Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Claytons Update

Well there really isn't much to update.

I continue to fix leaks as they pop up - set your expectations for this, it's an endless task.

Here are a couple of recent pics of the Tradewind in the back yard.

It was definitely worth all the effort.  It's a great working environment and provides a comfortable stay for guests.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stage 1 Renovation Complete

Well, we've reached a pretty big milestone.  The Interior renovations are largely complete.
I think it's looking pretty good.

Here are some of the highlights...
Completely updated layout
240v throughout for power - including uninterruptible power supply (we get a lot of trees falling over power lines up here in the hills).
12v lighting including LED strip lights recessed behind a panel in the ceiling.
Bamboo floor
Bar fridge
All new upholstery
2-pak high gloss desk
(Replica) Eames soft cushion executive chair.
Dinette that converts into a kids bed
Couch that converts into a double bed (retained and modified from original)

It's all a pretty big change from the original...

Let me know in the comments what you think or if there is any particular aspect you'd like to know more about.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Design: Floorplans

It's been quite a while since the last post... and it isn't because nothing has been happening.  Quite the opposite in fact.

We moved down to Federal, shifted our business, enrolled our daughter in a new school, renovated a kitchen in the house and had 15 people camp at our place over the new year.

...oh, and we renovated the Airstream.

It is very close to complete but I'm not going to post pictures just yet. We need to go back a couple of steps and fill in a few gaps.  So, this one is about how we settled on a floor plan.

This is the original 1974 Tradewind floorplan...

Starting from the left, you can see the bathroom.  Moving clockwise around we had a full height wardrobe, then a countertop with some cupboards below and tambour (rolltop) cabinets above.  Then about "midship" you can see the stovetop and double sink. At the front (far right on the plan) you can see the "Goucho" couch.  There is a little shelf just to the right of the doorway and then to the left of the doorway, you can see the refrigerator and pantry cupboard.  The long thing to the left of that is a couch that pulled out into a double bed.

It's astonishing that they fitted it all in there.  It is basically a full self-contained accommodation unit.

As previously stated, we don't need any of the kitchen or bathroom facilities and we need much less storage than was available in the original Tradewind layout.

Cutting to the chase...
This is the floorplan that we arrived at...

We put a diner style table (dinette) at the rear where the bathroom was (left on the plan above).  This has a table top that drops down to create a small double bed when you rearrange the back cushions. Then there is some storage for guitars and filing in a narrow cupboard that runs all the way up to the ceiling.  That cupboard also hides part of the wheel arch and creates a very deliberate spacial divide between the dinette area and the rest of the trailer.

We moved the couch over to the other side to take advantage of the views across the valley out the front door and window on the door-side.  The couch also faces the design wall on the other side.  The idea is that this is a place for clients or collaborators (or me) to sit and be able to see / access the design wall (where design ideas and workings will be posted).  The couch will also have armrests built large enough to accommodate a drink, dinner plate or laptop.  We are reusing the original couch which pulls out into a bed so the trailer can be used by guest when they stay.

Moving clockwise around, there is a small space for a music keyboard or a guitar and then the main desk is at the front end of the trailer.  It is about 2400mm wide and 800mm deep - quite large.  It needs to accommodate studio monitors and two mixing desks as well as providing space for sketching etc.

Around past the door is the design wall and a bookshelf underneath.  The bookshelf only sits about 500mm high and was kinda necessary to cover part of the wheel arch on that side.  It also provides another surface to place designs in progress as they go up on the wall etc.

Next to that - before we get back around to the dinette - is a reproduction of the counter from the other side in the original plans.  It is designed to act as a tea / coffee and cocktails station.  The cupboard underneath is large enough to take a bar fridge.

And that's it.  It is much more open and fit for our purpose but it still has some shape to it and a deliberate set of distinct spaces - the overhead cabinets will go back in and help to reinforce this spacial segmentation.  I've seen shots of Airstreams with completely open workspaces inside and they look soulless to me.  There is some charm in the cosiness suggested by little dividing walls and overhead cabinets.

Before deciding on this final floorplan, we went through a number of iterations.  I used a user interface design tool (Balsamiq Mockups) to mock these floorplans up.  Once I had a few elements in place, I printed it out and cut the pieces apart. This allowed us to move things around very quickly and try out different configurations.  I highly recommend getting things onto paper.  Computer tools are great but you need to get tactile with it and push things around.  Nothing else allows you to come up with 5 crazy and improbable layouts in 5 minutes.

This is what the paper cutouts looked like...

Here are some of the other layouts that almost made the grade...


Friday, October 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Design: Research - Prepare Personas

In the last post I spoke about bringing an Experience Design approach to the renovation of the Airstream.

In this early - Research - stage, it is very crucial to know who we are designing for.  One of the common mistakes that designers and engineers make is designing for themselves.  Another mistake is designing for everybody and yet nobody specifically.  This happens all the time in large organisations with unnecessarily overbearing or inappropriately directed stakeholder governance (oversight).  In layman's terms, this latter issue results in "design by committee".

Personas aim to obviate both these issues by focussing the designers / engineers / (or in my case) cabinet maker on the specific individuals who will be using the resultant product.

This is where it gets a little recursive because I am the main user and I am the designer - so there is absolutely a conflict.  I am very rarely designing products for myself so personas help me maintain objectivity.  You might think that writing a persona for myself is unnecessary in this case and you may be right but bear with me because I think it will be valuable in a couple of ways:
1.  It helps me be very deliberate and objective about my goals, needs and motivations,
2.  It may be helpful when briefing in contractors,
3.  It is important for you - the audience - to understand my goals etc. so that the subsequent design activities have context and can be evaluated for validity,
4.  It might help other UX designers (or trailer renovators) understand these methods better,

In describing how these things work, I'm going to draw heavily on Alan Cooper's work with personas.  He was instrumental in bringing them into modern design practice.

What are personas?
- Personas are represented as individuals - even though they usually stand for groups of users,

- Personas are based on research,
- Personas capture motivations and goals - critical as goals drive behaviour which drives tasks which are supported by features,
- Personas are distinct because they have different motivations (not just because they have different roles),

- Personas are the basis of the design - every feature / function can be viewed in the context of a persona,
- Personas are rich and tell an engaging story about somebody who will use the design.

Considering the design of our Airstream, these are the three distinct personas:
Primary Persona: Matt Morphett - User Experience Designer and Film & TV Composer
Secondary Persona: Ghita Fiorelli - Film & TV Editor and Business Administrator
Tertiary Persona: Randall Journeyman - Writer and guest staying in the Airstream for a few days

In the interests of time, I've drawn up only the primary persona (it's all about me).

As you can see it offers some context and background providing insight into my motivations but the stars of the show (beyond the pictures) are the goals and motivations.

Getting these right and designing explicitly for them is key ensuring the best outcome with any design.

The next step is to put this persona into the context of use (the Airstream) and write a scenario showing what a typical day looks like.  This will will help me plan out the features and the layout.

Thanks for watching.  Leave comments.

Let me know if you would like the persona template for your projects.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Airstream Renovation as a Designed Experience

As someone who designs experiences for a living, I can't help but try to bring a very deliberate approach to the design of this Airstream.  I'm gonna borrow some of the methods from my profession and apply them to the trailer renovation exercise.

I really enjoy slowing the design process down (just enough) and making each of the steps very explicit and deliberate. This really helps me get to the best design when I'm working and ensures that each design decision is made for the right reason.  This is a small area and I have a very tight budget - everything needs to be there for a reason and each feature needs to occupy only as much space as it requires to support my needs.

The User Experience process can be broken down into three phases.
1.  Research
2.  Design
3.  Validation

In theory, all this should take place before physical work (demolition and construction) begins.

In the following diagram, I've laid out these phases with some of the activities I may undertake clustered below them.  There are many approaches that could be taken and I could have employed some different activities to the ones listed (I may yet) but at this stage I've packed my kitbag with those coloured dark grey.  I figure I have covered Requirements and Best Practice (Thanks Hoffman et al) in previous posts so they are checked off in green.

I recently attended a workshop by Jon Kolko where we practiced Insight Combination and Reframing activities as design synthesis techniques. I'm keen to give them a go in this context.

Next up... Personas.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A First Look Inside

Well the Airstream made the trip safely from the Port of Brisbane down to Federal on the back of a tilt-tray late last week.  It is staying at Ghita's mum's place around the corner from our place while we do some work on it.

We went down from Brisbane on the weekend to take a look.  And it's just lovely.

There are some very minor blemishes and small scrapes, most of which will polish out when I get to that stage.  It's just so pretty...

The interior is very "original".  Much of it will have to go.  We just don't need the fridge, cooker, entire bathroom, wardrobe, etc. etc.  And the finishes are all so dark.  It needs to be lightened up and opened up.

Some of the little 70s luxury touches are awesome (clock, exterior and interior temperatures)...

A few more parting shots...

Oh also, it came with the original owners manual.  Check out the name inside...

Hehe : )