MOOC Week 1-Kitchen eating area redesign

Well, Rita and I got through week 1 of our online design class pretty well. (You can read all about what we’re doing and why here.) At halfway through week 2, though, neither of us had had time to look at the assignments for this week. (There are 4.) We’ve now briefly looked at the assignments and some of the instructional videos, and it looks like we will be defining our design problem in more detail as well as creating more drawings. It’s now Sunday morning and the work is due at 9:00 tonight. Guess what we’re doing today?This (sorta) Old Life: cane working on blog

For our week one assignments we were charged with finding an object (artifact as it’s called in the class) that we really liked and describe why. We also had to set up our class website. I used the tool suggested- Weebly. I’ve used Weebly before so I was familiar with it’s interface. I could have just as easily used a free WordPress site (we use WordPress for this blog), but I went with Weebly to try something different. I’m finding I don’t like it as much as WordPress so far, but it’s been easy to maintain and add content.

 This (sorta) Old Life:  MOOC week 1 artifacts


We also had to find some annoying gaps (design problems in need of solution) in our daily lives. You can see mine here and Rita’s here.

This (sorta) Old Life: family room

Rita identified these plastic mini-blinds as a gap because they “hurt my soul.” My gaps were a little different from hers.

Nothing about these assignments brought any real enlightenment for me. I think it’s because I went into the course with a set idea about what I wanted to design. What did happen that was valuable is that I spent a lot of time thinking about my design problem. If you read my description of the problem I want to tackle here you’ll see that I’m interested in doing some design work on our kitchen eating area.

kitchen light, facing art wall

You can see the bench off to the right. The table is not the right shape and is really too small when all 5 of us are home.

I picked this area for a few reasons. First,I knew it meant I could make some cool stuff.

I’ve been wanting to make a bench for the spot under the window for quite a while. You can see the old piano bench that’s there now. Everybody likes to sit on it in the window. It’s not super comfortable and really is too small. I’ve been holding out on making one, though, because I could never quite settle on a design. Now that I’m making the bench part of the overall design of that part of the room I’ll be able to address its design holistically.

Here's Ella hanging out with Daisy while we make dinner. The kids love to sit on this bench in the window.

Here’s Ella hanging out with Daisy while we make dinner. The kids love to sit on this bench in the window.

The second reason I wanted to do this area is that it’s really the only space in the house where everyone gathers together regularly. That’s important.

I want to make a space that really enhances that experience. I’m hoping that if I make the space really comfortable and inviting that kids won’t always be in such a rush to leave the dinner table and we’ll have longer, more leisurely dinners together. This is, of course, a mixed bag with our children as they are as likely to aggravate each other during dinner as they are to get along. I know in the long run though, they’ll remember those dinner times more fondly than they remember whatever it is they rushed off to do.

This is the kind of moment I hope we can get more of. They look much more well behaved in this picture than they really are.

This is the kind of moment I hope we can get more of. (We look much more well-behaved in this picture than we really are.)

The benefit from the course so far is it’s gotten me to think quite a bit about the space and how I think it should look and function. The tough part is that I really haven’t had much time to put those ideas on paper.

We did have to sketch a design solution for our gap and create a prototype of it, even though we haven’t yet dug into how to create a design. You can see what both of us came up with here:

This (sorta) Old Life:  MOOC week 1 designs

This (sorta) Old Life:  MOOC week 1 designs

I’m looking forward to tackling the second week activities today. I won’t have nearly as much time to get them done as I want, but maybe all the thinking I’ve been doing about it will pull me through. I need to interview the kids to find out what our user needs are. That should be fun and enlightening. :)

No we can’t have trap doors and a big screen TV in the kitchen…

Want to help us get our homework done?

We’ve each had to identify our gaps into one clear question:

Mine:  In what way might we better design the kitchen eating area so that it is more comfortable and functional?

Rita’s:  In what way might we better design the family room so that it will get more use?

Our assignments this week focus on digging into user needs. We know you aren’t users of our particular rooms, but you’ve all got (or have had) eating areas and family rooms. If you can think of any user needs that are important to you in these kinds of spaces, we hope you might share those in the comments. Preferably before 6:00 pm today. This course is tough on deadlines; once we hit 9:00 Pacific time, we won’t be able to upload anything. :-)