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What is Collaborative Design? Step 3: Final Product

Posted June 24, 2013 in Classes & PresentationsCollaborative Design

Samantha Macy is a Collaborative Design major who is interested in printmaking. This is the third post in a series about the Collaborative Design program. For previous posts, click "What is Collaborative Design? Step 1: Research" or "What is Collaborative Design? Step 2: Process"

Alongside my Copy of a Chair case, the Chairmania exhibit held thirteen other cases containing everything from a detailed exhibition of furniture-specific textiles to a hands-on interactive section that allowed visitors to construct their own miniature chair from laser-cut pieces.

Every student picked a case in the exhibition space to fill. Even though we all worked individually, the overall exhibition felt unified. I think this is because we were all working in the space itself, so even though the tasks were separate, we were all consistently aware of each others’ progress. In addition, we all worked from the same jumping-off point: a collection of miniature chairs owned by the museum. Those two things in particular went a long way toward the overall feel of the exhibit.

However, not everything went so smoothly. We had the better part of a semester to work on this, and at the end we were scrambling to get everything together. It all came together in plenty of time for the exhibit, but even after the fact we struggled to get our materials together for the final presentation. It was a project management issue, and one that would need to be improved upon before applying the process again.

Was it a success? Well, I think it was.

I'm the type of person who likes measurable results and statistics, so the absence of measurable data beyond “number of visitors” in a situation like this makes it hard for me to gauge success. People stayed to examine everything, moved through the space easily even when the room was packed, and generally seemed to wear smiles on their faces. It seems we had an effective mix of interesting things to look at and little things for visitors to do. Nothing took too long, no pathways were blocked, and overall the experience of the exhibit seemed to be both smooth and satisfying. So in that way, the project was definitely a success.

However, the project here wasn’t the exhibit itself but rather the process of creating it. We needed to devise a scalable method for creating an exhibit of any kind. Using that as a lens, there was a lot we did well in terms of the ideas behind flow, attraction, and the mix of interactivity and passive appreciation; and there were others, like the timing issues leading up to completion, that could stand to be improved if the system were to be used for another exhibit in the future. So we definitely didn’t fail, but there was a lot to be improved upon.

The next post in this series will be about career building.

Click here for more information on Collaborative Design.

~ Words and photos by Samantha Macy


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