From my research I have gained an understanding of people’s perception of tea culture in the western world. I felt that the next step in my progress was to observe and interact with the public in a physical scenario. After talking to Chris Lim about my progress, it was suggested that I move on to prototyping my project. I was informed that contextual enquiry’s could be a good way to get the information I needed and so I looked into what this form of research consisted of and how to set one up. I decided that because the contextual inquiry requires many people to conduct one simple task it would be better to conduct the trial with everyone back to back rather than have to set up a small room for a few days as people come and go. This format called for an event so I decided to host a tea party. I sent out invitation to everyone in the university and the surrounding area in the hope that they would be interested. I booked out a large room within the university that could accommodate my guests and had relevant facility’s. The tea party was set up like a drop in session, the guests could come and go as they please on the basis that they stayed fort a little chat. I glad to say that the tea party received a high footfall and the information I gained was rich.
I asked several questions to my guests as well as discussing their tea habits. The first thing I got my guests to do was to make a choice of what tea they would like. I then got them to rate the tea on a 1-10 basis and tell me why they chose that particular tea. This research gave me a primary basis of what tea was popular when the guest was presented with a large choice. Many people where adventurous but some were content with the tea they usually drink. This allowed me to perceive the nature of experimentation when it comes to tea.
I asked the guests to bring their own cups and any other utensils that are significant in their own tea preparation process. A vast majority didn’t bring a cup, which caused issues as I only had roughly 15 with me. The people that did bring their own cups also brought other materials that made there process unique. These utensils gave me an understanding of how an individual can have such a specialised process that is unique to them. This gave an entirely new spin to the concept I was currently working on and has allowed me to think of my project in a much more personal individualistic light.
The contextual inquiry itself was not as helpful as I previously envisaged. Each member that took part in the trial conducted the act of tea making in an entirely different way. I was hoping that everyone would demonstrate a slightly personalised approach to the same method but actually there processes varied quite widely. This taught me that I cannot develop a product that tells the user how to prepare tea, as everyone is vastly different in their approach.
So generally the tea party was a great success in the fact that I gained many valid insights that will allow me to create a vastly more appropriate end product.