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Research Synthesis
Visual Design
Interaction Design

Fall 2016

Maayan Albert

Austin S. Lee
Peter Scupelli

IDeATe Installation;
hybrid environments for students

This project is a collaborative effort to reconnect physical IDeATe studios and students (a minors program at Carnegie Mellon) with their digital resources. Through research, my partner and I identified a need to bridge information from a purely digital space (the gallery) to the physical compliment (the studio). We did so through a reactive installation intended for the main space shared by IDeATe students.




The IDeATe program operates with its own culture and resources on campus- as a client, they identified in themselves the need to forge a better sense of community throughout its program, students, and space.



Go through the design process and propose an appropriate solution: to create a reactive installation with complimentary changes to the website that would draw attention and empower resources students often overlook



Research and Opportunity Area

We began this project understanding that there was a disconnect between Ideate students and their studios. However, after our first iteration of ideas for this project we realized we were working on a basis of assumptions of the IDeATe space, program, and students without having any first hand experience or support.

Following, we interviewed 5 students with various levels of involvements within the IDeATe program, asking what their experiences were within the space and program and how they felt about those experiences. 



Analysis and Opportunity Area


From here, we began to sort out key take-aways referencing each of the videos. What we found most interesting was that the main difficulties we assumed were actually considered mainly non-issues amongst the students. While yes, the white walls, lack of windows was a bit sad, we still found students who preferred working there more so than their own studio. So what problems existed that we weren’t noticing?

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We took it back to the goals of IDEATE as a program and studio space.  Acknowledging that the goal was not to make the space of IDEATE a replica of our own studios but instead be encompassing of their own program. 

We wanted to forge a stronger sense of community within the IDeATe space. 

The lack of this sense of community is understandable, considering the fact that the IDeATe only offers minors and commitment necessary for being a part of it is very low. However, for a program comprised of what one student described as "learn on your own type classes,"  a network of peers to reach out to for help and collaboration would improve students' abilities to learn.



Determining Interventions


After talking to more students, we found that the IDeATE gallery website, where students can upload and view one another's work, had a huge potential to connect students.

However, it didn't seem to be widely used. In addition, there is very little within this space to help identify it as belonging to IDeATe. An outside student said that he didn't even know that the space belonged to IDeATe until a sign was put up a few months ago.


My partner and I determined to promote usage of the website and brand the space of IDeATe
by creating an installation for the space itself. However, we knew that simply increasing the publicity wouldn't sustainably improve the website's usage- so we also added changes to website in order to best suit student needs as well. 



Website Modifications

We made modifications and editions of new features to the gallery website in the same style and design of the original gallery site. Rather than focus energy on redesigning the website as a whole, we prioritized cohesiveness between the live design and new modifications that would afford new and useful experiences for students.


Filtering By Tools

When interviewing students, one issue we found was that instructions on how to use the tools necessary to do projects were often skipped over in class. Based on this observation, we decided to utilize the website as an additional resource for students to find information about specific tools. Through allowing students to find projects based on the tools that were used to make them, users could get a better sense of which tools are best for doing what. In addition, students could then reach out to peers who had successfully used the tools that they might be trying to learn.

Direct Messaging

Another issue that we found was that the gallery website has few features that encourage students to communicate with one another. Therefore, any actual collaboration that could come out of students visiting the website is limited. Consequently, we decided to implement a direct messaging system that would make it easy for students to talk to one another.


Installation Piece

Since we wanted to relate it to the gallery website and inspire a source of pride within the students, we decided to visualize activity on the website. The specific activity that we wanted to show was tools learned, messages sent, and projects viewed to best represented IDeATe's goals of skill building, collaboration, and making.

The installation would react to the actions in real time- creating a live connection between the digital and physical space.


We needed to figure out a way to 1) convey activity in real time, 2) differentiate between the three different types of activity, and 3) display the words IDeATe, all in one cohesive visualization. We decided that a grid system would be most simple for implying a network. 



I worked heavily on the style of the installation- carefully considering color, type, composition, and cohesiveness of the format in conjunction with the animations.


My partner, Maayan, worked on bringing the animations to life- bringing the designs into a reactive setting and focusing on the motion.



As a final addition, we recognized the need for a kiosk beside the installation to showcase the gallery website. This would serve as the intermediary point between the digital & physical space.



Final Solution