When first coming up with a topic that I wanted to explore, I decided on time, because time is commonly used as an indicator for maintenance (age, rust, entropy, etc…). Time lead me to wonder about the fragility of life, and consequently about another fickle artifact that required maintenance- our memory- something neither physical nor abstract that degrades over time with the absence of practice.

My tentative questions were:

Could we make more robust image files and visualize them on our web browsers to map out how someone’s memory looks like?

There is a preconception that we have about how…

A popular design challenge that has caught tailwind since the global pandemic- retail space.

Framing: Observing through the lens of ‘data’

Donald Norman’s Things That Make Us Smart gave me the perspective to observe the world through the lens of data/information. Digital, Physical, Cognitive artifacts we interact with allow us to experience information so that we can make our own interpretation and subsequently make a decision based on that interpretation.

Problem: What does the future of fashion commodities look like?

Many companies seemed to quickly expand there channels/avenues of sale to appeal to a wider audience. In fact there was…

Inclusivity in health care is a challenge just from the sheer amount of accommodations that have to be made in order for most people to not have a dehumanizing and offensive experience in their day to day lives.

This semester, the CMU School of Design is collaborating with UPMC Enterprises to envision new experiences through communications, products, or environments design at the UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Center planned to be finished by 2023

From the get-go, the speakers from UPMC categorized inclusivity from numerous perspectives, including physical impairment accommodations to mental disabilities.

And students quickly realized that there was a…

Signage and Way-finding Research

Part 1 — Observation

In order to contextualize and develop awareness of the environments of Construction Junction, our group went out and placed ourselves in the space to make observations and interact with customers and employees to map out the general landscape of the project.

Observation Methods:

  • Field Visit/Observation
  • Design Ethnography (Photo Documentation + Notes)
  • Shadowing shoppers
  • Guerrilla Interview

Once retrieving research data from the cultural probes and expanding our awareness of wayfinding experiences through desk research, our group began to organize an affinity diagram to categorize our specific insights (low-level observation) into overarching themes of wayfinding (high-level observation) at Construction Junction.

Yellow to Blue— Observation

Wayfinding experience observations

We began to see certain themes emerge in the first stage. Important dimensions such as physical artifacts, time, space, arrangement, emotion, and user behavior were helpful in assessing how each insight fitted with one another. …


  1. Framing — Identifying the design question. Questions will reflect the insight the designer gained through each iteration. What are the variables/parameters are essential to the users’ experiences?
  2. Prototype — Using design principles and research tools, design a cultural probe that endeavors to creatively capture the in-situation user experience.
  3. Test — Deploying cultural probes and using accessibility/visibility and usability as metrics to determine the design focus on the next round of iteration.


Gabe Brower, Daniela Delgado, Lauren Kenny, Matthew Nam, Thomas Youn

The wayfinding experience at Construction Junction is nothing like our usual customer experience at Dick’s, HomeDepot, or BestBuy. The jaded door and the large found-material sculpture shows everything about this place. Construction Junction does not follow the expected norms of customer wayfinding. Without consistent signage and inventory display convention, the space seems promising with possibilities but also appears overwhelming to navigate.

Design Objective:

Become aware of the design artifacts and environmental attributes influencing users’ wayfinding experience.

Observation Methods:

  • Field Visit/Observation
  • Design Ethnography (Photo Documentation + Notes)
  • Shadowing shoppers
  • Guerrilla Interview

Project Abstract:

Design a campus tour assuming that technology like the Hololens will be ubiquitous in 10 years.

Design Concept:

Incorporate artifacts in physical space as tools for the user to explore archival narratives.

An essential skill that I developed for both the first and second project was visualizing environments for communicating both the low level details of the user-to-environment interaction and the overarching high level concept that drives the project. Communicating multiple layers of information is a significant asset in ideating concepts because it facilitates the translation of information from one medium to the next.

The fixed variables of the first project (physical space, artwork, technology, etc..) pushed me to focus more on anticipating the detailed movements and reactions of the users within the gallery space.

For the second project, I was able…

As better hardware and software merges the physical and digital environment closely together, users are exposed to more opportunities of investing time interacting with digital media in physical environments.

One of my everyday interactions with digital media that incorporates the physical environment is using BusGazers. By interacting with a real-time bus transit app, I have a reliable method of getting to places on time using public transportation. …

Matthew Nam

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store