Nodes - Exhibition design
<Nodes> is an interactive installation for the visitors to create their own melodies with physical strings in Guitars - The Museum in Umeå. 

Skill: Video prototype | Tangible prototype | Sound design | User test
Partner: Guitars - The Museum
Duration: 2 weeks
Time: 2013 fall


Concept Video


Tangible prototype video


Rules of interaction

1. Tone: The pitch of the tone is determined by the relative vertical position of the pin. 

2. Tempo: The entire duration of the melody one string triggers is the same. The more pins one string is attached to, the faster the tempo will be and vice versa.

3. Melody: Each string creates one complete melody. The more strings the visitor use, the more parallel melodies the installation has, thus pros can create both fundamental baseline and dominant melody.


Tangible prototype

In addition to the video prototype, I made a scale-down tangible prototype for the client to understand the concept in real, including the technical solution of building up the installation in the museum and the cost of it.

Test electronic circuit on breadboard before assembling the final prototype

Cover the electronics behind MDF board


Personal reflection

This is the first project I made in my master study of interaction design. I picked up coding and electronics from this one. Besides, the principles I learned of an engaging and inviting public installation is valid in a wider range of application.


Design learnings

  • Use hands on technology i.e. projection, processing and simple artefacts to recreate the experience for testing. 

  • Details i.e. scale of the installation and materials might interfere with user's interaction.

  • Use sketchy video prototype as a skill to communicate concept for feedback.
  • Use a tangible prototype to communicate the concept and the technical solution with the client.

Things I would have done differently

  • A more cinematic storytelling structure of the final video to add more personality and emotion
  • Increase the depth of the concept by secondary research on public space interaction and museum experience 

Design challenge: How to design a music experience in Guitars-The Museum that every visitor can participate in.

1. How to make a simple and holistic interactive experience in a guitar museum?

To design interaction in public space, the installation should be self-communicative for visitors to understand the interaction intuitively. The interaction should be as obvious as possible but at the same time can still trigger curiosity and interest of visitors of all ages.

2. How to design a flexible interaction that could be applied and customised according to the environment

A successful installation does not only interact with visitors, but also resonate with the space it takes. An adaptive solution is able to cope with the undefined showroom space.

3. How to simplify the maintenance of the installation?


Design process: Material package - Ideation - User test - Final concept


Material package

The material package has a music experience interview, visualisation of the experience in form of photos and a poster. I enhanced the visualisation of "electrifying" and explored the string concept by creating interaction rules.

Concept video prototype

A video prototype was made during ideation phase to communicate and get feedback for the design concept,

Compose a melody by tiring a string

Concept video prototype for mid-presentation


User Test

A user test was set up to test the scale, users' behaviour and interaction. I programmed in Processing to get the sound and lightning feedback. A projector was used to mock-up the light feedback simultaneously.

 User interprets how the installation works and the reason of interaction

User interprets how the installation works and the reason of interaction

Design iteration with the user

Testimonial feedback

  1. "It's easy to figure out how to interact with the installation."
  2. "It would be great for pros to explore bonus ways to create melodies."
  3. "The horizontal strings hanging above the installation is more inviting than the loosen vertical strings beside."

Translate feedback into design

  1. A rubber string is better than a normal string because visitors can change nodes in between without loose from the end. 
  2. The light and sound feedback are inviting for visitors since usually they are afraid of touching something in a museum. Besides, they help visitors to understand the rule of the composition. Visitors felt a sense of achievement when eventually figured out how it composed melody.
  3.  Strings fixed on walls prevent messy composition.
  4.  After adjusting the height of spare strings, visitors started to play with them.