This was the first design I actually started after my halfway assessment. I already had 3 designs more on the go and so I knew that I needed a couple more. In the spirit of my Action Learning Pathway design, following my energy and motivation, this design felt very appropriate as I had just decided to move and so I would be designing this anyway. Although I had not done an indoor spatial design before, in itself it did not feel like a big learning edge. I had been interested in trying a different design framework for a while, but had not found the right opportunity. This seemed like a great chance. It took me a while to choose which design framework to use. Appreciative enquiry felt too vague and CEAP also felt very basic and like I would just end up doing the design web, but tied to the ‘order’. REAP MORE and the Australian design cycle were the two I ended up with and REAP MORE was the most different and also had ‘instructions’ with it, so I decided to give it a go.
Below is a slideshow of the design, you can pause it on any of the images and you can see all of the handwritten items in bigger here. I have then gone on to documenting and reflecting on the design process as that was my key learning area for this design.
I definitely felt a bit of frustration going back to the ‘beginning’ and the awkward conscious incompetence of using a new framework. I found it challenging to come up with a ‘reason’ I felt satisfied with as they were all very general and therefore I felt not very useful! I did try and generate more specifics by producing a mind map of what my needs are. It was interesting, as well as challenging to decide what was a need and to not just write down everything I already had on my ideas list! I felt it was a bit early on for me to easily identify the functions of the design, but I focused on the ‘why’ of the golden circle as that is often very similar to my functions anyway. I liked bringing in the ethics right at the beginning as a spoken element. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was including in the reality check (plus I had resistance to ‘limiting’ my vision) so I just put the time and money limits like the mind map mentioned.
I found the concept of ‘exclude’ interesting and challenging to try and apply to this design beyond the obvious physical boundary of the room itself. I kept writing what I would include rather than exclude. Excluding feels a bit unlimited! I also feel that I don’t know what needs will arise during the design so I kind of want to let it be more organic and not rule things out. It was good to consider what I was actually designing though. I had also already unconsciously excluded aspects, such as the packing up before moving from the design. I was feeling frustrated at the this point as I felt there were lots of important things I hadn’t considered yet, before moving on to the more analysis stage. I then had the realisation that I was letting myself be limited by the framework and as the step was ‘explore’ I could bring in any tools and learnings I wanted that I felt might be applicable to this stage. I was not ‘starting from scratch’ in learning to design again! So I explored the resources that I had available, the limits that I needed to be aware of and also reflected on some of my past patterns of success and erosion in bedrooms. I also drew up the basemap of the room, so I can see what I am working with. I was pleased to find that everything pretty much matched up and my assumption that everything was square was close enough! For the ‘vertical’ aspects I annotated a photograph. I also realised that it was important to include the context on the map and also as a few notes. I then felt satisfied with my ‘observing’ and ‘exploring’ and ready to move on to the next step.
Which tools did I want to use? I looked at the tools mindmap I had in my resources, specifically at the analysis, stage and decided on a few tools which felt applicable, although I subsequently realised one of them is more for ‘designing’ than assessing. I liked being reminded not to do too much analysis! But I felt that now was the time to really get the essential functions pinned down as it suggested. At this stage I went back to my vision as I am used to doing, but I got a bit stuck with what ‘level’ of function to include. As part of this I realised that I am kind of doing two linked designs, one for the layout of the room and the other for the decorating of it and moving process. So I started by focussing on the layout aspect. Wanting more specifics than ‘I want to design a room that meets my needs’ (!) I went down the route of looking at the needs I had already come up with, some of these were more general needs, like warmth and light, and then I had also identified the ‘functions’ that I wanted the room to fulfill. Writing it now and looking through it at the time it felt suddenly obvious that these were the functions. So next I decided to look at the ‘characteristics’ of each function. This was useful and interesting. It took me a little more consideration to work out how warmth, light, nature etc fitted in until I realised that they were part of the function of ‘sanctuary’. It took me a while for the realisation that there were two linked designs, with quite distinct designing needs to settle in and for me to feel comfortable with identifying the functions of each. Reflecting in my weekly check-in and working through it helped. Earlier on, before I had started the Assess stage I had felt the need to write down my priority decisions, that needed to be made soon. I had also written a list right at the beginning about tasks that needed to be done/ decisions made. I was feeling like the design was heading more towards the layout and it wasn’t helping me make the decisions on schedule quickly. So having reviewed and written the elements down I did some research (Explore) into different flooring options, including whether I could get secondhand carpet. I then had three conversations in the evening, clarifying limits on timings of various things, getting feedback and inspiration on ideas. I wasn’t sure at this point though whether I was or could actually permaculture design this aspect. In light of realising there were two distinct sections I decided to go back and colour code what I had already done – purple for layout and blue for decorating and moving. Interestingly a lot of the thinking through was for the layout where as the limits were predominantly for the decorating & moving! Resources is half and half. This explained why I was feeling uneasy! So I went back and revisited the stages for the decorating and moving aspect.
Reviewing and mapping out the Decorating and Moving aspects of the design
This was one of the original functions I identified in the design, which I later clarified to decorating and moving. I had also identified some of the ‘reality checks’ around it. I went back though and elaborated on it, thinking through the yields I wanted from it and also a few more realities, which on reflection are actually the ‘limits’ of the design as I think of them.
I had already ‘explored’ a lot of this when I went through the process originally. A lot of the resources and limits relate to this. I also wrote a list of the priority decisions, therefore elements, which I then started to explore in more detail. The decorating and moving aspect of the design is more iterative as I need to make one decision before I can properly ‘explore’ the subsequent ones. The exploring so far has involved phone calls and discussions as well as some online research. It does also tie into the other layout aspect, particularly around the platform and whether to do anything to it.
As part of this I assessed which order the decisions needed to be made in. I pulled the information together to make placing decisions, such as the moving in date, which was decided after talking to my Mum and my Dad, finding out when they were available and how they could help, as well as my gut feeling on wanting to move in sooner. I did an input-output analysis of each of the elements that I need to consider/place, so that I could see how they fit together. I also created a timetable with movable pieces ready for the next stage and so I could see the lie of the land. I also clarified the functions of this aspect of the design, they were fairly similar to the ‘vision’ ones. At the time I was not completely happy with them as ‘functions’ but they definitely captured what I was trying to achieve.
Continuing with the two aspect of the design in parallel
Having bought both of the two aspects of the design up to the same place I moved on to the next stage. It says that this is the main time when the principles are applied, so I decided to go with my interpretation on this. I wanted to more consciously consider the ethics in my designing so I did a mind map for each aspect of the design around the permaculture ethics (inspired by Jan), this was interesting, and the main thing it drew out for me was to highlight the need for peoplecare during people coming to help, as I realised that could be easily sidelined. I then looked at the principles and choose 4 to consider for each aspect, I also considered one of Looby Macnamara’s ways of thinking – thinking like nature – as I had decided I wanted to in my previous tutorial. I did a mind map for each of these and discovered I had already planned a lot of it using them, the principles are becoming more integrated into how I think so I consider them automatically. Thinking like nature was interesting, though I found it challenging to know where to start. I began with animal homes, then I did a wonder wander to see what called out to me and what metaphors it could offer, then I remembered the idea I had had of making it multi-sensory and the idea of using all the 5 elements sprung from that. I really enjoyed considering these completely different aspects and how they could be woven into the design. I have noticed a lack of space for collecting ideas in this framework, I seem to have captured them in my head and lots of them came out when considering the ethics and principles. Decorating and Moving – I looked at the timetable again in light of further analysis and developments and came up with a provisional timeline. I realised from thoughts that arose in the ethics, principles and ways of thinking that I needed to have plans for the weekends that I was visiting Crabapple to ensure that peoplecare was included as well as the rest of the 8 directions after doing the hard work! I enjoyed being reminded not to wait for perfection! Layout – I started playing around with placings in the room. I identified some potential areas for things, but felt a need to take the ideas to the room the following weekend to see how they ‘felt’ in the different spaces. So whilst visiting briefly I ‘tried out’ some of my ideas to see what the different spaces felt like. This was very valuable as some areas really did not feel right and there are certain things that are very obvious when you are in a room that you forget on a design, like the door being in the way of a hammock. It was useful to talk a few ideas through with my visitors and they had a really useful suggestion of possible bed position. It was also useful to assess what equipment was available for using for painting the following weekend. I took the opportunity during this weekend of buying some ‘treats’ for enjoying during the following ‘working weekends’ as part of my peoplecare plans.
I used this first weekend as a chance to pause from designing and to relax and there was a certain celebratory atmosphere although I didn’t specifically spend time on celebrating this design. I didn’t really reflect on the process, but I did discuss some of my room ideas which was useful. It took over a week to find the time to distill my learnings. I think possibly don’t rush it or try and fit too much in is a good one and definitely physically walking through the ideas on site was really useful as was bouncing ideas off of others. Another conversation helped me realise that I can sleep on the sofabed for a while, before I need to decide on getting a bed, which removed a potential limit from the system.
Decorating and moving – I now definitely shifted into the ‘action’ stage of this aspect, but I found myself cycling round the different steps rather than just following them linearly as it was an evolving process! I spent a weekend painting the room and it was interesting how different it looked and felt once painted. We did not quite finish the painting this weekend, but we planned it so that the bits that were left were fine to do once I had moved in by myself. It was a great opportunity to stack in lots of observations and discussions and it helped me make decisions on the plan for the following moving weekend. The peoplecare planning worked well. Having one night in each home worked well as did the food plans, particularly the tasty snacks I bought went down very well for keeping up morale and energy! The pause to go to the cinema on Friday night, several walks, lunches and a morning shopping in Shrewsbury gave us a good rest, as well as chats with others popping in to see what we were doing. Taking the music player was great as it wasn’t actually so easy to talk and paint as we had thought it would be. I also made some thank you gifts. We celebrated as we went along, appreciating our progress and how lovely it looked and then reflecting on it as we came towards the end which helped me to let go of it. So lots of good peoplecare and yields, many actions I may well not have thought to do if I hadn’t designed it. I then reviewed my plan for the moving weekend to integrate my learnings. Not following the MORE stages linearly made it much more intuitive and when I reviewed them afterwards I had covered most of it anyway.
Layout – I played around with the cut outs on the basemap, trying out the new ideas with the information gained from visiting. I then decided to go through the areas to see which functions I could stack into them and what elements that involved, this looked similar to the functions table Looby made, but in a slightly different order. Because of the functions that I have chosen for this design it feels a bit different, I cannot merely put it on a map or in a mind map so I have done both. I have also interpreted in this situation the functions maxim as ‘having several spaces where each function can be met and various elements in place to support each function’. I had a bit of resistance to producing this as a drawn design as I knew that I would start tweaking it straight away, but once I recognised this thought pattern, I reframed it as capturing my ideas now and creating a plan I can work to for the initial layout. It doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ as it says in the mindmap. Because there is not very much guidance in the mindmap I have brought in techniques and learnings from previous designs.
Maintenance doesn’t feel particularly applicable for this design, but if it was I feel like there would be a lack of ‘maintenance plan’ as it just talks about maintaining it. Similarly for most of the steps the guidance seems to be primarily on doing and I feel like they almost need two iterations for each, a thinking through, followed by a doing.
Decorating and moving – The final moving weekend went pretty well according to plan. It was a good job I had decided to come over the night before. It did make extra stress for me getting things packed before then, but it gave me time to find my feet, finish painting and cleaning and to get some elements of peoplecare sorted ready for the weekend. My appreciations did not go quite to plan, we did have a little of the food I had bought, but not so much and they bought me champagne and wine as a moving in present so I did not use the wine I had bought. I made a point of trying to thank them through out, but I actually think reflecting now that I should write them a thank you card as they have been wonderful about it all. The schedule also evolved slightly, but one of the best things about having a plan is being able to change it when things evolve! We did not manage so much pausing either, various cups of tea, but they were actually quite keen to keep going and that worked fine. We did kind of have a celebration on the sat eve with the champagne and wine and I took a little time on Sunday evening to reflect and release, but it took me over a fortnight to find the time to do the reflection. Something around a belief that it was going to be hard work/ lot of thinking. Layout – We laid out the furniture as close as possible to my plan and they had also bought lots of other bits and bobs and ideas so quite a few extra things were incorporated in and also there were a few things I do not have yet, such as a proper bed and a wardrobe so those weren’t placed. A wardrobe was created, however, by putting up a rail across the platform beams so I had somewhere to store my clothes, which changed the layout under the platform quite considerably, but was easy to remove if I had changed my mind. A few months after moving in I made the most of my observations so far and did a PMI of my room layout, which was very interesting to reflect on. I definitely identified with the guidance on the framework mind map. Generally it was going well, but I realised that working out where I was going to store everything was my next priority.
So I made a storage plan. I started by writing a list of the main things I needed to store, identified their characteristics and all the potential place they could be stored. There were lots of different options now that I had moved in and various other furniture items or ideas had turned up. From this I looked at the different storage areas and decided what seemed the most sensible arrangement. It felt great to have a plan, although a lot of it still depended on getting further furniture or putting up shelves, so I couldn’t do much placing at this stage. I appreciate the recognition in the framework that a design is inevitably evolving and that this is to be expected.
As the framework mindmap says ‘End? Of course not!’. My room continues to evolve and will as long as I stay here. I definitely enjoyed this design both in the theoretical and practical stages and I am enjoying the yields now. There does not seem to be a specific evaluative stage in this framework, more scattered throughout MORE. I finished this design cycle by reflecting on the systems within systems questions above and looking at whether I felt I had fulfilled the functions.
Design Framework Evaluation: REAP MORE
It has been really very interesting using the REAP MORE design framework. It has challenged me to stretch my edges and to integrate my learnings from using SADIMET and the design web. I did not have very comprehensive guidance, so I have fairly inevitably taken it my own way and bought in my own ideas and tools. It was interesting to use a framework with a different pattern as the design web evolved from SADIMET so they both have the same underlying structure. It has taken quite a lot of processing to get my head around this different pattern and to see where some of it corresponds with what I am familiar with. I have enjoyed the words of advice on the mind map as they have often been good reminders of lessons I have already learnt during my designing. I would definitely use this design framework again. I would like to try it out for a land-based design as that is what it originated for and I am still not hugely keen on SADIMET. REAP MORE feels much more organic and evolving, in line with the permaculture ethics. What has gone well?
- Lots of different perspectives and ways of approaching things
- Bringing in the ethics right at the beginning
- Lots of great reminders in the mind map, particularly those encouraging not over doing the designing but letting lots of iterations create perfection!
- Having a whole stage for enjoy!
What was challenging?
- Trying to get the hang of a different pattern
- Trying to follow the framework too rigidly
- I struggled to come up with a ‘reason’, but on reflection this is exactly the why of vision that I normally look to
- I didn’t like ‘exclude’ as it felt completely infinite. ‘Include’ feels a more manageable question! For me it also links into limits.
- It doesn’t specify that you have to follow the stages in order, but I assumed you were supposed to go REAP MORE MORE MORE MORE etc. This did not work for me, particularly for the decorating and moving aspect of the design and I found myself going backwards and forwards through the stages as it felt right.
- I couldn’t really see how either of my design aspects feasibly needed Maintaining. I can see this stage being very useful in other designs, but it didn’t seem applicable in this one.
- Until I realised that I was designing two different aspects which actually had quite distinct design features it was pretty challenging to get clarity! Once I made this realisation it flowed much more smoothly.
- There was quite a confusion in the middle of the framework between designing and action, it was not clear when each was supposed to happen
What have I learnt? What would I do differently next time?
- Treat design frameworks as ingredients, not strict recipes. Do them in a different order and make them your own, trust your designing instinct.
- Give myself free rein on the Explore stage, not just covering the things in the mind map
- Recognise two steps within the Assess, Place and Maintain stages, one of thinking and planning that stage and the other of actioning it.
- Look at what I would include rather than exclude.
- Consider in the Reason stage whether the functions can constitute one system or whether they need designing in parallel.
- Incorporate momentum into the maintain stage
Tools used Evaluation
Design Process Evaluation
This is on top of the design framework evaluation already done. What went well?
- I experimented and played with it
- I did the bulk of it over a space of a few weeks giving me consistency and focus
- I enjoyed it and didn’t try and be too strict about it
- Building in lots of peoplecare
What was challenging?
- Having a tight timeframe as I don’t work well under pressure
- Doing it as a permaculture design gave me a much better result but also took more time and energy to do than just mocking something up! And time was a bit of a limit…
What would I do differently next time?
- Seek out more examples of designs using REAP MORE and share experiences with others