The magazine reading area, just inside the glassed entry to our Library, has already passed through several iterations in the two years I’ve been on staff. Initially it was a storage area for journals; with up to 5 years of back issues. It was messy and they were rarely used. New front-facing shelving, comfortable seating (now moved out of the area) and a severe cull of past issues revamped the space. It’s far less messy but the journals are still rarely used. Students like to ensconce themselves in the space but there is little interaction with the actual journals, apart from past issues of the school magazine. I perceive an inherent philosophical question as to the virtue of maintaining this space as the “Magazine area” when the users don’t want them, and they become wallpaper and a physical impediment to optimal use of the space.
We need a design process so we look more creatively at space. We need to observe how people actually use the space, as suggested by Tim Brown, and if we are to “create choice” then the process has to establish how inspiration and ideation facilitate a breadth of ideas, rather than a fixed one. While form may follow function, function will not be determined by form when users reject an imposed function upon space.
I’ve come to the view that our desire to encourage journal use has created a very boxed space as well as boxed-in thinking, from which we will not be moved. One of the greatest challenges in space design is the ability of non-designers to think like one. All design thinking is ultimately social, suggests Meinel and Leifer, and indeed, as of his writing in 1992, design thinking has moved to what Buchanan calls a “new liberal art of technological culture” from its original pragmatic role. Design is centred on people, and their desires and practices are at the centre of the design thinking process. Using divergent and convergent thinking, Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby suggest we can be creative in everything we do. Good design speaks for itself. David Kelley asserts we can all learn to choose better ideas and to make better decisions. His example of the MRI machine and the thinking that went into its transformation into a pirate ship, illustrates the ultimate empathy with the user, in this case, children with health issues.
Relocating the shelving and newspaper stand leaves one bare brick wall and half a wall which follows the stairs. Horizontal banners which climb the stair wall would suggest places to go in their digital world. The brick wall would be a flexible space for displays relating specifically to students. The only journal they really like is the school magazine, so why wait for an annual production? This week’s micro-magazine on a new media wall. An LCD TV, scrolling news bites with images of students and their activities, alternating with Clickview or other promotional ideas. Comfortable seating would return, along with coffee table work spaces, replacing traditional height tables and chairs. The corners would adapt themselves well to pop-up makerspaces. This week we have a challenge to make 1000 paper cranes – no fanfare, just origami squares and a running tally. We have 180 after 3 days and the students don’t need any prompting. One of the important aspects is the surprise, fun factor. The user is directing the way the space is used.
Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21
Kelley, D. (2012). How to build your creative confidence. http://www.ted.com/talks/david_kelley_how_to_build_your_creative_confidence
Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration : transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson.
Leifer, Larry; Plattner, Hasso; Meinel, Christoph (2013). Design Thinking Research : Building Innovation Eco-Systems. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com
Liedtka, J. (2011). Learning to use design thinking tools for successful innovation. Strategy & Leadership, 39(5), 13-19. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/10878571111161480
Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348
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