SWAY
SUMMER 2018

central park from midtown rooftops

centralpark

Sway

A CASE STUDY ON THE PERFECT HAMMOCK MOMENT

Welcome, you are exploring an independent user research and design project utilizing augmented reality to help people find hammock spots that are perfect for them and safe for the trees.

Foreword

If you happen to visit 40°47'21.8"N by 73°57'33.5"W, you’ll find yourself standing in the center of a precisely proportional tree triangulation. It is one of a collection of locations, similar in purpose, that I have made note of on various adventures.

The unique aspect of the small grove located at 40°47'21.8"N by 73°57'33.5"W is that the trees and their surrounding vista make up one of the most perfect hammock spots in all of Central Park, New York. It took almost an entire summer of trial-and-error to find... not that you’re allowed to hammock in Central Park. This project is a gift I made for the trees, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Explore

This project contains six sections documenting research and design, including background knowledge, user research, strategy, and interaction models.

JUMP DOWN TO SECTION CONTENTS

Problem

Hammocks as a Design Problem

For the past few years, hammock purchases have seen a trending upswing, doubling in sales each year. A large motivator behind this trend belongs to the emerging demographic of new hammock buyers: younger, not camping types, who take a more versatile approach with their hammocks — as a replacement for anything between social bean bags and private tents.

As the topic for a design study, hammocking provides a backdrop rich in emotion and behavior. Hammocks evoke a relaxing nostalgia, with near-universal recognition and symbolism. They are accessible to a majority of people, and are easy to take part in. 

Hammocking also has overlap with environmentally-conscious philosophies and actions. One goal of this exercise is to find a way to leverage hammocking, and its relationship to trees, as a path to increase awareness and support of local parks and forests. With the effects of ecological disruption impending, any small steps towards increasing a person’s investment in nature is progress for the health of the planet.

Project Brief

Project Brief


VISION

Create a shared network of trees, based on hammocking, that collects environmental data. Can be shared with ecological agencies to monitor the health and safety of trees at regional and hyper-local levels.


DESIGN OBJECTIVES

Match the act of hanging a hammock with the ease of relaxing in a hammock, close the gap between the experience and the expectation. Focus on the direct relationship between hammocking and trees to encouraging more environmental awareness.


OPPORTUNITY

The ability to scan and define target spots with augmented reality creates an opportunity to solve for some real hammock-hanging problems like distance, tension, and hang angle. At the time of writing, there's not yet an interactive utility available that can calculate for multiple trees and spatial geometry in an outdoors natural environment.


SCOPE

Because hammocks can be hung anywhere between two sturdy points, the focus of this project is specific to hanging hammocks on trees, using straps or thick rope, within a park or forest setting.


CLIENT

The client for this project would be a small online retail company that sells hammocks and accessories like straps and underquilts. They have doubled their sales over the past two years and want to invest in a supporting experience for their new and existing customers. A solution should complement their company goals of ecological preservation.

Background

Background Research

In 2016, hammock sales reached $53 million, doubling from the year prior, after doubling from the year before that. Sales of hammocks and accessories are expected to continue that growth into a $650 million market in 2021 [note]https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171020005439/en/Top-3-Drivers-Hammocks-Market-Technavio [/note].

"...hammock sales are up 140% year to date from 2015... And of course, Amazon, which on its self-created shopping holiday, Prime Day, sold 24,000 units of one discount hammock by the afternoon."

HAMMOCK USAGE

Sales alone don't tell the full story of a product's impact – how much does an increase in sales translate to an increase in usage. This is one handoff between design and business where the business wants to sell you a hammock, and design wants to make sure that purchase continues to meet your needs.


BARRIERS TO ENTRY

There is an educational aspect to hammocking with a heavier upfront cost than most potential users expect, as is noticable in the quantity and range of hammock hanging guides and videos produced, and the frustrated comments they invite. 

Skills and knowledge for hammocking include learning how to handle materials and hardware, learning how to hang a hammock, and assessing where to hang a hammock [note]https://blogs.wf.com/assetmanagement/2016/08/why-hammock-sales-jumped-30/[/note].

"But hammock sales were no leisurely endeavor for the mail-order and e-commerce giants ...the hammock market had barriers to entry, which made it difficult in the past for customers to use the products. Apparently, folks thought they needed to be the outdoors type to set up hammocks..." 

EMERGENT RESPONSES

New hammockers may not have much in common with classic outdoors camping demographics. Searching for examples of organic groupings around shared hobbies reveal an increase in social activity that parallels the increase in purchases. 

Emergent responses showing increased hammock use:

  • Increased publication of articles about hammocking
  • Communities forming around hammocking, multiple active forums
  • Abundance of hammock-specific playlists on Spotify
  • Hashtag uptick and evolution from noun (#hammock) to lifestyle (#hammocklife)

Explore

Explore this Project

This project covers background knowledge, user research, strategy, and interaction models focusing on augmented reality to help people find the best hammock spots.

eris2018e

ABOUT THE DESIGNER

Eris Stassi is an experience designer crafting resilient and kind human interactions. She provides insightful flows & product strategy for startups and creative teams. Previous head of product for a food startup, UX director at Morgan Stanley, and interaction designer at Apple.

Available for medium and long-term projects with a focus on civic and authentic engagement. Please contact me for resume and case studies.

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