Comments from last week

The findings that I got from cultural probes are quite general and does not really link with the restriction with COVID-19. Even without the pandemic, we would still know people’s wellbeing is depend on socialising, exercising, having a safe place, and managing work life balance. The research I have done is good for the beginning of the research, but it is time to get a deeper look to get a richer understand. The model I made did help to make the explanation clearer and easy to understand while presenting. Now it is the time to move on and get into details.

Research this week

This week I did a deeper research on how people feel about certain objects and space in their home. I did three things in total, one is emotion object mapping, another is photo analysis and lastly a question and answer session.

I did this research with 6 young adults in total, including 4 employed and 2 students, however my analysis were mainly focus on the four participants who are employed at the moment.

Emotion Object Mapping

In order to get a deeper understanding on young adults’ emotion well-being inside a home, I first list out the items that a home contains, then finally selected three objects from different locations and ask them to rate their emotion experience with their bed, desk and sofa from the pre-covid period until now.

Brainstorming the main objects we have inside our home

Turns out that apart from a person who continues to have positive emotion with these objects due to similar life experience, majority of them didn’t feel good about their work desk at home.

For sofa, everyone gave out different answers. Some like their sofa more because they could spend more time there for entertainment and family reunion, while one realised how really uncomfortable the sofa is, or it is just another relaxing spot apart from the bed.

For the bed, the answers were quite different as well. For people who didn’t have much interaction with the bed besides sleeping, they emotion experience towards the bed didn’t change. However, their mental state could also affect how they feel about the object. One participant felt less precious with the bed because she has spent so much time lying on it doing nothing during lockdown, versus, another participant felt more enjoyable staying in bed to reduce stress.

People’s emotion towards their home objects from before COVID-19, during and now

Photo Analysis

In photo analysis, I asked them to take pictures of their work space, bedroom and living room area. Apart from a participant who refused to show their bedroom and living room due to privacy reasons, I got a better understand with their reasonings behind, especially their work space.

Their work station at home are apparently not as good as the set up in their office. It was either too small, compacted with other stuffs, or it wasn’t even a proper desk that is suitable for long working hours.

Through photo analysis, I got to see more unknown facts that I wouldn’t be able to discover just by asking questions. These photos helped to visualise and provide extra facts on what participant was trying to describe. However, due to privacy reasons, these photos can’t be posted publicly.

Analysing each participant’s room (Blurred image due to privacy reason)

Q&A

In the Q&A session, I asked them how they would like to improve their house if lockdown comes again.

Some answers were quite practical like wanting to make use of the empty area of the kitchen or bedroom to make it fully utilise the space for storage and work. The other two answers were exercise and hobby related.

The photos from the photo analysis also helped to explain their reasonings behind, as well as letting me to imagine how it would happen if it turns real.

Design Attempt 1 — Metaphor

Lastly, I asked them to think of a metaphor to describe their feelings with their work life at home, and I tried to create a thing to externalise the way they feel.

The first thing that I make is a leaky balloon. The balloon itself represents a person, and being able to float is the productivity. Since the work desk a participant’ home was giving discomfort and negative emotion to that person, she felt lacking of motivation and concentration to work. When the balloon keeps leaking while she wants to stay floating, she felt powerless and started to feel unmotivated to continue to do so. And eventually, she felt she wasn’t doing what she could do best at all.

Leaky balloon as metaphor of working from home

The second thing I made was trying to describe the process where a participants continues to feel uncomfortable with the sofa. She didn’t enjoy sitting on the sofa from the very beginning, but after spending more time with it due to work from home, she still thinks it is not comfortable. So the metaphor used is an itchy sweater, where one thinks it is not too bad at first, but the longer you wear it, the more uncomfortable it becomes. For outcome I made for this metaphor, I tried to use place many toothpicks in a sponge, so when people place their hands on the sponge they would feel the pointy texture instead of the expected smoothness.

Reflection

Throughout the whole research process, one thing that I was struggling continuously was finding design opportunities for my project. Though it is a topic that I’m interested in, but as the research goes on I couldn’t figure out a point where design could fit in… A deeper look into people’s home did help me to know more the “behind the scenes” stories and facts from participants. I did try to externalised their experience with a metaphor to see whether it would work or not, however the outcome didn’t turn out the way I expected. I don’t think it reflected my research findings as well as showing how COVID-19 is impacting young adult’s emotion well-being well enough.

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