Staged Atmosphere: The Air[craft] Workshop
Probes and variations of this method are seen as valuable tools in design research enabling rich insights into lived-experiences. Although they have been adopted widely, significantly less attention has been given to the environments in which probes are being introduced. This study describes the experiential qualities of using probes within liminal spaces to gain a deep understanding of a lived experience, in this case a micro transition in participant’s lives. The liminal spaces of planes and airports became the setting for the Air[craft] workshop, an exploratory codesign workshop, in a stationary plane and a group discussion at an airport. In this paper we present our method. We argue for the value of a perspective in which the authentic environments, the probes and the theatricality of the workshops are all equally important. Widening the context of the probe approach, we propose the term staged atmosphere to describe this method of engaging people to talk about their feelings, their frustrations, their excitements or moments of anticipation and explore design opportunities of reassuring the self in a particular context. The word atmosphere is used to employ elements of authenticity; being in the real place and exploring the atmosphere of the real environment and the word staged is used to indicate that the experience has elements of theatricality leaving room for participants’ reflections and imaginative thinking.