Today we were exploring the use of generative research methods. Generative methods often encourage participants to express their reactions and emotions through more abstract means such a drawing or expressive model making.

We were asked to draw how we felt on the first day of university. This led to many abstract scribbles and doodles, a selection of which are shown below.

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It is generally thought that close shapes, ordered patterns and spirals all point to positive thoughts, happiness and contentment. On the other hand, spiky shapes and angular lines are more likely to represent negative emotions like confusion, tension and nervousness.

The second exercise using generative methods was to, in teams, build the exterior of our ‘perfect house’ with all the features we thought we would want. Our house featured a balcony, windmill and solar panels, chimney and window with cat. When compared with the other dwellings, ours was described as ‘either a standalone or a write off’.

By looking at each of the individual models, we saw that several featured unusual shaped windows and most featured unusual entrances, a rooftop garden and water/pool incorporated in some way.

This kind of method can be a good way of establishing what consumers want or expect from their products and experiences, helping us to create better designs. However, in this case, we concluded that the test size was too small to draw any real conclusions as no one feature was evident in all houses.

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