21st Century Designer; Assignment 4c

“The value of an object deriving from personal or emotional associations rather than material worth.”

The dictionary states that sentimental value is more than material worth; meaning that no matter the price of the object it is the meanings behind these objects that create the special connection with people. When first looking at my chosen question, “What object do people treasure the most and why?” I had to think of different ways in which to phrase this question and the different facts I wished to find out. I composed a mind map with the different areas I thought were relevant to my question.

assignment 4a

My mind map for the question, “What object do people treasure the most and why?”

When creating the mind map I thought that Sentimental, Merchandise and Gifts were the three main topics that I wished to focus on and thought that I would gain a lot of information from these different categories.Once I had completed the map I had to figure out a way in which to ask these question in a ‘semi-structured’ style of interview; meaning that I would have chosen questions and a plan of how to ask them, but would also be free to deviate from this if the converstation called for it. So, I had a look on the Service Design Tools website for inspiration on how to create a more laid back approach to my interview style. After having a look around the site, I found the idea of group sketching that would really benefit the way I wanted my interview to be. I thought that in asking my interviewees to sketch an object they found important to them; that would get rid of the uneasy barrier at the thought of talking about something so personal. It would also give me a chance to create a more comfortable rapport with the other people and in turn create an easy going conversation.

With this in mind I set out to find people willing to let me interview them on this topic. When first venturing out I had no clue what answers to expect and if people would be more about material worth rather than sentamentality. But I tried not to preconcieve any ideas as I didn’t want this to influence the direction of my interviews. But as Sam Gosling explains within Snoop, you can create a picture of a person with only a few details that they have left behind. That what they leave creates a biography of what they’re like and, if looking for the right signs, we can piece together they’re habits and personality. I thought this was an interesting concept and was hoping that my interviews would lead to as interesting insights as this.

The first person to whom I directed my questioning was a female, 20 year old student. She seemed quite amused at how I opened the interview, by asking her to sketch her most important object.interview 1 She drew an image of a cuddly toy from childhood, which I found to be quite indearing as she was obviously past the age of needing to be comforted by teddies. But, this sketch also gave a great opening to my interview and I proceeded to ask her the importance of the object she had so kindly sketched for me. With her answers it was clear that the object was based wholly on sentamentality, as it was a gift from someone who used to be very important in her life and she has had for roughly 19/20 years. She also told me that she was never seen without the teddy and took it everywhere with her; both family holidays and everyday outings. And even though she is technically too old for having teddies (although in my opinion you’re never too old for cuddly toys) it sits pride of place on a shelf in her room.

I felt that it was clear that she was a sentimental person from how she talked of her cuddly toy and thought it was rather sweet when she had said that she was heartbroken when her mother had taken it to wash in the washing machine. She had said that it felt like a completely different toy to her after that. It’s obvious that sentimental value is important to her within her life and clearly treasure objects that bring back memories or feelings of past events.


My next interviewee was a male, 19 year old student. He, much like the girl before, produced a sketch of an object of sentimental value over material worth.interview 2He went on to explain that it had once belonged to his mother and that she had had the object since she had been nine. It was a gift from her brother. I then asked if it had been a special birthday or Christmas when he had been given the necklace, but he said she had just passed it to him. He also stated that he wears it almost everyday because it means a lot to him since it used to belong to his mother and she is a very important person in his life. However he did say that, to him, sentamentality and material worth both mean a lot to him; one doesn’t trump the other. Because he values the necklace he has but also finds having limited edition clothing or a desginer named item just as important to him and his lifestyle.

It was interesting to have a different perspective between interviews one and two and thought it intriguing how different people view the same subject. He did find the necklace important because of who gave it to him and it’s history; but the same idea of sentamentality didn’t hold true with every other aspect of his life and choices.


The third interview, with a female 21 year old student, was quite similar to the previous; as in the interviewee sketched a drawing of a piece of jewellery, this time a ring. interview 3However the reason of it’s importance was rather different. She stated that in July 2007, her and her parents took a holiday to Jersey for her aunty’s wedding. She was bridesmaid so it was definitely a monumental holiday for her as she had never been part of a wedding before. They decided to make the most of the trip and make it a holiday too; touring aroung the island and visiting different tourist spots. One of these spots was a jewellery store and her parents ended up buying her the ring. She told me that at the time the ring was precious because of it’s monetary value as it had been the most expensive piece of jewellery she had ever owned. From the day of purchase she wore it everyday (including the day of the wedding). So this created more of a sentimental value for her as it reminded her of both the amazing holiday and lovely wedding. She also told me that she has worn it every day and feels lost if she forgets to put it on.

I thought that this gave a different perspective into the idea of sentamentality and how an item that is first revered for it’s material worth can be turned into an item that is precious wholly for the memories it creates. It was nice to have this difference within the interviews I had so far conducted and it will definitely add a different dimension to my anaylsis results.

interview 4My fourth interviewee was a female, 53 year old nurse. Until this point, the other interviews I had conducted, I found the stories quite sweet that went along with the interviews. But after interviewing this woman and finding out her object was of her only child’s box of ‘Firsts’, I felt heartwarmed. It was such a sweet and motherly thing to say! She explained that within the box were different objects that basically explained the start of her daugther’s life. From her first pair of shoes, first lock of hair, first tooth, to identity bracelets from when she was born in the hospital. It clearly meant a lot to the woman and was definitely an object that she never wished to part with. She also told me of how she sometimes takes it out of her wardrobe and looks through it whenever she’s feeling sentimental.

I feel that having the view about sentimentality from a mother is completely different to how student aged people think about it. It’s clear that when you become a mother, your whole way of thinking about what’s important changes and your child becomes the one thing in your life that you cannot and would not replace. So it seems natural to keep items that document their journey through life; from the shoes they took their first steps in to the first tooth baby tooth they lost. It was very interesting to have this point of view and able to gain a different perspective.


The final interview was held with a male, 54 year old quality engineer. His idea of sentimentality was different again from the other people that I had interviewed; interview 5his object not being something you could wear or based around children. His object was Open Championship Golf programmes from the different events he had been to. Everytime he goes, he’ll buy the programme and save it along with the ticket stub from entering the event. He said it was important because of his love of golf and that beign able to go to the Open Championships was a treat; as some years he is unable to go because of the location or because of work. He also told me that he had saved special edition £5 notes that were printed with images of the golfer Jack Nicklaus and that he keeps them in one of his programmes and is unlikely to ever spend them.

I feel that this point of view is again completely different to my other interviews as, instead of being based on memories of people close to him it is based on his love of golf and the memories of his enjoyment of attending the different Championships. I feel that this shows yet another side to the idea of sentimentality that I had never really properly thought of before.


The dictionary states that sentimental value is more than material worth. I think that after my interviews it is clear that this statement is true. Every person sketched an object which brought to light either memories from childhood or memories of important past events. It is clear from all of my interviewees that no matter what the object is, as long as it brings forth heartwarming memories of something that is important to that person then it becomes an object of sentamentality and invaluable to them.

What object do people treasure the most and why?”. From what information I have gathered I have surmised that the objects people treasure the most and why, are objects that further enhance memories that people treasure. For example the mother who wishes to document and remember the important and fragile stages of her only child’s development. The girl who cherishes the cuddly toy from her childhood that brought her comfort. And the man who loves his sport and wishes to remember the excitment of seeing his hero’s play. Sentimental value is different for everyone however the idea remains the same; sentimental value over material worth.






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