated youtube channel, Two Day Design, the team at Design Outsider tackles design challenges in two days. We invite guests onto the show who may not have traditional design backgrounds - design outsiders. One of the goals is to learn how diverse perspectives can enhance the design process and contribute to designs that better serve people.
The series is an ongoing project with an acknowledgement that there is no one-size fits all approach to co-creation. The series is also a constant work in progress with the team learning from each other and through the experiences working with each new guest. Following each 2 Day Design session, the team at Design Outsider discusses the 2 Day Design process. This blog documents our thoughts challenges and discusses opportunities for future episodes.
This week’s design outsider was Emily, a school teacher with a background in traditional and non-traditional educational environments. She was invited as a guest as the design challenge was to create a unique piece of play furniture. The conversation began with first impressions of the brief. With Emily’s background in education and learning environments she saw an opportunity for the project to be situated outdoors with a focus on how the child would interact with the site. She was able to draw from precedents that she remembered from her lived experiences introducing examples like Lincoln Logs and Imagination Playground to the team. While Emily was chosen as a guest collaborator with a background in education, it was her other life experiences that also proved valuable in the design process. Emily drew from her background in technical theatre and as a stage manager while in High School in Canada.
There was a recurring theme of personal anecdotes and oral storytelling by both the team and Emily. We all related to playing as a child and we drew on these past events to situate ourselves in the brief. We spoke about how we as children would interact with the play furniture, who we would play with, and how this interaction would be seen by others. Since the size and location of the brief was non-specific, we had to consider a ‘place’ where the play furniture would be. We also considered what the play furniture would be like in real locations and how this may impact the play furniture’s function.
While we spoke about presenting the project through isometric drawings, parti diagrams, and renders, Emily reminded the team how this might be viewed by non-designers. She suggested non-designers may not be used looking at things like isometric drawings, so that it would be critical for the team to visualize how people will be interacting with the play furniture. The discussion below reveals just one of the many unique contributions of this week’s ‘design outsider’.
Emily: “[I think it’s important] to be able to see [the play furniture] in a space...and how most people are going to interact with it and be able to understand what is going on. I think that should be focus number one. What would be more traditional for you guys first, maybe isn’t the first thing that happens...”
Josh: “...so trying to get across the interaction people were having with the site?”
Emily: “Yeah. Because, if the whole concept is an emotional connection, something that is different and creative and be something for people, good for communities, and taking into consideration outside voices...that has to show in the final product.”
Callum: “...Maybe our focus is on the interaction between the parents and the child...our design is just a backdrop to it...”
Daniel: “It facilitates [the interaction].”
Josh: “Maybe on an Instagram post...we could present it in stages...the people...the spaces...then the structure…”
This conversation illustrated above show one of ways the design outsider nudged the team closer to show the human element in their design and remain focused on the relationship between people and their interaction with place and the design.
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