Tag Archives: Parlours of Wonder

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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Welcome to Parlours of Wonder

Welcome to Parlours of Wonder!

We are delighted to welcome you to the Parlours of Wonder project, which aims to co-create and co-develop a new space of discovery, connection, meaning making and mystery in three care settings across Bristol and the wider region, where older people, carers, local community members and families can connect with each other.

We hope to engage multigenerational audiences, in particular working with local  schools, to bring younger people into care settings in order to connect with older people through sharing stories, objects and ideas.

This project is being led by researchers at the  University of Bristol. You are most welcome to contact them and they are keen to hear from school-aged children and younger people who would like to get involved! The researchers are:

Dr Helen Manchester –  helen.manchester@bristol.ac.uk

Dr Hannah Rumble – h.rumble@bristol.ac.uk

The key project partners they will be working with in order to deliver this project are:

Alive!

Stand + Stare

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The StoryCreator app

We will be using an app designed during the Tangible Memories project.

You can download this from the iTunes store:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tangible-memories-story-creator/id1006573343

The Tangible Memories app allows you to tell stories and listen back to them in easy and accessible ways. It has been designed particularly with older people and their carers and families in mind, but can also be used by anyone.

You can create pages that combine a photo, text and an audio recording. These can be viewed within the app or printed out. When printed, the audio recording is represented by a beautiful shell illustration. The scan function within the app recognises the shell on each printed page and, as if by magic, plays back your audio.

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Parlours of Wonder AHRC Follow on Funding awarded

We’re really excited to announce we’ve just been awarded AHRC follow on funding for our ‘Parlours of Wonder’ project.

This new project will enable us to continue the close work with Alive!, Stand + Stare, an app designer and colleagues in care settings to further embed the project outcomes in their practice and in care settings more widely.

Community engagement is increasingly recognised by the care sector and social care commissioners as vital in tackling issues of social isolation in our older populations living in care. Together we will be co-designing engaging community spaces (parlours) where older people can interact with evocative objects and the StoryCreator app to record and share their memories and life histories. This will involve imagining and creating a new space of discovery, connection, meaning making and mystery, rather like the ‘cabinets of curiosity’ or ‘wonder rooms’ of old. Unlike cabinets of curiosity, our ‘Parlours of Wonder’ will not be designed and curated by us as arts and humanities researchers, artists and computer scientists. Our vision is that these spaces will be co-curated by and for residents, care staff, families and community members. Care managers who have been involved in the TMP project believe there is huge potential to use these Parlours of Wonder for community engagement where local school children, community groups and isolated older people will be encouraged to enjoy a cup of tea and a chat or a more formal encounter, sparking questions, connections, new interests or opportunities for contemplation.

The project builds on and further extends our excellent working relationships with Alive! and Blaise Weston Court (an extra care facility[1]) but will extend our activities to engage new multigenerational audiences, outside of the care settings, with our work. We will also engage with new groups including Hanover (a social housing provider), BrunelCare (a care provider), Britannia Centre (a day care facility) and Deerhurst (a large care home specializing in dementia work) and work closely with policy makers and other influencers (Age UK, Bristol City Council and Bristol Ageing Better) to expand the reach of the work. The development of a new Android version of the app will decrease costs and thereby increase access to the app.

 

Our specific aims are:

  1. To co-design an engaging community focused space in 3 different settings (one existing and 2 new settings – a large care home and a day care centre) where older people and others can interact with evocative objects, sparking questions and new interests and use our StoryCreator app together to record and share their ideas, memories and stories.
  1. To co-design, with interactive designers Stand + Stare, a DIY blueprint for any care settings to design their own ‘Parlours of Wonder’ and to use our StoryCreator app effectively within them. This will include ideas for engaging older people in co-designing the rooms and interactive case studies with evaluations of the approaches taken across the 3 sites.
  1. To work alongside Alive! and care home staff to develop multigenerational community engagement activities in the Parlour settings.
  1. To co-design, with Alive!, a training toolkit for care staff to introduce a suite of approaches to engage residents, staff and those in the local community within the Parlours. To include ideas for sustainable staffing models.
  1. To further test and develop the iPad StoryCreator app and create a brand new Android version, enabling us to reach new audiences. Both versions of the app will then be made freely available on the relevant app stores.
  1. To co-curate an exhibition to officially launch the Parlour idea and the app with Alive! and care settings.
  1. To engage policy makers and influencers throughout the project in working together to identify platforms for sharing the value of the work with new local and national care networks.

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