a day at the museum

The Brief

“Screen-based interactions exist in a physical and temporal context, requiring the UX designer to attend not to usability and efficiency issues, but also embodied and situational aspects of an interactive experience. So far this semester, you have focused your attention primarily on screen-based interactions without an explicit understanding of how users might interact with these technologies in a specific time and place. To maximize a patron’s aesthetic experience (cf., John Dewey), you must attend to multiple points of contact (i.e., touchpoints) that might exist in a technology-rich environment. In this project, your goal is to design a museum experience with multiple touchpoints. As a group, you will choose a period of design history that will serve as a theme for your museum exhibit. Based on this theme, you will identify appropriate technologically-rich interactions that allow patrons a sense of embodied participation in the exhibit. At minimum, you should consider large-scale and small-scale screen interaction alongside physical or print media within a built environment. These interactions should work together in a symbiotic way, while also serving as compelling experiences in their own right.”

Our Approach

My team for this project consisted of four other members. In the beginning, we conducted a mood board activity to determine which period of design history we wanted to work with. In the end, we narrowed in on Scandinavian Modernism. Our approach consisted of an ideation-heavy journey of touchpoint crafting and iterating based on research insights and testing results.

Design History

Through conducting secondary research on Scandinavian Modernism, we came to appreciate the minimal forms and styles, as well as their natural origins and the senses of warmth and light running throughout the interior spaces. We became familiar with a Danish term known as hygge, which means, “a mood of comfortable coziness and conviviality.” We sought to design our museum exhibit experience with the guiding principle of users experiencing warmth, comfortable, and friendly liveliness.

Ideation

Our exhibit is styled like a finished home, with decorated interiors and different kinds of Scandinavian furniture. Within these spaces, we situated six experiences. These are our touchpoints:

  • Nordic Winter
  • Scandibands
  • Natural Light
  • Organic Design
  • Textiles Couch
  • Design Your Dream (Scandinavian) Home

Nordic Winter serves as the entrance to our exhibit. Our users pass through a cold, digitally winterized hallway before approaching the entrance to our exhibit. This space is meant to model the cold, wintry conditions one would face during much of the year in Scandinavian countries.

cold

Scandibands are physical wristbands that users receive upon entering the exhibit. They are RFID-enabled and allow users to interact with furniture and products and essentially save them to their collection with a tap. The collected items are used later on.

scandiband

Natural Light is a room that highlights the importance of natural light in crafting and contributing to hygge elements within Scandinavian homes. Light can be very scarce in certain parts of Scandinavia, which influenced the design style by placing an emphasis on light, airy rooms with bright colors and plenty of well-placed windows.

natlight

Organic Design is a tablet-based app that allows users to create natural shapes that influence furniture and also create organically-centered patterns for textiles and walls. These user-created designs can be utilized later and populate a large screen. So many people can participate in viewing their designs next others’ and converse about their reactions. This touchpoint is placed in the kitchen and aims to inform users on the inspiration of Scandinavian forms and styles that comes from nature.

orgdes

Textiles Couch is a large, communal couch situated in the middle of our exhibit that encourages socialization and interaction. It’s made up of different kinds of textiles and materials that are present in Scandinavian design. Users can sit, touch, feel, and tell their neighbors what they like and don’t like.

couch

Design Your Dream Home is where it comes together. Groups of users can interact with a large screen to load and place their saved collections of furniture and products, using the Scandibands. Patterns and styles from Organic Design can be loaded as well. The interface loads the items and generates a room and allows the users to set up the space, curate the room, move pieces around, change colors, and design the style.

dreamhome

Layout

Below is a sketch of museum exhibit layout.

scandi.layout

 

Testing

We performed bodystorming on the whole exhibit, focusing on the Scandibands and digital acquisition of furniture and products, as well as the Textiles Couch. We provided bands and allowed users to pick up tiny paper versions of furniture and carry them with. Simultaneously, we conducted usability testing on the Organic Design digital interface and the Design Your Dream Home paper prototype. We even had a fireplace burning.

Takeaways

Bodystorming:

“It feels a bit like a shopping mall.” After testing, we felt that we needed to find a way to craft more of the informational side of the experience. Ideally, we would have had a lot of informational and historical signage throughout the exhibit. The testing space wasn’t developed in this regard.

Usability Testing:

Really no major changes here. The Organic Design prototypes were well-fleshed out and functioned properly.

The Dream Home interface was very low-budget and not fully realized. At the time we had a paper prototype that was quite simple. Ideally, we would have crafted a digital prototype for this part.

Notes

Had we more time, there would have been more cohesion among the touchpoints. The band and paper furniture bodystorming, textile couch, and natural light all functioned well and served a good purpose. The Organic Design prototype successfully worked. The Dream Home prototype could have been more impacting with connection to Organic Design and with a fully designed digital prototype. The fire and waarmth served us well, however, and that’s exciting.

 

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