Case Study

In their own words: How Studio Caspar developed diverse, audience-led data insight

In their own words: How Studio Caspar developed diverse, audience-led data insight

Studio Caspar is a company that specialises in community engagement and data driven design. Led by community artist Caspar J Wilson, the studio has both worked on a Challenge Project with the Fruitmarket Gallery addressing how audience diversity is monitored and audience data is used. Subsequently Caspar was supported as a Resident Entrepreneur with a proposal to address the challenge of engaging, measuring and collaborating with audiences.

During the Challenge Project, Caspar and the Fruitmarket team developed Data Diversity – a valuable new audience survey app, following a period of extensive public engagement and expert research. This digital tool uses a unique form of language processing, coupled with a friendly and approachable design, all targeted at earning the participation of diverse voices who are the least engaged by traditional systems. The result is a survey about which users feel positively and which institutions can utilise to gather usable, sorted data, and which is now in public use alongside the Fruitmarket’s new exhibition programme.

Image: ‘Vote with a Note’ window installation as part of the Fruitmarket
Data Diversity audience workshops. Source: Caspar Wilson

As a result of discoveries made and issues experienced during the Challenge Project about how data is conventionally collected from audiences, Caspar focused his Resident Entrepreneur placement on developing a service design product called the Personality Machine, informed by conversations with a number of potential client organisations in need of new ways to measure and engage audiences.

Having discovered general apprehension about commissioning open ended consultation around these areas, the Personality Machine was designed with a clearly structured framework, so clients can have a clear expectation of the outputs and direction of travel whilst leaving enough room for tailoring a specific outcome suited to their needs. The Personality Machine system is supported by three key pillars: Empowered Language, Human Centred Design and Exchange of Value.

Image: Caspar Wilson and the Fruitmarket Challenge Project team. Source: Caspar Wilson

Empowered Language is about centring the audience and the diversity of experience it represents through the language that is used at every stage. Caspar’s work with the Fruitmarket team placed a valuable emphasis on ensuring you are always seeking to celebrate diversity by giving the audience the opportunity to express things in their own words and use their own preferred terminology. Placing the audience at the forefront helps ensure that the results are genuinely engaged and thinking beyond the immediate data needs of the organisation.

Human Centred Design is a key learning from the Fruitmarket Research Survey. People respond far better to materials that have been created using illustration, hand lettering and other organic visual communication elements. The contrast in response between a humanised design versus the traditional typed legalese of surveys is significant and taking an approach that utilises design is essential.

The final pillar is ensuring that if you are asking your audience for data, you provide something they can learn from as well as an Exchange of Value. This can be as simple as an aggregated summary of the organisations research so far, a key insight or or a visual response.

Image: Planning for Data Diversity workshops. Source: Caspar Wilson

The Resident Entrepreneur programme has allowed Caspar to develop his skills and expertise in service design, including design systems and architecture, interaction design, and user experience journeys. He has also benefitted from being part of the wider RE community, and building peer relationships with others working in similar areas and on similar challenges, which will continue beyond the end of his placement.

“My work on the Personality Machine has been an opportunity for me to develop a much more comprehensive skillset in areas that are a priority for my professional development. As a creative practitioner who has worked in community engagement for a number of years, some elements of this were very familiar to me and others were exciting new opportunities for learning.” – Caspar Wilson

As of 21 March 2023, Studio Caspar is a limited company, which is now focusing on creating sales and marketing assets to promote The Personality Machine to potential clients to generate revenue, and acquiring additional funding to expand the product.


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