Tuesday, 16 March 2010

My aim while conducting these semi-structured interviews was not to make assumptions and to allow it to naturally flow in order to gain qualitative information. My chosen interview subjects varied in relation to their fields of study and interests which gave me a vast array of answers.
My first interview was conducted on a male medical student. This interview was probably one of the most interesting of my findings. A lot of his emphasis was put onto sentimental and memorial values to things. Personally for him stuff is things/objects which remind you of things which have already happened for example cinema tickets, letters and cards. Things which to the outsiders eye would look like a pile of useless rubbish but to him holds a lot of personal reflection and value.
Likewise my third interview subject also spoke about 'stuff' being belongings which can be both personal and non-personal. Interestingly both of these interviewees are people who tend to hoard and accumulate stuff but for different reasons. The first subject said he collects things for sentimental reasons purely whereas my third subject elaborated further by touching on the collection of things which could have a use later on, and the accumulation of useless things such as scraps, random buttons and tickets. Personally I can relate to this as I hoard everything as I am always certain I will find a use for that small something at some point and therefore cannot justify throwing things out lightly.
On the contrary my other two interview subjects said they would consider 'stuff' as "mess" and "a selection of random objects/things." I would boil this down to their qualities as I got the sense that they both had similar thinking, as in they both like being organised and both have had bad experiences with family members accumulating things which they find unnecessary to keep.

One of the questions I asked as mentioned on an earlier post was "What objects would you consider the top things people collect?" Photographs and clothes were two common objects which consistently came up in all four interviews. However one comment was made about how this would depend on the gender of the collector. Other things I had thought of would be stamps, antiques, magazines and recycling.
The investigation on whether 'hoarding' as some people would put it is derived from someone with a certain personality was an interesting topic of conversation. One response I got was particularly interesting. It was based on the discussion on how certain individuals would tend to live in the past as it were and prefer to stick or cling to past memories or events and as a result would categorize them in potentially being a candidate for accumulating "stuff". This would suggest that pessimistic people, who live for the day and thrive for the future are more likely to not get emotionally attached to things and therefore tend not to keep things. This follows on to a connection I made about how the two interviewees who would consider themselves to not accumulate stuff both mentioned how they do not get easily emotionally attached to material things and therefore are ruthless and have no problem whatsoever throwing things out in order to stay in an organised environment as it would otherwise cause stress and discomfort.

There was a general consensus on the matter of whether accumulating stuff is infinite and that was that it is dependent on who and what they keep. One very interesting point made was that people can accumulate stuff without wanting to, subconsciously for example bank statements and junk mail.
Relate this to my question about whether a profession or field of study assists in having the habit of collecting. People who need to be on the constant look out for certain items to collect seem to do it subconsciously whereas for example one of my subject is an accountancy student who this doesn't apply to and she said it would be a deliberate act.
Comparing my findings concerning how a design students response would differ to a non-design students response is also quite intriguing. One of my interview subjects was a jewellery and metal work student. From analysis of her answers and the overall vibe from the interview I would say that her outlook on 'stuff' would be at the same level on some senses as my non-design related subjects but on the other hand very different. She expressed that she would constantly be on the look out for stones and other resources which would assist in her making a collection. I feel that a design student would have a more expressive wider view on what would be worth keeping in the sense that we as designers look out for inspirational objects and resources constantly which I feel plays a huge role in my accumulation process.
Overall I would say that the main concept I have gathered from this investigation on how people accumulate 'stuff' is that generally it has a sentimental or emotional attachment in some shape or form and personality, qualities also play a huge role in this process. I will leave you with a common phrase which is said often which relates well to this, "to accumulate is to speculate..." Would you agree?

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