Project Title

Scoping the Consumer Perspective of Everyday Objects


ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Phoebe Kowalska

Extremely passionate about user research, consumer culture and the dynamics of the user-to-object relationship. A highly curious Strategic Design Researcher and Lecturer who applies critical and speculative design thinking approaches to experiment with design futures or scenario strategies of user experiences.

| User Experience | Speculative Design Thinking | Design Futures | Consumer Culture | UCD | User-to-Object Relationships |

Project Aim

This project, which I refer to as a method in my thesis, was interested in understanding consumer perceptions of everyday objects. As such, I scoped a user’s attachment to, the value of, and the role an everyday object performs in a user’s life. In this method I also scoped respondent positions of object reuse, such as when a consumer uses an object for unintended purposes. The empirical data collected via this consumer scoping approach informed my thesis in situating the current consumer-to-object relationship, ahead of my research intervention.

Project Approach

To answer to this research agenda, I carried out an online questionnaire that could be completed at anytime and anywhere allowing for respondent flexibility. I applied a ‘snowball’ sampling strategy, where I advertised the survey to potential respondents, who then promoted the survey to their peers (Tashakkori and Teddlie,1998:76). The online questionnaire was completed by 100 respondents, and so results led to indicative and explorative findings. Seeing as my thesis takes a qualitative approach in its methodology, the findings from this data were analysed using a ‘thematic approach’, where user patterns and trends were located (Nowell, 2017:2).


Project Outcomes

When reflecting upon the findings from this questionnaire, I can touch upon some core themes that emerged. One of which, is that consumers typically associate everyday objects as highly valuable with a high-frequency user reliance on them, yet they are deemed as low value in terms of economics. Likewise, everyday objects seem to be used with little to no thought, and they appear to help a user achieve an end-goal leading to user satisfaction. Whilst considering consumer reuse perceptions, data revealed multiple factors that act as barriers and enablers promoting or restricting object reuse. Some examples are, that user convenience and accessibility drive object reuse, yet it is not deemed an everyday practise due to the extra time required to consider reuse possibilities.

This project/method framed some consumer-to-object dynamics and impacted this thesis in comprehending multiple topical viewpoints from the consumer stance.


Nowell, L. S., Norris, J. M., White, D. E., & Moules, N. J.  (2017) ‘Thematic Analysis: Striving to Meet the Trustworthiness Criteria’, International Journal of Qualitative Methods. Doi: 10.1177/1609406917733847.

Tashakkori, A. Teddlie, C. (1998) Mixed Methodology: combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. London: SAGE Publications.


Project Collaborators

Collaborators – 100 consumers completed the questionnaire.

Project Keywords

#Everyday Objects #Consumption
#Re-appropriation #Speculative Design Thinking



12 PhD Candidates at 5 Universities across the North West of England

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  • Jess Robins
  • Veronica Pialorsi
  • Phoebe Kowalska
  • Lee Omar
  • Laura Wareing
  • Jemma Street
  • Janett Adler
  • Ian Costabile
  • Gemma Potter
  • Catharine Patha
  • Alexandros Kallegias
  • Ben Blackwell

Collaborative Partner Institutions