Comments from last week

The 1 to 1 tutorial I had with my tutor really helped a lot. We were able to discussed some of the details of my research findings which I didn’t cover during class. The discussion we had also allowed them to get a better understand of what I did, and found design opportunities for my project. The research I have done has helped me to build a good foundation hence I can further look into space of one’s home. They also suggested me to find a few more employed young adults to know more about their life during lockdown so as to give me sufficient information.

Further Research

This week, I found another 8 employed young adults to do the same research tasks as last week to get a wider generative look of their home/ work environment. Apart from two participants refused to reveal their homes, I got to look more into what people call as “workspace” in their home.

There are similar finding where people tend to have more negative emotion when work has invaded into their private space. The comfortless of the working environment is also a major factor that would affect their emotion when needing to work from home for a period of time. Two participants actually had positive emotion to their work because they made improvements into their homes and formed a better workspace. This also shows design opportunity where I can work with spaces within a home. I can think of ways to divide the home and create a sense of order to allow people to enjoy their homes even when they are in different modes.

Emotion Object Mapping with another 8 participants
Second photo analysis (Blurred image due to privacy reason)

Design Focus

From the previous research, I have known that young adults love their private space in their rooms, therefore my focus this time will be the space in bedroom. My aim is to be able to set up a private sleeping/ entertaining area, proper workstation, and an exercise space within one’s room with sense of order.

Since most of my participants are from Hong Kong, I decided to use homes in Hong Kong as the base for this project. One of the challenges for this is the fact that most houses in HK is very small and compact. From an online article that is written in 2018, it is mentioned that the average apartment size in Hong Kong is around 628 square feet. Not to mention there are even smaller apartments than this.

Research on Basic Needs

In the case of creating room for fulfilling the purpose of sleep, work and exercise within a limited space and in a positive way, I tried to focus on the minimum needs for each mode. I asked the participants 3 questions:

  1. What are your top 3 must have in a bedroom?
  2. What are your top 5 must have in a workspace that will allow you to work from home comfortably?
  3. Did you do any exercise during lockdown (at home/ outside home)? If so, what is it?

By analysing their answers, I got an idea of their essential needs that will help to maintain their positive/ neutral emotion. For the exercise part, it does certainly help me to plan out the space needed with what they do.

Moodboard

As the bedroom space would be very small, applying modular design would allow the room to have more flexibility for different purpose. I created a moodboard on modular furniture within a home and looked at different videos on how interior design create a functional space within a small space. I was very impress on the work those designers made to allow the furniture/ home become multifunctional.

Modular furniture — Bed
Modular furniture — Table/ desk
Modular furniture — Others

Difficulty 1 — Size and Dimension

The first difficulty I faced was figuring out the size of the bedroom. It wasn’t hard to know the size of an apartment from the internet, however it was hard to know the exact dimension of bedroom. I tried to find the floor plan of my house back in Hong Kong, but the building was too hold where the internet doesn’t have any of it. Even when I found a floor plan from the internet, I didn’t understand it nor knowing the units … Not to mention, I had no idea with the average ceiling height.

Fortunately, I have a friend who works as an interior designer and I got to ask her about the average bedroom size and ceiling height. I also asked one of my closest friend in Hong Kong to help measuring her bedroom size so I can have an idea.

The final bedroom size I decided to focus on is around 67 square foot, with 2600mm ceiling height. The bedroom size is smaller than the average size mentioned by my interior design friend, but it is a roughly size of my friend’s bedroom.

Difficulty 2 — Online model making

The second difficulty I faced was finding a tool to illustrate my design. Since I don’t know much about interior design, I had to figure out the right software/ application and learn from scratch. I finally used an online home design platform called Homestyler to work on my design. However as I was midway through, I realised the platform doesn’t allow me to make customised furniture, perhaps I need to find another platform in the future but for now it is good enough for me to plan out the space.

Designing a multifunction bedroom with Homestyler

Co-Design & Model Making

I had a lot of ideas while I was designing the space, the moodboard also gave me inspiration on how to combine multiple function in a furniture. I also invited a participant who provided me her bedroom dimension to join the design process with me. Since we both were at different locations and time zone, we had to make use of the “day time” that we both have to talk about it. We had a lot of Skype calls along the way to talk and discuss how things can turn into within this bedroom size. And I did make adjustments according to her feedbacks:

1. Extendable barre — Since that participant does ballet as her hobby, I originally added a barre that has the same width as the closet and placed it between the closet and dresser. However she told me that the barre would be too short for her to even do stretching. After searching the dimension of a home barre, I decided to make the barre extendable from its original length to 100cm, so it can fulfil her needs as well as being store at the original place.

2. Multifunctional cubes — I always have an idea of making use of those cubes for different purposes. Apart from using it as stairs for accessing to the bed, I was thinking to make those cubes moveable to separate space within the room and create another private spot such as a reading area. After sharing my initial idea with her, she mentioned she would prefer to have a small social spot in the room instead, hence we started to calculate the heigh of the cubes and see whether it suits the purpose of having a tea table. (The size was just a rough dimension)

Cubes use it as social/ tea table

The participant also proposed to merge the desk with the cube shelfs so as to maximise space. However, after measuring the heigh the the cubes, I told her the height of the cubes would not be suitable for serving as a long term work desk. (which might caused more negative emotion) Therefore we ended up with my initial thought, which is to placed an extendable desk instead. Under daily situation, user can use the desk with its original form, but if they need a bigger workspace, the desk surface can extend a size more to fulfil their needs.

Bedroom with extendable desk

Note: Since Homestyler does not allow making customise furniture, the image here is just a concept visualisation

Paper Model Prototype

When the online design was roughly done, I started making a paper prototype with its ideal look to see how it looks in person. The ratio of the model is 1:20.

Note: I wasn’t able to complete the whole physical model within the week, but the digital model showed how it is supposed to look.

Reflection

This week is a very fulfilling and productive week for me, I learnt something new as well as being able to work on the design. The process wasn’t smooth, but I’m still enjoying it, especially during the physical model making. When the model starting to look complete, looking at it visually gave me more ideas on how to improve the space better.

An additional finding to me was the experience on how UX research can apply to interior/ furniture design. Before focusing on this aspect, I didn’t know what my design outcome will be with the research I have done, but the plot twist allowed me to further widen my horizon.

Reference

Ma, D. (2018) Why Hong Kong’s homes are getting ever smaller. Available at: https://www.theinvestor.jll/news/hong-kong/residential-multifamily/why-hong-kongs-homes-are-getting-ever-smaller/ (Accessed: 14 November 2020).

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