Taste Museum

Timeframe:
Spring 2019
1 Week

In this project, I design and protoype a VR environment that seeks to communicate the complexities of someone’s taste by creating a metaphorical museum full of relevant collections of items, books, etc.

It was also a project where I started thinking deeply about growing in my skills in 3D Interaction Design!


Why—

I’ve always struggled to make my portfolio because I could never clearly communicate the complexity of my personality and creativity through the current paradigm, especially with my interests in seemingly disparate things (physical computing, product design, photography, game design, etc.)

However, I believe all of these things represent me and my taste, and I am fascinated by the ways creativity and taste are related. I am curious to see if a well crafted collection of things that I find tasteful would be more effective in communicating the kind of person I am!

I chose to use the VR platform because I thought it was a beautiful way to create new realities/ environments that represent more abstract concepts rather than physical places or things. This ties into why I value VR as a platform.



Diagram of heiarchy of collections
Nature of Collections—

When studying collections, I realized that there seemed to be different tiers of collections, each one offering more richness than the previous. Ultimately, I wanted to create through my prototype a “dynamic collection system,” where there is a collection of collections, but each item can also be tied to items in other collections, adding a cohesion between all collections. In environments such as museums, we don’t have much of this, as each collection exists almost in isolation, where the connection between them is purely location-based.

   


Designing the Experience—

Below you will find some of the design decisions I made in desing this atypical VR experience. 


Environments—

There was definitely some consideration when designing the spaces for each collection to live. I was asking myself questions like “what would a library for role models look like?” and “in what space would I most enjoy portraying my projects?”

I ended up designing spaces that represented the “best” way to experience these things—a library for the books, a bar/ cafe for meeting people, a studio space to see work, and a weird trophy room to portray inspiring projects.



Interface—

The interfaces were designed to communicate both the individual items as well as the ways in which they are related to other things in my space. The peripheral object were placed to give greater context and understanding!



Interactions—

The interactions were designed for intuitive navigation of the experience. I started to understand how important motion was in VR, and how simple things like a hovering object could denote that it is interactible. Also, raycast lines and hover states were crucial to guide the user throught he experience.

Moving objects around in 3D space for 2D UI elements was also an interesting experiment to draw relationships and parallels.  
Interactions designed as nuances for state changes. onHover(), mainClick(), and compareClick()


Iterating—

I like to work through experiments before I implement in the main experience. Here are some of my previous experiments! Isolating certain behaviors gives me a clearer understanding of how the code works, and allows me to have a baseline to work with.



Display—

The project was placed on display for a week for the public to see and experience. The headset and controller were placed on a shelf, and a poster was created as a supplementary piece to learn more about the project.
My project was put on display for a week at Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Gallery.

Value—

With no apparent pragmatic purpose, I was wondering what the value of this creation actually was. But when I presented this project at my senior show, I found that people were lining up to see it—spending 5-10 minutes in there at a time, smiling at the whimsical design decisions made. I was humbled to have created something that facilitated joy and curiosity, and I was proud to create something that I felt was more accurate in representing me as a designer.


What I learned—

On a technical level, I became much more comfortable with the VR pipeline with Unity3D using the Oculus plugins. I learned how to use animations and scenes to make smoother user experiences, but I still have much to learn!

Unity3D project space

I had a very difficult time during this project to arrive at the correct scope and channel through which to portray my thoughts and ideas. I had a rich and enjoyable time talking to my professor about these concepts on a high-level, but converting those thoughts into a tangible experience was challenging. I hope that in the future, I can come to more concrete decisions more quickly, so I can have more time to iterate and experiment with how those ideas manifest.

I also hoped to have a much higher fidelity of a prototype, as I do believe my blocky and repetitive forms might deter the level of legitimacy of the presentation. During the presentations, I appreciated when people were able to frame their projects in the context that it was given, and prepare their prototypes to look and behave like a real thing.


You can find more information and research for this project here.

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