A Design Brief


The objective of this Design Brief is to provide the “inspiration,” and commence the “ideation” as part of Browne’s (2009) three phases for design thinking for the identified space known as Alex and Michelle’s Coffee Shop, Kooringal Mall, Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia.

With the understanding that it is best to continually make observations (Brown & Katz, 2011), this Design Brief was developed after two observations which took place on during the week commencing Monday 4 August. This immersion in the problem space allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the challenges associated with the space in alignment with the ‘Empathise Stage’ as per the Design Thinking Framework developed by Stanford Institute of Design.

Stanford Design Process http://www.blendmylearning.com/2014/05/28/using-design-thinking-to-develop-personalized-learning-pilots/

Defining the Problem From the observations, the following problems were identified:

  • over-crowding which can occur when take away customers are waiting for their coffees.
  • cramped conditions for employees working behind the counter.
  • the ‘disconnect’ between the indoor space and the outdoor space, further emphasized by extremes of weather.

Therefore, the problem I want to solve is framed as a question….. “How can Alex and Michelle’s Café be designed so that it is not crowded for patrons nor cramped for employees?”

Constraints “The introduction of constraints effectively pushed the solutions groups generated outside of the box” (Eden, Elliot et al. 2012). Therefore, with that in mind, I offer the following constraints:

  • Extensions of the space are not possible due to common space restrictions
  • Connecting the indoor and outdoor spaces is not permissible under the community space restrictions  as per shopping centre

Known Considerations:

  • cannot expand or extend the space due to restrictions of shopping precinct shared community space.
  • entrance to the café gets crowded during the early morning rush.

Unknown Considerations:

  • unclear budget
  • what has already been tried to address
    • the over-crowing for take away customers
    • the cramped conditions for employees

With the understanding that the user experience is crucial to resolving the identified problem (Pilloton 2010; Eden, Elliot et al. 2012) the following actions are required:

  1. Conduct surveys of patrons to obtain feedback regarding their ‘experience’ of the café space.
  2. Conduct Interviews with employees of the café
  3. Interview the owner/manager of the shopping precinct to establish clarify the parameters for possible refurbishment options.
  4. Introduce the problem to experts not familiar with the problem space and engage them in conversations about possible solutions.

Future Considerations

From these actions, there could be the use of  the How Might We (HWE) approach (D.School, Stanford) adopted by the Alpha Schools Project (Eden, Elliot et al. 2012) to prompt the “ideate” phase some alternative thinking: How Might We?????

  • create a more inviting space for people to wait for their coffee?
  • more effectively connect the indoor and outdoor spaces of the café?
  • reconfigure current or new furniture to create more space for customers and employees?
  • create a café experience which is for “local community purpose” (Pilloton 2010)?



Brown, T, & Katz, B. (2011). Change by design . Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383. doi:10.1111

D.school, Stanford University, How might we?… Method Card:http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/HMW-METHODCARD.pdf Accessed 13 August, 2014.

Eden, W., Elliot, A., et al. (2012). School Design with Design Thinking. San Jose, California.

Pilloton, E. (2010). Teaching Design for Change www.ted.com, Youtube. http://www.ted.com/talks/emily_pilloton_teaching_design_for_change



I have commented on the following blogs…..

Rochelle’s Blog at….. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/rmasaoka/2014/08/16/c-k-theory/#comment-21

Deb’s Blog at…… http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/galloised/2014/08/15/175/#comment-27

Heather’s Blog at…. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/jesoods5/2014/08/14/design-brief-blog-task-3/#comment-21

Observation of Space

Most mornings on the way to work I drop into the local coffee shop to get a take away large cappuccino, no sugar, and that’s because…… I’m sweet enough as it is! I repeat this action each and every Saturday morning whilst also getting a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald and a second coffee for my wife. Therefore, my observation is in two parts. Firstly, I recall my observations as part of the weekly 5 minute ‘drop in’ to collect my coffee before going back on a Saturday morning to sit in the coffee shop to engage in a 30 minute observation.

Morning ‘Drop in’

I walk from the car park and feel all of the three degrees weather at 7:45am. I walk past some shops that are located in the shopping precinct in which the cafe is located. As soon as I walk into the cafe the welcome feeling of warmth envelops me. I join a queue of 4 people waiting for take away coffee. As I make my order I am greeted by the owner, Alex. He is the only person working at this time. A few more people join the queue and we look for space between the tables and chairs located in the cafe. No-one is seated. All orders are ‘take-aways’. All people waiting (except for me because I am observing) get out their mobiles and look at them, occasionally using the key pad on their phone. One customer walks outside to take a call. I feel the rush of the cold air come through the door. Within a few moments Alex gives me my coffee and I leave enjoying the first few tastes in the cold air before getting to the car.

Saturday Morning Observation.

As I walk from the car park to the Cafe at 8:30am, I feel the cool air and immediately notice there are more people around than is the case during the week. As soon as I walk into the cafe the welcome feeling of warmth hits me. I am warmly greeted by two young ladies who are ex-students of the College. I order my breakfast and am asked where I am sitting, to which I respond accordingly. I notice the staff member ‘squeezing’ between the till, and coffee machine to write down the order. Located adjacent to till on the left is a display case with assosrted ‘delights’ such as croissants, cakes and buns.  On the right there is a standing fridge with various juices, sandwiches and wraps. Behind the counter the barista is placed immediately behind the person taking the order. They are located quite closely together and therefore the space behind the counter near the til, is limited and cramped.

Cafe External

I turn around to find a parent of the College waiting in line. We have a quick chat and discover we both recently spent time in Singapore as part of longer overseas trips.

I sit at my table and also notice

– that almost all tables are filled with people in their sixties or more. The décor is relatively plain, white tables, black chairs, lino on the floor. Ornate decorations fill the walls above the 2 metre high windows on two sides of the cafe.

– There is a lot of natural light which fills the cafe. The glass windows allows patrons to looks out onto a central courtyard that serves as a communal space for the shopping complex. Part of the courtyard has tables and chairs for the use of café. No-one is sitting there (due to the cold morning?). Some of the tables are located in the shade.

Cafe Internal


– Deliveries of milk arrive and they come through the front entrance door. The gentleman spends ten minutes packing the produce into fridges located at one end of the café.

– For those ordering take away coffees, there is soon a queue which fills the empty space between tables and chairs between the entrance to the counter.

I complete my breakfast, which was enjoyable and say my goodbyes to Alex and the ladies who so warmly welcomed me into the cafe.

Cafe Sketch 2Cafe Courtyad







I have commented on the following blogs


Blog Post #2

Blog task 2