Creating & decoding string for Design Research

Photo by Karly Santiago on Unsplash

String Art is a fascinating precise medium that embodies movement, pattern and elegance. Every string is purposefully arranged. Each string dances with another piece of string across the surface. The density of strings catch our eyes immediately. What lies at the density of these threads? The orchestration is part of creating the larger picture and telling a story.

In an abstract piece, the strings don’t encapsulate meaning beyond the visual they create. However, each string can be prescribed meaning, similar to a line graph or spider diagram.

I wanted to have fun and create my own piece of string art that danced to the rhythm of music listening behaviours.

With an interest in individual’s music consumption, and a passion for interactive art, I went ahead to create the immersive user research set up. The goal was to immerse myself in how individuals in their twenties in South East Asia currently consumed music. I knew it wasn’t strict quantitative research, but rather a guerrilla style activity to uncover hidden conversations and themes when people were participating.

I set up the board with pins placed evenly for each question and answer choice, allowing the participant to weave their string around based upon their answer choice. I was present when participants were completing the activity and observed as the board continued to fill-up.

The Board Set Up
The Completed Piece

The Pool: 25 participants in their twenties. (7 male, 18 female) The questions covered genre, music discovery, consumption hours and the role of music in their life.

What were some of the interesting densities?

  1. Spotify: The most used platform for streaming was Spotify, followed by Apple Music.

2. Comparison: People always compared their string to the others on the board, before selecting their answer choice. They were constantly curious to know their relationship with music compared to their friends’ and their habits.

3. Discovery: The 5th question asked them to recall the last song they got hooked onto and how they discovered this song. The three most common densities were in order:

A) Word of mouth from their social circle

B) Via a playlist on their streaming platform

C) Physical location (Restaurant, Workout Class, Gym etc)

4. Beginning the day: The strings were scattered here without any clear popular choice for everyone.

5. Dependency: The two largest clusters for music dependency were concentrated two strongest options (Can’t live without it and having to listening to different music throughout their day). Only 4 people selected that they could go a few days without listening to anything.

6. Music’s purpose: The largest density was for music being able to boost their mood.

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The activity turned out to be an amusing dance of strings and conversations that helped me immerse myself into the space of music consumption and our relationship to music consumption.

I definitely went in with some hypotheses based on my own music consumption, and saw a majority have the same dependency upon music in their life. An important note is the prominence and power of music discovery via word of mouth in addition to platform recommendations and curated playlists.

Music consumption is here to stay, the rhythm is a part of our everyday life. It guides us through different parts of our day.

UX Designer