This page presents a reflection on my past projects, and how these affected me as a designer.

When starting the Master’s program, I had just finished the Bachelor’s degree. By choosing the Research, Design and Development track, I was able to improve my skills and competencies as a design researcher, which I will demonstrate through the following courses and projects: 

Constructive Design Research

The first course on Constructive Design Research taught me about three different research methodologies: lab, field, and showroom. For this team project, our group wrote a paper on the applicability of the Ikigai model before and after retirement. We chose to conduct in-depth ethnographic studies with our participants. We could conclude that for our participants, the Ikigai model is applicable before retirement, but not completely after retirement, as health and daily tasks are not incorporated in this model. 

Using the field methodology as a user-centered approach during this course was in line with my vision, which describes how I find it interesting and valuable to involve my envisioned users as I am able to build a close connection with them in order to gain desired insights. The activities I did during this course enriched my existing knowledge on doing research in the field, as I was responsible for conducting pilot studies, data gathering and analysis, and writing major parts of the paper. 

Competencies developed: Creativity & Aesthetics | User & Society

Ikigai model & analysis

Cultural probe prototypes

Designing Intelligence in Interaction

The course Designing Intelligence in interaction was quite challenging for me, as I only had little knowledge of programming. However, I still chose this course because I figured this could definitely improve these skills.

Using available datasets and facial recognition software, our group made a hair recommendation system, which could present a hairstyle to you based on your facial features. 

During this course, I got introduced to the fundamentals of machine learning and articficial intelligence, and learned how to set up a neural network, train it, and validate it. A great learning point for me was how essential data can be. Our dataset consisted out of a lot of images which were labelled. However, some labels were not clear, lacked images or contained distorted images. Therefore, some labels had to be removed from the dataset. When filtering data in this way, we needed to be aware that this act influences the overall system. The filtered images had to go through two APIs, which returned a lot of data points which were irrelevant for our system. I was involved in filtering this data, and making sure that the input for our neural network was right. 

While setting up the neural networks, we needed to experiment with several structures and learning rules. I was responsible for assuring that this was done in an organized way, reporting on all the results of our trained networks. Moreover, I was responsible for making our concept visual and experiencable, so I made a digital prototype which showed how our recommender system would be used at a barber shop.

Competencies developed: Math, Data & Computing | Technology & Realization | Creativity & Aesthetics 

hAIr demo video

hAIr explanation video

Digital prototype

Social Interactions with Shared Systems – Q and I

Q and I is a speaker designed for sharing with friends. During context analyses and ideation sessions, we discovered that authorship, urgency, and intention are the most important factors affecting the context of a group of friends listening to music. 

Our design facilitates leverage to discussions by showing authorship in the queue on its shared interfaces. Each colored row on the speaker represents a song in the queue. Every user present in the current setting can be assigned to a color, giving them an identity within the system. In this way, everyone can put in their favorite vibes, while others are made aware when changes are made in the queue.

Q and I is the result of extensive concept ideation sessions, multiple user researches and design iterations. The real challenge of this project was to create a better expierence than there already was within this specific context. After field deployments of our design, our goal of enhancing this experience was proven to be reached. 

My role within the design team encompassed designing both the GUI and its interactions, as well as setting up and conducting user tests. In this way, our concept and final design could be validated and iterated.  

Competencies developed: User & Society | Creativity & Aesthetics | Technology & Realization

Q and I demo video

User Experience Theory and Practice

This course focused on teaching the fundamentals of user experience (UX), and how to apply it in real-life challenges. User experience has been described in multiple ways, and I have been able to make my own definition clear within a personal UX portfolio. 

In a challenge posed by VanBerlo, our group designed various ways of how an interactive LED tunnel (Willem II Passage in Tilburg) could interact with its environment. During the lecture, we presented these concepts to a representative of VanBerlo, of whom we received positive feedback, specifically on how we focused on the identity of the city, and safety awareness.   

By reading literature and explicitly practicing these concepts in a challenge, a UX manifesto was eventually made. In this manifesto, me and my team member Sark described that UX can be influenced by the following three aspects: user, system, and context. UX encapsulates all of these aspects. UX is adaptive and therefore,  very element can influence the overall UX. 

Competencies developed: User & Society | Creativity & Aesthetics | Business & Entrepreneurship

VanBerlo challenge concepts

UX Manifesto

Design for Focused and Peripheral Interaction

In this elective, I got introduced to attention theories, and how we can apply these theories to design for focused, peripheral, and implicit interaction. 

Our group designed a tangible music controller, named Topplr, which is designed specifically for people to perform simple interactions with their music streaming services while working behind the computer. The aim for the design of Topplr was to design interactions that would require a minimal amount of mental resources, so they could be performed in the periphery of attention.

The initial design of Topplr was evaluated using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The goal of the evaluation was to determine whether the interactions could be performed in one’s periphery of attention.

As a group, we then iterated the design and changed the interaction of playing and pausing music from pressing a button to squeezing Topplr as a whole. I learned about new ways to quantitatively measure 

Competencies developed: User & Society | Creativity & Aesthetics 

Researching the Future Everyday

Throughout the Bachelor and Master of Industrial Design, I got used to designing for the (near) future, but researching future everyday life was something new for me. The goal of this elective for our group was to study one core paper, in which a monitoring system for elderly was presented. After having studied this paper critically, we addressed the issues around autonomy and privacy such a monitoring system has. 

Our group designed a research product that featured Mister the Owl, which is very popular for a lot of Dutch adults. The research product would indicate whenever you needed to go to bed, by forcefully turning off the lights in the living room. Mister the Owl would gradually move out of its treetrunk while doing so. The research product evoked a discussion on the participants’ anticipated experience with gerontechnological innovations in general and how these might affect their perceived autonomy.

It was very challenging, yet interesting, to have a different approach on researching the future everyday. This course taught me that instead of gaining knowledge on the users’ views and experiences of the deployed design or the design itself, you can gain more in depth insights into the social nature of users with respect to the future.

Competencies developed: User & Society | Creativity & Aesthetics | Technology & Realization 

Research product and analysis

Research Project 1 – Everyday Sounds of Dementia

For my first research project, I chose the dementia care space as my design research context. After a context exploration, I designed an interactive placemat to research if it could have a positive influence on the eating activities of people with dementia. Observations and interviews indicated that the interactive placemat could offer a positive distraction for people during the eating moments. 

I learned that an initially defined approach might not always reflect the outcomes of the research. For example, I thought that the sounds incorporated in the design would have an influence on my participants. However, this was not evident out of my observations and interviews. Nevertheless, I did find other interesting interactions with my design. This made me realize that it is important to always have an open-minded approach as you are conducting research whilst still having defined a clear research scope. 

Another version of the paper was written and eventually featured at Dementia Lab 2019, which can be found here

Competencies developed: User & Society | Creativity & Aesthetics | Technology & Realization 

Research setup and interactions

Sounds incorporated in the interactive placemat

Project at a University Abroad – Multisensory Media Album

In my previous semester, I was delighted to be granted the opportunity to go to the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to complete a research project. I was part of the Materialising Memories research programme, which aims to research how design could support remembering practices. We held biweekly meetings with the members of the research programme to share what everyone was up to. 

For my research project, I initially wanted to focus on how to facilitate or support meaningful interactions for people with dementia through digital or physical media. However, this focus was shifted towards the care staff due to ethical limitations. I learned a lot about setting up an ethically sound research because of this, which I believe is valuable, specifically within this context. 

After a context observation, I was able to identify opportunities for care staff to engage with their residents. Care practitioners were invited to a creative workshop, in which they made various prototypes that represented suitable ways for them to engage with people with dementia. 

Prototypes made during the creative workshop

Then, the multisensory media album was designed. It utilizes music, pictures, and textiles for care staff to interact with residents. After deployment in the field, the design provided insights in how dementia care staff were able to offer a multisensorial reminiscing activity for their residents, which was observed to be enjoyed by both.

Pages in the Multisensory Media Album

Participant interacting with a resident

My observations, interviews and personal experiences within the dementia care space have contributed to an even better understanding of the space. In addition, I learned more about the organizational structure and the relations different staff members have. 

Also, the overall experience of doing a research project in a complete new environment, meeting new people, and living on my own was great. Being able to have done this has not only been beneficial for my professional development, but also for my personal development. 

Moreover, I attended the TEI 2020 conference held in Sydney as a student volunteer, which was a great experience. I was able to talk to a lot of influencial professionals in the field, and had inspiring talks with other people.  

Competencies developed: User & Society | Creativity & Aesthetics