Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And now it's time for a weak metaphor!

A couple of day's time has witnessed my first step back from the most recent out-pour of of slightly-more-focused-than-day-one energy, and as I still sit here, scribbling attributes and verbs on notebook paper for tomorrow's pecha kucha, I've formed a lackluster metaphor that I think may be a good shrine to return to from time to time in order to realize the fundamental concepts that define and give purpose to whatever my project ends up being:

It begins with a swimming pool, let's not delve into it's location or its means of operation, that may come later when there is a more certain range in view for who the project will affect, or it may very well never be that important. The important aspect of said pool is how it serves those who use it, and let's assume that everyone has a more or less equal amount of access, time, and other resources necessary for partaking in positive experiences that the pool provides. The pool's experience and meaning changes, it can be used for competition, teaching, coaching, casual exercise, partying, etc, and each of these is an experience controlled (if we assume the pool is not a restricting factor, aka it is a "perfect design") by those participating in and conducting the experience.

If the pool is a design, in this case a system of service, and the people who use it, from lifeguards to.......senior swim aerobics students are the users, than where should the designer look besides the pool itself in order to provide a meaningful/useful/helpful experience for the people enjoying it? My thoughts go first to the surrounding facilities, anything on the same property certainly, but perhaps also other buildings and establishments in closest proximity to the pool, or in the case of a generic design, the closest links that design has to the world: its market, it's relative and complimentary designs, its competition, etc. But where does the designer go next? The first two controllable mechanics are obvious and intuitive to the process of any design, but I would argue the part that matters most is in the first assumption of the scenario - the accessibility of those who would use your design. In a world of markets that becomes more and more diverse, choice-laden, exclusive, and tiered, my desire as a designer is to make something that reverses such a concept, and not by reducing choices or trying to find something everybody likes, but by building a "pool" that is, in every aspect, inclusive, and inspires it's participants and users to help one another in learning, creating, communing, etc.

Wow, at this point, I have no idea if any of that makes any sense, and I'm losing the battle to stay awake. What I want anyone reading this to get out of it is my belief in the importance of inclusive design, (a founding concept of the practice really), and the clear connection this makes when we talk about designing a service. I want whatever this project becomes to be something that encourages people to experience one another on a level beyond any simple economical transaction, I want a sense of community to be omnipresent in the experience.

That's enough for now, editing and clarification to come.

1 comment:

  1. Tim-

    I think that not only are the services and surroundings important, but also the properties of the pool. Think about why people use a pool of water (makes you float, cools you, not inherently dangerous, and cheap), instead of air (boring), Acid (dangerous), glow-stick liquid (expensive), or paraffin wax (not refreshing like water).

    The properties of the pool you design will make a difference in the way that users interact with that pool.