Thanks to the intensity of our schedule at CIID, it’s now¬†back with a bang to thinking about the final project. Where I left off, I was intending to continue my thinking through the summer months, that died, but before it did, yielded some progress. Now it gets real, and there are twelve weeks left until we finish. Two of those weeks will be spent on another super-intense industry project.

This week, starting Tuesday I began struggling with the idea of choosing not just a topic, but a context.

I framed my objectives early in the week, evolving a little more towards the end, and reviewed the topics I had proposed earlier in the year. The main thrust is to get more practice/confidence in prototyping with hardware and software. Alongside this I want to develop and try out my own design process, an approach to the challenge of designing within a given context that I can apply again and again after I leave CIID.

In earlier posts I wrote about the topics I’d like to explore. This week, with a massive amount of help from my classmates and some old friends, I’ve battled with those topics, trying to narrow their focus and add a context. Matching a chosen topic and and context to my learning objectives is key, while balancing with the need for something that will “light my fire”, cultivate and sustain my enthusiasm.

As of now, the statement I’ve written on our “What’s on your mind?” board in the studio is “Everyday Objects in Shared Spaces”. The ‘jumping off point’ for this idea came during the Summer, when a painting in a gallery got me thinking about objects with hidden or dual functionality. In particular I’m drawn to those objects in the mundane world of appliances, things that have only one purpose both in their design and in our expectations.

“Shared spaces” is the context, a way to tie my technological ambitions to a situation with potential that will provide opportunities for design. The initial idea was to work with hostels, an environment which is dear to my heart and in which many objects are shared.

The next step… explore some shared spaces, look for the objects within them, observe the dynamics around the way they’re used, passed, shared, gathered. I need to find the right “shared space” for me, and for this exploration. I’m going to shortlist some spaces, find them, and go visit. I also need to make a plan, break down this twelve (now eleven!) week period into achievable chunks of work, milestones and exciting exercises to keep this process fresh.

By the end of next week, I must have defined my context, design challenges and have designed clear cut exercises/questions to bring to a structured peer brainstorming session in week 3.