MSc Product Design - Visit from Dean Brown

Yesterday, we were very lucky to be visited by Dean Brown, who spent the day mentoring us and helping us begin the transition from Find into Play. Dean's work is very focused on craftsmanship and applies this to objects, installations and interiors. 

After briefly introducing his work, he asked us to individually go away and draw 6 physical objects that in some way relate to our projects - this was to create a reference point or "dictionary" of objects relevant to our subject matter. I split my 6 into two categories - privacy and personal information.

I stuck to fairly obvious objects relating to personal information originally - I.D cards, wallets and mobile phones all contain some form of personal information, with each containing slightly different pieces of information. For privacy, I went a bit more abstract and considered objects that symbolise control of their privacy in the physical world - closing curtains determines levels of visibility, locks are a symbol for securing and do not disturb signs limits interaction in some cases.

After presenting these back to Dean, he encouraged us to think a bit more and add anything else than came to us. I added sunglasses, a wardrobe and a hanger; specifically the hanger and the wardrobe were interesting to me as they are physical ways of storing identity - clothing makes up a big part of our physical identity. This exercise was really helpful as it helped me think a bit more outside the box.

After lunch, Dean asked us to think up 2 opportunities and 2 challenges which we then do a group brainstorm as a class to get everyone's opinions and insights on these questions. I used my two scenarios that I'd prepared last week - What if our personal information was standard currency and what if our physical identity was determined by our online identity - as my opportunities to explore through prototyping. 

When asking the class for help, I asked them to help me consider the second challenge about physical vs online identity, and how we could make our online identities physical. It was really nice to brainstorm with the class and get a lot of fresh perspectives and ideas that I might never have considered brainstorming on my own. 

Finally, Dean asked us to go off and draw up 4 ideas for potential prototypes to explore, which again, we would feed back to the class and get everyone's insights and opinions on. My 4 ideas were:

  • A twitter app that analyses tweets and sends text reminders to the user to remind them of their big 5 qualities
  • Redesigning the "Hello, my name is..." badge to put the user's social media accounts at the fore front instead of their real name
  • "The new debit card" which used personal information as currency and required the user to swipe their card whenever they used it, so they were aware of swiping away their information
  • The like box, which filled up with tokens based on any Facebook interaction - likes, friends, shares - that you were encouraged to fill up like a piggy bank.

When feeding back, the debit card got the most reception, so this is something I'll be keen to explore in the coming weeks. I was also planning to expand on my Twitter app to include Twilio to give it the text functionality, and maybe blend in the idea of the name badge to include the qualities returned by the Twitter app.

Overall, this was a really valuable and insightful day and it definitely made the transition from Find to Play a lot smoother.