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Participants draw

their relationships

with grandparents





































Winter 2020 — 10 weeks — Interaction Design
Teamed with Yasmin Daneshjoo, Gwenna Gram, Annie Hanchett

On a team with three other designers, we explored the question of "how might design support the idea of caring for others?" We were given 10 weeks to find a solution to answer this question.

After brainstorming many relationships, we felt most drawn to that between grandchildren and their grandparents.

A goal of ours was to design in a space outside our comfort zones that would expand our thinking but one that would resonate and be purposeful to many people. We looked at examples within our own lives. A few of us had grandparents, some with very tight-knit relationships and others which felt very disconnected and understood how many factors contributed to the strength of these relationships. We found this was a relationship that was often neglected despite the familial value it holds. With that in mind, we began the project with the goal to create a solution that would address this so-called 'problem.'

Research                                            Unify
Draft                                                   Prototype
Brand Guidelines                               Refine

After establishing our "How Might We" goal, our first step was to meet with grandchildren and utilize design methods to gain insight about how their relationships with their grandparents function currently. These design methods included activities such as semi-formal interviews and having grandchildren draw out their relationship with their grandparents. From the contextual inquiry, we learned that the primary reasons their is a disconnect between grandparents and their grandchildren are due to generational gaps, physical distance, lack of commonalities, and unfulfilled expectations for each party's role in the relationship. 





















Grandchildren feel invested in relationship when:

  • Grandparents viewed as relatable

  • Open dialogue present

  • Discussing family history/memories

Disconnect due to:

  • Difficulty arranging quality time (conflicting schedules)

  • Grandparents transitioning from care-taker role to friendship/similar intellect levels

With this in mind, we began to ideate possible solutions to better the designated relationship. In order to do so, we drafted 60 sketches- ranging from digital, physical, large and small solutions that could potentially answer our “How Might We” statement.
























From here, we down-selected to our top three choices by categorizing the ideas based on physical size, tone, virtual ideas, etc. 

Our repeated solutions:




































001 Focuses on deepening knowledge about each other through past/present/future categories in order to create familiarity between the two. These questions would create a space to ask the questions people sometimes don’t know how to approach or choose to stray away from due to discomfort. This solution accommodated the research we gathered in the contextual inquiry- finding that family talk is often what creates bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren.

002 Sends an instant camera and monthly photo prompts to each party. We were drawn to a solution using disposable cameras due to its appeal towards both parties. The photos would act as a time capsule for older generations and would incentivize younger generations during a time of social media and instagram where these kinds of photos are ‘hip’ and trendy.

003 Includes the family’s special recipes and talking points to make their time together more meaningful. This would create a hands-on activity including integrated discussion. This solution appeals to generations, as food is a universal language, and would be less intimidating towards participants and easier to organize.

One of our first realizations was that our solution could not be all-encompassing.


While we wanted to design for a broad spectrum of grandchildren-grandparent relationships, we recognized this was not realistic. We chose to pursue the personalized 'Conversation Cookbook.' While we realized this could not work for long-distance relationships, we were excited about how it could transform relationships and its design potential. We discovered that the cookbook could not only work as a tool for which current grandchildren and grandparents could have quality time, but also as something to be passed down throughout generations. Thus, we decided we wanted it to have a built-in instant camera to capture moments for generations to bond over.

We met with a grandchild-grandparent duo to get insight and refine our cookbook idea. We had them do an activity where they evaluated the importance of different categories that would potentially be included in the recipe pages. 

LIKE                                                          DISLIKE

Photographs                                      Recipe History

Comical Prompts                               Camera + Recipe Separately Carried


We also studied the interactions of the duo as they cooked, using our provided cookbook materials. Here, through these activities, we began to doubt our original intention of creating a solution rooted in the grandchild’s participation and reached a turning point. We noticed our strongest solutions required both groups’ desire to participate. Therefor, we decided to conduct further research to refine our “how might we” solution.


We created a storyboard to envision the interactions that would occur throughout the use of the Conversation Cookbook.

We brought our storyboard, a low-fidelity prototype, and some sketches to our initial participants to understand how they perceived our concept, and how we could improve the solution and experience using it. 

Through usability testing, we gained important insights that pushed us to rethink key aspects of the structure of our cookbook.


Fitting a camera slot into the spine allowed it to appear sleek in addition to increasing functionality.





















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