After the Post Office.

Douceurs is an investigative project carried out by Dundee post graduate student Lauren Currie for her 2008 undergraduate Final Major project. This website aims to introduce the project’s intentions, research and solutions for submission to the RSA Design Directions 2008/09 brief “After the Post Office.”

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Introduction

To overcome the rising loss of the postal service, Douceurs is a service solution enabling people to send letters to their future. This poetic service encompasses the beauty, simplicity and personal touch of traditional communication methods. This report aims to explain the process of developing Douceurs.

Research

To better understand the issues currently facing the UK postal service, I carried out interviews with Archivist Gail Inglis, a member of the Royal Mail Innovation Team, Postman Gus Colvin, Author and Writer Jonathan Baldwin, Historian David Bannerman and Royal Bank of Scotland Business Manager Glynn Macabe.

To investigate the social role of the Post Office and uncover traditional communication methods, I interviewed a group of elderly ladies in Aberdeen, carried out a playful communication experiment in Edinburgh, and set up a free-typing service outside a Post Office in St. Andrews. During these experiments, I captured my insights using both photography and video.

After carrying out the research experiments, phase two of the research explored and developed service design concepts. At this stage, a selection of service experts; Stefan Moritz, John Thackara, Gill Wildman, Lauren Tan, Kevin Hilton and Bill Hollins were approached and interviewed. Simple forms of communication technology were also explored to further investigate the relationships between words and communication.

Design

The final Douceurs service enables and encourages people to send letters to their future. In designing the service a number of design principles were outlined, a brand identity developed, a business model explored and user touchpoints were thoroughly analysed. The service journey was mapped and explored, and the design of Douceurs products (envelopes, stamps, website) were fully prototyped. The Douceurs service solution is designed to be centrally accessed via a website, offering a national (and international) portal and potential for the project’s success and future development.

Evaluation

In conclusion, Douceurs has been an insightful and enjoyable project. Through the process of anthropological research and co-design methodologies I have met many amazing people and uncovered a forgotten love for the written word (myself and others).

As the world becomes more technologically advanced, I believe we all need reminding of the simpler beauties in life. Douceurs takes elements of the postal service to a new and contemporary level of user engagement. There is a strong future ahead for this service in others areas of society, such as the education system. I believe Douceurs has huge potential as it adopts a strong connection with people of all ages and backgrounds.

The insight for the service design has come from real people with real lives. Douceurs is a new and innovative response to the loss of post offices and has the promise of infiltrating our lives many years from now.

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Download: Douceurs Report, Lauren Currie [PDF]

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