Explorable – Early Concept Ideas

This week I’ve been spending some time looking at the design on the explorable space. I find that it’s easy to get caught up on the more complex elements of an idea, and forget to give the more simple things attention. As UX Julie Zhou, writes,

When we design the middle, we tell an aspirational story, a North Star, to paint a picture of a future we want to see. The problem is that we often neglect to design the beginning until the very end. – Julie Zhou

We didn’t want this to happen for our gallery space; after all, this may be the only part of the experience that a participant explores!  While the concept is simple (in that it doesn’t need animation), the actual space will need careful consideration in order to create a memorable experience. As far as I can see at this moment, there are a few key elements that will need attention for the explorable:

  • The spacial layout
  • Typography in the space
  • Navigation in the space
  • Audio in the space
  • Content of the space

Spacial Layout

I began to think about how the space could actually work by drawing out a few ideas that were in my mind I find it easier to sketch roughly in Photoshop and on paper to give me an idea of what works, with the idea to develop them later.

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I began by thinking about how the participant could interact with the space. I immediately wanted to add walls to the space because it was what I was used to in a gallery so I challenged myself to think outside of the box. I questioned, what if light framed the space? What if by moving into an area the gallery of images appear around the viewer? What sort of materials will me use in the space? Would reflective surfaces add to it?

 3D Exploration

Early tests involved achieving a reflective surface on the ground plane in mental ray, and using large incandescent tubes to light the space. I like the idea of light framing the gallery and guiding the participant through the space instead of physical objects. Below are a few early layouts that explore that idea.

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Multiple Galleries

From this point I wanted to expand the gallery to see how multiple themes could work in the space. At this point I added a cube to show the scale of a person, to see how it’d feel from eye level.

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I experimented with different layouts for different spaces, as we will have galleries with different collections of Colin’s work. Using placeholders for typography, I was able to get a sense of what the space could look like. I have not given much attention to the lighting of the space, and this is something that I’ll explore a little later.

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After playing with the layout, I began to test how a navigation may work if there were guidelines on the floor. They look absolutely horrendous right now, but I would like to develop the idea further over the next while. I like the idea of the navigation to be out of the immediate eye line, as I the main focus should be on the work.

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Next Steps

I plan to use these layouts as a base to work from, and develop a few of the ideas. Next steps include testing out typography and further developing the navigation ideas. While it’s useful to get a sense of the space, I am not convinced by the current layouts so I’m going to continue to develop these over the next week.


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