Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Reflection on "BlizzyBody" Project

Reflection on Project:
                Coming into this project, I really had never had any experience with designing for a specific culture of people, or rather a subset of a culture, if you want to be that specific.  I really didn’t know much at all about Chinese customs and responses to heavy snow and blizzards, but this project forced me to research and learn more about China (as well as Afghanistan and Iran, before our group switched to China).  Now, after finishing this project, I can not only describe to you the appearances of Chinese houses in specific regions and provinces, whether it be rural or urban, but I can even tell you that washing machines in urban China are nearly universal, as I’ve learned that just about every family in developed areas has a washing machine.  I can also describe that within a couple of decades into the past, this universal status of ownership of washing machines was not the case, and instead more traditional clothes-washing methods were used along with community-owned washing machines.  In addition to cultural values that I’ve gained from new perspectives that have arisen from this project, I have also learned a great deal about blankets, electric blankets, heating elements within electric blankets, and even that electric blankets in our modern day can be washed in a washing machine on gentle cycle or by hand.  In terms of my overall reflection, my biggest worry during the project was over the possibility of a removable cover for the blanket I was designing.  It would be a great idea to be able to remove an exterior quilt cover for the blanket in case it got dirty, so that you didn’t have to wash the entire thing, but I soon discovered that this removable cover idea would be very impractical for the user.  With the sheer size of the blanket, a blanket which is very flimsy and has no real physical definition, it is very awkward and frustrating to try to get a blanket of that size back into a cover after removing and washing.  At the same time, there would be no need for this cover, since the electric blanket itself can be washed, and the industry designs according to a set standard—I contemplated for a very long time whether or not a design change would be more costly to my design, since I would have to hire a company perhaps to develop a new system for my new product.  I think the overall takeaway for me is that sometimes, no matter how good an idea could be, you need to adhere to the simple minimum which made the idea so good in the first place, or else you’ll convolute your design and people may not even want to use it.  I think I’m learning more and more that there’s a very fine line between, “hey, that would be great”, and “feature creep” (adding features that overcomplicate and muddy the original design).

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