DESIGN, ART, GADGETS, FASHION, AND SAFEWAY

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Design Ethnography

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In other words, "case reports" or "studies" regarding human societies, extending the cultural panorama to the entire world. Focusing on the patterns of everyday life, good design can generated, benefiting both businesses and production, as well as the important folks (here, yee) - people like you and me.

Because design is so broad in nature, we must rationalize it by creating some sort of process. Assumptions within design ethnography is that people are social creatures - not merely consumers. They articulate, discover, and appreciate. They don't just work, but live.

Ethnographers can thus be the mediators and creative directors between the home and the workplace. Because our perspectives of work have always tended to be negative, we can easily work to improve quality of life for all of us - so long as we use context as our guide.

Here's a good example. Italy vs. America. What's the perfect living room like? Some of us will answer, "Yeah, a TV, sofa, and maybe a computer." For Italians, you'll probably get a very bewildered look and a surprising answer, "Well, we love our dining room table. That's where everything happens. It's the center of our home" (Design Management Journal, Fall 1999). Immediate ethnographic insight.

Which brings us to the skills needed to be a design ethnographer. For one, you must be a master of social intimacy. Otherwise, no one's going to let you go into their homes to observe. You also need to ask the right questions. It's not, "How do I master e-commerce?" It's, "Why do people shop online?"

Unfortunately, these types of approaches do not use the same hardcore mathematical approaches of science nor do they allow for "deliverables" to be presented before undertaking the task at hand. Nonetheless, there is no denying the importance of understanding the context of relationships and associations between people and the world we live in. It's not our voice, but theirs, that must be heard.

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