That's the room where I moderated groups tonight. A place called TAI Denver. A perfectly functional facility. On the 31st floor, downtown, beautiful views. Comfortable back room, friendly and capable support, the works. But I couldn't help thinking how much these types of facilities have become the tender trap for qualitative research. Research which at its heart is conversations between people.
Part of what keeps nagging at me is I really dislike fluorescent lights. (Except the compact kind that will save the world. But that's for another time.) These lights make me think I'm in an accounting firm or on an operating table, not part of a comfortable discussion.
It made me think, "where do people go for good, comfortable conversations?"
Their homes. Specifically the living room, and even more so, the kitchen. Standing, leaning against a bar. In a large cozy booth at a restaurant. Even sitting on the carpet.
I couldn't be a bigger fan of research that brings us into the consumer's world. In context with where they interact with brands. Yet at the same time here in America there is a culture that highlights the limitations to in-homes, 1:1 interivews, and so on. Sometimes we must allow for a bigger audience, more respondents, etc. I get the role the facility serves.
But couldn't the tired old convention of the accounting-firm-facility give way just a bit to a contemporary approach to conversational comfort?
I think planners are among the few who really truly care about the aesthetics and context enough to want to change it, to ask 'why does it have to be this way' and to think up new contexts for productive, controlled conversations.
Coming next, ideas for rethinking the facility.