Prior to traveling to Chile, students participated in two workshops; one focused on practical tools for collecting data and interviewing techniques followed by a session on sensitivity training with special emphasis on young burn survivors and their families.
ArtCenter instructor Arden Stern led the research and interview technique workshop that provided students with real-world tools for gathering and distilling field data. Students were reminded they would be strangers from another culture (who might not speak the language) and their actions might be scrutinized carefully.
Students learned about informed consent and how they could appropriately approach stakeholders, especially children. They were introduced to the concept of co-framing the problem with stakeholders and to see prompts through other perspectives.
The research workshop provided students with tactics for obtaining informed consent from the various stakeholders, and how they could appropriately approach research subjects on COANIQUEM’S campus, especially pediatric patients. They were introduced to the concept of co-framing the problem with stakeholders and seeing prompts through outside perspectives. Engaging in observational exercises, students practiced a variety of interviewing styles with their colleagues, discussing the pros and cons of unstructured, semi-structured and structured conversations. All in all, students were encouraged to be opportunity seekers, not instant problem solvers.
Also prior to the two-week research trip, Designmatters hosted a sensitivity training workshop for students, facilitated by medical professionals from the Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Long Beach. Dr. Lisa Fasnacht-Hill and Remy Dietz, both child-life specialists, offered students insights on the phases of recovery for burn survivors and their families, as well as how care providers best interact with — and understand — their patients’ specific needs.
The presenters described the holistic healing process from young child to young adult; often, patients and families experience feelings of guilt, anxiety, fear, depression and regression after a traumatic incident. They also outlined helpful reactions when interacting with burn patients and their families, and provided students with therapeutic play activities that effectively engage young patients.
Following their experience in Chile, Safe Niños students and faculty took a field trip to Mattel UCLA Children’s Hospital to research how environmental graphics play into the healing process for young patients. The hospital features colorful and playful adhesive wall treatments throughout the pediatric unit, which create an imaginary and whimsical world for patients. Many of the wall graphics were illustrated by ArtCenter alum Patrick Hruby, in partnership with Blik Design Firm. Students had the opportunity to meet with members of the Child Life Department to further inquire about the healing process for young patients, as well as the various therapeutic spaces on Mattel’s campus.
For two weeks, students were immersed in the culture of COANIQUEM, becoming familiar with their surroundings, connecting with stakeholders for future co-creation opportunities and discovering ways to improve and enhance the COANIQUEM experience.
In small teams, students utilized the new skills they had acquired in the pre-trip workshops by collecting qualitative and quantitative data distilled from their direct observations and understanding. They listened to people’s stories, their dreams and hopes, developing empathy with families, patients and staff members as they learned their daily challenges, both big and small.
Method cards and a research manual pack provided jumping off points and hands-on, human-centered research strategies, allowing students to understand the flow and layout of the campus and how a typical patient and family would engage in the entire COANIQUEM experience from the moment they first entered the front gate. Students witnessed how stakeholders utilized waiting rooms and play areas, and how furniture, lighting and wayfinding methods were employed; in turn, COANIQUEM staff offered students various observational opportunities and guided tours of the facility, revealing insightful moments in all of the stakeholders’ daily behaviors and activities across campus.
In creative arts workshops, students discovered how engaging children with arts and crafts produced opportunities of shared emotions and personal stories, despite language barriers. Brainstorming sessions and interviews with COANIQUEM staff allowed students to prioritize key challenges and opportunities, and envision solutions together.
For their second week in residence, students targeted opportunities and began to ideate specific directions and design concepts. They participated in a studio insight session, sharing their experiences and observations with the whole class.
With these emerging insights, students reached out to stakeholders with the intent of co-creation, allowing this redesigned vision to be a joint concept between students and COANIQUEM’S patients, family members, staff and medical team members.
Through drawing, sketching, quick collages and simple scale models, stakeholders were engaged in co-visioning new environments. Key participants provided honest feedback on direction and possible design. Through these activities, students’ initial assumptions were validated, and they were able to plot strategies for the next phase of design and development.
Additional trips into the city for tours of neighborhoods and museums also provided context for the cultural environment of the people who work at and are served by COANIQUEM.
Upon their return to ArtCenter – and inspired by the holistic nature of the doctors and staff at COANIQUEM – the studio decided to work together as a unified team for a common good, rather than in small student teams, as originally planned. This allowed students to develop one overriding concept with interconnected elements, which featured individual talents and ideas.