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J. I. T.

HART 1001
Product Design Project

Observation Study
Date: 20/3/2016
Address:
Flat B, 3/F, Marigold Garden, 12-14 Marigold Road, Yau Yat Chuen, Kowloon
Target area: Living Room
Interviewee Profile
Name: Yeung Tsz Wai Angel
Age: 20
Occupation: BBA Year 2
Student @HKUST
The only child in the family
who has been living in the
current address since she
was born
Other members in the house:
Angels father and mother

Questions
1. What do you usually do in the living room?
Watching TV, playing mahjong
2. Who spends time in the living room?
The whole family
3. Do you eat in the living room (both on the dining & coffee table)?
Yes
4. Do you sleep in the living room?
Yes (shows a couple of ways to sleep in the sofa and armchair)
5. Why do you keep the snacks and alcohol on the sofa table?
Because it is convenient to have it there
6. Do you also keep plates etc. in the living room?
No we get it from the kitchen
7. Is there a trashcan here?
No, also in the kitchen
8. Do you ever spend time out on the balcony?
No, not often
9. Do you put your feet on the sofa table?
Tiffany does

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Observations
Overview

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Door + Dining area

Doubled faced designer chair placed left of entrance


door to facilitate shoes wearing

To the right of entrance door is the kitchen

Cabinet with vase as lamp

Father working on the dinner table

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Television

View of television from the sofa; television is directly


opposite to sofa

Several of the household electronics and controllers


are placed on the table

A look of the objects and bags placed near the TV


stand

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Sofa area

View of the sofa, with the coffee table in the middle

A conversation around the coffee table, showing the


array of snacks and miscellaneous objects on the
table

How one might relax on the sofas

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How Angel sleeps on this sofa chair

Telephone stand next to the sofa

Sockets near the telephone stand

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Coffee table

Display of objects--cup ramen, dried snacks, candy,


tissue boxes, liquor, medicine & creams, remote

Rearrangement of objects when half of the table is


used for eating

Magazines stacked underneath table

Game boards, cameras, tissue boxes, and soft


boxes used for organization of smaller objects (e.g.
medicine capsules) are arranged underneath table

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Near the balcony

Collection of DVDs next to TV

Flowers growing in balcony

Stacks of magazines placed to side of sofa

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Balcony also used for clothe drying

Other perspectives

From the ground

The ceiling

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Proposed Design Brief


Messy and boxy organization of meds and snacks on the table top and the shelves of
the coffee table. This affects not only the overall aesthetic view of the living room, but
also hinders the quality/convenience of daily family activities around the table.
We will design a coffee table for family members to spend quality time in the living
room mainly when they come around and sit together in the sofa area, playing
games/ having food/meal. It may look stylish match the style/ overall design/
atmosphere of the newly furnished flat, and rather short in height to fit the sitting/lying
postures of the family on the sofa. It should be able to organize things such that
there would be sufficient space for them to play games and it would be convenient to
fetch food/drinks/meds

Needs/Requirements

Great storage and organization


Look stylish
Physical requirements

We want the table to fit within measurements; height of the table should
be within height of the sofa for easy access and enabling users to place
feet on table for comfort

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Mood board
Style
Rectangular - easy for organization
Materials/ Textures
Wood
Glass

Features
Compartments
Glass top - able to find/look for stuff easily

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Open sides (no drawers)


Easier retrieval of large items (e.g. mahjong, chinese chess)

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Slid top/ drawer

Sliding extension

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Upwards extension

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Early Ideate/Design Stage


Using the creative tool brainstorming and forced connections, we came up with 10
design ideas that met the design criteria.

Pop-up table

In this design, we wanted to have drawers that pop-up when pushed down. The
reason for this design comes from one of the requirements: allowing ease of access
to objects inside the table.
The inspiration for this table comes from the drawers one would often find in kitchens
that slide open horizontally when pushed. However, using a bit of lateral thinking,
we came up with the idea to have drawers the slide up vertically, revealing the
objects arranged in a cabinet-like manner.
Although this was an intriguing idea, the mechanical requirements made it
unfeasible.

Pull-up Table

The pull-up extension feature is actually a rather common design where you can find
in tables in most furniture stores, but what makes it special is that we are trying to
carve out a part of the edge of the risen tabletop, ideally in semicircle or rectangle,
such that a person can fit into it at chest level while sitting on the sofa. This design
allows the tabletop get closer to the person, so the person can use it as a computer
table and have meals on it more conveniently. The potential problems we foresee are
that the number/types (as in body shape) of users who can enjoy this feature are
limited by the size of the indented part and our prior objective is to design a table to
organize items instead of facilitating their activities around the coffee table.

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Twist-up Table

Our next idea is similar to our first idea (the pull-up table), but with much more
feasibility. In this model, the user would turn a circular section of the table that would
twist-up circularly revealing all the objects placed on the linings of the table.

The mechanism would be similar to that of


twisting open a bottle. Much like how the bottle
cap is moved up when twisted, the top surface of
the table is moved up revealing the linings as
seen in the bottle cap pictureabove. Objects
would be placed along this lining--dividers would
be added along this lining to compartmentalize,
similar to how the staircase cabinet picture above
compartmentalizes.
We figured the mechanism would be much easier compared to the first design idea,
as well as providing a much more aesthetic experience compared to the first design.
However, upon further consideration, we deemed the mechanism to be too difficult
compared to other designs.

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Pull-apart table

The table-top is not a single solid piece but instead two or more separate blocks that
can be pulled apart and thereby allow access to storing compartments. This design
enables easy access to all separate spaces within the table. The reason for not going
with this design is that it requires plenty of room on the sides of the table in order to
facilitate the pull-apart function.

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Bar-coffee table

The inspiration for this table comes from the way bottles are organized in bars. By
incorporating open pockets in the table-top, we can create a convenient and
aesthetic storage. This design can be combined with other ideas since it only takes
up parts of the table and does not require mechanics. Also, we primarily focused on
bottles since some of the things on the familys table was bottles, but after further
thought it occurred to us that other objects can be stored this way and thereby
improve the aesthetics of the table.

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Revolving Drawers

Inspiration for the revolving drawers comes from the turning plate one would often
see on tables in Chinese restaurants. The idea behind a turning plate is that when
dining with a large group of people often times there would be a large number of
dishes, making it hard for one to reach the desired dish if the dish is across the table.
In the fashion of forced connections, we thought of a turning cabinet. Much like how
the turning plate allows the user to access all the objects on the table without moving,
a turning cabinet allows the user to access all the objects within the table simply by
turning the desired cabinet towards the user.
The turnable, circular part of the table as seen from the top would be glass covered
allowing visibility to the objects in each compartment.
Potential problems with this design idea would be that the shapes and sizes of
cabinet would not be practical for compartmentalization of objects; the subject family
stores objects such as game boards, which may be awkward to try to fit in the table.

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Coin-drop-tunnel table

This idea appeared to us when we tried to come up with different ways for putting
things into compartments. The inspiration comes from pool-tables, in which the ball
falls into holes and then travels through tunnels to the pocket where the player can
access them. Our table would have multiple holes on the top where the user could
put things that would fall into a separate compartment. The idea is fun and interesting
but it would be complicated to construct as well as inconvenient to use.

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River table

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Unblock me table

This design is an attempt at


creating a solution that enables
easy access to the inside of the
whole table. The top cover is
made up of separate boards and
under each board there is a
separate compartment. All
individual boards can slide to the
sides and thereby allow access
to the storage underneath. The
inspiration comes from sliding puzzle games.

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Final Design
After counseling with Philine, we canceled out some ideas due to feasibility, and
combined some ideas (the round table at the bottom) to create this new idea:
The design is in line with the description in the design brief. The table is made up of
two parts, the rectangular table top and the cylinder shaped bottom. Both parts are
constructed to enable accessible storage of the items that the family usually put on
top of the table. The aesthetics of the table will suit the familys preferences in style.
The upper part of the table is a rectangular storage space, divided into compartments
of different size and shapes. There are 8 movable boards on the table top which act
as covers to the square-shaped compartments on the right. 4 of the movable boards
are wood-framed clear glasses such that that family can easily see what they store in
some of the compartments, making it more convenient for them for fetch certain
specific items. One square compartment is left uncovered to facilitate the movement
of all square boards, simulating the game of sliding puzzle/ unblock me. A tissue box
holder/area/space/compartment is made on the left side of the table as the family
usually sits on the left hand side of the sofa, while the compartment next to it is for
storing bottled wine/liquor.
The lower part of the table is in cylinder form as we would like to leave some space
for the family members to place their legs when sitting on the sofa. We did not cover
those compartments as it would allow the family to store items of varying sizes such
as boxes of chess and mahjong.
We originally would like to install some trays into those apartments, enabling the
family to retrieve smaller items without reaching too far inside the table. However we
abandon this idea as we do not want to over design the table and adding the trays
may increase the burden of the supporting points of the table, posing risks and
limitations to the capacity of the table.

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Mock up

We have made a 1:5 mock up using plastic board and glue gun. The strip pattern of
dark plastic board assembles with the material - wood that we would like to use for
the real design. It matches with the modern style and cool color tone of the interior
decoration in the house of the family we are designing for. Plastic hard cover is used
to imitate the glass installed on the movable board of the table.

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Individual reflections
Izen
Going into the interview, we were initially uncomfortable with conducting the process
with no defined objective in mind. The interviewee was one of our group members
close friends, which helped the process as she provided the family friend/guest
perspective to many of our questions. The interview started off slow--as the family
wasnt particularly actively vocal about any concerns they had with the house. I felt
like in the end, the process became us imagining ourselves living in the house and all
the problems that we would personally have with it, then confirming with the
interviewees if they too shared the same opinion about that certain issue. One thing
that we did which proved to be useful was discovering/challenging the family about
their reasonings behind the arrangement of the house. Challenging the family on
basic practices helped us learn more about the family and their habits. For example,
by questioning the father on the placement of liquor on the family table, we learned
that he put it there not only for convenience, but also to entertain guests if there were
any. We ended up focusing on the entertainment/guest aspect of the familys house,
which was centered around the living room. In retrospect, we could have improved
on our interview by challenging the family even more, as I feel that the family having
lived there so consistently, its hard from their perspective to actively voice their
concerns as its hard for them to see anything interesting/wrong with the house.
To begin the ideation stage, we first had to set the parameters of the design. The 2
main aspects of the parameters were the physical aspect (dimensions) and the
functional aspect (what we wanted to do). A side function was fulfilment of the
aesthetic needs. Our priority concern was the functional aspect, then came the
aesthetic aspect, and finally the physical aspects. With our ideas strongly centered
around ease of access, it was relatively easy to come up with a few ideas. In the
future if I were to do this again, I would be sure to have a well defined parameter, as
a well defined parameter feeds ideas. Another aspect of ideation that I would improve
upon would be adding in the element of feasibility. After presenting the ideas to
Philine, she presented us with the feasibility aspect, noting that some ideas, while
maybe more creative, would have to be less considered due to feasibility. Knowledge
in this area comes from experience of whats easier/possible to do, or easier
alternatives to a complicated idea.
After receiving feedback on the 10 ideas, we approached the final design stage. We
combined elements from our favorite parts of the 10 ideas into a feasible, aesthetic
table. Originally we were planning to do a full scale model but after a visit to Maker
Bay we decided on a smaller model due to constraints in time and finance.
Joakim
When I started this course, I didnt know a thing about product design. Over these
last couple of weeks I have gotten some insight in and basic knowledge about the art
of designing products for peoples needs.
Through the course I have realized how much thought and work that goes into every
successful product. Also, I have realized the importance of sketching and trying out
through prototypes. I believe that this is important since it is nearly impossible to
visualize all the different aspects of the design. At the same time the sketches and
prototypes serve as important communication-tools.

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I personally believe that I have basic knowledge and Im able to emphasize with the
customer and come up with suitable ideas. However, I dont feel that I have enough
skills in to building prototypes, making sketches and solving functional problems. I
would need more hands-on practice if I were to learn that. The visit to maker-bay
showed that there are ways to get a prototype made although you dont posses the
skills yourself and that is something that I will keep in mind if I come up with ideas in
the future.
My field of study is business and Im positive that the insights in this course will help
me in my future career, as I probably will work together with designers and
engineers. I will have a greater understanding of their perspectives and I hope that it
will ease the collaboration.
To sum up I would say that this course has done what it was supposed to do which is
give me an introduction to product design. When I applied for the course I thought it
would be about fine arts and although I have liked the class I would suggest the
professors to rewrite the syllabus in order to make it more clearly and in line with the
actual course.
Tiffany Tsang
It all starts with a visit to my friends home. I have known her since secondary, and
her place has always been our favorite sleepover place. We spent nights watching
movies, eating suppers, playing mahjong and more in the living room. It was not until
recently that her whole flat went through a long renovation and the style becomes
entirely different. Frankly I miss the old one better since the floor was covered by
carpets and the color tone was much warmer.
The current flat adapts a rather cold tone to create a modern style. White wall, grey
floor and black furniture, thats how I would summarize their flat now. It may sound so
cold, but luckily my friend has very caring and welcoming parents, guess thats all it
matters when it comes to the atmosphere of a house, regardless of the interior
decorations. So not judging the overall look, there are actually a few designer pieces/
signature design that would catch your attention from time to time.
I didnt realize that they have such as a large living room before, maybe because
some furniture was taken away or changed after the major refurbishment, the
spaciousness of the living room becomes much stronger. Sitting down at the living
room, interviewing my friend, our group/ we came to the conclusion that we shall
design a coffee table for the family in the living room, where they spend most quality
time together.
I think it is a fun process to make use of the skills we have learnt in the first half of the
course to generate ideas for our project. I still remember in a meeting I had with my
groupmates, we were required to think of 10 initial ideas so that we could choose
from them and decide our final product. I really appreciate my groupmates extensive
imagination. Although they are not very serious about work sometimes, their relaxing
and fun-oriented characters allow them to be very creative and boundless in terms of
idea generation and sometimes new thoughts just pop up through casual
conversation. Looking at myself, I am being too rational and practical sometimes that

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may just hinder creativity as I was always thinking about the feasibility of building a
model, the physics, the cost, etc. Guess thats a disadvantage of being a business
student, though this actually facilitates great balance in our group I think.
As a perfectionist, I cant deny that I am quite bossy sometimes, because all I was
thinking is how to get the best results and outcomes out of our work. And I guess the
worst part is that I may take up too many responsibilities without entrusting others
with ease as I always have things planned out in my head and I am just too fond of
quality and efficiency. But I think the point is teamwork is supposed to be a multiways communication and sometimes its just hard to be carried out if initiation is rare.
Talking about what I like most about this project, it just feels so free and great to be
able to have a large degree of autonomy and control over what we would like to do
since this is rarely the case in other courses. It gave us the chance to think out of the
box in a comprehensive manner. I guess the most memorable takeaway for me is
that I no longer stereotype the word Design as Art, as it is actually about how to
improve peoples life through different invention, well of course with aesthetic
elements incorporated if applicable.

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