Assessment Blog #3


Design Brief

The Problem: A morning robbed of joy

Located in suburban Brisbane, the Stower house is an average, middle class dwelling housing a family of four. Although the busy family are well organised and the morning begins with energy and enthusiasm, things seem to go wrong during the forty-five minutes from 6:45 to 7:30 am.  With Dad already departed for work, it is in this time that panic ensues, as unplanned extras are added to the morning routine and Mum becomes flustered trying to fit these into the tight schedule.  Consequently Mum often arrives at work late and exhausted.  Basically, the opportunity to spend time together in the morning is robbed of joy and becomes a stress filled experience.  Mum and kids would be better placed to start their day if the mornings were instead a time to congregate, eat breakfast, talk and enjoy each other’s company before facing the world.

Design Brief:

Dear Architect, Please design a solution to our morning activities that takes the stress out.  It needs to be a place that provides breakfast, but it should also be better than that. Why can’t it be a coffee house that ‘talks about the news’, is invigorating, engaging, stimulating, family-orientated.  Why does Mum have to solve all the problems? It needs to be a diplomatic process that the whole family is involved in.

The Challenge:  

Provide strategies to help Mum and the kids manage the unplanned extras in the morning in order to create a positive start to the day. This should include designing a space that provides breakfast and fosters joy, fellowship and diplomacy.

The Constraints:

  • The time cannot be expanded as it would infringe upon exercise and other household chores at one end of the morning and the start of the work/school day at the other end;

  • The activities can only happen within the home;

  • The space must be used for other family activities.


  • There are three people involved in these mornings;

  • It is a family relationship which cannot be compromised; and

  • One of the children is very anxious and unplanned extras cause a lot of stress for her.

Next Steps (Ideation):

Identify objects or conditions in the environment which may be recognised as concepts to be included or excluded to create something new (Hatchel & Weil), by undertaking the following processes:

  • Review Mum’s observations of the morning routine;

  • Interview the children to better understand their needs, their perception of the morning experience, and their desires for the morning routine;

  • Mum to brainstorm what the “perfect morning” might look like, feel like, sound like, taste like & smell like.  The purpose of this is to broaden the possibilities for a desirable outcome;

  • Research how other individuals and families manage their mornings;

  • Research how spaces can alleviate stress and foster talk and companionship;

  • Seek input from others about how a space might foster joy and fellowship in order to garner new perspectives and ideas; and

  • Develop ideas based on feedback and hold discussions between Mum and the kids to get their feedback on concepts and where possible, prototype/trial these ideas.


Dear architect,

“I chose to enhance this experience with a simple design element” (John Hockenberry), please help me.  Kind regards, Helen/Mum


Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Hockenberry, J. (2012, June 12). John Hockenberry: We are all designers. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from

Third Grade Classroom. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

Cafe. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.

3 Comments on Assessment Blog #3

  1. rmasaoka
    August 16, 2014 at 6:48 am (6 years ago)

    Dear Mum,
    I sympathise and share similar mornings.
    Thank you for this blog post. I wish I had read this first. You are prompting me to re-do mine as yours aligns more with what I wanted to write.
    I don’t have any advice or suggestions but can only offer thanks.
    Fellow mum and masters student – Rochelle

    August 16, 2014 at 8:58 pm (6 years ago)

    I too have had my share of similar mornings, some of which have involved some excellent tantrums, by children and mother! I think the use of the “How might we…” technique would be fun here, it might stimulate some ideas to free you of the very tight constraints that exist in a morning routine, such as ‘How might we create more time?” and the solution could be to take it from the evening before (ie. have children lay out uniforms and anything else they need the night before, part preparing breakfast etc). I found that this technique really expanded my ideas and ultimately changed my brief., Stanford University, How might we?… Method Card: Accessed August 10, 2014.

  3. meghastie
    August 17, 2014 at 8:11 am (6 years ago)

    Dear mum, I read this and laughed! I am empathise with your desire to have a more harmonious and less stress-filled mornings, and am in awe of your desire to see them become a more joyous time – i’d be satisfied with getting out the door on time with noone missing a limb!
    Having said that, I think the capacity to apply design principles to an area of our lives that too often we assume must be stressful, offers up some wonderful opportunities. Asking the “how might we…” questions is a great place to start, and opening up to the unknown unknowns is vital – we all make assumptions about what this time of the morning must look like simply because it is so embedded in our routines and often family culture. Taking into account the human element is very important, and the relational aspect is central.
    This is a project i am very keen to hear the results of!


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