Ready for the examination

Before Christmas I have finished the two documents about my preliminary study. The first document is about the methods Cultural Probes only and the other about the conclusions of all methods in comparison with the studied literature.

Two of three final documents for the examination

The last two weeks I have spent a lot time to write on my research request for the SNF foundation. The conditions were: 80.000 characters (blanks included) and without the bibliography not more than 20 DIN A4 pages.

It was really hard to focus so much. I have had to shorten a lot and be concentrated on the heart of this request, the research plan. In this part I have to build work packages for the whole 36 months of research. It was good to define these things and I have learned a lot. For example to write clear and step for step, so that everyone can understand my aspired work.

Now I am really excited about the examination presentation at the 24th of January  and the results out of it. Keep your fingers crossed.


Short christmassy meeting with Heid Baumgartner

Before Christmas I asked Heidi Baumgartner from Inselspital Berne, Children’s hospital, if I could meet her to say thank you for the good cooperation during my research project.

So we met at 21st of December and had a short communication about the project and the reached goals. She asked me to meet at the end of the thesis to make an appointment for presenting the research project and result to the management and heads of the children’s hospital.

I will write her after the examination and in agreement with my coach Minou Afzali from the Bern University of the Arts, HKB.



Application for the specialized Master

Parallel to the master thesis and research plan I have worked on my application for the specialized master called »Master Research on the Arts« Therefore I have had to meet the head of the study program Dr. Prof. Christina Urchueguía. I have seen here before at my second colloquium in June, so she could remember who I am and what kind of topic I am working at.

Additionally I have asked Dr. Prof. Heinzpeter Znoj to be my mentor for this second master thesis. Dr. Prof. Znoj is a great researcher and professor at the university of Berne – social anthropology. We have had a short meeting and talked about the project I will do ant the research matters. Also the courses I have to visit to do my master thesis. I am really glad to have his agreement as mentor for this research about »Children Picture Books« and its effects. So I will answer questions about the different age groups and the graphics content for this age groups. This will happen with research methods from ethnographical side, like graphic comparison and expert interviews. Moreover deign research methods like mood boards or a workshop with children and adolescents.

The deadline was today and I am just in time with it.

Update 01/18: Dr. Prof. Urchueguía informed me via E-Mail that the application is now at the jury to read it and decide then if I can do this master.

Coaches for the first, second and third semester

Thanks to all my coaches helping me out for my master thesis. I have learned a lot of you three and thank you for fun, expertise and discussion – I liked it. ♥

First Semester: Minou Afzali
My first coach for the first semester was and is still Minou Afzali. She has her background in product design and is a design researcher since many years. She has a lot of experience with design research in the healthcare field, especially with the elderly. She really pushes me with my methods and the abstract for the Inselspital in Berne, Switzerland. With her, I met the staff from the Inselspital children’s hospital, who seem very interested in my project. After a successful meeting, we had an arrangement. Minou Afzali should always be in »CC« by E-Mail contact and she should be the first contact of the so called «Hochschule der Künste HKB» (Berne University of the Arts).

Second Semester: Minou Afzali and Judith Bühling
In the second semester Minou Afzali stayed as my coach because of her experience and the agreement with the «Inselspital» in Berne. With her, I worked on my methods and analyzed them before and after the happening. We talked about the pros and cons and the missing methods for answering my research question.

My second coach was Judith Bühling, a signage designer with some experience in design research. But more in her practice. I needed her expertise in her field. So, I have nice discussions about the questions I will answer with my methods and how I could make a visual concept out of it. She observed the department »J South« with me and told me her likes and dislikes and about what she is wondering. So, I could make some notices about possible paths of solutions. I really want to thank her, because of her nice words, fruitful discussions, the direct way of speech and her never-ending pushing. I am really happy to meet you.

Third and last Semester: Minou Afzali and Jimmy Schmid
For the third and last semester, it was a little hard to define my coaches. Minou Afzali was my sure and safe side. She is really good in writing and preparing research documents. So, after my done work at the »Inselspital Berne« she was my so called «Mentor and Lector». I really enjoyed her direct feedback, her tips and her never-ending patience. She helped me out with my application for the «Specialized Master in Research on the Arts», so called MRA. Also, she gave me honest feedback on my two proposals. She is a really precise in writing and formulating sentences and proposals.

My second coach was Jimmy Schmid, a signage expert, design researcher and director of studies of the «CAS Signaletik» in Berne. This is a program with exam in the signage design sector. For me he was an inspiring light and a excellent signage mentor. He worked with me on my documents like the «Cultural Probes» manual and the conclusion book. He helped me out with sorting the chaos and making an overview of all observed items on my mixed methods approach. Also, he worked with me on my presentation for the examination and was a good teacher in finding the essences of my work.

Tasks for the examination

For my examination, I should work out different things like mentioned in the post of «Colloquium 3». In Detail, I have to work out a SNF proposal, the SNF is a foundation which sponsors future academics (PhD) with the PhD thesis in research. The brief is 20 sites DIN A4 with maximum 80.000 Characters. They pay the money for researching and writing conclusions about the chosen topic. So I should write what I want to reach with my research question «Wie können sowohl Wohlbefinden als auch Bewegung von PädiatriepatientInnen – im Alter von neun bis zwölf und dreizehn bis sechzehn Jahren – im Spital gezielt durch signaletische Massnahmen gefördert werden?». In English, the research question could be formulated like this «How could either wellbeing and as well as activity from pediatric patients – aged nine to twelve and thirteen to sixteen years – in hospital be promoted through signage actions?» The second goal is a GSA (Graduate School of the Arts) proposal, it is like the SNF proposal but a little bit shorter.

The Deadlines and goals for the examination of the Master of Arts Design Research

This are the academic parts of my master thesis, but there are although practice oriented tasks like writing and designing a manual about the Cultural Probes I have done. The content should answer questions like «What are Cultural Probes?», «Which exercises could they include?», «What kind of materials could be used?», «What are the leanings?», «Pros and Cons of Cultural Probes.», «My experience with the method.» and so on. It should show the variety of tasks possible and what could be senseless and what should be well thought through. The second goal is a book about my drawing conclusions out of my mixed methods approach and in connection with the read books, papers and my research on the field in healthcare design and environmental communication design. This should give a short overview in my research especially of the station «J Süd» of the Inselspital Berne. It includes topics like from the target group preferred themes, colors, visualizations, rooms and so on. This will be analyzed with the books and studies of other researchers and be questioned again.

The tasks have different deadlines as shown below. The things which should be printed have to be finished earlier as the other things.

Colloquium 3

The new and final research question for the master thesis

The milestone for the third Colloquium of the Master of Arts Design Research was to show the finished project and draw conclusions. So, I have presented a mix out of my method approaches and the books and papers I have read. I showed in three examples what objections there are and which claims from different sources fit together. I felt really good with my presentation and thought that it will be illuminating. The paper was really a hard work for me. But it showed me the essences of my whole work, what makes me a little bit proud.

The bridge between the books and my research question
The mixed methods approach (Ethnography and design research) for my thesis.

Feedback from the jury
• I grew into the role of a design researcher
• The drawing conclusions were good.
• Active Networking, especially with the «Inselspital Bern»
• Lots and different research methods
• Good future prospect (research proposal)
• Empathy for the participants and test persons

• Conclusions about methods, which don’t work well are missing
• The target group is too heterogeneous; the age group are too big
• Some literal errors
• Presentation was too short (7 minutes)
• There was no introduction into the topic

• Age group 9 – 12 and 13 – 16 would be good.
• The samples of the field study were really small, so the results have to be well defined

The grad was in average a 5.5, so it is in between «good» and «very good»

A walk trough the hospital with an signage expert

Judith Bühling in the reception area of the Inselspital in Berne

One of the next steps for the master thesis was an appointment with my second coach Judith Bühling. She is an expert in signage design and has a lot of experience with light and orientation through design. As we met on Wednesday the 9th of August at the entrance of the children’s hospital of the Inselspital Berne, she was really unsurprised of the «non-structure» of the hospital inside. She talked a lot about other hospitals in which the same ordinary stuff is placed and the orientation is nearly the same, too.

She told me a little anecdote of finding the toilet on her departure at the children’s hospital. She didn’t find it on the first try. She was looking for it on the ground floor of the children’s hospital. First she read the signage plan of all levels, but this didn’t tell where the next toilet was. So she walked to the end of the ground level. There are some snack bars and coffee machines, but although no toilet here. So she walked into the hall in which all the elevators are. But nothing. So she went back to the entrance and go up by the stairs. As she arrived on the first ground – while walking in the direction of the information desk – she found the signage of the male and female toilet sign. White sign on a blue ground. Now she was at the right place, but it took some time and effort. Now we could nearly imagine how awful this must be for a mother with children in stressful and helpless situations.

This little story tells a little how important wayfinding in huge complexes is and what architects and (signage) designers could do to avoid such powerless situations.

Colloquium 2

The goal for the second Colloquium of the Master of Arts Design Research was to show some intermediate data from the research project. I have shown the core essences of the diverse experts’ interviews, the workshop with the children and adolescents, the observations I have done and the first two of the Cultural Probes. My feeling during the presentation was good, but I have had a timeout, on which I have to work for the next presentation.

Cover of the paper for the second colloquium at HKB

Feedback from the jury
I was really engaged into my project and they liked that I was working quick, which means I have realized a lot of methods and analyses. My methods were adequate for example the techniques like the Cultural Probes, which I have done with the children and adolescents of «Station J Süd» and my conclusions from it.

Missing conclusions why which methods are good for this project and why. And which are less good. The jury said, that this would be very helpful for the design itself. Although negative was the missing literature sources for the examples with lights and colors. This has to be evidence-based. Critical examination with the topic of the children. Do they really have less stress? Methodical failures, like the decontextualizing of the material while the workshop with the children and adolescents. And the research question was too much into the medicine topic, which I can’t measure. So I have to change into a question I could answer alone in the design field. A lot of things have been done but there is no really fundamental conclusion and reaction from myself. No critical examination. The imaginary grad was a bad 5, although a bad «good».

Aims for the Examination
The fixed goals are:
• A SNF Foundation proposal
• A GSA proposal

The unsure or super plus goals are:
• A summary of all the books and papers I have read
• Cultural Probes as kind of manual and lessons learned

My first Cultural Probes, Inselspital Berne

The next research method were the so named «Cultural Probes» a kind of little exercises, which should be well prepared for the target group. Cultural Probes are a design research method, which should help to find out private and personal preferences, feelings and meanings from the participative group. Daily impressions will so be observed, but in a private and real surrounding. In this case in the children’s hospital of Berne.

Cultural Probes bundle for the patients of the Inselspital in Berne, station «J Süd»

I have created eight little exercises which should answer these questions:

  • What rooms do they like most (green sticker and photo of the corridor)?
  • Which rooms are scary or awful (red sticker and photo of the corridor)?
  • Which rooms are not known (grey sticker and photo of the corridor)?
  • Which names should the rooms have (naming)?
  • What colors should the department have (3 favorits)?
  • What kind of visualizations do these patients prefer (simple, black and white, colorful, with eyes/faces, with arms, phantasyfull or realistic, etc.)?
  • How could a female and male plant oder animal looks like (Drawing)?
  • What theme would they love to have on the corridor (animals, universe, dinosaur, etc.?
  • How do they kill the time and with which tools (puzzles, books, videos, etc.)

I packed these exercises into envelopes and gave them to the patients directly.
I was in the hospital at the morning and in the evening, too (if there were some problems or questions about the packages). I enjoyed the time with the patients, because I have seen how happy they were, because of helping and having some fun with these stuff. I gave them the chance to have and form a voice and to change something.

The results are fascinating. All of the six children prefer as theme of the department J South: Animals or as specia topicl: plants. This is really interesting, because of the fact, that they would like a natural surrounding more than a phantasy world, like monsters or aliens. And they like cold colors more than warm colors. Nearly all of them like a middle blue or mint color. They all don’t like the surgery and the nurses station. But all love the workshop room and the lounge area in the beginning of the department. Most of them like the book, puzzle and toy shelfs in the corridor. And some of them would enjoy a room for children and adolescents to chill and have some good time on the sofa and watching television.

A short list of the results (five persons have completed the cultural probes, only one person drop it after one exercise):

  • Theme: animal (6/6) or plant (2 of 6 added this as idea).
  • Colors: dark violet (4/5), middle blue (3/5), mint (3/5), green (1/5), rose (1/5), pink (1/5), light green (1/5), magenta (1/5).
  • Lovely rooms: lounge area (5/5), shelf with toys (4/5), youth room (4/5), Kitchen (3/5), etc
  • Scary rooms: patient’s room (1/5), scale (1/5), white spaces/corner (1/5), Kitchen (1/5).
  • Disliked rooms: surgery (4/5), nurses room (3/5), disposal space (2/5).
  • Drawing a female plant/animal: Most of them drew a flower for woman, only one person drew a four-leaved cloverleaf.
  • Drawing a male plant/animal: These results are nor overlapping: A dandelion, a tree without leafs, a bear or eagle, a monkey and palm trees.
  • Most of the children and adolescents liked the visualization of the cactus with eyes, arms or faces. Really nice and characteristically. The simpler the worse. They loved the color once and the cacti with spines.
  • The naming exercise is senseless if translated in English, so I will let this results out of this writing.
  • Missing most in hospital: Family and friends; a comfortable room for playing and meeting and sitting all together; a room for relaxing, my bed, a TV, more toys/games; the cosy mood form home, where it is comfortable and «cuddly»; fresh air.
  • Room colors and suggestions for improvement: They all love the workshop and this is the happiest place without big suggestions. The shelfs with toys, puzzles and books are cool, but too less items in it. The patient rooms are too clean and impersonal. Most of the furniture could be more cosy and comfortable. The kitchen ist great, but has a bad light and the table cloth isn’t so pretty. They want to change the hospital into a more comfortable place with more colors, more paintings and more stuff, which are usual for them.

With the results of these cultural probes I can build a prototype or an idea of how could this signage research project look like. I really enjoyed my time in the Inselspital and loved it wo work with this beautiful minds. Thanks a lot for all participants. You allhave done a great job!