Research for Design — Part 5

Padma Yawen Yang
4 min readMay 3, 2021

Time flies and we have now come to the final part of our biggest project of the semester. I still can’t believe that our I & P class is wrapping up already and that I’m graduating from graduate school this month.

It’s been a very fruitful journey of learning how to research, design, and prototype with my I & P class. As a media student, I come from a heavily theory-based academic research and writing background. But being part of this class, I have been constantly introduced to new things and perspectives. I enjoy our every project and every hands-on opportunity to design and realize our imaginations. The process of transforming a concept in mind into an actual project makes me feel extraordinarily accomplished.

A collage board of everything I documented.

In this Research for Design project, I have tried out many different methods to acquire information and to fulfill my expectations and goals. Hanington & Martin’s Universal Methods of Design have been helpful in assisting me in finding methods that are the best fits for my project. Additionally, I also applied research methods - for example, the 50 renderings - that I have learnt from my previous projects to this one. I made a mess map with Kumu, a stakeholder map on Mural, and a lipstick consumption keyword map. The most exciting parts of this project were my communications and interactions with my stakeholders. Those were really interesting experiences; I designed questions, conducted video interviews, and also created face mask renderings based on people’s feedback. All these attempts were very important for me to better understand consumers’ needs and expectations in the market.

So to speak, the part that we shared our 20 renderings with our research participants and asked for their feedback was necessary. After analyzing people’s choices, we found that the most wanted qualities of a face mask were transparency, innovative technology, convenience, and simplicity. Along the process, I also acquired some surprising yet thoughtful responses from people. One participant told me he preferred designs that showed more diversity and inclusion. He raised example how a transparent mask would be much more convenient for deaf people who rely on lip readings. That really got me into thinking that a qualified and successful design should be able to understand and customize individual need.

In this last part of the project, we created two final prototypes of our ideal face masks through different media forms. Since the ultimate purpose of the project is to create a mask that will work for lipstick lover and user, we ended up creating advertisements that are expected to attract consumers’ attentions and market the products.

My partner Houming created a video that is a mix of lipstick and face mask advertisements, imagining a future that face mask becomes a trend, an aesthetic, and a norm as well as a world where lipstick goes well with face covering.

Video made by my project partner, Houming.

Link to the video here👇:

On my end, I have acquired my inspirations from American vintage ads and decided to transform two into a sort of modern pop vintage ad poster. The original posters that I used were J. Howard Miller’s famous Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It!” and a Max Factor lipstick ad (specific date unknown).

Based on the feedback we collected from our participants last week, we designed two new face mask designs that have combined all the desired qualities. I transferred the designs onto the vintage ad and poster and played around with the contents in the original works.

It is really fun to see the collision of old-fashioned-ness and modernity. The vintage poster and ad provide our designs agencies, while at the same time, our designs give these slowly fading artifacts new forms and meanings.

Designs of masks and reinterpretations on vintage ad and poster:

Two new designs of the ideal lipstick-friendly face covering.
The 3-in-1 mask in Rosie the Riveter.
The Bubbly Helmet Face Shield in Max Factor Lipstick Ad.

Looking back now, I’m happy with what we have achieved. However, meanwhile, I, too, realized there’s a lot more that we could do better. If we were given enough time, the project would surely be more informational, organized, and mature. Think if I am to continue this project in the future, I’ll be more specific on my research and design directions and narrow down my interests and a lot of those flying thoughts in my mind!

Last but not least, here is the link to our presentation slide: