Public Interventions Project: "Strangers"

Group Members: Grace, Heloise, Vivian

The collaboration focused on the concept of space and designing a public intervention of that space. What happens when people enter and leave a space? What is the definition of space? What design product or agent can be an intervention of space? The team conducted a video installation of the space within the 24 hour frame and research qualitative and quantitative methods of the effects that occurred.

The Design & Hypothesis 

Will people be self-reflective and notice the mirrors that are placed within the existing floor? Is the interaction a reflection of the mobile “selfie” or self awareness with an object?

The Location or Space parameters

The design agent that acts as an interruption of space, were twelve hexagon glass mirrors. The hexagon mirrors were in two groups. One group was outlined with tape to form a Octadecagon, or eighteen sided shape formed by six hexagons.  The mirrors were chosen based on the pattern the shapes create and a metaphor for self-realisation.

Washington Square Park was a paramount environmental space, to create the design intervention. The space was deliberately chosen not only for it’s location but, the pre-existing hexagon patterns of the cement crosswalk advocated the design concept: Will people notice patterns in daily objects throughout everyday life? The design was strategically placed at the centre crossway, where a large number of people walk pass by the area. Will people realise the mirrors placed within the existing patterns? More imperatively, will people realise the already existing crosswalk pattern that they walk on?

The Observation & Research

The user group of people in the space at Washington Square Park, had various ranges. The age group was a broad spectrum of middle aged workers (estimate 25-45 years old), college students(20-28 year olds), young children (5-10 year olds), seniors(45 and up). The activity range of the group comprised of bikers, joggers, pedestrians, strollers, and even mobile chairs for the disabled. How people’s reactions also contribute to the design of the project itself, and how it changes the dimension of the project.

Qualitative

Several groups of people stepped on the mirrors and did not notice the design intervention. However, some groups noticed and reacted to the mirrors. Interviews were conducted in between the video recording to discover the reactions from the people who, did noticed the design intervention. The interview questions were focused on several questions: Why and how did the user notice the mirrors? What were the thoughts of the people who stopped to observe the design interruption? Did people have differing opinions between the mirrors with the tap outline and the mirrors without tape?

Quantitative

How many people crossed the path? How many people stopped to observe the design interruption? A significant number of children almost always noticed the mirrors. From subtle interactions such as pointing at the mirrors, to brash actions like stomping on the mirrors repetitively, children had a strong reaction to the design intervention.

The second user group that noticed the mirrors were photographers. For example, one photographer stopped to take pictures with his camera and iPhone of the reflected images that the mirrors (the design intervention) reflected.

Summary of Purpose

The design concept challenged users to pay attention to the “hidden” patterns in everyday life. From the structure of patterns in sidewalks, to the formation of a garment, many patterns go unnoticed by users, in particular pedestrians in New York City at Washington Square Park.

Grace JunProcess, ResearchComment