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Project Circle

Course Project
Timeline: 10 Weeks
Team
2 Researchers 
​2 Designers​​​​​​​​​​​​
Role: Researcher
Contributions
  • Championed for and led design probe and visual elicitation as foundational research methods. 

  • Owned usability studies for role prototype. 

  • Produced and Edited the narrative video.

  • Involved throughout the design process.

Timeline

Research Objective

How does a change in sexual/gender identity affect an individual's sense of home?
  • What brings about a sense of home for LGBTQIA+ people and what form does it take?

    • What helped them feel more at home after realizing they are LGBTQIA+?

  • How do people’s lived experiences affect their sense of self and their idea of home?

    • How did their sense of self-change after realizing they are LGBTQIA+?

    • How did their relationship with their families/ friends change after realizing they are LGBT+?

  • What challenges do people experience in adapting their sense of home after realizing they are LGBTQIA+? What might have made this process easier emotionally? 

  • What has ‘home’ meant to LGBTQIA+ people throughout their lives?

    • What was their sense of ‘home’ before realizing they are LGBTQIA+?

    • How did their sense of home change after realizing they are LGBTQIA+?

Research Question

Secondary Research

Understanding the meaning of home in a socio-cultural context

Goals

  • Get the historical socio-cultural context set for home by philosophers, anthropologists, and professors

  • Understand the academic literature’s perspective of home.

  • Web scraping to understand the spectrum of LGBT+ experiences. 

  • Building hypotheses for primary research based on all the above. 

Different meanings of home co-exist

 and they might depend on the taxonomy of the space. Home is a complex multivarious phenomenon. An individual's home identity is intertwined with the relationships they build with and within that physical space. The personal meaning of home is heavily attached to our memories with the space, which creates our sense of belonging, comfort, security, and freedom, and builds a level of simulation. 

However, there is a continued assult on individuals and their rights as a citizen of the country.

​One in six adult members of Generation Z identify as "something other than heterosexual”. This uptake reflects a greater willingness of younger people to identify as LGBT and increasing support for the community.

The number of adults self-identifying as LGBT+ is growing across the United States.

​One in six adult members of Generation Z identify as "something other than heterosexual”. This uptake reflects a greater willingness of younger people to identify as LGBT and increasing support for the community.

View our Secondary Research Report

Understanding the meaning of home in a socio-cultural context throughout history

Pre-Synthesis Challenge 

Can we aid people in adapting their sense of home identity after realizing they are LGBT+?

Hypothesis #1

The number of adults self-identifying as LGBT+ is growing across the United States.

​One in six adult members of Generation Z identify as "something other than heterosexual”. This uptake reflects a greater willingness of younger people to identify as LGBT and increasing support for the community.

Hypothesis #2

Individuals have a changed sense of home after coming out.

Besides undergoing a major identity shift, people often experience changes in their core relationships and living situations after coming out. 

Hypothesis #3

Individuals have developed strategies to make themselves feel at home.

Besides undergoing a major identity shift, people often experience changes in their core relationships and living situations after coming out. 

Primary Research

Home as a Physical and Emotional Space

Method

45 minutes semi-structured interview with six participants who identify as LGBT+

Through these conversations, our goal was to, 

  • Test our hypothesis 

  • Understand the challenges they face when adapting a sense of home after realizing they are LGBT+. ​​​​​​​​​​

  • Understand what brings about a sense of home for our participants.  ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

  • ​Understand what their hopes for their home in the future is​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

To help ease and engage our participants, we designed two activities around our interview goals

Activity #1

Circle of Home

Circle of Home is a design probe activity designed to understand what an individual associates with their idea of home. ​

Activity #2

The Sketch of Tomorrow

Visual Elicitation is designed to allow an individual to express their future sense of home. 

Participants were asked to recollect memories and experiences that made them feel at home during a period of their life (either growing up, going through an identity shift, or now)and write them down on post-its. We made them go through a self-reflection exercise and map out these memories on their Circle of Home. The closer a memory is to their sense of home identity or feeling of home, the closer it is placed to the center.

Participants were probed with the circle of home in three different phases of their life- growing up, identity shift, present 

Participants were asked to draw their future ideal home identity with learnings and artifacts from their past experiences

We wanted to provide a free-form space for participants to express their aspirations, dreams, and thoughts for their future. 

Recruitment

We recruited six participants who self-identify as LGBTQ 

We recruited our participants through, 

  • Mailer and flyers on popular social and local communities.

  • ​Reach out to family and friends to help recruit through their circles. ​​​​​​​​

To help ease and engage our participants, we designed two activities around our interview goals

Design Challenge 

How might we support LGBTQ+ young adults in adapting and evolving their circle of relationships that are central to their sense of home?
Brainstorming

Building a Home Space

Rapid ideation process to brainstorm 30 ideas each

Usability Testing

System Implementation through Prototype

Role Prototype

CIRCLE

An introspective exercise inspired by our design probe that calls for individuals to pick a relationship and reflect on their feelings about it through guided prompts.

Implementation Prototype #1

Solar Circle, The App

A screen-based product that calls for individuals to engage in the activity of introspection through a familiar modality.

Participants were asked to draw their future ideal home identity with learnings and artifacts from their past experiences

To Investigate- 

  • The degree to which this modality can support an individual as they introspect and work through their relationships.

  • The degree to which a linear flow works in guiding a user as they work through their relationships. 

We assessed all our ideas through our design questions to ensure we are tying our design decisions to what we heard from our participants and what we found in our secondary research.

We went back to our primary stakeholders to

  • Validate our final idea: Circle

  • Understand the technological implementation that helps them reflect and visualize.

Through a 60-mins interview, we walked 5 participants through three prototypes that helped us gauge 

To Investigate- 

  • The degree to which this exercise can support an individual in improving their relationships.

  • Value of self-introspection in supporting a sense of home.

  • Expectations of the level of support that can be provided by the system.

Implementation Prototype #2

Solar Circle, The App

A physical artifact that mimics a holographic manifestation of an individual’s ecosystem of relationships.

To Investigate- 

  • The degree to which this modality can support an individual as they introspect and work through their relationships.

  • Value of interacting with the solution as proposed.

  • Feelings towards owning such an object.

Design Questions

How do we visualize complex, interconnected relationship structures?
How do we support people in creating a ritual around introspection?
How do we support people in creating a ritual around introspection?

Outcome

Outcome

The idea of home for LGBTQ+ individuals is closely tied to the relationships that make them feel safe and loved. 

It is important to support the evolution of these relationships in a way that does not leave LGBTQ+ individuals feeling alone, emotionally vulnerable, and ultimately struggling to connect with their sense of home

Circle is designed for LGBTQ+ individuals as a safe space where they can genuinely evaluate the relationships that are most important to them.

© 2022 by Nikita Nerurkar. 

Education

Other Projects

Design, Technology & Social Innovation Workshop 2020

MIT India Initiative | 2020

Inchin Hackathon

Makers Asylum, Mumbai | 2020

Master of Human Computer Interaction and Design (MHCI+D)

University of Washington, Seattle

Bachelor of Technology in Electrical and Instrumentation Engineering

Birla Institute of Technology and Science(BITS), Pilani

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