{post 8} the process of arriving at a design response.

collaborative process. design response possibilities. draft proposal. judith tan.

(Flatau 2016)

We came together as a group to brainstorm possibilities for design responses to our focuses for the issue of homelessness. My objective, what I wanted my design response to achieve, was this:

To shift/change (even slightly) the public’s perception of homelessness (e.g. how easy it is to become homeless, etc.). This would cause the public to be less judgmental and more understanding, help them refrain from jumping to conclusions, be more willing to help and more informed in how to help. The shift in perspectives and attitudes would benefit the homeless and also the organisations seeking to help them.


Our group decided to collaboratively write down the ideas for each person all on one large sheet, as our focusses, goals and objectives were quite similar. As we brainstormed, we each took notes for our own projects, drawing from the ideas both for our own projects but also any ideas given to other group members which related to our own or which might prove useful.

The ideas I noted down were as follows:

  • design kit/probe – what it’s like to be homeless
  • app/game/process – how people become homeless
  • service design campaign (e.g. before/after haircut) – it’s the same person, it’s just appearances. Appearances affect our attitudes. But it’s what’s inside that counts
  • merging common themes in their (homeless) lives and our lives. Making them relatable
  • bring them to our attention (links to previous point)
  • journey/mapping of their circumstances
  • virtual reality – homeless world
  • public service (e.g. been done – 100 cameras)
  • what does homelessness mean to you/what does living in a house mean to you?
  • language, how people feel about things
  • unique data sets – capture the inner interest/child/whim etc.
  • how do we bring this to a more human level?

The tutors overseeing the various collaborative groups that session also gave us some advice:

  • think function vs. design response (design response e.g. app)
  • go deep into actors etc. (can use the table from week 5)
  • consider the end solution
  • your audience: What do they feel? What do you want them to feel? Think about what you want them to achieve on a gut level

I then brainstormed further independently, organising the ideas from the group brainstorming session, as well adding further thoughts as they came to mind. From this, I was able to form a five-point summary of what I had identified as possibilities.

This summary is in two parts: the first two points are what I want my design response to achieve, and the rest of the points are three different concrete possibilities of what the response might be.

{five-point summary}

  • provoke & reshape. Provoke public attention to the homeless and reshape public perspective of homeless people.
  • merge & connect. Merge common threads between the lives of the homeless and the lives of the target audience (members of the public between 18-24 years old) in order to cause the latter to feel connected to the former.
  • possibility 1: probe. Design a probe which causes homeless individuals to document/journal their experiences/stories, OR a probe which causes young adults from the public to document/journal imagined experiences/stories if they were homeless.
  • possibility 2: generative. Create a book in which readers choose their journey. Choices (both rational & irrational) lead to homelessness, highlighting how easy it is to become homeless and that appearances and assumptions are deceiving.
  • possibility 3: campaign. Create a campaign which gifts a common luxury to the homeless. Document the before and after, showing that while the appearance (and the audience’s perception) is greatly altered, it is the same person, and it is what is inside that counts.

{draft proposal}

Generative System: Choose Your Pathway Book

The Choose Your Pathway book is inspired by Edward Packard’s Choose Your Own Adventure books. It is a sobering, contemplative take on the fun children’s series, exploring the various pathways which lead to homelessness.

It begins with the choice of several personas, both likely and unlikely to become victim to homelessness, such as a white-collar worker or an unemployed individual. Life circumstances, both avoidable and unavoidable, and choices, both rational and irrational, eventually lead to some form of homelessness.

The book’s visual style will be clean and minimal with a text-only layout. Text will be read in short, simple but thought-provoking phrases laid out across each page. The vast amount of remaining white space will give the reader room to think and envision the situation for themselves.

After going through the book, there will be a small probe component where the audience member journals/documents their expectations (before reading), experiences (during) and realisations (after). The data of this will then be visualised.

The aim of the book will be to highlight how easy it is to become homeless, and shift the public’s perception of the homeless. This will in turn alter attitudes towards the homeless which will benefit homeless people as well as the organisations seeking to help them.


{title image}

Flatau, M. 2016, One way or another, Instagram, viewed 27 September 2016, <https://www.instagram.com/p/BBXtSUwR5vP/>.

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