Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Connected Communities The End

The presentations are finished, the proposal, project plan and costings have all been submitted, so looking back, what have I learned?
Since starting the Masters course in September last year I think that my thinking and understanding about what design actually is and means has changed dramatically. I remember one of the first few days in first semester we were all given the task of writing out on big sheets of paper what we think design is. I was worried and nervous to get my description wright, although now I really cannot remember what I wrote. I think my answer to what design is would change on a daily basis, and would depend on what was influencing me at the time or who I was speaking to. But one thing is certain, I would never have imagined that we would have been given a brief like the connected community one, or that I would have had the first clue of how to tackle the problem. How do you pluck a tangible project out of thin air, especially if little or nothing is known about the subject matter...? With all the tools, techniques and methods we have been learning along the way of our Masters year so far (mostly I have been soaking them up like a sponge without realising) through all the workshops, interesting and diverse speakers and team working projects. I now feel like a fully fledged designer with a good insight into the world of the ethnographer (thanks to working very closely with two on this most recent project) and feel that I have the knowledge and skill sets to tackle any problem and help come up with possible solutions through my design thinking.
Who knew that designers didn't just make the world pretty, they also have the potential to make a huge difference in many different fields with their diverse skill sets and ability to adapt to changing situations. I for one am proud to be part of the design community and happy in the knowledge that I could use myself as a designer in many different ways to add to an array of different projects.

Connected Communities week 9

A name change and shift of focus has occurred this week. We were still not convinced with our intended outcomes and felt we needed something more tangible if our intended research proposal was to be successful.
Our new title is Expanding Understanding which seems to embody what our research project is about. Helping to facilitate communication through or research by the outcome 'packs' and other outputs such as conference talks and papers. This seems like the best and most rounded way to spread the word of what has been achieved throughout the intended project.

Paper chain dollies seemed to be a good way of visualising our title of 'expanding understanding'. The imagery attempts to show that by the research body and new knowledge and tools created through the project, that people and indeed communities could become better connected. This has the possibility to have knock a on effect and expand to aid communication through all aspects of the participants lives. Broadening the reach of communication. While our main focus for the project is on people with eating disorders and how to help aid their recovery by strengthening communication in face to face situations, it is hoped that this model for communication could be adapted into other vulnerable groups.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Connected Communities week 8

A spectrum of support. This is what we intend to call our research proposal and the title our research group will operate under. Sounds slightly 80's... maybe it needs more thought so as to convey the correct attitude and stance that our research is based in.
Our research proposal seems to be coming together nicely even though we seem to change focus every time we meet, instead of moving the project on further. Confusion sets in into what will be the actual outcomes... this is a real challenge with team working as everyone has their own ideas and expectations. Even when things seem like a solid agreed upon entity, details and meanings can be confused leading to crossed wires and a lack of understanding. This could lead to communication break downs and disconnection from the project. However even though this process can be frustrating at times, and sometimes our methods and processes are different, having a good team that is willing to listen, communicate and understand others points of view while able to make their points in a clear way is essential if things are to be agreed upon.
Within our team we collaborated on all aspects of the project, from concept to proposal to presentation. This was a good way to make sure we were all aware of what was going on and essential so we could grasp the particulars of the project.
While it can be stressful and frustrating working to compromise so as to encompass everyone schedule into meetings, the benefits of this type of cross disciplinary team working far outweigh the negatives.
A project or idea is enriched greatly by having several different perspectives imputed into it. Alternate angles or methods for completion are also transferred which contributes new knowledge to the individual, helping to facilitate learning, broadening perspectives and opening up the individual to ways of thinking. Core skills can also be utilised in the best possible way when a multi disciplined team works together, each member bringing different abilities and issues to the group.

Friday, 10 April 2009

bYOB (build Your Own Bag)

The bYOB concept was the creation of the Object-Based Media Group at the MIT Media Lab, Gauri Nanda, Adrian Cable and V. Michael Bove Jr (2004)

via Jen's blog

This is a fantastic mix of different technologies coming together in what I can only describe as a 'flat pack' furniture model, without the need for confusing instructions or wondering where the three screws that you always seem to be left with go. A real DIY piece of kit that offers endless possibilities for the co-creation of garments and accessories. I especially like that all the pieces are interchangeable, so when a piece of technology is rendered obsolete it can be easily substituted for a new one without having to throw away the whole thing. Like carpet tiles... when one becomes worn, that one can simply be replaced without having to re-carpet your whole floor.
A fantastic idea that could be adapted for the clothing industry...?

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Connected communities week 7

Team working, can be a lot of fun and a good way to generate and move on ideas quickly, it can also cause the opposite to happen, a thick fog descends and you wander around trying to grab onto one coherent thread that will hopefully be spun and woven into something a bit more tangible. This can be a problem when there are a few team members as even though you are all working with the same brief in mind and have a similar endpoint or outcome ingrained into your thoughts, everyone thinks about things and tackles problems in different ways, we all have our own unique sets of 'methods' to get the job done, this can mean a lot of confusion and pushing and pulling to find a common ground or 'thinking space' between everyone. It is very difficult to work as one harmonious team, we each engage and become disenchanted by different points along the way so the challenge is to help each other through and each of us working to our strengths.
This connected communities project has been a real challenge, I think for the most part for me because it is not a real pitch we are making. While the call for projects under this umbrella title of connected communities exists, what we are creating does not so I have found it difficult to keep focused and to foresee exact expenditure over the three year project. Probably in the most part due to the subject matter, while I find it to be a very engaging and worthwhile piece of research I have found it hard to see where I might position myself within the team of researchers. While this (for the purpose of the assignment) doesn't seem to be a big issue, to me it is. I have no real expertise within the medical or psychological fields, I wouldn't even say I have particularly strong ethnographic skills, so what can I bring? I have learned that it is my design thinking and my process that are important and useful to projects not the little shiny,polished pieces of perfection I might produce. In this sense I feel that I have the potential to be very useful in this type of research as it might not be the first place you would expect to find a designer. Still the dilemma continues of costing... what do things cost? On researching costings of simple websites it seems are not so simple, you have to pay a web designer to actually design it, costs depends on the number of pages and features, you need to register and pay for a domain name, then pay the hosting fees, considerations of how it will be updated, who will update it are all thrown into the mix... perhaps having a blog integrated into it is the easiest and most accessible way of doing this...? Over all costs of a seemingly simple website... around £1000.

Connected communities week 6

The search for a title continues. It is one small and seemingly insignificant part of a project but a title or name can have such a big impact on a product service or person. Certain celebrities maintain that they would not be as successful if they hadn't reinvented themselves with a new name. If a title doesn't fit people will not engage with it. There was a public out cry when Kellogg's decided to change coco pops to choco rocks or something along those lines. Why? because people all over identified and loved the name? Was it down to habit and recognition? I am doubtful, I do not remember the same reaction when marathon bars changed to snickers, maybe because I had no love for the chocolate bar I didn't really care, that being said I had no great affiliation with opalfruits, but remember being very annoyed when they turned into starburst overnight. I don't think I have bought a packet since, not on purpose, it hasn't been a conscious decision to boycott the new branding, it is just that maybe somewhere deep inside my subconscious I do not see myself as a starburst person, I'm more of an opalfruit?
What I am trying to get at is that a project title is just as important as a persons name or brand of sweets. Branding, slogan and tag lines have become so important that in order to get anyone to sit up and take notice of anything you do it must be packaged in the correct way. To secure funding or proposed project must be branded and packaged in the correct way if it is going to stand out and be memorable. A snappy title with a stickiness factor is a good start.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Colour it inn and Assembly dresses

There's nothing I enjoyed more as a child than sitting down at my little desk with a big handful of chunky pens and crayons in one hand and my colouring inn book in the other. Well thanks to a collaboration between Michiel Schuurman a graphic designer and Berber Soepboer a fashion designer you can now re-live the childhood fun in this amazing colour-it-yourself dress, just wonderful...

Imagine all the different looks you could achieve with one dress and pattern, especially if temporary inks could be achieved in a real world workable model. This type of technology could work fantastically well within this sort of framework. The pattern would always be there but a multitude of looks could be achieved by different colour proportions and harmonious hues, or if you weren't feeling in the mood perhaps just leave it black and white for once.

There is a lot to be said for simple black and white prints my favorite of all time being the collections by Johanna Basford (above), if you haven't seen these amazing timeless floral pieces already check out her website and you can keep updated on all her goings on with her blog. Johanna's beautiful inky prints debuted at London fashion week in February, this is a joint venture between Johanna and fashion designer Graeme Armour. Stunning. (below)

Above is another fantastic dress from the collaboration of Michiel Schuurman and Berber Soepboer, entitled Assembly Dress, these wonderful pieces can be taken apart and reconstructed in countless ways, again another possibility for temporary printing methods, this would work exceptionally well as garments shape, size and fit could all be altered on a daily basis, producing the 'chameleon effect' on a daily basis by how the garment is constructed so changing how the print is viewed. If images could be temporally fixed onto the cloth then fade out or be washed for example to be removed, a new dimension to the look could be achieved.

This type of garment construction could hold many possibilities of the future of DIY fashion, no longer would you have to rush out and buy a sewing machine and pattern cutting books to hown up on your sewing skills, anyone would have the freedom to create interesting and one off garments that could be deconstructed at the end of the day and made into something else the next. This type of garment construction would give everyone the chance to be involved in the designing of their garments and could be the right solution to give exceptional fit. A modern day tailoring service if you like that can be achieved from the comfort of your own arm chair... just wonderful.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Concept Products 2009

Some of my favorite Concept Products 2009 :)

Poster Lamp - Designed by Rachel Hevicon

Using thermochromatic ink the pattern on the lamp shade reacts to heat. As the light element (the lamp) produces warmth, the visual pattern on the lamp shade disappears, acting as a subtle reminder to the user that they are using energy, and to consider their environmental responsibility as much as their specific light requirement. The lampshade pattern displays a map of the world to emphasise the global environmental message.

Peek-a-boo Radiator - Designed by Samuel Sheard

The radiators are decorated with images from nature and the rural landscape, ‘painted’ in thermochromatic ink. When the radiator is turned off (cold) the graphics are displayed but when the radiator is turned on (hot) the graphics start to disappear, reminding the user of the energy that they are using.

Pixelate - Designed by Alison Edwards

Pixelate is simultaneously a wall-mounted light and an interchangeable illuminated picture. Consumers purchase a pixelated card which fits into a wallmounted frame installed in front of a low energy lamp. Using the designer’s recommendations, or their own inspiration, the user pops out pre-cut perforations to create a decorative wall light. Pixelate comes with 5 card inserts so when you fancy a change you can pop out another picture.

Note Table - Designed by Danielle Quinn

The Note Table takes away the frustration of looking for a pen/paper when leaving a message or reminder. The surface of the oak table incorporates a magnetic filings board and a magnetic pen with which to write. A sliding eraser deletes the previous message and the Note Table is ready for the next one.

To vote for these producst and many more go to Concept Products 2009 Vote