21st Century Design Assignment 4: Interviews but not as we know them!

21st Century Design, Assignments

For assignment four, I had to select a question that links with previous projects from this semester or last semester. I then had to conduct about three or four interviews to people who I did not know. This is the question I selected:

What object to people treasure the most? and why?”

I chose this question because last semester, for our mini assignment over the Christmas holidays, I had to post a blog about the best gift that I had ever been given. Best Gift Ever? This was my answer to that question. I also thought that the above question would be something that everyone would have an answer to and that each and every answer would be very different from the next. It would be quite personal and every answer is unique to them.

For part of this assignment, I had to use a service tool(s) to help research my chosen question so that I could gain enough questions that I needed for my interviews. When I got a lecture from Laurie Currie from the company Snook, I decided to look back at my notes for the key points of the service design tools. I recently done a post about it called “Snook: Transforming People”. I decided to use the mind map tool because I have found through earlier assignments and projects, that mind maps have been very useful for me. Mind maps have helped me expand my original ideas and got me thinking about what I need to do next.

I created this mind map to gather information about the possible answers, my ideas on what people may say and to gather possible questions ideas that accompany the above mentioned question.

When I was creating this mind map, I was thinking about all of the possible things that people may select as their answers such as photographs, objects/technology that is used every day such as a phone, iPod, laptop etc.  From thinking about the different answers that may arise, I started to think about the different questions that I would ask to accompany the main question. Questions like:

  • Why are these objects treasured? 
  • How do they make you feel?
  • Do they remind you of something or someone? 
  • Does it have a story behind it? 
  • Was it a gift?
  • Was it expensive?
  • Is it vital in your daily routine?

For a test run in my pre-interviewing stage, I asked a few friends my question to see what their responses were and what they thought. Here are some of my responses:

  • “my phone and my pc”
  • “my knitting machine, it’s a godsend”
  •  “I love my iPod but I’m going to say whatever sketchbook I’m working on, also any wee notes people write as thank you’s I keep them all”
  • “definitely my iPod and phone, id be lost without them”
  • “My bed, as you need to have a good nights sleep, to have a good day the following day”
  • “my new bracelet my boyfriend gave me. We live far apart and its a nice bracelet as you saw today!”
  • “Definitely my iPod – leave this world and enter you own wee world”
This was quite an effective experiment as I got quite a varied range in answers and each person posted why they thought it was a treasured item. I had asked from a range of ages from late teens and above so that I could get a variation.


For my interviews, I took a semi-structured approach so I prepared some questions and then worked on from there.

I kept the names of the interviewer’s anonymous as a couple did not want to have their name used. This is my answers from the question: “What object do people treasure most? and why?”

Person 1 – Male. His answer was very effective as it gave me a clear view of how much his most treasured object means to him. His object that he treasures the most is his snowboarding equipment/clothing etc. His answer was

“When im snowboarding I don’t need to worry about anything else, no debt, no work, no stress, only going down the slope and loving every second of it.”

From this answer, I can sense that he is quite an adventurous person who isn’t afraid to take risks and is a very outgoing person. He mentions that he doesn’t worry about anything such as debt, work etc and it suggests that he has a pretty busy lifestyle but also likes to have a fun and exciting social life.

Person 2 – Female. When I asked what she thought people treasure most, she replied

my phone! connects me to home

as she is from Ireland and lives away from home whilst at University. This suggest that she is quite sentimental and likes to still be connected to her family and friends even though she isn’t living at home. It also suggests she is very caring and keeps well-connected with her family back home. Also, suggests she is quite a family orientated person.

Person 3 – Female. Her answer wasn’t an object but it was something that she sees every day and it means a lot to her. Her answer was her pet dog Connie. She described her dog as her “child” and it is obvious she is very attached to her. Perhaps she has had her since she was a pup? or has grown up with her in her home? I then asked

How does your dog (Connie) make you feel when she is with you?” 

and she said that it made her feel a lot less stressed and seeing her just cheers her up whenever she needs it. This suggests to me that she is obviously an animal lover and a really caring person. I then asked:

“How long have you had her?”

She said that she has had her for about 6 years so it is obvious she is very attached to her and she is a big part of her life.

Person 4 – Male. When I interviewed this person, he immediately gave me an answer.

Photo of my dad and me because it reminds me of him and of me when I was young

The reason for this was that the photographs remind him of his dad and himself when he was younger. This shows that he is a very sentimental person as he has kept all of these photographs. I then asked:

How do they make you feel when you see these photographs?” and:

“How long have you had these photographs?”

He says that when he looks at these photographs, he feels determined. This was a really clear answer I thought because it suggests that his father was a very big influence on him and means a great deal to him. It also shows he is a very caring person and when he said that he felt determined when he looked at these photographs suggests that he is quite confident and not afraid to take risks. He said that he has had these photographs for as long as he remembers so this clearly suggests that these photograph are very precious to him as he has had them all of his life.

Person 5 – Female. When I asked her my question, she asked was it about her most treasured item or was it people in general. This was interesting because she was the only one who asked before she gave her answer. Everyone that I asked immediately thought of something they treasure most. This is a very natural response because it is hard to think about what objects people treasure without knowing them.

“My most treasured item is a little porcelain dog that my gran gave me when I was about 7, because it reminds me of her and it is a german shepherd which reminds me of the dog I used to have”

This suggested to me that she was a very caring person who is quite family orientated. Also, she said that the dog was a German Shepard and this reminded her dog that she used to have. This shows that she is an animal lover and that her dog helped bring back the memories of her Grans gift to her.

Person 6 – Male. When I asked this question, he gave me a more practical view as he said that as he is a Chef so his answer was:

“I treasure my knives, as it’s the tools of my trade and I can’t perform my job without them”

This was quite an interesting answer I thought because he chose something work related rather than say a gift or something he may have kept over the years. Therefore, this suggests that he is very work orientated thus he is very committed and really enjoys his job. Also, as he said knives, it suggested to me that as he is a chef, that his knives must be professional therefore, quite expensive. I’d imagine that he would use them with care and really take care of them. I also asked:

“were they a gift? and “How long have you had them?”

He said he has had them for a year and bought them himself. This suggests to me that he is quite particular in what he wants and as he said a year, perhaps he buys a new set annually so as to make sure his food is always at a top standard? Also, it suggests to me that he thinks practically most of the time as opposed to an emotional view.

I didn’t ask a lot of questions as I did not want to pressure them into answering every question so I chose questions that were appropriate to their first answers.

I created another mind map to show my answers from my test interviews and actual interviews.

For the second part of my interviews I asked the same question but asked them to tell me what they think are the most common treasured items amongst a lot of different people. I was intrigued to ask this question as the majority of my answers had been based on that persons own treasured gift, not people in general.

A lot of my responses were quite similar to each other as everyone had said that technology, mobile phones, iPods, laptops, games consoles etc must be a lot of people’s treasured items as they use them all daily. Whereas, an older generation could say something more sentimental as they have not grown up or needed the technology as much as the younger generation do.

These were a few of my responses:

“Well I would say people of the younger generation most treasure things like mobile phones and laptops as they treasure their friends and that’s how they socialize and stay in contact with them.”

“I imagine a lot of people picking technology”

“electronics, phones, pc’s utilities etc”

The younger generation (teens and above) have grown up with either a computer, mobile phone, TV, music player (or all of them) so have become accustom to using them daily. Therefore, they are more advanced in technology than say the older generation so they depend on technology a lot more. However, as much as we need technology for studying, work etc there is some that we do not always need but would feel “lost” without it. Mobile phones for example. However, as useful as mobile phones are, they are not considered a “necessity”. They are useful but do we need to use them all the time? do they need to have a camera? etc. Mobile phones have many different views, the older generation may only see them for their purpose and that is to call or get in contact with someone. Moreover, the younger generation would agree that a mobile phone is for more than just calling as Mobile phones are becoming more and more advanced. I agree with this, I have become quite used to using a smart phone that includes apps, internet, messaging services (blackberry messenger etc) so I think that by having everything on my mobile phone, it’s sometimes easier to do a current task or find something out quickly.

I was reading an article in The Guardian and it was about Mobile phones and it asked “are they about to change our lives?” This was quite an interesting article and I’d have to say that I could relate to it in some way! I was guilty of how dependent I have become on my Mobile phone! For example, there is a section of the article that discusses how texting is used to deal with different situations in a more private way for example, if you were in a room with a group of people and your friend wanted to tell you something important and didn’t want to say it a loud, she would text you. It’s something people are becoming much more comfortable with as it seems like a more convenient way of contacting people. Also, the article discusses how texting can be used to overcome shyness as the two people involved in this conversation cannot see each other therefore, it makes them feel much more comfortable when chatting to one another. I am quite guilty of this. I am a very shy person so I find texting a much more comfortable way of contacting someone who I do not know as well. However, unlike talking face to face where the conversation may flow a lot better and questions are answered much quicker, by text, the conversation would become interrupted as people do not often reply right away. Therefore, this is possible a disadvantage to text messaging.

For more on this article, here is a link. The Guardian: Mobile Phones, we love them, we hate them, but are they about to transform our lives?”

After my interviews, I met up with Errin Miller to discuss our findings from this assignment. Errin and I both used the same Service Design Tool, mind mapping. She found this method very helpful also as she felt that she could gain the most information in this way. Her question for this assignment was:

“How do people accumulate stuff”

For her results, she found that she got quite detailed results. Also, she noticed a difference in answers between different age ranges for example, she said that she found that children collected toys (as you would expect) and at the time, they see them as an important part in their lives and cannot part with them. Whereas, the older generation may collect things that are much more reasonable such as photographs etc. Hoarding would be an interesting point to consider here and to research as many people hoard things and even some without realising! (Guilty of it myself!) I have researched a bit into hoarding as I had been looking at it for one of my current projects so when I seen this question, hoarding immediately came to mind.

So, In conclusion, I found that a lot of people have their different views on what means most to them such as photographs to sports equipment. It shows that everyone is different and what they may treasure may not be totally obvious to what another treasures. However, when I asked what people in general would most likely collect, they answered with technology. Technology has become a big part of our lives and most said they would seem “lost” without it. Overall, I feel that I got a lot of different answers both from a professional and sentimental view. I feel this process went well.

I found this assignment quite interesting! I particularly enjoyed the pre-interviewing and interviewing stage because I found it really interesting to hear what people had treasured most. Each answer I got was great and I’d like to thank everyone that answered my questions!


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