Lucy Research

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An explanation of how I research.

Text of Lucy Research

  • 1ResearchSocial + Sustainable Studio

    Soumitri Varadarajan

    Lucy Fraser, s3203390

  • 2Thoughts

    Scientific Method

    Working with people

    Research For Design

    Research About Design

    Design As Research

    Learning with your Hands

    Cultural Crossings










  • 3Traditional research is so engrained in my behav-iour that it is hard to isolate and analyse. I have been taught to research my entire educational life. It is a compulsory part of learning, something that is tested in highschool and even universi-ty. Research is considered a tool that leads to greater understanding and therefore awareness and knowledge.

    These well learnt methods are being challenged as I discover the broader spectrum of research and the varieties of approaches that exist.


  • 4 Scientific Method

    1. Pull apart or pull together the brief. Be aware of what is needed.

    3. Isolate the areas that are of particular relevence

    * A good old Google and Wikipedia search* Ted talks, design blogs* University and local libraries* Lecturer recommended sources

    2. Gain a general understanding of the topic area via the following...

    4. In depth research via the following...

    * Literature review* Participant observation* Interviewing experts* Surveying stakeholders

    5. Idea generation via...

    * Brainstorming* Thumbnail sketches* Improvements to existing

  • 56. Idea refinement

    7. Prototyping and testing...

    * Materials* Lots of user feedback* Expert feedback

    8. Production

    9. Reflection. Feedback from...

    * The same experts interviewed* Stakeholders* Lecturers* Peers*Myself

    10. How improvements could be implemented

  • 6 The Scientific Method helps me identify:

    * Key people; writers, advocates, educators* Stakeholders* Surrounding community* End users* Existing solutions* What stakeholders want and need* SWOT- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats*

    I can apply this acquired knowledge to make educated design decisions, which justify the final product

    This is essential when dealing with the business side of things. You have to provide evidence of a niche and that your design has a point of differ-ence.

    This method is an approach I have normally taken in the past, particularly to product design. However, my research methodology is constantly evolving.

  • 7Getting people excited about their work, sharing their passion.

  • 8 Working with People

    My traditional approach to research was first challenged when I began to do projects that were human-centred. I discovered that there was only so much that I could learn from books and websites, from secondary sources.

    People are strange and unpredictable.

    I have experienced this first hand in a job at the Sydney Rocks markets. You cant expect a good day at the markets (and most retailers feel the same). The sun might be shining, a cruise ship in and plenty of people about, but sometimes they stop, sometimes they dont, sometimes they buy.

    Insights into humanity exist, and psychologists have provid-ed a plethora of material on human behaviour. But the best way to attempt to understand people is to ask them why.

    Another piece of wisdom I have learnt from my first hand research is that you can have the odd bad experience, but, if you are interested in what they have to say, most of the time people want to talk.

  • 9Stepping out and doing things, just to see how people will react.

  • 10 A few techniques to step into anothers shoes:

    * Formal/informal interview* Participant observation* Service safari* Deep hanging out* Storytelling* Roleplay* Object interaction* Shadowing* Just get in and amongst the people!

    Ideas adapted from Stickdorn, M. and J. Schneider (2011). This is Ser-vice Design Thinking. Hoboken, New Jersey, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

  • 11Research into


    Like the scientific approach, this is my traditional under-standing and use of research- reading, writing and talking in order to learn. This knowledge is then applied to inform the design process. Up until 2012 this has been my approach to research. I now am more appreciative of other methods and also apply these to my projects.

    One aspect of research into design that I will not be leaving behind is interviewing experienced individuals. The photo on the following page is from 2008, when I interviewed Adam Ferrante, director of Rose Street Artist Markets. The inter-view was organic and I learnt a great deal more than I set out to. Ive had similar success with student interviews and a recent discussion with Mindy Leow of Social Traders. I think it is a combination of low expectations, and fliexibility!

    Frayling, C. (1993). Research in Art and Design, Royal College of Art.

  • 12

    Stepping into environments as they are in order to ob-serve they way they function. Asking questions, having a


  • 13Research through Design

    This is a technique that will be applied to my work with so-cial enterprises. It of using design as a research tool. This includes materials research, development work, action re-search*. This is hands on research; undertaken by testing, prototyping, social experiments etc. I have always applied this concept, before I was even aware of Fraylings* theories. He does suggest that these are things that designers have done instinctively for a long time.

    The image on the following page is an example of active learning with a group of students. We took to the streets and caught ideas on our sidewalk spiderweb. It was a reac-tive experience, with each of us growing upon the others suggestions. It is this kind of discussion that really gets the creative blood flowing. It was a kind of research through play that stimulated our thinking.

    *Frayling, C. (1993). Research in Art and Design, Royal College of Art.

  • 14

  • 15Design for Research

    Where the thinking is, so to speak, embodied in the artefact.*

    Where research is communicated by the final design. This is something my final project will relate to. Due to a relatively small amount of existing material on social enterprise and design, the outcome of my work will be research in itself, a reference for others to build on. What is it they say about standing on the shoulders of giants...?

    *Frayling, C. (1993). Research in Art and Design, Royal College of Art.

  • 16

    Constructing quick mock ups of design ideas to more easily grasp how they would work in reality.

  • 17Learning with Your


    If I had more guts I would forget the rest of my research techniques and only use this one. Getting hands on is the quickest way to learn the ins and out of a product, ser-vice or system. It is propositional thinking in action. Using cardboard and straws to get a grasp of an idea.

    Make mistakes. Learn.

    Talk to lots of people, ask them to demonstrate their thoughts, what would they do to improve things? As they say, Design is too important to be left to designers.* Experiment, document, improve.

    * Ted Talk by CoDesign Studio CEO Lucinda Hartley,

  • 18

    Asking Jaipur foot patients to show and tell their relation-ship with their prosthetics, what they like, what problems they have.

  • 19Cultural Crossings

    Undertaking a research project in India was very different to working in Australia. The organisation we were work-ing with were happy to allow us to wander around their campus, and talk to whomever we liked. I am certain that Australian businesses would be a little more controlling of what was seen and said. For example, a recent Austra-lian interviewee only allowed me to record the conversa-tion if it wasnt going to be quoted.

    Another difference with research in India was that pa-tients did not want to say anything bad about the organi-sation that had supplied their prosthetics (for free). They were grateful for the assistance and did not want to bite the hand that feeds them. Reports by William Beveridge suggest the opposite of western culture; that there ex-ists a society of welfare consumers*, where support is expected and not revered.

    Research therefore must be flexible, it needs to be aware of different behaviours, whatever their cause. Research needs to be respectful, yet pushy in order to maximise impact.


  • 20

    Recording the way things are at the moment, looking for opportunities for improvement.

  • 21

    Getting your hands dirty, letting your hair hang down.

  • 22

    Enacting scenarios in order to understand the way they might work.