Research methods – Observational Methods.

This was the starting point we had.

We have to carry out different methods of research within this module, and this was the first week we were given to put these into practice. We had to observe and shadow a fourth year student from the same discipline. This was to give us encouragement for the final method we will use in this module: an interview. The shadowing method was to prepare us in what it will be like interviewing someone – something which not many of us have had to do before.

I felt a little under pressure about this project as my assigned fourth year had not been in touch since I emailed her to arrange a place to meet etc. This was making me feel slightly anxious about the shadowing method. However, when the day came I ended up being paired with another 4th year from IED (Interior and Environmental Design), who was able to give me a great insight to her design process and the work she was doing. This was great for me as I was able to talk to her about different methods she uses and what she thinks works best for her. Rebekka (the girl I was shadowing) allowed me to take some pictures of her doing some preparations for one of her workshops on her iPad. I had found that she interacted with her iPad for quite a lot of online preparations during the process of her work.

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A picture I took of Rebekka doing work on her iPad, in the studio.

I was able to see that she was surrounded by lots of different materials, this made me think she was quite creative in her sketching and work, so after asking  her about this I then found out she wanted to be more creative in her sketching. She had said that she wanted to challenge herself with this project, so I guess a good way of doing this – for her – would be to try and use different materials or techniques.


What are the important parts of a project? This is a question I asked Rebekka.


Research. Research and more research. Her advice for me was to do lots of research into the project you want to, however. She had regretted spending so much time doing research – which she later found out was pointless. Know when you’ve got enough research and go with it, or you’ll run out of time. Lists helped keep her on track after feeling under pressure about the project deadline(s). All of the work she was doing was to benefit someone else, she wanted to design for someone else and this became clear in all of her work, as she wanted to challenge herself with this big controversial project which she wanted other people to benefit from.

Focus on your style and be confident and happy in that in fourth year, don’t spend time trying to change your style into something else, was more advice she was able to give me when talking about her project.


Communication with other people about her project seemed to play a big part in her project, as she was working on workshops with scientists and non scientists. This helped me understand more about her and the work she was doing as you could tell she wanted her design to help other people and make their time easier in the building she was designing..she wanted to know what people thought and what they would want. So I think these workshops helped her get her project to a coming together state and helped focus her on what she was doing.

She created a box about her design and the information she had. It had different levels and folded out. It really amazed me at how much work she had done in the time that she had done it in. The professionalism of her work was to a really high standard and this inspired  me to work hard in the work that I am doing in first year, as I want to be as prepared as you can be for going into 2nd, 3rd and 4th year.

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This is an image of the box that Rebekka had designed for her project.

I had learned a lot from this shadowing experience and feel more inspired and energised about the interview as I realise how helpful communicating with someone about your work can be. I have enjoyed the shadowing technique and would really like to do another shadowing session with someone else to get a different insight into a design process, as I feel this would help me breakdown my design process.

I decided to make a flowing storyboard about the work and process that Rebekka goes through and has gone through to create her work. This is photographed below.

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The first stage of Rebekka’s design process
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The final flow storyboard of Rebekkas design process.
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