P5: Approaches to design for change, design-led ethnography

Interviews & Insights

To gain a deeper understanding on the housing affordability issue and how it relates to our age group (~18-24 give/take a year), I conducted semi structured interviews with my peers, a male and female. What I found particularly interesting was the aspirational aspect of the interview- that both participants dreamed big when it came down to describing their ideal home. As they were talking about their ideal home, it seemed to me that in their eyes, they were reminiscing about a space that they have been to before. Perhaps these ideal homes have been fabricated from a young age and have been revised many times in the participant’s mind.

Also what was interesting was the use of language when describing their ideal homes. “It must have a large backyard” or “it must have at least three bedrooms”. The language was indicative that through having these features in their future homes it would provide them happiness and security.

I then asked them to think about their understanding of the housing market and realistically where they were going to end up. Both participants responded to most likely living in a small apartment studio or renting a house because the housing market to owning a home was too difficult to break into. I first interviewed a female and decided to interview a male after she said this statement: “I’ll marry a rich guy and never work, never have to worry about working for a house” which even if said as a joke, ties in with another unspoken issue. Even in our open and equal society (not entirely, but it’s getting there), men are still subconsciously depended upon to make more money and to own homes. This gives men more pressure to break into the housing market.

Probe & Case Study

Following my interviews with my two peers and the responses given, I decided to explore the aspirational and realistic side of housing according to my age group. I formulated a series of questions and sent them out to various people in the age group. Alongside asking for general information about their age, gender, job/study status, some examples of the questions asked include:

  1. What is your ideal future housing if not living in it already? Please describe in detail.
  2. Based on your current income, lifestyle, aspirations and what you think of the Australian housing market, what housing do you think you will be living in realistically. Please describe in detail.
  3. What are your current living conditions?

There were a range of responses and some I did not quite expect. One male engineer, 24, said his ideal house was “2 story, 3 bedrooms minimum, kitchen, 2 bathrooms, study room, living room and a backyard. Close to parks and train stations as well as being close to Sydney CBD.” In his response to what is realistically achievable for himself, the only change made was the distance from Sydney CBD. He said the only unrealistic aspect of his ideal was the location and that owning such a house in the CBD was impossible. 

On the other hand, a 20 year old male when asked to describe his dream home, described down to the finest detail “Large white room with glass whiteboards protruding out of the ground (magnetic pads attached to hold whiteboard equipment)”. He wrote an entire page of all the little details he would like in every room of his dream home but when it came down to what was realistic he simply wrote “Cramped studio close to city with mismatched decor based on what is functional”. This is an indicator of the damage done on the emotional subconscious by the current housing market on Gen Y. Whether the difference in dream and reality has an effect on the wellbeing of the individual is questionable as it is hard to measure but one this is certain: Gen Y is demoralised from the bleak outlook of ever owning their dream home.

To visualise my probe and data collected: