09 – If in doubt, try again


Wk6 in class brainstorm
Wk6 in class Five W’s and brainstorm

Culminating the research phase of the project, the focus our group sessions shifted to exploring potential design responses for our issues. To facilitate this discussion we initially framed the problem within the scope of the Five W’s – who, what, when, where and why. Specifying the context within which the problem exists established a sound foundation for the proposal to be developed.

Whilst such a format is incredibly useful in translating the conclusions drawn from research into a design context, without a fairly specific direction in mind, the exercise will merely described a vague or overly broad context. Although I had clearly found the use of language in media dialogue around mental health to be problematic, I felt that my answers to the Five W’s were still quite generalised.

When attempting to thoroughly explain the context of my issue to my group I found that I could not identify a specific element to focus my design response. Without a refined direction in mind, and a very limited amount of time remaining to the class, it then became difficult to benefit from the group brainstorming process. Had the Five W’s been completed prior to class, perhaps a clearer understanding of the shift from research into design would have been established and thus a more productive exploration into proposals engaged.

wk6 brainstorming exercise
Wk6 group proposal brainstorm

Having been unable to spend much time discussing my project with the group I didn’t feel entirely prepared for the coming week of conceptual development. Unsure of how best to proceed, it was important to me to return to the exercises led in the tutorial group and explore more refined responses, now with less of a time pressure.

Returning to the question of Who under the banner of ‘Media perceptions of mental illness (specifically as relates to crime)’ I sought out to simply list the principal stakeholders in this issue, rather than attempting to formulate logical sentences. At this point I began to brainstorm a potential design proposal derived specifically from the dialogue within newspapers.

second proposal brainstorm
Scanned spread of stream of consciousness style brainstorm during StuVac

In keeping with the structure of our tutorial session, I composed a single sentence to summarise exactly what my issue was. Ironically, it was the language I’d utilised in this statement that unintentionally sparked a vehement response and prompted several pages of stream of consciousness exploring this new focal point and developing a design proposal to it. [detailed in post 8]

While the method through which I reached my defined direction for this subject did not explicitly follow the planned progressive steps, had I not undertaken them I would not have reached such a zealous ‘aha’ moment.


– Alexandra Macoustra