Designing a Routine: Andrew Cheung
Meet Andrew Cheung
“Human-centred design and co-design offer an approach, processes, and tools for helping designers and end-users identify needs and hopes rooted in the lived experience of users. Through defining opportunities to better address user needs, designers can collaboratively focus efforts on developing and testing ‘interventions’ to learn more about what is required to make an impact”
I was lucky enough to get to know Andrew Cheung during our HESE co-partner design project, where through a series of questions, I got to capture the essence of who Andrew defines himself as, both personally and professionally. From our conversations and upon understanding some of his needs and challenges, I was able to determine a routine for him.
Andrew was always someone who was interested in architecture, math and economics, but had a diverse skill set and studied biochemistry in his undergraduate degree. He became increasingly interested in public and global health, and got invested in research for Canadian and global health policies. He went on to complete medical school, yet even there his career endeavors did not end. He started a business called “2 minute medicine”, where he integrated two of his passions, healthcare and business together. Upon discovering his interest in business, he went on to complete an MBA in Chicago, where he got to explore his business creativity through interesting case competitions. Currently, Andrew is an assistant professor, practices medicine, and has a clinical teaching role.
Someone so professionally developed is bound to be busy — extremely busy. Given that both him and his wife are involved in medicine, their work seemed to consistently bleed into the weekends: finishing up patient charts, tying up loose ends from the previous week, and extra paperwork always seemed to creep in and leave him no time to regenerate and re-center some personal focus. Through discussion, Andrew conveyed his passions for fitness, meal preparation, reading and hiking, but iterated the fact that there simply wasn’t enough time anymore to fit it all in. I learned of his love for painting and sketching that tied him back to his passions in architectural design, and he told me about his interest in music, both in discovering new artists and playing instruments.
One of my favorite points he mentioned was that he wanted to go with his wife to Coachella! From what I got to learn from Andrew, I had to come up with something right for his needs. Some of his creative outlets seemed to be lost in a haze of work, and through a ritual of making Andrew re-focus on some personal needs, it would allow him the time and space to slowly spark back up his past passions.
Through several iterations, outlining my design process HERE, I was able to create bucket lists for Andrew. Their main role was to help bring focus on essential health needs that seemed to be overlooked, and help highlight some of his personal interests in simple everyday ways. Overall, I wanted him to learn to slow down, build time for mental clarity, and work on retaining these skills. My first bucket list to Andrew included daily and biweekly activities, food recommendations for him and his wife to try out, and new music suggestions for him to explore based on his preferred music taste. Upon receiving feedback, I learned a couple of things: the biweekly and food adventures were tasks that were a bit too time consuming to create a ritual out of, however the daily activities had consistent engagement and the music suggestions helped Andrew to discover more music from his favourite artists. Overall, Andrew noted that this was a great way for him to break out of his usual routines and be reminded of important health benefits, like spending time outdoors on a daily basis and finding different ways to spend time with his wife. From this feedback, I went back and created a more refined bucket list, where I focused on how to help Andrew retain these daily tasks. I gave Andrew even more music suggestions, recommended several preliminary fiction, philosophy, and finance books to help spark back his passion for reading, and suggested apps to help him maintain his built up healthy rituals.
Reflection: What did I learn?
Throughout my creative process, I got to play on several different design abilities that intertwined nicely with one another. Primarily, I focused on “Synthesizing Information”. When talking with Andrew, I tried to decipher his patterns to surface some non-obvious needs. Upon my observations of Andrew, I had to infer what led him to these needs. From my understanding, my partner needed to take a step back and refocus on himself in simple ways in order for him to reconnect with his humanity; I wanted my partner to feel rejuvenated as opposed to carrying built up exhaustion.
Next, I played on “Design your Design Work”, where I routinely had to ask myself “what does this project need right now”. Finally, I used the “Build and Craft Intentionally” design ability. I had to polish my ideas in creative formats and use the feedback from my partner to truly design something personal and memorable. Overall, this helped me create something I was proud of to incorporate into my partner’s life.
What did Andrew learn?
“For the past 15 years of my life, I felt like I’ve lived through a period of constant change and significant personal growth. It felt like I was always facing a new set of challenges. It’s been an exhilarating phase in my life and the constant change made me a more adventurous person — someone who regularly sought new experiences. Over the past two years, I have become more settled in life, both professionally and personally. The pandemic has also forced me into a very limited routine. Going through this course pushed me to reflect on what I truly value and how to incorporate that regularly into my life. It helped me realize how I could start to recapture that sense of adventure and break out of stifling routines.”
Park, S. (2021, January 27). Co-Design Project: Routine Creativity. Medium.