In the fall of 2014 I was asked to teach a 1st semester course with 95 software developers at the IT University of Copenhagen on concept development in groups and writing a technical report about the solution.
Piece of cake! – Especially when The National Gallery of Denmark (Statens museum for kunst, SMK) agreed to deliver two current IT-problems for the students to work on – both related to the museum’s existing art database:
Help us design / develop a digital display of our artworks on smk.dk that integrates online data from other relevant sources on the internet.
Help us design / develop alternative digital visualizations of our data at smk.dk that gives the user the opportunity to discover relations between artworks (for example themes, periods, sizes etc.).
On the down side the students were neither art connoisseurs nor interested in art nor part of the primary target groups for the Museum – in fact some of them bluntly stated, This assignment sucks!
On the upside the students represented the younger generation’s media and interaction culture, a certain way of assessing the constant flow of trending engagement concepts which gives them a quite good notion of ‘what’s out here’ and ‘what’s next’.
After dividing the students into 16 groups – 8 groups on each assignment – and working on the problems for a few weeks (under my guidance doing empirical studies, data collection at the Museum, desk research and idea development) the students came up with some very interesting mock ups and prototypes. A few of them are mentioned here:
ArtTalk: A concept where art lovers can search, point to and discuss details in specific art works from the Museum’s collection with each other using their existing social media account.
ArtApp: A concept about ‘art dating’ combing the interaction concept from the dating app Tinder with the art database from The National Gallery.
- step: The user assesses 10 pieces of random art from the art database (like or dislike). An algorithm chooses the next 10 pieces according to the likings in step 1 in order to tune in to the user’s art preferences. The app calculates and art profile for the user.
- step: The app offers to match the user with other users with a similar profile and encourages them to go on a date to the museum to see their favorite art pieces live.
Portal Journey (Portalrejsen): A concept where search criterias for art are expanded to include categories like ‘at the museum right now’, ‘most popular’, ‘least watched’, ‘random pick’, ‘search by color’ and ‘journeys others users took’.
‘Advanced search’ offers interactive time spands, ‘related works’ and ‘in-frame-tags’ with more info once a piece is chosen. At the end of a search session the specific journey can be saved and shared.
The 2 x 8 concepts were presented this week for a panel of directors from the National Gallery of Denmark in 5 minute pitches with feedback for each group. Not all concepts were received with standing ovations from the panel (they were too bold) but several were recognized to be pretty much ‘plug and play’ for the museum – and all the groups got valuable feedback on their first concept development assignment for at real customer.