February 15, 2017

Discussion Session 2.15.2017 – Needs & Everyday Life

Think of a project you have worked on previously. What were the needs you fulfilled? What were the satisfiers you used to fulfill those needs? Now that you know about integrated satisfiers, what would you do differently in that project?

Discussion Leaders: Denise Nguyen, Ashlesha Dhotey, Chirag Murthy and Jeffrey Chou

40 Comments
  1. Hello Everyone!

    Our discussion group today had very fruitful and thoughtful conversations and I think it’s important that those continue outside of today’s discussion groups. So it might be useful if students can also post the discussions and recommended articles that came out of their sessions, so that both groups can have a chance to read and respond…that would be nice!

    • Great session! I really enjoyed your effort to focus on building a dynamic discussion from the things we talked about. On our own, we were realizing how some of the concepts we came up with applied to other Max-Neef categories than what we originally started with.

      • Thank you, Jesse. I really wanted to give everyone a chance to talk and make it as inclusive as possible. Glad you enjoy the session!

  2. Three trains of thought I had today in our discussion section (unrelated to the prompt above, but relevant to Denise’s request for thoughts that came up in class) –

    1. Manfred Max-Neef defines a need for freedom in his matrix and adds that this includes qualities of autonomy and passion (among others). In the individualistic U.S. context we might see freedom a certain way: perhaps it’s about becoming independent, following passions, speaking openly about one’s beliefs, etc. What might freedom look like in cultures that are more community-based–whether it’s based around a family unit, a neighborhood, a village, etc.? Is it possible that what we perceive as repression (perhaps this is too strong a word) could be a free decision to choose a community over oneself? [I divided this into a binary of individualistic cultures and community-based cultures for the sake of a little more simplicity, but obviously there is a lot more nuance here than this question acknowledges]

    2. Protection in the digital age – what does this look like? Who’s fighting for this? (see https://medium.freecodecamp.com/ill-never-bring-my-phone-on-an-international-flight-again-neither-should-you-e9289cde0e5f#.lrzc8djrh)

    3. Related to Max-Neef’s need of affection: not only does the way we show and receive affection differ across cultures, it also greatly differs between individuals. This is super fluffy but there’s a framework for thinking about this called the 5 Love Languages (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/) that includes Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, and Acts of Service. Could help us talk about the needs and satisfiers (and pseudo-satisfiers) here.

  3. In my undergraduate thesis, I did a project surrounding digital integration of ethnographic collections. The essential idea behind this project was that, by digitally reuniting collections which have been spread across many museums and institutions, we can gain a greater insight into the significance of the collection and their original contexts. As art and ethnographic collections are digitized, they are no longer confined to physical space. As a result, considering digitization of collections outside of institutional locale can open new opportunities and accessibilities in collections research.

    In this project, I was essentially fulfilling an “Understanding” need for researchers and academics to gain a complete understanding of a given cultural/artistic/historical context. There was also a bit of “identity” need mixed in here; my project was a case study which looked specifically at missionaries’ collections and how a missionary’s entire object collections can shed light on the nature of related cultural contacts and Missionary perceptions of their host communities. Thus, studying missionary collections in their entirety can shed light on our community and cultural pasts.

    The satisfier I developed for these needs were to integrate object collections digitally, for the purpose of heightened understanding of the larger academic community. If I were to do this project again, I would probably think about how I might design a digital platform which addressed participation, creation, and freedom needs as well. How could I consider connecting researchers, and getting them to collaborate in generating connections between object collections, historical literature, and ethnographic research? How could the information gained by connecting this information be leveraged towards community identity? This could also be a resource for NAGPRA, given that increased access to ethnographic objects could be used to aid repatriation efforts to indigenous communities.

    • Vicky, I think this is a very interesting project (I guess I am always interesting in anthropology topics). Trying to understanding the needs of ancient people from their collection. I am not sure how Max-Neef comes out with his category of needs but it is definitely much more complex than the Maslow’s theory.

      Furthermore, I guess his way of separating the needs and satisfier will make your project easier? Since objects are all satisfier that could potentially fulfill certain needs so that you won’t need to fit each object to certain needs and eventually comes out with many different needs.

  4. “Free Time and the Pressures of Employability” https://www.zedbooks.net/blog/posts/free-time-pressures-employability-refusal-work/

    This is the essay I was referring to in class when we discussed “idleness.” It’s a long but relevant read, especially for designers (and especially now, with Confluence on everyone’s mind) as it touches on ideas such as the trivialization of craft (“hobbies”), constantly being plugged in, ‘knowing’ versus ‘being’, and having the time and mental space to explore and experiment in what we design. If we’re talking about being open to different mindsets, postures, and economies, then the “pressure of employability” is definitely something worth examining.

    • Going of with what Hajira is mentioning here, idleness can be interpreted as the need for changing perspectives. When we are concentrating on certain things, we tend to get caught in some details and thus lost the larger picture. At this moment, it is essential to allocate some time for a break, and reflect upon what’s been done and thought of. Designers need to learn when to zoom in and when to zoom out, as well as when to when to stop and when to move forward.

    • Thanks for sharing. This is super applicable with Confluence coming up this week. I also found your point and insight about the Max Neef’s need of “Identity” really interesting. I’m going to post it here, in case, other want to reflect on it, as well. What is identity is forced upon you?

    • Thank you Hajira for sharing that article! I also found it to be a very relevant and insightful read. There was a lot I could relate to, especially in regards to what the author says about hobbies.

      I’ve always listed one thing under “interests” on my resume: oboe and English horn, which I played in my university’s symphony orchestra for four years. I haven’t played since, probably because while I was in school playing in the orchestra counted for class credit. It was an easy A and might look good on my transcript. Of course, the satisfaction I got out of playing wasn’t at all related to how I justified spending that time to myself. It was an incredible time commitment — several hours of individual practice a week, plus lessons, plus rehearsal twice a week from 8-10pm and concerts every month. While I justified that time in terms of credits and being able to list it on my resume, on a deeper level being a part of orchestra was an integrated satisfier in my life — subsistence (expressing emotion), affection (respect from fellow players), participation, idleness (tranquility), creation, identify, and freedom (passion).

      Now, if I have free time, I “drink wine and watch TV”, precisely as the article describes. Just like the worker in the article, I find that that I am “deprived of the time and energy to choose otherwise”. Needless to say I don’t list those activities on my resume. But, having read this article, should I? To just list “oboe and English horn” under an interests section of my resume seems to be a farce at this point. Even if I’m still interested in classical music, I don’t devote any time towards it anymore. Listing cooking, yoga, wine, and TV seems hardly worth putting on my resume. But perhaps listing these activities, as mundane and trite as they are, would be a more honest reflection of who I am when I am a part of the workforce. Maybe, if everyone put how they actually spent the majority of their free time on their resumes, we’d have a more honest and healthy hiring culture.

    • Thanks for sharing this, Hajira! This was a really interesting and thoughtful read for me, and makes me wonder about the relationship between self-reflection and idleness. How much of idleness can be put into self-reflection? And with mindset and posture in mind, so much of what I choose to do during idleness informs who I am as a person and designer, which trickles into my projects whether it is subconscious or not. That makes me want to better understand and then perhaps somehow overturn that trivialization.

    • Manya Krishnaswamy March 12, 2017 at 6:28 am Reply

      That’s a great article Hajira! I found it really interesting.

      I guess to me it speaks to the “silo-fication” of knowledge in a sense. Where disciplines are so deeply divided that the power of working across disciplines and bringing knowledge or experience from one into work in another is under-valued. Hobbies allow us to explore other areas of interest that may not relate to our work in relation to our jobs/careers. In turn, they can help refresh our perspectives on the work we do everyday, shed new light on it and perhaps even allow us to draw some interesting and unexpected connections between them.

      In my opinion, to embrace people’s (genuine) interests is to embrace inter-disciplinarily and the value it brings to our everyday work.

  5. In my group we talked about “idleness”, one which I think most people can agree has been relegated to the lowest priority in our current busy lifestyles. In a connected world where there are always things to do, people to talk to, various “feeds” to catch up on, how do we define idleness? Delanie and I discussed that we find satisfaction in opening a bottle of wine, watching TV, or spending time in nature to satisfy this need. We can fulfill it either with social time or introverted alone time. Idleness can be satisfied by many of the other “need” areas as defined by Manfred Max-Neef, such as by cooking, crafting or connecting with others.

    In class I mentioned a quote by Thoreau from “On Walden Pond”. His time spent in meditative solitude is a lesson in itself on the power of idleness. I’ll paste it here:
    “I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance.”

    Should we all be so lucky to have that kind of time for idleness!

  6. I found the distinction between core needs, which are finite, and satisfiers, which are infinite and as diverse as people are, to be a really useful frame for thinking about design. I think it provides a really useful framework in which to understand/decode various tastes, styles, and lifestyles (from the perspective of Bourdieu). There are needs that are core to all human experience, but what feels like a satisfying satisfier is mediated by a variety of different factors. Designers should be looking for ways to solve multiple needs in a given “solution”, but this framework so clearly highlights how important it is that solutions be contextually appropriate and specific.

    I am having trouble coming up with a project I’ve worked on that would be appropriate for this discussion prompt, but I think that it brings into focus the experience of grad school in general. There are needs that this program certainly meets – understanding, participating, creation – however, I feel like areas such as leisure, freedom, subsistence are seriously lacking. There is no time for idleness and or self care, and that is part of the reason this experience can feel so challenging at times.

    • Hi, Lauren, besides what you mentioned, I think the other important thing is that actually only few needs are required tangible stuff to fulfill. I used to believe that human always wants more. People from underdeveloped country want to live the same life standard comparing to developed country. If we all live like American, the planet surely will be doomed. Max-Need points out the needs is universal and finite and satisfiers are the things that make difference. As a result, there is chance that we actually fulfill human needs without destroying our planet.

    • Lauren, building on what you are saying about core needs and satisfiers, I think it would be useful to review Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (see here for reference: http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html). This is different perspective on needs, but it’s interesting how you were talking about grad school. According to Maslow’s pyramid something like grad school would be situated in the upper part of the pyramid as part of Self-fulfillment needs. Maslow claims that we are only able to achieve higher levels in the pyramid as we cover base levels. I find this to be an interesting reflection exercise about one’s privilege. Even though there are mayor critiques to this pyramid model, I think it’s interesting think about in reference to Max-Neef’s needs theory.

      • To Silvia’s suggestion, I agree. It would be good to reflect on how Max-Neef’s theory of ‘needs’ is different than Maslow’s theory (and others!)? How is the difference significant? What possibilities for design does it open up?

      • What Silvia brought up with the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs reminded of the fact that I grew up with this particular theory instilled in my mind. It is the theory that was constantly brought up during my education career, to the point that I hold it’s context as a matter of fact. I never questioned it. But with the introduction to the Max-Neef’s theory of needs, I realized my mistake, or blindfulness. Theories are just as their name suggests, they’re not absolute truth, like gravity. They’re just general principles, a proposed explanation to some kind of phenomenon. As a designer, I should keep different theories on mind because they all work in different context.

        • I have the same feeling with Lisa. I was certain of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs till I met Max-Neef’s theory of needs. After I became a graduate student, I gradually realized that knowledge and theories are not truth. They are just perspectives in which you see and judge things. Knowledge is not comprehensive enough to answer all questions we have, it is not something certain that we can obtain from textbooks and papers. Sometimes we’ve already stood at the edge (led by “giants”) and should keep exploring from the outer uncertainties. As a designer, I should select appropriate theories based on the context and always be critical towards different theories.

      • I agree with Silvia. Besides, as talking about the balance of meeting different kinds of needs, the dimension of time should also be considered. For example, in short period maybe needs such as leisure, freedom, subsistence are not satisfied so well, but it may lead to that they will be met better in long term.

    • I’m also struggling to come up with a project for this particular prompt. Perhaps this is because I have spent a lot of my time outside of university working administrative jobs, with very few ‘projects’ actually initiated or completed. The lack of satisfiers for my creation, understanding, and participation needs in my workplace is this reason that I went into graduate studies: an environment, like Lauren said, which meets these needs.

      However, I think why this program has been so challenging for me is because while it does provide satisfiers for the needs listed above, I have always been relatively good at finding those satisfiers myself, through family, friends, religion, and hobbies. The needs I find myself requiring an environment to satisfy are primarily subsistence, protection, idleness and freedom. Those are needs I find most satisfied while in a work environment, not so much school-as Lauren also pointed out. Hopefully, through the education I receive here, I will find a harmony of the two environments and a healthy work-life balance.

  7. I’ve worked on several social media apps that were attempting to fulfill most human’s needs. Before this week, I was aware that most of this work was not really fulfilling one’s need. We were attempting to build functionality that brings people together, allows people to better express themselves, allows for the creation of unique content, etc… While these apps may make a person’s day a little bit better or provide them with a new piece of knowledge, they are not providing a platform that provides them with true affection or identity.

    This has made me wonder if it is possible to create an entirely digital platform that genuinely fulfill one’s needs. I can’t think of any examples of the top of my head that I believe truly achieve this.

  8. I think one interesting project to mention is the one many of us did for Communication Design for Stacie last semester. We started with Neef’s needs and built a data visualization project around it. My group had chosen “creation” as our need. This caused us to really focus on and ask ourselves, “what can all be considered creation?” This is certainly where understanding came into play. It was interesting to see how the group working on “leisure” ended up with some striking similarities.

    I can agree with what others have said about idleness. Sometimes it can be helpful to gain perspective on a given project. Being able to zoom in and zoom out is important, but knowing when to be able to re-adjust your focus is key. Being able to recognize that your project needs a new perspective or even that you personally may need some time to idle can be an important way to satisfy needs.

    • In addition to Jesse’s point, as a teammate with Jesse working together with the topic of “creation”, I also found it interesting that creation, as we dig deeper and deeper, is interconnected with all other topics including subsistence, protection, affection, understanding and so forth. The desire to create something basically lives deep inside of people and it ranges from the very lowest level of people’s needs (for instance, people have needs to create safe spaces and protective clothes for their basic lives) to the higher level (needs of expressing their uniqueness and identity).

  9. I used to be a visual designer for modern dance. I worked with Daniel Phoenix Singh, who ran a company that fused classical Indian Bharatanatyam and western modern dance. He asked me to create interactive projections to be the scenery and environment for his dancers to live in onstage. I used the words of poets who had died from AIDS, as well as the form of the virion particle itself to create imagery for the projections. The dance brought to life the story of how the gay community was impacted by the AIDS epidemic.

    I would say that the project addressed creation and identity primarily, but was intertwined with affection, understanding, participation and freedom. The satisfier was the experience of viewing the work of art. I don’t think that Max Neef’s framework would really have changed how I approached that project. Design is about the relationships between people, the process of collaboration that I have with Daniel is not a theory, it’s a real human practice.

  10. I redesigned my undergraduate school’s textbooks out of a personal drive to make the reading and studying experience more pleasant and useful for the students and professors.

    Texts were often photocopies of photocopies, often two-up on a page, the figures and labeling contrasted out of readability, with copious hand-drawn diagrams, and the typeset text was in Times New Roman (the horror). I envisioned a solution that made it easy to distinguish the source of text (primary versus professor notes) and gave ample margin space for notes. I re-illustrated the figures as vector to make them unambiguous and precise.

    I would say that the primary need I serviced was the need for understanding. Often the material and medium acts as a barrier to understanding, whereas it is best for it to efface itself, allowing the underlying information to be laid bare for the understanding to absorb it and grasp it.

    The material itself was a satisfier, itself being the literature and the teacher. My goal for the diagram redesigns were to stimulate spatial intuition and to allow ease of investigation.

  11. This week’s discussion reminds me of my undergraduate thesis, where I proposed a drug-rehabilitation center. Essentially a building composite of walls and mortar, a rehabilitation center is a cocoon for people who fell into vicious illicit drug-addictions. Drug-addiction is a complex phenomena which gradually leads to an unsustainable lifestyle. It’s just a matter of time that personal addictions affect families and friends. Rehab centers provide space for recreation, recovery, introspection and reflection.

    Through my thesis I wanted to address physiological and psychological needs of these patients providing them with a service that satisfied their survival needs and provided them safety and security. I emphasized on their psychological needs and devised service strategies to involve them into collaborative vocational education. I wanted to propose an environment which can foster their sense of belonging and raise their self-esteem as they recover from the traumatic experience. The collaborative program induced respect and generosity for others, which in turn provided means to satisfy their need of belongingness. The designed vocational program was participatory in nature, targetted to induce receptiveness and dedication to fellow mates, satisfied their self-esteem needs.

    Looking back I think I could have proposed a program involving family members and friends through participatory sessions on the weekends. Such could have been an integrated satisfier which could have worked on patient’s affection, participation, leisure, creation and identity needs.

  12. In my previous life, I redesigned the entire purchasing system and organizational structure of a wedding floral studio I ran. Prior to my redesign, human satisfiers were entirely absent from the workflow. We worked until 2 AM, our product was often poor quality (more wasted time), people’s schedule’s weren’t set, we were always confused, and morale, in general, was very low. The company satisfied our need for income, but that was basically where it ended.

    I designed a new workflow with a simple excel template that allowed us to be organized for the first time, our product was better quality, and everyone generally knew how long they would be working on a given day. If I’m being honest, I originally decided the system needed an overhaul for purely selfish reasons – I couldn’t survive in a work environment like that – but when I saw how it affected everyone else, I was pleased. The company has always been very successful, both financially and with respect to reputation, but I realized that without happy workers none of it mattered. We needed days off; we couldn’t live in chaos anymore. I found that knowing that we wouldn’t be working past 7:00pm on most nights was enough to make everyone happy. They could tell their families when they would be home at the end of the day; they had time to cultivate their hobbies, or even just be idle.

    The transformation in that setting was enough to convince me that providing people with a satisfying job and adequate work-life balance is the only way I would ever run a business again.

  13. Four years ago, I have designed a laptop stand concept, “Yapp!” , for my laptop, which was serviced three times in three months for overheating. Designed to be openly distributed for people to build their own version, Yapp! is a low-cost, waste-less laptop stand solution, which needs a laser cutter to fabricate. Since the primary user of Yapp! was me, I designed it according to my needs. Its dimension was suitable for my laptop and it could fit my backpack. But after I fabricated it and shared it with a couple of my friends, they also wanted to have it and actually fabricated for themselves.

    While designing it, I wasn’t aware of Max-Neef’s theory of needs but I can say that I was designing for my “protection and creativity” needs. Since it wasn’t a project for someone else or for mass-production, I didn’t expect someone to use it as it is but modify it according to their needs or constraints. So after I shared the design files with my friends, some of them actually used it as it since they had laptops with similar directions. On the other hand, some of them modify the size of it according to their needs. There is also one person, who actually machined it from aluminum, which was lighter than the material that I have imaged and used (some kind of plywood).

    I believe, the way I imaged Yapp! was to make it an integrated satisfier, which doesn’t prescribe the design but has room for personalization according to individuals needs.

    More info about Yapp!: http://mericdagli.com/work/yapp/

  14. The agency I worked at had one major client, a health insurance and hospital system. While I worked on many of the different aspects of the account, there was one project in particular that stands out in terms of Max Neef Needs. The project focused on the need of protection, it was a service providing caregivers support and resources in their journey of taking care of a loved one. Ultimately the client wanted to foster a more social environment where individual caregivers would be matched up with a “coach” who could provided scheduling assist, doctor recommendations, and other resources to help with the burden often felt by caregivers. Some of the satisfiers that come time mind would have to be health system, plan, taking care of, helping, and social environment.

    There were a lot of good intentions surround the project and a lot of promising aspects, however the economic motives behind the service were beginning to out weigh the needs and satisfiers. This eventually led to it’s downfall. While the agency didn’t have much say in the structure of the service, if we did, and knowing more about the needs and satisfiers, there are several suggestions I would have made. Looking at who the users would be, both the caregivers as well as those they are caring for, the project starts to become more complex and more integrate satisfiers are needed. Certainly the need of protection and the corresponding satisfiers would remain, but I believe that we need to extend the focus of needs to include subsistence, affection, understanding, and participation. Pulling satisfiers like physical and mental health, food, rest and work from subsistence. Generosity, family & friend relationships, taking care of, and privacy from affection. Bringing in education and analysis from understanding and finally, incorporating receptiveness, dedication, responsibilities, and associations from the need of participation.

  15. In our group, we talked about affection and realized that even though we shared the same cultural background, our affection could be completely different. I found myself really attached to animals, sometimes more than a person. Even though I don’t speak their language and they don’t speak my language either, I feel like we are connected emotionally and they give me tremendous metal support. However, Borie’s need of affection was different, which was nature. She felt that even though she visits some place for the first time, she feel really connected and supported by the surroundings. We both thought that affection from family or friends are universal things for everyone, even though we are coming from different social groups.

  16. In our group, we discussed “identity”. We both agreed that “identity” is not always a need. From my perspective, this need only happens in relation to others, whether I want to differentiate myself from others (including let somebody know me) or join others. Satisfiers can be language, nationality, hobby, habits, history memory, anything. One person can have infinite identities, ex.firstly I am a human, then I am a female, an Asian, a Chinese, a designer, an illustrator, a child of my parents, an organized person, etc.

    It’s important for us designers to discover what kind of need a user has and which signifiers are appropriate in that context. My friend and I discussed the success of XIAO GUAN TEA in Shanghai, but there are very few people interested in XIAO GUAN TEA in the city of Taiyuan. People all have a need of leisure and idleness, but they just need different satisfiers.

  17. The prompt reminds me my previous work’s–an architectural firm– approach toward building; it should not only keep the rain out and heat in but also make sense of the space.
    What my company basically fulfill are need for subsistence and protection from environment by providing a space to dewell as satisfier.

    But if what clients needed was only such needs they would not come and pay more for designing their houses. They would buy many options available in the market. So when saying “make sense of the space,” I would interprete it as applying personal needs to their cave. I remember specific a client who shown particular interst on his study room. The space was probably a satisfier of need for creation, understanding, or leisure, which means it is integrate satisfier and it is nested by different needs.

    I think designers are facilitors who embody/actualize people’s needs so that make senses.

  18. Michelina Campanella March 5, 2017 at 6:11 pm Reply

    I have two main points to make here, and realize that my comment is a bit late to contribute to the conversation, which is unfortunate because this was my favorite lesson so far.

    First, I want to point out the brilliance of Max Neef’s theory of needs. Reconceptualizing ‘poverty’ not just as economic but as basic human needs on one hand seems so intuitive, yet revolutionary in the madness of our profit driven society. Additionally, when you have sustained poverty in ANY area, it can lead to pathology (individual and collective).

    From a psychological perspective, satisfying basic human needs on a daily basis is the most fundamental action a person can take to ensuring mental health and happiness. In a clinical setting, pathologies are always treated AFTER addressing the basics of everyday life. Examples: Are you eating a nutritional diet everyday? Are you exercising each day? Do you spend time with friends and family? Are you able to sleep at night? Do you have a clean home? Are you being physically, verbally, or emotionally abused (do you feel safe and supported each day)? Are you learning / contributing to something larger than yourself? If someone’s safety is threatened (say by an abusive partner), then it is more important to help them to leave the relationship than to address the anxieties that accompany that relationship.

    Secondly, when society is structured to prioritize economics and knowledge over virtually every other basic human need, we are left with human beings who don’t have a chance at meeting their needs. This leaves us with helpless, zombie-like masses who are desensitized from the pain of sacrificing their needs day in and day out. How can we expect radical transformation of everyday life when we are systemically eroding the will of every person within our society? The level of helplessness we have collectively learned is evident in the amounts of suicides each year. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and as I studied the decision making process of those who have attempted suicide, the fact that death is seen as the only way to end suffering is a disgusting reality of how desperately societal structures are failing us.

    Psychology views suicide as an individual pathology, but through Max Neef’s theory we can see that this is a failure in understanding the power of the systems we operate within that effect us collectively. I couldn’t agree more with Neef when he says, “we need a sense of responsibility for the future of humanity and a strong desire to overcome all inequities described in this book. If we do not take up the challenge, we will be accomplices in creating and maintaining sick societies” as well as contributing to global suicide.

  19. During my undergrad in Industrial I used to love designing ‘cool’ products. I believed these are products that people would want. I strongly believed in designing for people’s wants, more than needs. I have understood people better since and realize how the line between wants and needs is a blur. I really wish I knew of Manfred Max-neef’s model of needs back then. I think its speaks so much about people in one table.
    For my undergrad final project, I worked on an air freshener dispenser that dispenses freshener when a string is tugged at. It was supposed to be playful and like nothing else. It was supposed to be like no other dispenser in the market. Looking back, maybe I was trying to satisfy people’s need for being different. I know its not a need according to Max-neef but this intrigues me. I am struggling to find a project to talk about in terms of needs and satisfiers, but I guess what I want to say is that I would have been able to design mindfully had I know about these concepts earlier.

  20. Lisa and I had a very interesting conversation in today’s session around the need of “Understanding”. We discussed about what counts as understanding for us and came up with topics of education, hands-on learning, meditation as an act of understanding one’s own self, conversation, observation, experience and experiment. Through our discussions, we realized that coming from different regions, our experiences with the education system in the past have been absolutely different and so, our needs for understanding are defined in very different ways. While I come from a place where education is very uni-directional and choosing a career path beforehand is extremely crucial, since the there is no room for experimenting once the choice is made. Hence, the understanding is more about gaining one expertise. On the other hand, Lisa said her experience was more organic. She was free to choose and change directions as and when suited. For her, understanding is more about exploring. My biggest takeaway from this session was that Max- Neef provided a great framework to categorize the needs, but, these needs have a lot of room for interpretation. Now that I know about the integrated satisfiers, I feel I will be able to add more empathy while dealing with situations.

  21. Before attending CMU I spent the majority of my career working in fashion marketing. Most recently, I worked at Vera Wang, a company that sells wedding gowns that range in price from $8,000 – $20,000+. I believe the consumer motivation behind buying these dresses ties very closely to satisfying identity needs (i.e. “Because I wear a dress from Vera Wang I belong to a certain social or economic class…”). One of the things I struggled with while working in the fashion industry, was conflating human needs with wants and desires. For example, does someone truly “need” a wedding dress to satisfy a deep identity need or does possessing that dress temporarily satisfy a surface level want and desire? Is there a more sustainable way to satisfy an identity need within the context of a wedding other than how much money is spent on things like dresses, rings and venues?

  22. This is by far my favorite topic in Transition Design and I am so glad I got to be the discussion leader for it. We as a team thoroughly enjoyed planning the activities and conducting them. To be honest, I learned as much from facilitating the class activities as from the readings. Max-Neef Needs is a brilliant framework that highlights user’s fundamental needs behind their each decision and this framework helps us dissect and understand the users better. In my undergrad, I did a project of designing a rucksack for the Indian women, we tried to satisfy the needs of understanding and identity. But now when I look back I wonder if those needs were really satisfied through our design but just barely touched the surface and hence borders on being a shallow attempt. It truly was a well-appreciated design of a rucksack but I was unaware of Max Neefs Needs and hence could not validate my concepts to align myself to the user’s needs. Today, I would have definitely done things differently.

  23. Instead of discussing a project I participated before, I intend to talk about the delivery service which is growing and developing extremely fast in China. As we all known, Chinese value food a lot at any time. Besides, there are always some reasons for Chinese who live in big cities to stay late at night, such as a football game happening in Europe, an emergent deadline from work to meet, or a movie premiering at midnight. Thus, how could people enjoy all the delicious food from more than 160 thousand restaurants in the city whenever they want? Obviously, food delivery service is the answer. In this scenario, several delivery service companies met the need of idleness from people by hiring thousands of food outlets.

    However, from my point of view, this solution could be improved while meeting more integrated needs. Having personal experience of practicing bakery while having difficulties finding “consumers” and hearing a lot of comments about how home-made dishes are better than the ones from restaurants, I believe expanding the scope of food providers to both restaurants and individuals may increase the efficiency and diversity of delivery service. Moreover, considering the huge increasing amount of people who jogging outdoor after work, we should not ignore the possibility that some of them could be potential food outlets. Both ideas meet more integrated needs such as “participation” and “creation” while providing new design opportunities.

  24. I was responsible for redesigning a process of observing teachers in their classrooms and providing them with specific feedback with the goal of improving their instructional practices. A large component of the redesign involved creating written materials. The redesign was intended to make process implementation as easy as possible for teachers and principals, because it’s one of many priorities they have. The primary need was to support their understanding. Written materials had to be clear and explain the process in a descriptive way, in a legible, friendly font, and at a concise length. The creation of materials was the satisfier. Each year, I iterate on these same materials as the process changes and attempt to make them better. The year in between is used to collect information and supports my need for creation, understanding, and participation (though not fully).

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