Sunday, 6 March 2011

Assignment 3 (B): Ethnography Primer.

After reading the 'Ethnography Primer'  I have a greater understanding of Ethnography. I had never come across the word before but the meaning is something I had known about and find very interesting, Ethnography is a valuable part of design.

Ethnography is a type of research that involves observing people in their natural environment. It will give a designer insight into what someone actually does and why they do it. This will prove more useful than simply asking a person a few questions in unfamiliar surroundings an ethnographer may observe things that the person may not even notice about themselves. “What people say is not what they do.”

When reading ‘Snoop’ by Sam Gosling the chapter I found most interesting was chapter 11 ‘Bringing it Home’. It introduces Chris Travis who creates homes for his clients that are perfectly matched to their personalities. He does this by identifying peoples connections to places both emotional and psychological. He then integrates these connections into the design. He does this at the beginning of the design process so that every step of the way the house is designed to fit the occupants. Although the book does not label Chris Travis as an ethnographer you can see that he works using this tool to his advantage.

I would love to create my designs using Ethnography it would give greater satisfaction to me and hopefully the user to know I have designed keeping them in mind creating something meaningful and useful to them. I have been trying to do this in my current project where I am designing offices for SEPA. However as they are a hypothetical client it has not been possible to observe them in their day to day activities but books such as ‘The New Office’ by Francis Duffy give insight into how people in office environments like to work and which layouts are proven to be more productive.

“A designer should care about ethnography because it can help produce more compelling, innovative design that really connects with users—in a way that creates delight.”
—Darrel Rhea, design research consultant.

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