Design Is Around You: Shifting Public Perspectives Through Urban Engagement
By Adelyn Soetyono
December 7, 2023
A deep commitment to and belief in the critical role design plays in our rapidly evolving world drove a collective of ID students—Sujith Samuel (MDes 2023), Palak Shah (MDes 2023), Adelyn Soetyono (MDes + MBA 2023), Ayaka Uriu (MDes 2023), and Yiqi Zhong (MDes 2023)—on a quest to demonstrate design’s impact in everyday life.
The ID team undertook a challenge from project partner Design Museum of Chicago (DMoC). The museum sought to widen and deepen engagement, so the graduate students delivered a campaign named “Design is Around You.” Their first step in devising the campaign was to survey Chicagoans about their awareness of DMoC.
Among 69 surveyed Chicago residents, more than 80 percent were unfamiliar with the museum. Only 15 percent had previously visited it. When these Chicagoans were prompted about their associations with the term “design,” prevalent responses centered around notions of creation, beauty, art, and architecture—suggesting a strong link between design and tangible elements.
But ID graduate students know very well that design goes beyond mere physicality, and includes thinking, processes, and intricate systems. So the ID team used a combination of design tools and approaches to entice and engage the public, ultimately resulting in visitors’ greater awareness and understanding of design.
Visitors Engage with the Design is Around You Campaign
ID graduate students survey Chicagoans, build a medium-fidelity prototype, and gauge responses to entice and engage visitors with the Design Museum of Chicago and enhance their understanding of design.
The Design Is Around You Campaign
Journey map of kiosk interactions
Journeying to the Design Museum of Chicago
ID students wanted the general public to be able to understand design, to take it beyond abstract concept and to realize that it is woven into their daily lives—whether they see it or not. Their resulting interactive campaign, Design Is Around You, was created in partnership with the Design Museum of Chicago (DMoC). The campaign requires installation of five game kiosks across the city of Chicago. The kiosks beckon passersby with simple questions. Participants answer these questions, which are about design’s role in everyday life. They receive collectible cards as tokens for answering questions. The campaign entices them to complete their card collection. In doing so, they embark on a journey, and the Design Museum of Chicago is their final stop.
Sample Kiosk Question
Picking Up A Greater Understanding of Design
The Design Is Around You campaign prompts individuals to consider how design impacts our lives through everyday objects, like kitchen tools or office furniture. For example, one question asks about a participant’s preferences on Y-shaped versus straight potato peelers.
Combining Gamification and Generative AI
Fusing physical interaction and gamification, Design Is Around You offers a delightful departure from the digital realm. The allure of collectible cards, created with generative AI, coaxes participants to approach the Design Museum of Chicago. The card collection features five basic cards adorned with graphics of Chicago landmarks, and a special Golden Card which can only be redeemed at DMoC.
The Design Is Around You campaign aims for a 30 percent completion rate in kiosk interactions and a 50 percent redemption rate for Golden Cards, tracked by the number of Golden Cards given out. The latter will demonstrate sustained engagement. Ultimately, the team strives for a 25 percent increase in footfall at DMoC, symbolizing an active transition from interest to tangible exploration. These metrics—specific, measurable, and timebound—demonstrate how a physical campaign might spark interest, foster engagement, and propel real-world interactions at the Design Museum of Chicago.
This campaign interweaves choose-your-own-adventure narrative with surprise elements and memorable interactions, such as the collectible cards. It has the potential to inspire a new breed of thinkers and creators, extending the reach of design’s potential beyond conventional enthusiasts, and resonating with the target audience of 25-45-year-olds—the people who may become tomorrow’s strongest design advocates.
Rendering of the Duo concept in a luxury home kitchen.]
Understanding design’s pervasive role in daily life is crucial because it empowers individuals to comprehend and critique what is shaping their daily experiences. Whether DMoC visitors become design advocates or not, recognizing design’s influence will enhance their ability to navigate and engage with the world more consciously.
Design Is Around You enables individuals to appreciate the thoughtfulness and intentionality (or lack thereof) underpinning products, systems, and experiences, allowing for informed decision-making and a more engaged citizenry.
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