Week 4: Boredom  

[] Thursday 21st of October: developing idea and prototyping

[]  Team members: Anya, Desire, Guo and Malavika

[]  Brief: Design a way to express the value of boredom

In response to feedback we gained in the interim crit, the group developed the idea with a focus on how to get out of a creative rut/ change perspective when challenged by a creative situation. Rather than inducing boredom we decided to focus on a tool that would emulate the feeling when boredom is subsiding.

We started to develop a collection of drawing apparatus that would obscure the normal way the tool is used. We hypothesised that this would lead to unexpected outcomes as the user would have less control over the tool e.g. a pen, ruler, etc.

This is the first prototype which used water to add weight to a pen so it was more difficult to use. The water element worked well as the water moved making it difficult to control the pen as the balance kept changing. But it became wet - smudging the paper. 

To create prototypes we employed thinking through making techniques, the thinking through making allowed us to physically explore forms, and using materials like playdough and cardboard made the objects easy to remake and change.  The aim was to make tools that were anti-ergonomic to make the user feel less in control and make unexpected outcomes.

I personally was thinking about how adding weight to pens and pencils could make the user feel less incontrol. I made a pencil that was held in a cylinder of water, this cylinder would make a cantilever weight when the user tried to use the pencil. When testing this we found that the water leaked out and noticed that the user wouldn't necessarily use the tool in the way we intended them too. They would look for loop holes so they could use it like a normal pencil.

This finding led me to create the weight pen on the arm. The aim of this was to make the tool less abstract compared to the previous design, the arm directing the user to hold it at one in (the way the tool was intended to be used). This second interaction worked a lot better than the previous design as it was considerably bulkier so it was hard for the user to find work arounds to use it normally.

Although I have spoken about the user finding ways to use the obscured tools as a normal device as a negative development in the project. I think there is still an important analysis of this exercise. The user is not familiar with the shape of the pen, so it encourages them to find a way they can use it in a way they would normally.

In the crit we gave three volunteers three different tasks. One being to draw a cat, one being to draw a chair and the last was a self portrait. I am going to talk about the first two tasks as Malavika spent more time developing the self portrait device. I chose to draw a cat and design a  chair because they were examples of two different creative activities. To explain further when drawing a cat you know the form and have probably drawn one many times before so attempt to do the same, but the draw tool makes this difficult and you are presented with an unexpected outcome to which the user intended. Designing a chair follows the same philosophy, when design you are working with the tool to produce something some aspect you are incontrol of and others you aren’t which result in a collaboration. The aim being to make the user feel out of their comfort zone to spark new ideas and creative processes.

Feedback from the crit:

The tools could be more directed like an exoskeleton type mechanism - this would allow us to control exactly how the user would wield the device.

Stripped back and simplified


Overall, I really like the concept of this project and how it turned out. The process was challenging as we had to reflect after the interim crit and redevelop our concept to fit with the brief. This was an important part of the project and stripping the project back to its basics helped to actualise it.

To develop it further I was thinking about product opportunities, I wanted to look into how I could make it a more desirable product that could sit at a designers table for when they needed to change up their process.