PIECE OF HOME - Study of Place Attachment in People's Working Space
"Piece of Home" is a research project revolving around the 'psychology of attachment' that occur an individual in a public space. We worked with participants from different types of working places to tease out the evidence and moments we defined as the 'threshold of the place attachment'. The research process was a combination of various methods that includes:
Academic research about the topic
Visiting places of interest
Interviewing and on-site observation
Developing the probe package
Designing interactive objects
The project provided us an opportunity to start an investigation into a variety of subjects, each of which revealing a facet of a larger picture. And by piecing together our findings we were able to address a bigger topic precisely and in detail, as well as to structure the design proposal more confidently, as a result of using design research to inquire knowledges about people's activity and emotions happening in their familiar spaces.
It is a common experience for someone who works in a fixed place to feel emotionally tied to some part of the space than the rest of it, especially that space is situated in a larger public space shared by a group of people, or even strangers. Like the snug seat one often sits in when he/she goes to Starbucks. The very section in an office restroom that one uses more often than the others.
How this kind of emotion came into being and starts to change our behavior occurs to us as an interesting topic.
Definition of Place Attachment:
Place attachment has been defined as “the bonding of people to places” (Altman & Low, 1992). This bond is not just the result of being in a space, but is related to the quality & quantity of time spent there. Place attachment involves an elaborate interplay of emotion, cognition, and behavior in reference to place. It is not a static concept; place attachment can vary from place to place and can change with different life stages.
WHERE DOES PLACE ATTACHMENT COME FROM?
WHEN DO PEOPLE FEEL ATTACHED TO PLACES?
HOW DO PEOPLE FORM ATTACHMENT WITH PLACES?
We visited places where the threshold of attachment appears strongly. The interested place we found was where private and public spaces are coexisted and place people spend their time regularly. Therefore, we have decide to visit working spaces.
We drew a diagram of all the places we visited according to their level of privateness and flexibility. The brief summary of each place was listed below:
Target: Shared space. not allowed any personal items. uniform
Bank: not allowed any personal items.
Dino Computer: It’s a public open space but the workers have their own desks. No strict rules.
Graduate Product Design Studio at Art Center: It’s a shared space for specific group of people.
Travel agency: One picture and one plant are allowed. A worker’s carried items can not be on a desk.
Copy Center: Own office but shared with others, family business. They have their own office but customer can see inside of it.
There is no rule but they said they don’t bring many of their personal items.
Student locker: not allow to decorate the outside of the locker. A person is not existed in the space.
No one can see the inside of the locker without owner’s permission.
After we visited a number of places where private and public space overlap, we found that the flexibility of place (tolerance for privateness or the customizability of the place for its user) is an interesting point that leads to different behavior of increasing place attachment. Some of the place we visited have strict rules. Some of them are not allowed bring any personal item or limited number of the items. However, somehow they bring their personal items secretly and hide them.
Designing the Probe
We then started a probe among workers in those places. The probe consisted of a questionnaire, a collage and a camera. We included samples of texture in the questionnaire, asking them to touch and connect the feel to their working space. Also they were encouraged to take picture of the places or object that they feel attached to within their space.
After giving out a couple of sample probe to the participant and getting their feedback on the probe package, we did some further research into the places, and then developed some objects of interaction that can "disguise" into the landscape of those working place.
We gave Target worker a red photo frame with a magnet in it. They can paste or hide it in the red background without being noticed.
For the bankers we gave them a tissue box, which is a basic item of their office desk. The box is opened in the middle and the bottom part can serve as a container for personal stuffs.
Every consultant in the American Express Travel Agency has a calendar on their desk, facing to the customers. We revamped the calender and revamped its backside into a photo frame.
Analyzing the Probe
Totally there were ten questionnaires we got back from our participants. We did a quantitative analyze based on the answer of specific questions we asked them.
We also excerpted every message they wrote, having them all in front of us, and grouped the words representing similar feelings. The words with highest frequency were highlighted. A lot words were found related to the environment at home, feeling of home life and coziness. But those words were mostly mentioned as the absent part of their working space.
A Question Aroused
Is it possible for us to help people carry a piece of home to work?
Looking back at all the paperwork we got and the outcome of the experiment we conducted at those places, we came up with a strategy that can be briefly stated as follows:
Concept: Building up place attachment
Theme: Inventing devices that enable people to carry a piece of home to work
Tone: Subversive, hidden, and personal
We proposed an array of products based on this concept. Actually we borrowed a lot quotation from the participants of the probe. We tried taking their words literally and realizing their idea.
Device 01: the pillow
This is a pillow that serves as a sincere listener for a daily commuter between home and work place. When they lie back and relax during office hours, the pillow will start playing the sound people recorded at home. When they straight up again, it becomes silent.
To record the sound, they just need to box its ear and shake it, then leave it anywhere in the room, or use it as any normal cushion.
Device 02: the Warmer
The blanket is designed specially for Target cashiers who spend most of the day standing and do their job. The blanket is made of soft and snug material and participants are encouraged to stand on it with bare feet. There are also several pockets patched on the position where they stand for the longest time, to warm their feet.
Device 03: Snugged Surface
This is an alternative idea to Device 02, that the whole surface where the workers often touch is covered with comfort feeling texture.
: the Hidden Garden
The embedded garden/pet house in the cash tray posed a question whether the repeated and tedious gesture of daily work can be turned into some anticipation, if people can bring their favorite plants and animals into an inside space and having it externalized every time they open it.
Device 05: Disappearance
This is a small bedroom disguised in an office cabinet, the inspiration borrowed from one of the participant saying "I want to disappear whenever I'm ready".
Device 06: New Way of Receptioning
This revolutionary reception desk blocked the physical contact between the office workers and their customer. It created a group of private space for everyone in that space. The workers and the customers can totally lie down and they can only hear each other's voice and see through the monitor.