All posts by Hannah Rumble

Dr Hannah Rumble is a Research Associate who has recently joined the Parlours of Wonder project. She is a British social anthropologist specialising in ageing, death and dying, funerals and death education/death literacy. She is also passionate about undertaking participatory research projects that have tangible and transformative impact within communities beyond the university and has extensive experience of co-designing and co-delivering projects with young people, charities and funeral professionals in the Bristol and Bath region.

Parlours of Wonder Partnership Workshop

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Yesterday, although Valentine’s Day, was an exciting day for the Parlours of Wonder project despite the mood for love clearly evident across the city, because our partners joined us at our department, the Graduate School of Education, at Bristol university, for a workshop focused on sharing our experience of working with objects and technology in care settings, as well as sharing innovative approaches to intergenerational activities. By pooling resources and experience, and consolidating alliances with project partners and beyond, we were especially keen to generate solutions for the ongoing challenges that care staff face when working with volunteers and delivering in-house, intergenerational activities. We hope that yesterday’s workshop marked a step in the right direction and left project partners feeling invigorated and inspired to continue their great work across the region.

…So thank you to all those who came and participated, even on your day off AND on Saint Valentine’s day; we hope you enjoyed the love hearts!

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What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? Do the names we give to projects and collaborative initiatives matter? These may seem like banal or odd questions but they are proving to be important to consider when undertaking a co-designed collaborative project; as we have found out early on in the Parlours of Wonder co-design process.

 

For the last two weeks Bristol University researchers, digital design partners and residents, day centre users and care staff have been coming together for co-design meetings at 3 care settings across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

 

We all met up to discuss the initial designs for a ‘Parlour of Wonder’ that were created from our initial co-design meetings before Christmas. The responses to the initial design ideas created by Stand + Stare clearly demonstrate that the name ‘Parlour of Wonder’ is not insignificant, rather, it is a name that is far from inconsequential.

 

When Stand + Stare showed assembled care staff, residents and day centre users the initial designs and asked for feedback it was clear that ‘Parlours of Wonder’ conjured something quite specific in each person’s mind and how diverse these expectations were!

 

As a research team we were interested in ‘re-imagining the parlour for the 21st century’ – taking the idea of a ‘cabinet of curiosity’ or ‘wonder room’ but making the design of  this a more inclusive process.  However, for our partners,  the project title ‘Parlours of Wonder’ conjures up domestic spaces circa the 1940s, for others, an image of cabaret and feather boas, whilst for some it’s a playful space crammed full of colourful stuff.  We found  no one was associating the project with a “modern” space.

 

When we introduced our initial ideas one member of the care staff team asked: “This cabinet is a modern style, but presumably you could make it look older?” This question and others like it from other care staff was very revealing about individual expectations that arise from the ‘Parlour of Wonder’ as a project title and concept.

 

So whilst those managers who are setting aside a room within their care setting and those gathered who use the care settings’ services seem to associate ‘Parlours of Wonder’ with something ‘old’, for ourselves and our design partners, these Parlour of Wonder spaces are not necessarily so, for both practical reasons (to accommodate the storage and use of ipads with the Story Creator app) but also related to  ideas of disruptive design, where we see benefit in thinking differently about what care home spaces might look like, feel like and what they might contain within them.

These initial experiences, then, have led us all to wondering whether the name of the project is misleading and has led to expectations the design team feel they cannot fulfil. With this in mind we are all keen to see what evolves from the latest round of co-design meetings with regards to the Parlour of Wonder design itself, but also, were we to change the name of the project, what would be most suitable? …Watch this space!

Below are photos from two of our co-design meetings where the designers, Stand + Stare, are sharing their designs with residents and care staff. The colour red was a popular choice chosen from the Valchromat samples supplied by the designers, who are considering this material in order to make the cabinets to go into each Parlour of Wonder.

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The Parlours of Wonder co-design process has begun!

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Since the project began in November 2016 we have been busy with team meetings at the three partner care settings located in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucester. The aim of these meetings has been to bring together the diverse project partners: designers (Lucy and Barney Heywood), ourselves (academics at the University of Bristol), the care setting manager(s), staff, volunteers and last, but by far from least, the residents or day care visitors themselves, in order to discuss the space within each care setting most appropriate for a Parlour of Wonder.

In our informal meetings we have been keen to hear what the residents and/or day care visitors would like to see in a Parlour of Wonder and what they think one should be. Subsequently, we have been asking them many questions – some could say, too many!

This project values and prioritises the processes of co-design and co-production, meaning, quite simply, we are keen for those who are going to be the users and keepers of a Parlour of Wonder to be deeply involved in the design and production process from the start. We certainly don’t want designers and researchers coming into each care setting imposing what they think those in each care setting would like a Parlour of Wonder to be and look like! However, whilst, our co-design and co-production principles are well meant, in reality, they remain very challenging to implement and maintain (but more on this at a later date).

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Barney is measuring the dimensions of the room identified for a Parlour of Wonder at a care setting in Bristol. He was grateful for a resident’s assistance in this process, whilst Lucy continued asking other residents for their ideas on how the room should be transformed into a Parlour.

So far, much of this co-design process has involved talking with residents in small groups in each care setting and asking them probing questions such as: If you had a room designed for relaxing with visitors what would it look like? What furniture would it contain? What would the walls look like? What furniture is comfortable for you? These questions will help the designers to come up with some mock-up designs that we will then take back to each care setting and ask the staff and residents/day care visitors to comment on. We are aiming to hold these meetings in late January 2017 and we’re all excited about what the designers mock-ups for a Parlour of Wonder might look like…so watch this space!

…Meanwhile, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!