Freedom: Camping in NZ

The first brief of the year is titled Freedom: Camping in NZ. In groups of four to five we are to undertake this six-week project to design, develop and present an innovative, viable and feasible product proposal that enhances camping experience. It is a collaboration project between Year 2 Product Design students, Richard Knauf; director of Freedom Camping and Sue Hill of Auckland Council Parks Sports and Recreation.

To start the Investigate Phase of the project, the whole class will be participating in an overnight camping trip at Wenderholm Regional Park on Wednesday.

It starts us off quickly and we do essentially hit the ground running. Richard Knauf, our guy from Freedom Camping came to talk to us on that same day, already giving us a clear idea of the general direction we should incline towards.

A couple of things that stood out to me were the 2-3 main markets they provide to;

  1. Home away from Home campers are usually families who use canvas tents. These campers have obviously more space for storage and other bulk, so there may be more opportunity here to entice and create appeal for our new product, whatever it may be.
  2. Bedroom campers include single travellers, young couples etc who use smaller dome tents. These campers value portability and compactness more as compared to campers who use canvas tents.
  3. New Years’ campers

Another was the interesting fact that a lot more people are willing to buy chairs and shelter over bedding/sleeping gear. I guess there is a large social aspect that play into most if not all camping situations. It drew my attention to the importance of really investigating what the campers’ needs truly are and what better way to know than to experience it firsthand on the upcoming camping trip.

What do people value more? What is camping for them? What product will appeal to all campers alike?

Richard Knauf shared what the attributes/specifications are of an ideal product, by demonstrating the unpacking of a new and unopened fold-out stretcher. Although the packaging was a bit hard to work through, the product was indeed ideal. It was stress free. No need to build, no need to spend time pouring over an instruction manual, one just has to grab one end in each hand and pull the two ends on opposite directions. Voila! In one move (low physical effort) a stretcher is ‘built’. It’s compact, definitely portable and relatively light.

Heeding close attention to his discussion these will be the three main things I will look at once we are in the camping grounds. I also have no prior camping experience so all my assumptions about camping and my observations from camping will truly be pure and uninfluenced. It may even be beneficial if we get the worst conditions on that day.

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