Incorporating Various Research Methods
To better understand the space surrounding carrying currency, I created a concept map to clarify the relationships present within the ecosystem. Along with the more quantitative items, I became interested in the emotional quality that wallets hold such as their place as gifts and as heirloom pieces that tell stories. Through survey questions and interviews, I found out about the types of wallets people carry as well as what items they contain. I was also able to confirm my assumption that to many people, wallets can have emotional value outside of just being a tool for carrying money. In addition, I conducted a generative research activity where I instructed participants to organize the contents of their wallets by how frequently each item was used. Through these conversations, I discovered a pattern of individuals creating a dichotomy between items used regularly and items that are put in deeper storage.
A Low Tech Solution
For the low tech product, I wanted to create something that not only fulfilled the functions I highlighted through my research, but also embodied the value of money through materiality and construction. I decided on leather as my material of choice because of its luxurious nature and beautiful aging qualities. In terms of the wallet's design and construction, I opted for simplicity through symmetry. The wallet's outer slots serve as quick access while the inside pockets mask information until necessary, reducing cognitive load. Because of the symmetrical nature of the wallet, I used iconography to differentiate the two internal pockets with the hope that users will eventually be able to make associations between the symbols and the contents of each pocket.
The High Tech Solution
When ideating for the high tech product, I drew inspiration from several modern devices such as Bitcoin hardware wallets that have become popular because of the growing presence of hackers stealing currency electronically. In addition, I wanted to make individuals more mindful and respectful of transacting money through a delicateness in form language and interaction. The tray-like design of the base is inspired by the money trays that are common among Asian countries and the interaction is intended to make the exchange of money a more mutual and almost ritualistic process.
Form and Interaction
Inspired by the topology of one of the most tactile and primitive forms of expressing currency — the coin — I developed a form and interaction around a circular hand-held device. The perimeter of the device is a touch-sensitive surface with a shallow groove for the finger to rest comfortably. On the other side of the device is a soft touch TPU with extra grooves to provide a secure grip in the hand and stability on the table. In addition, stark contrast in the screen-based interfaces helps to differentiate the gestures of giving and receiving money at a glance.
Wanting to imagine a robust product experience, I explored three preliminary colorways for the high tech device. Inspired by the popular and iconic payment card, "Sapphire" is a fresh and expressive color for a personal device. "Bronze" exudes a sense of luxury and creates an almost heirloom quality with its warm undertones. Finally, "Dark Grey" provides an understated yet sophisticated option that still speaks to its high value.