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Mark Project: Capturing Insights From the Field
“Just make sure you never go in alone!”, “don’t eat there” and “don’t accept any gifts”. These were the reactions we were getting almost every time we told someone we were going to be in the favelas of Sao Paulo.
In many ways, you might think we were being warned against a cage full of dangerous animals or a tribe of cannibals. The irony is that most of the people who told us about the danger of favelas had never stepped inside one. These constant ill-informed opinions only galvanised us to continue challenging peoples perception of these vibrant and developing places.
Yet, it was with these words echoing around our head that we wandered slowly, nervously and totally alone through the winding streets of Paraisopolis, the largest favela in Sao Paulo.
Despite our conviction that favelas are community centers full of people getting on with their everyday lives, it is much easier to say that from a sofa in New York City than it is walking alone through Paraisopolis. We arrived at our destination, the community center, unharmed. We proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon walking the streets with our guide, Higor whom proudly pointed out urbanization projects, local bars and school developments.
Our 2 week trip, generously supported by MURAL, was filled with these kind of diametrically opposite opinions.
Our main lesson was that the favelas are places of paradoxes and immense complexity. It really showed us the value of doing field research, while many of our assumptions proved to be partially accurate, so many more were utterly off the mark.
MURAL was an incredible tool for capturing these new insights in the field, allowing us to categorise, cluster and organise our research in unique ways.
Seeing insights next to photos, quotes and hyperlinks in a freeform visual format was a very intuitive step for two people so used to whiteboards and visual design methodologies.
Through this blog we will be demonstrating the power of MURAL to push forward and clarify complex information throughout the design process. Our next few posts will showcase just some of the ways we used MURAL, and the new insight it helped us find.
Meg & James @ Mark
October, 03 2013