What Do You Treasure The Most?… (Assignment 4)

20 Mar

For this assignment we had to pick one of the topics given to us and conduct a few interviews with people we don’t know that well.  I chose the question ‘What object do you treasure the most?’  To begin with we had to write down a few areas from that topic that we would then cover in our interviews.  Ideally we had to choose questions related to that topic but preferably questions that don’t give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.

Mind Map

Above is my mind map which shows my line of thought and possible areas to cover when I conduct my interviews.  There is no particular aim in these interviews;  we are not trying to prove any one thing except purely discover any similarities or differences between the interviews, eg. how people interpret the question.  Some responses could be as simple as a piece of jewellery or a teddy given to them on their first brithday, and some may think into the question more and respond with something like their memories, which isn’t necessarily an object but is something that is still treasured.

For these interviews we were advised to adopt a semi-structured approach which basically means you follow a plan but it allows you to deviate from the original plan to then follow up interesting comments in more detail.  We also had to choose one service design tool to apply and assist with the interviews.  I decided to use the ‘Affinity Tool.’  This tool is ‘a creative process used for gathering and organising large amounts of datas, ideas and insights by evidencing their natural correlation.  It starts with a statement of the problem or the goal.’ I’ve decided to adapt this technique and instead give the interviewee a pad of post-its and have them write down the first things that come to mind, and possibly draw a small sketch for each question I ask.  At the same time they will tell me what they’ve written and I can move on and ask more questions.  I feel this technique will keep the interviewee more engaged with the interview.

In first semester I found an article by Lena Corner which gives a detailed insight to the world of consumerism and the effects it has on people.  It covers an interview with three men who get rid of all their worldly possessions and revealed whether it made them happy.  One man discovered he owned more than 7,000 items and set out to destroy every single one of them.  Another, a victim of his own shopaholicism burned £20,000 worth of designer goods, and the third whose life had hit rock bottom, attempted to sell everything and start again.  In some ways I feel this links in well with this topic of what you treasure the most, especially the victim of shopaholicism.  Although to some extent he has accumulated a lot of “stuff” (which was another topic we could have looked into) to him, he treasured all of his designer clothes.  He became a designer label himself, this is taking an item you treasure to the extreme, but I still feels its relevant.

For me, I treasure a lot of things.  I treasure my family and friends, my photos and all the memories that come with them.  I treasure my St. Christopher necklace which I bought with money my Grandparents gave me on my 16th birthday and I have never taken it off (I’m 21 this year, so that’s almost 5 years of barely ever removing it).  I basically treasure an awful lot of things in my life so if I were doing this interview I’d find it difficult to pick just one thing.  We’ll see if others have the same problem.  Here is an outline of the interview and my results.


This is a rough outline of the interview. I can adapt this at any time should an interesting topic arise.

Interview 1:

When I asked Debra, a 19 year old student at Dundee University, what she treasured the most she took a while to think of something.  Eventually she remembered a little teddy she got given by her brother when she was four.  I asked her to tell me the story behind the teddy and why it was given to her.  She was given it by her brother when she got stung on the lip by a wasp.  Her brother wanted to cheer her up so bought her this teddy.  I asked her if it was on show for others to see and she said she keeps it on her bedside table.  She obviously treasures this object because it reminds her of a specific time in her life.

Interview 2:

When I asked Mhairi, a 21 year old student studying at Dundee University, what she treasured the most she said a locket.  The locket was passed down by her Grandma so it has a lot of sentimental value.  She never wears the locket because it is too delicate so instead keeps it in a box back home.  I then asked Mhairi to describe the locket.  She said it was on a long gold chain, oval shaped with a subtle pattern on the front with an ‘M’ in the centre and inside is a photo of her Grandparents.  She also drew a small sketch of it on the post-its I gave her.  She also said that it was irreplaceable and she’ll always treasure it.

Interview 3:

When I asked Ethan, a 20 year old Anatomy student at Dundee University, what he treasured the most he said a collection of white cat ornaments that belonged to his Gran.  His Gran passed away when he was ten and they were left to him in her will.  He has treasured them since he was very young and always admired them when he went to visit his Gran in England.  They are now displayed in his living room back home in Glasgow.  They are irreplaceable to him and have a lot of sentimental value.

Interview 4:

This was my last interview.  I asked Julie, a 20 year old Medic student at Dundee University what she treasured the most and she said her laptop.  When I asked her why she said it was mainly for communication purposes; keeping in touch with friends and family who aren’t in Dundee.  Also a storage system for Uni work and photographs and you can also take it anywhere.  She was given it by her parents when she started University.  Her laptop is currently broken and she spoke about how much she misses it and how she has to borrow her flat mates laptops from time to time.

After conducting all these interviews there is a clear link with three of them.  The link is that most of the interviewees responded with objects that have been given to them as a gift or passed down through the family.  I feel that my interviews went well.  Some lasted longer than others but I think I gathered all the information I needed.  The use of the affinity tool worked OK when asking the person to sketch what the object looked like, other than that I don’t feel it made the interview process any more easier and I didn’t gather any extra information from that technique.

I discussed my results with one of my course mates who looked at the same topic.  The link was still clear and a couple of them gave the same response.  We discussed our results and came to the conclusion that the majority of responses were of sentimental value and were related to either a person or a time in their life.  My class mate got a couple of really interesting responses, she had someone say they treasured their memories and the the other their values.  We also agreed that the results showed the person’s way of thinking.  A lot of people associated their most treasured item to family or something they use everyday and couldn’t live without.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the interview process and discovering what people treasure the most.  And like I said earlier, it was obvious that a few of the people I spoke to struggled to think of something to begin with, and I would have the exact same reaction if i were asked what I treasure the most.


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