In 2017, we posted a blog post with photos and reflections from our summer intern, Aiman, about a self-initiated summer project. Her aim was to bring awareness about the plight of Mumbai slum dwellers relating to their lack of access to clean water. Photography was used as the main means of communication, alongside short stories to deepen understanding. This blog post captures some of the design research methods we undertook.
Recently, Aiman's work was showcased on Waterwalla, a non-profit organisation that aims to improve access to clean water for under-served communities worldwide. Rehla Design is proud to have helped Aiman frame her research and develop communication materials to make her project exemplary.
We collectively developed a visual brainstorm to capture issues people face on a daily basis, based on their lack of access to clean water. This simple but crucial step at the initial stage helped frame collective themes and personal accounts. Based on Aiman's field notes and photos, we used the POEMS Research Framework to synthesise observations. This tool was handy to guide research questions based on understanding scenarios collectively: People, Objects, Environments, Messages, and Services.
Aiman also undertook interviews with people on the ground, that centred around the Day in the Life exercise to better understand their personal stories. She documented aspects like their daily activities, challenges, successes, associated thoughts, actions, and emotions — which were embedded into the narratives.
Once the stories were generated, we entitled the project Murky Water and developed the visual identity. By incorporating a paper marbling technique as the project's design theme, we sought to communicate how the different challenges faced by slum-dwellers, blend together into a pervasive murky cycle.