DXB101 | Developing as a Designer

“There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.” – Michael Staley

The quotation above is something that has really stood clear to me throughout these past weeks. As a developing designer, the desire for consistent self-improvement is key to pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and testing new methods. During this first semester, I was challenged by a lot of the tasks within DXB101 to try new materials, work collectively in a group to produce successful design solutions, and enhance my skills on creative programs, such as Photoshop and Premiere Pro.

At the beginning of this course, I was quite unsure as to what I wanted out of it and what I expected. I had a very generalised, minimal idea of what ‘design’ was really about. I simply viewed it as a creative solution to a problem. I saw it as something that had to be aesthetically pleasing and had to ‘tick the boxes’ of a given brief, but it is much much more than that. From various projects and discussions throughout the semester, however, I have since developed my personal understandings. Successful designers revolve their process around this concept of ‘human-centred design’ – creating experiences and visuals based on the users’ preferences, needs and psychology, instead of just coming up with an idea and constructing it immediately. There is an extensive research journey involved in any design, including thorough investigation of consumers’ individual behaviours, desires, demographics and lifestyle goals. This process is all about ensuring that the final product is appropriate for the intended users. On top of this, the basic design process stems into even more depth, with steps such as prototyping and refinement based on feedback.

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[Source: eontek.co]

Aside from enhancing my understandings of design, I was also often encouraged to take a number of creative risks throughout the semester. My journey so far has pushed me to take new and confident creative strides to fulfil the given tasks. A particular challenge for me was developing an appreciation for failure. While I have always aimed to achieve the best result straight away and avoid risks, I have discovered that without failure, there is no room to learn and grow. Through this creative journey, I learned to be less afraid of making mistakes and more open to test my personal boundaries as a designer. Depicted in the comic below is a visual example of the create risks involved in the recent Design Charrette. From the moment receiving the design brief, there was the risk of collectively compromising the group’s ideas into one finalised prototype for review, which further led to the most nerve wracking risk of all – sticking with the chosen concept and putting forward the final idea in the presentation.

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This newly found knowledge made me revisit my original tattoo design and question whether it was as relevant to me now. Looking back, I’d say my initially concept was very safe and didn’t push me or encourage me in any way. As a result, I developed a personal symbol for taking risks and accepting failures along the pathof moving forwards. This new design is a representation of the rocky path of life, and the ups and downs that make people who they are in the future.

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While the overall image does not appear risk taking or daring, it is the meaning within the symbol that has a greater emotion and depth to it. The aesthetic of the drawing maintains my initial style at the beginning of the semester, as I have personally found minimalism and simplicity to have the most powerful underlying messages. This tattoo reflects my growth as a designer, and is a representation of my hopes for the future. Despite experiencing some stressful moments during the semester, as shown in the graph below – from the Mini Charrette, in particular – I have gained a vast amount of confidence from the lessons learnt.

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While I’m not entirely sure what I plan to do after this course, this semester has taught me to try new things and be willing to take risks to discover opportunities and pathways I have never considered.  I hope to continue strengthening my skills and understandings, and graduate with a design portfolio that will help me through to my next steps as a designer. This semester has inspired me and allowed me to see that design and visual communication can be used for a lot more than I initially perceived. It can be a creative problem-solving tool for some of the world’s greatest issues, as a designer has the power to increase public awareness and create positive new spaces. In five years, I hope to have indulged myself in a number of projects and situations to find myself in a place where I can be using my skills to better the world around me. Until then, I hope to continue taking risks and finish with a vast amount of opportunities and goals that I could never even image right now.

Reference List 

Eontek. (2016). Website Design. Accessed May 26, 2016, from Eontek: https://eontek.co/services/design/website-design/

Michael Staley. (2016). There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself. Accessed May 26, 2016, from Quotesville: http://quotesville.net/there-is-no-challenge-more-challenging-than-the-challenge-to-improve-yourself-michael-f-staley/

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DXB101 | Working from Feedback

Continuing the focus of the ‘First Year Experience’, our final Design Charrette revolved around developing new ways to further enrich and improve this beginning year in CIF. As “QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty focuses on forward-looking arts, media, and design courses to foster a vibrant creative and design community through education, research and practice,” our group particularly wanted to improve the connections and resources within this ‘community’.

While we were equipped with the gained knowledge from the previous Mini Charrette, our initial approach to the brief was overflowing with a variety of infeasible, complex and extremely costly ideas. Our greatest failure included a proposal for a new 24/7 creative space, inspired by locations such as The Block and The Edge. With no university funding available and no extra room on campus, this plan quickly fell through. Despite this, our recent appreciation for failure provided for us the motivation to refine our concept to an exclusive CI society, facilitated through a website, rather than a physical area. The aim of this website would be to create a sense of belonging for all CI students, and to provide them with an online space that inspires their creativity, provides them with exclusive discounts, draws their attention to relevant events or successful artists, and allows them to showcase their own personal work. Unlike our initial idea of a location within the university devoted to creative work, this design requires a lot less funding and is far more plausible. Alongside the website, this society would have personalised ID cards, giving them access to events and discounts via a unique barcode, and giving CI students physical evidence that they are, in fact, a part of something.

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As part of the design process, each group was given the opportunity to consult their tutor for feedback on their existing ideas. From the meeting, it was established that our design, while a successful concept, required further modification and a clearer concept. Through research of existing societies, websites and creative events, our strategy from here was to understand how each of these programs run, and to ensure our design was dissimilar from these examples. Originality and uniqueness in a product is key to any new design, and it is a priority to refrain from steering too close to a solution that is already available. Further feedback included the need to develop funding for the website and people to run it. From here we went our separate ways, indulging in independent research and prototyping that would be shared in our next group meeting. We continuously questioned and pushed the boundaries of our skills to combine our understandings of the design process. From here, we surveyed CI students to ensure that we were on the right track, and merged our research to solve our tutor’s concerns.

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Taking inspiration from successful platforms, such as The Design Kids and D-Zine, our final solution resolved as a space where first year students can be eased in to the Creative Industries and showcase their original work with students both in their chosen field and in broader areas. This tool will allow students to explore the creative work of others and gain valuable knowledge and inspiration to steer them in the right track as the first step in their designing future. The goal of this online society was to collectively breed innovation and employ a strong sense of connection that was often desired but not experienced by previous first year students. The society, website and associated events will be run by second and third year CI volunteers, supported by excess funding from membership and event payments. For event locations, the QUT campus and existing venues within the Brisbane arts community provide plenty of room for showcases, galleries, band nights and professional industry panels.

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Overall, this experience has enabled me to grasp a first-hand understanding of a true design process, all inclusive of its messy mistakes and back-and-forth steps. The challenges that arose, however, pushed our final design solution to the best possible outcome within the given time frame, and enhanced our skills, both as researchers and problem-solvers. Whilst our visuals and prototypes were our greatest asset for the presentation, I learnt that design is not all about the aesthetics, but is about thinking outside of the box and utilising creativity as a fuel for solving problems. As my entire group collectively gained this knowledge, our final result was as visually attractive as it was viable, feasible and desirable for the target audience. Through creative risk taking and a strong passion to truly take our feedback on board, the Design Charrette was a clear example of the importance of indulging in each and every part of the design process.

DXB101 | Hello, World!

The period between when a student accepts a course offer and arrives at the university for the Orientation can be just as overwhelming as Orientation Week itself. Finding relevant information amongst the bombardment of emails, being aware of important events coming up and developing friendships prior to the main week can be a serious challenge for First Year Students, and as each year comes around, new steps should be taken to ease the upcoming cohort into their studies in a positive and stress-free way. Transitioning from last week’s focus – how to make Orientation Week more effective and engaging – my group and I re-evaluated our previous ideas to develop a strong, appealing and easy-to-use solution.

Last week we collectively concluded that an E-book with campus maps, contact information, O-Week timetables and simplified information for each course/faculty would be a viable, affordable and accessible option. However, a significant flaw that this idea held was that it was not effective in terms of introducing friendships or involving First Year Students in a fun, engaging experience. As a result, for this week’s mini charrette, our main focus was to build upon this and enable students to build friendships prior to Orientation.

The task this week was to “come up with an innovative concept for engagement, create its brand, forms and experiences, and plan a campaign to promote them”. Inspired by programs such Club Penguin, The Sims, Habbo, Facebook and Twitter, we merged their most desirable features along with those of our E-book idea, to form an interactive and social space for new students, without the pressures of connecting in face-to-face. By combining the social, customised, simulated aspects of these virtual programs – appropriate for the young, technology-obsessed target audience – with the simplified information and campus maps within the E-book, we were able to create ‘Hello, World!’, the app.

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The aim of this proposal would be for First Year Students to find like-minded peers with similar interests, or who are enrolled in the same course, through a fun, engaging and interactive way. QUT students could walk around the virtual campuses, play games or check in at locations to win ‘freebies’ during Orientation week, and communicate with any other online players to make Orientation less of a daunting experience. This program, while focusing on building stress-free connections between students, would also provide students with the following opportunities:

  • Gain an understanding of the QUT locations
  • Feel encouraged to come in to O-week, knowing they are already part of the community
  • Access information about each and every course, building, classroom and store through pop-ups or specific information areas
  • Find clubs that they are interested in and test them out via games or interactive simulations of events, before signing up during O-week
  • Chance for Final Year Creative Industries Students to be involved in the creation process.

Evident in the preliminary visuals above, each student can create a character and profile for themselves, and share their degree, interests and the clubs they intend to join, to create points of discussion between like-minded users.The aim for our home page was for it to be easy to navigate, unlike the current QUT Blackboard website. Drawing from consumer feedback about Blackboard, we chose to construct a very simple and straight forward layout of headings that could transfer the user to one of the options displayed in the visual example above.

However, as with all initial ideas, there are several issues with this idea, noted from feedback on these basic prototypes, which need to be considered and improved upon:

  • Challenges with costs of/funding for the app
  • Difficulties with student attention/awareness of the app
  • Finding Final Year Students willing to volunteer in the creation process
  • Level of complexity

Reflecting on this advice, I came up with the potential solutions below:

  • Simplify to focus on less aspects (e.g. the game only, rather than the information side)
  • Advertise prizes for students involved in the designing/creating process
  • Fundraisers for funding
  • Charging a low price that students pay to download the app
  • Use ‘freebies’ that the app provides as incentive for students
  • Advertise app via E-Mail notification, Facebook, Blackboard, QUT Virtual, QUT Official Website, etc.

From this taste test of our upcoming Design Charrette, I found time management, by far, to be the biggest challenge. As a group of 5, we were able to divide each individual section – two working on the visuals and presentation, and three brainstorming campaign ideas/recording the video – to ensure that time would not interfere with our presentation. However, within the given time frame, we were unable to produce high quality visual representations, prototypes or come to any refined conclusions for our proposal.

Upon reflection, it was clear that our group needed to delve much deeper into researching the target audience and their needs/wants, as well as the successes and failures of previous solutions similar to ours’. Further investigation should include interviews of consumers, surveys, an analysis of data and reviews, observations of the people around us, and research about costing and functionality. Due to the time limit, we also fell into the trap of choosing our very first idea – the safest, easiest and most obvious – in this case, an app. For our future assessment, thinking outside of the box is a must, and there needs to be a much greater focus on ideation, adaption, evaluation and refinement. Self-critiquing –  questioning “how could I improve?” or “which area needs more attention?”, and repeatedly asking  “why?” – is specifically necessary prior to showcasing prototypes and concepts for outsider feedback.

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As our Design Charrette acts as a form of pitch or advertisement for our idea, the presentation is also a major component that will need far more preparation – the presentation itself needs to undergo a design process, just as the product does. Creating interest, utilising props and visuals, developing a suitable environment, showcasing extensions of the concept, engaging and interacting with the audience, making use of space, speaking with passion and enthusiasm and knowing your content are particularly crucial when it comes to performing a successful pitch. While we failed to do this in the mini charrette, there also must be a detailed discussion of the design process and the steps taken, to evidence originality and to provide the audience with a variety of unfinished ideas that can be pinpointed as to where we went wrong/what we should continue to develop.

Prior to receiving the practice brief, we were profusely encouraged to make mistakes, fail and come up with an unsuccessful design – and, at first, this was particularly intimidating. However, after hearing the wise words of James Joyce in our most recent lecture, it suddenly all made sense:

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”

When the final charrette comes around, we will have this trial to look back on and be able to utilise the mistakes we made to learn from and improve upon. By reflecting on our challenges and failures now, our abilities as designers and presenters can only grow stronger from here.

Reference List 

Froukje Sleeswijk Visser. (29 March, 2005). Contextmapping: experiences from practice. Accessed April 29, 2016, from idStudioLab: http://studiolab.io.tudelft.nl/manila/gems/sleeswijkvisser/Codesign2005sleeswijk.pdf

 

 

DXB101 | Ideation & Prototypes

“It’s much better to get out into the messy world, talk to people, build prototypes, show them…” – David Kelley

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[Source: www.designworkexperience.com.au]

When thinking about the processes involved in creating a successful design, this statement from David Kelley, founder of IDEO, could not hit closer to home. There is such an immense need to research, find inspiration, brainstorm, ideate, develop, gain real consumer feedback and edit over and over, and these chaotic steps, represented in the image below,  all smooth out into one final solution. Chefs, for example, as designers, must analyse follow “a process when developing innovative dishes, which involves idea generation, testing, iteration, and refinement… Final testing takes place and results in a prototype, which is developed into a dish in the kitchens… The new dish is served to guests and their feedback is collected,” (Kudrowitz, B., 2014).

In the design process, there are two main types of research – quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative, in particular, “is a research method used extensively by scientists and researchers studying human behaviour and habits… very useful for product designers who want to make a product that will sell,”(Shuttleworth, M., 2008).  Within the three stages of human-centred design – the inspiration phase, the ideation phase and the implementation phase – understanding the needs of the people you’re designing for and making sense of these observations is necessary, as your target audience have essentially been a part of the design process, (IDEO, 2016). As a result, the success of your product/solution is guaranteed.

This week’s studied revolved around these concepts, resulting in an interactive discussion about how Orientation Week could be better improved for First Year students. We were asked to consider the following questions:

  • What don’t you like about orientation?
  • Who is going to orientation?
  • How could orientation be more effective and engaging?

 

Through a brainstorming activity, my group initially developed the idea of creating a more festival/market type of environment – live bands, food stalls and trucks, markets where previous students can sell or display their work, engaging sports or activities where different industries verse each other and meet people within their course – to increase the amount of students who actually attend O-Week and who are willing to stay before/after their compulsory information sessions. As a result, a greater sense of community would be introduced and encourage students to join clubs and delve into the QUT experience throughout the next few years of study. However, after evaluating this concept and judging it against the three criteria – desirability, feasibility and viability – we decided to opt for much simpler and much more affordable solution.

 

Based on the mind map above, we chose to develop a downloadable E-booklet, which provided location maps, club information, faculty and course information, important contact information and a timetable for Orientation Week. This book could be retrievable during Pre O-Week, and could easily be advertised over social media and via the QUT website. This would be affordable, manageable and easy to navigate to reduce the confusion and difficulty students initially had with finding their relevant information. This solution would also be much easier to gain feedback on and improve based on the reactions of First Year Students, and could be edited and updated without the need to re-print hundreds of physical copies.

While the studio session only provided enough time for some initial brainstorming and improvement, deeper analysis could be conducted through a General Morphological Analysis table, a TILMAG, HIT Matrix or SCAMPER. From my earlier research, SCAMPERs particularly stand out, as chefs utilise substitution when missing an ingredient, adapt old techniques to suit their own style, modify and manipulate ingredients to create new forms and textures, and so on. Being able to understand elements of design and innovation facilitates their ability to succeed in a competitive market, just as all designers adjust these skills for their own creations.

Constructing a human-centred design requires observations, individual or group interviews that are stratified, opportunistic or even at random, immersion and consumer engagement, self-reporting and experimenting. It needs the designer to understand the target audience and develop a successful solution for those people specifically, as we learnt in this week’s lecture:

“If you design for everyone, you design for no one. If you design for yourself, you design for yourself.”

Reference List

Barry Kudrowitz. (2014). The Chef as Designer: Classifying the Techniques that Chefs use in Creating Innovative Dishes. Accessed April 20, 2016, from DRS: http://www.drs2014.org/media/654516/0375-file1.pdf

David Kelley. (20 May, 2012). David Kelley on the Culture of Prototyping. Accessed April 20, 2016, from Aol.On: http://on.aol.com/video/david-kelley-on-the-culture-of-prototyping-517371442 

IDEO. (2016). What is Human-Centred Design? Accessed April 10, 2016, from Design Kit:  http://www.designkit.org/human-centered-design

Martyn Shuttleworth. (14 September, 2008). Qualitative Research Design. Accessed April 21, 2016 from Explorable.com: https://explorable.com/qualitative-research-design

DXB101 | Thoughtless Acts

Reacting, responding, co-opting, exploiting, adapting, conforming and signalling – these are all what Exective Design Director at IDEO, Jane Fulton Suri, describes as “thoughtless acts”, (IDEO, 2016). When we use a newspaper to block the rain, rest against a railing or sit on a wooden crate, we are utilising the resources and objects within our environment, regardless of whether or not their intended purpose is being fulfilled. Fulton Suri explains that “these thoughtless acts reveal how people behave in a world not perfectly tailored to their needs and demonstrate the kind of real-world observational approach that can inspire designers and anyone involved in creative endeavours,”, (IDEO, 2016). Whilst shopping in Carindale, I was able to identify and photograph some examples of each of the seven interactions listed above.

Number 1 | Reacting

“We interact automatically with objects and spaces that we encounter.” – Jane Fulton Suri

In the first two images, people are interacting with the seats provided in the area as they sit for a break or wait to meet someone. On the other hand, the third image depicts the way that everyone automatically steps on the correct side of the escalator in order to get up or down to a different level. Without question, all of these people understand the use of these facilities and follow them with no need for instruction.

 Number 2 | Responding

“Some qualities and features prompt us to behave in particular ways.” – Jane Fulton Suri

In both the images above, each person has been prompted to behave in a particular way, based on the qualities of object/feature. The woman on the left followed along the pedestrian crossing and felt encouraged to stick within the path, knowing that she was out of the way of any cars. The man on the right, in response to being tired or simply needed something to lean on, utilised the height and sturdiness of the railing to support his weight as he used his phone.

Number 3 | Co-opting

“We make use of opportunities present in our immediate surroundings.” – Jane Fulton Suri

The two photographs on the left display the way that people make use of the empty spaces on shelves or boxes to dispose of a product they no longer want to buy. Their evident laziness and lack of concern for the workers within the store influences them to utilise their immediate surroundings as, essentially, a dumping ground. On the right, there are a group of people sitting around a table right next to the ice cream shop at which they purchased their dessert.

Number 4 | Exploiting

“We take advantage of physical and mechanical qualities we understand.” – Jane Fulton Suri

In the first image, the lady uses the flat surface of the stool to eat her dinner off, despite its intended purpose as a chair. Similarly, the area on the seat in the middle photograph was taken advantage of as someone abandoned their coffee cup instead of taking it to the rubbish bin. The third image, although already used above, exposes a young toddler playing on the table adjacent to his father’s seat. The boy made use of the physical qualities of the table, knowing that it would support his weight, as he climbed on top of it.

Number 5 | Adapting

“We alter the purpose or context of things to meet our objectives.” – Jane Fulton Suri

In the images above, both the trolley and the pram have been adapted to carry objects, or, in this case, people around the shopping centre. The first example is of a woman who utilised her pram to store her personal and shopping bags, while her child walked beside her. On the other hand, the image to the right is of a trolley that was being used to hold the two toddlers. The intended purposes of these wheeled carriers were adapted to meet the needs of the specific people and circumstances shown above.

Number 6 | Conforming

“We learn patterns of behaviour from others in our social and cultural group.” – Jane Fulton Suri

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In all of the images in the slideshow, people are conforming to the behaviours and rules that have been either been taught to them by society or have become second nature as a part of their day to day lives. Utilising the given box for used tickets, parking within the lined space, storing fruit in the plastic bags provided nearby, creating an orderly queue when lining up for food and entering the appropriate bathroom (based on gender) are just some of ways that people thoughtlessly conform to their culture’s teachings or upbringing. In particular, the line of people coming from the fast food restaurant was simply started when one person  stood patiently behind someone being served, until several people followed the same idea and waited for their turn.

Number 7 | Signalling

“We convey messages and prompts to ourselves and other people.” – Jane Fulton Suri

In the first two images, signs have been used (in written form and in symbolic form) to convey a message that will instruct customers when entering the store or utilising the bins. People would have also been prompted by the barrier across the path to go to/through a different check out, as that particular lane had evidently been closed.

From all of the photographs I took on this trip, there were two that I really found interesting upon review. The first, on the left, resembles the woman walking in line with the pedestrian crossing. I was intrigued by what psychologically would have influenced her to walk exactly between the two sides of the path without ever stepping over the edge. Was it the fact that she felt safe from her surroundings by staying on the painted area? Or did she simply feel obliged to stay on the designated path to ensure she was following the guides within her environment? The second sketch depicts the man sitting near his adventurous son as he scrambled across the seat onto the table. As I took the photo, I watched as this father was happy to let his child wonder freely and thus, perform thoughtless acts from a young age. I wondered at what point in our lives these reactions and responses began to happen.

Jane Fulton Suri, in her book, ‘Thoughtless Acts?: Observations on Intuitive Design’, shares with us a similar range of images that reveal the ways in which people interact with  and respond to their surroundings. By  simply observing the patterns in our habits and living systems, we, as designers, can inform ourselves about the desires of and inspiring ideas within society when constructing human-centred designs. So how does this all link up?

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[Source: joconlonoctel2013.wordpress.com]

In order to be a successful designer, nothing is more important than understanding your target audience and being able to create an experience suited to their wants and needs. Bill Morggridge’s famous statement – “We are designing verbs not nouns” – perfectly explains this need, illustrated by Cristobal Avendaño, (Conlon, J., 2013). With the example of a chair, the image above visually conveys that designers must focus on the end users’ experiences rather than the actual products – in this case, they must focus on how the man will feel when seated, instead of the chair itself.

According to a post on the Design Kit website, human-centred design is “a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs…. it is all about building a deep empathy with the people you’re designing for,”, (IDEO, 2016). While this concept relies on a balance of feasibility, desirability and viability, it cannot be achieved without observation, (Hunter, B., 2015).

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[Source: atomicobject.com]

Reference List

Brittany Hunter. (6 January, 2015). Human-Centered Software: Creating More Value by Balancing Feasibility, Viability, & Desirability. Accessed April 10, 2016, from Atomic Object:  https://spin.atomicobject.com/2015/01/06/human-centered-software-creating-value-balancing-feasibility-viability-desirability/

IDEO. (2016). People | Jane Fulton Suri. Accessed April 7, 2016, from IDEO:  https://www.ideo.com/people/jane-fulton-suri

IDEO. (2016). Thoughtless Acts? at IDEO. Accessed April 7, 2016, from IDEO:  https://www.ideo.com/by-ideo/thoughtless-acts 

IDEO. (2016). What is Human-Centred Design? Accessed April 10, 2016, from Design Kit:  http://www.designkit.org/human-centered-design

Jo Conlon. (22 May, 2013). “We are designing verbs, not nouns.” – Bill Moggridge. Accessed April 10, 2016, from WordPress.com:  https://joconlonoctel2013.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/we-are-designing-verbs-not-nouns-bill-moggridge/

DXB101 | Inspiring Designers

“I come up with my ideas from everyday life. Small differences hidden within the normal routine. They all become small starting points for all my projects. The smaller the better, to let it sneak into people’s minds and emotions.” ­– Oki Sato (Ponsford, M., 2016)

[Source: decotrending.wordpress.com]

The quotation above, from the award-winning, Canadian-born Japanese designer, Oki Sato, gives us a sneak peek into the creative thought process that has formed his overwhelming portfolio, (Xie, J., 2015). While he initially began studying to be an architect, Sato’s works have gone from furniture and interior design to TV commercials to chopsticks and chocolate, and have all been focused around his one design philosophy: “To transform people’s interactions with everyday objects by creating ‘small moments’ in everyday life”(Howarth, D., 2015), (Reyner, M., 2016). This international genius has merged both his geographic and artistic backgrounds together to cultivate what is now, among many other things, his own multifaceted design studio – Nendo. According to its founder, the name, translating to ‘modelling clay’, “changes form, shape and colour”, (Reyner, M., 2016). In an interview, he further revealed, “It’s the flexibility of designing things. I believe that when we work on so many different fields they influence each other,” (Dewolf, C., 2016). Sato utilises every speck of knowledge and creativity from his history to selectively construct an individual and architectural aesthetic.

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Oki Sato has become particularly inspiring to me, as he searches for smaller things that can develop to make big changes, (Dewolf, C., 2016). He has the ability to mix and match his perfected skills for a variety of creative and professional uses. Although my approach to design involves focusing completely on one thing at a time, this designer believes, “If I focus on only one or two projects, I can only think about one or two projects,”. He explained, “When I start thinking about working on close to 400 projects, it relaxes me,” (Howarth, D., 2015). This unique talent, over the past year, has resulted in Nendo’s team of 30 designers to refine over 100 creations for 19 different brands, (Howarth, D., 2015). Combining old techniques and materials with a modern, minimal and slightly quirky approach, Sato’s emphasis on adding his own touch of simplicity, function and beauty to everyday objects truly separates him from other designers. While for most, form follows function, for Oki Sato, form follows narrative.

“It’s about what kind of story you can find behind the object.” – Oki Sato (Dewolf, C., 2016)

Transitioning from the last homework task, we were asked this week to create another sandwich, portraying the most recognisable characteristics of our focus designer and their personal style. Summing Oki Sato down to only a few words, I would say: international, minimalistic, flexible and slightly quirky. In light of developing a tangible object with flavours and textures, his experience with creating unique chocolates and his immense use of the colour white would of course also have to be incorporated into the design. As a result, I came up with this design:

Reflecting the white, textured wall from his collection of interior works, I incorporated meringue as the focus of the sandwich. As Oki Sato epitomises the best of Japanese design, influenced by his personal nationality, I utilised this white canvas, as well as a red, circular cherry, to portray the Japanese flag from the top view. The form and overall aesthetic of the sandwich – minimalistic yet with an international and modern edge – is a precise depiction of Sato’s artistic approach. Lightly spread over the top, around the bottom, and in the centre of the sandwich, the small touches of chocolate resemble his ‘Chocolatexture’ range – a reminder of his involvement with numerous types of designs.

Each week in this subject is another opportunity to discover more about my personal aesthetic, and to continuously develop both my strengths and weaknesses as a ‘creative’. It is another week of considering why things are designed the way they are and what makes designers think the way they do. This week, in particular, was the week to focus on these concepts by researching and understanding the practices and history of another artist and drawing inspiration from their own methods.

Reference List

Christopher Dewolf. (29 May, 2016). Interview: Designer Oki Sato of Nendo. Accessed March 20, 2016, from The Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/interview-designer-oki-sato-of-nendo-1401087570 

Dan Howarth. (28 April, 2015). Designing 400 projects at a time “relaxes me” says Nendo’s Oki Sato. Accessed March 21, 2016, from Dezeen:  http://www.dezeen.com/2015/04/28/interview-nendo-founder-oki-sato-addicted-to-design-milan-2015/ 

Decotrending. (20 February, 2016). Oki Sato. Accessed March 22, 2016, from Decotrending:  https://decotrending.wordpress.com/tag/oki-sato/

Jamila Pringle. (1 May, 2014). Oki Sato Launches An Intelligible Twist On Art With BoConcept. Accessed March 22, 2016, from Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/review/oki-sato-launches-an-intelligible-twist-on-art-with-boconcept 

Jenny Xie. (29 April, 2015. Meet Oki Sato, the Japanese Designer Who Prefers to Work on 400 Things at a Time. Accessed March 21, 2016, from Curbed:  http://www.curbed.com/2015/4/29/9965616/nendo-oki-sato-interview 

Matthew Ponsford. (5 August, 2016). Nendo: The Japanese studio making design fun again. Accessed March 20, 2016, from CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/06/30/design/oki-sato-nendo-design/ 

Max Reyner. (7 March, 2013). Oki Sato: Nendo. Accessed March 20, 2016, from Protein:  https://www.prote.in/profiles/oki-sato-nendo 

DXB101 | Guest Lecture

As a first year university student, it can be a challenge to fit in, to have a positive experience, to understand the assessment, and, particularly, to see a purpose in the information and tasks given to us. I know, personally, that I am already feeling the pressure of assignments and studies piling up… the constant urge to bury my text books under my bed and never see them again… the caffeine addiction kicking in. But, after hurdling my way to my lecture this week, I was blessed with the opportunity of attending a guest lecture that could not have been at a more appropriate time.

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Dr Ruth Bridgstock – Senior Lecturer, Creative Industries Faculty, Academic Programs and Services                                   [Source: tkutimes.tku.edu]

Presented by Dr Ruth Bridgstock, this talk revolved around the ‘first year experience’ for students at QUT and explored the main issues and potential methods of improvement from the university’s perspective. Her aim was to gain an understanding, via an online survey, of the areas that we, as students, feel QUT is succeeding in, as well as the areas that we believe need work. Ruth explained that high attrition and drop-outs rates, a lack of sense of community and belonging, and a problematic, inconsistent student support system are currently the focus of her studies. The Kelvin Grove campus, in particular, has had substantial reports of being “disconnected”, “empty”, “hard to get to” and “far too spread out”, as a result of its location and overall layout. In discussion, students mentioned that the Urban Village, the immense amount of walking up and down hills, and the fact that, for many us, the campus is essentially in the middle of nowhere, have been significant reasons encouraging them to stay at home and watch their lectures o12443003_1092491057440423_2067725084_nnline.

Responses from the survey further expressed student’s dislikes about their initial weeks at QUT, including:

  • Transportation time makes coming in not worthwhile
  • Complicated timetable – many with clashes
  • Expensive pricing
  • Lack of food options
  • Overwhelming workload from day one
  • Unclear, messy and inconsistent layout of QUT website and Blackboard
  • No responses from emails to tutors/staff
  • Loss of social life
  • Difficulty finding important online resources and information

While the experience of doing a subject you enjoy, meeting new people through orientation week, being involved in interactive tutorials, having friendly and interesting lectures, regular shuttle buses and a greater sense of independence have been positive so far, students collaboratively agreed that the stress from the disorganised website structures alone would be enough reason to drop out. Despite QUT’s attempts to provide extra help and counsel, particularly through Students Services, Ruth’s studies also discovered a major gap in the consistency of information provided by each individual staff member/service. As a result, students have often been left even more confused after reaching out.

Based on the suggestions given by students through the online survey, QUT should focus on:

  • A makeover for Blackboard to reduce confusion – simple, organised, consistent structure across all areas of the website (e.g. the layout for different subjects should be formatted the same)
  • Consider ways to alter the Kelvin Grove campus to improve the community environment outside of tutorials and lectures and encourage a sense of belonging
  • Ensure constant timely support that is easy to access and concurs with information provided by any service or staff member
  • Attempt to create a straightforward way to ensure timetables are convenient and do not have clashing subjects, in order to reduce unnecessary stress and to encourage students to attend their lectures and tutorials in person

Now, before beginning this presentation, Dr Bridgstock noted that there was a secret relevance of the lecture to our upcoming assessment – the design charrette. It wasn’t until I investigated the assignment itself that I really determined the connection. A charrette is defined as “an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers. More importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a mutual author of the plan,”(Dorney, D., 2016).  To me, this sounded exactly like what Ruth had just performed.

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I created the mind map above to visualise the relationship and connections between the lecture and the future assessment, finding that the main aspects of Ruth’s talk aligned with the steps of a design charrette – gathering opinions, searching for suggestions, considering feedback, etc. While the topics may be different, I think this lecture had to the preview for what we’ll soon have to do ourselves. We can only wait and see.

Reference List

Diane Dorney. (2016). What is a Charrette? Accessed April 10, 2016, from The Town Paper: http://www.tndtownpaper.com/what_is_charrette.htm 

Tamkang Times. (2016). Dr Ruth Bridgstock. Accessed March 22, 2016, from Tamkang Times: http://tkutimes.tku.edu.tw/pic.aspx?no=18108

DXB101 | What is Design?

What is design? From architect, Charles Eames, we have heard that design is “a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose”, (J. Hoey, 2016). Steve Jobs further told us, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works,” (C. Cortnett, 2010). According to Paul Rand, graphic designer and art director, “Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated,” (J. Connolly, 2016). While there is no single answer, it is clear that this process can be understood in a variety of different ways, depending on the person defining it.

This week’s tutorial revolved around this ever-changing definition, who we are as a designer and the skills involved in the design process. In group discussion, when termed simply, design was labelled as originality, innovation and, my personal definition, a form of self-expression. In more depth, it was agreed as a collaborative class that “a creative process spanning from mental to physical concepts, with an intent to develop a refined product, image or idea” was the most effective explanation. In relation to our study of branding and logos, this description is the most accurate, as design is generally associated with having a purpose or objective – it is a means of persuading an audience or visually representing a message. Although we came to the conclusion that a design does not always need to be a solution to a problem (it can simply be a sketch in the back of a book or a creative thought), in most cases, the design process is undergone with the aim to result in a finalised and perfected visual. Through several activities within the studio session, we were encouraged to consider our own personal understanding of the creative process and what that meant for us as a designer.

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To be successful in this industry, designers should have a variety of skills ranging from confidence, creativity, organisation and drawing abilities to visualisation, communication, critical thinking, researching and computer skills. Designers should have the ability to accept constructive criticism and learn from failure. As an IVD student, working on my personal abilities and developing my own techniques are definitely priorities for the next four years of study. Several of the class activities focused on pinpointing these strengths and weaknesses, as well as what we hope to improve on in the coming sessions. While I am a fairly strong drawer, visual communicator and organiser, and am always seeing the world through a creative eye, I often struggle to problem solve and innovate original ideas within a limited time frame. From discussions in a type of ‘speed dating’ activity, I resolved a personal goal of developing proficiency when using Illustrator and Photoshop, through consistent practice and online tutorials, broadening my interactive and web design abilities, and quickening  the time I take to critically and originally produce an effective image, without my impatience impacting the quality of the final product.

While teamwork and group collaboration were a central part of the studio time, we were also given an independent task to design a tattoo that represented ourselves and our artistic ‘style’.  When constructing the tattoo, I tried combining meaningful concepts with expressive or visually aesthetic sketches that inspired me. At the same time, I wanted to incorporate the most recognisable traits of mine – my love for simplicity, my adoration for adventure and the natural world, and my consistent search to find peace within myself, away from the stresses of life. Evident in the image above, each initial idea included a sense of childhood, delicacy and minimalism whilst being empowering and symbolic. My
final tattoo design (to the right) – an adapted work of Henri Matisse’s – represents all of these traits and gives off a feeling of relaxation and nirvana.

As homework, we were asked to design a sandwich that also portrayed us both as people and as designers. Adapting the concepts within my tattoo into the layers, tastes, smells, textures, visuals, size and shape of a lunch option, I took the approach of a dessert sandwich, almost in the form of an inside-out s’more. The first step I took approaching this task was to consider individual foods and structures of a sandwich that would represent features of my own design style. Of course, its overall appearance would need an organised structure, symmetry amongst the layers and an evident sense of perfectionism. As I’ve often found myself to be softer on the outside and willing to openly share the emotions within my crunchy and complex core, I knew the textures of my sandwich would have to depict this. My love for all things sweet also inspired the combination of marshmallows, waffles and choc-chip cookies within the design. While I generally wouldn’t go for a sandwich covered in leaves, I allowed my abstract style and organic personality to show through the delicate vines and flowers encompassing the dessert.

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In summary:

Berries – I love to add a little extra something to everything I do, just like the berries are a small feature on the top of the sandwich but add something new and refreshing

Marshmallows – my soft, honest, flexible nature that surrounds everything else and gives me balance/structure

Waffles/Choc Chip Cookie – my complex core and desire to always see a deeper meaning past the outside, the chocolate chips are all of the little moments of my past that work together to make me who I am inside

Flowers & Vines – my love for nature, decoration and organic/floral shapes

From these activities, I discovered that by approaching each task with a layout of steps – understanding what I was trying to create, researching, planning and developing ways to incorporate important aspects/requirements – there is much greater chance of producing an effective design than by attempting to construct the final product in one go. Looking back on all of the definitions discussed, I would say that the final class answer was, in fact, the most accurate in accordance with my recent design experience. Design IS a creative process spanning from mental and physical concepts, with an intent to create a refined product, image or idea.

process_diagram

[Source: ericameade.com]

Reference List

Catriona Cornett. (20 January , 2010). Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. Accessed March 15, 2016, from inspireUX: http://www.inspireux.com/2010/01/20/design-is-not-just-what-it-looks-like-and-feels-like-design-is-how-it-works/

Erica Meade. (2012). My Design Process. Accessed March 22, 2016, from Erica Meade: http://ericameade.com/whatido.html

Jennifer Hoey. (2016). Charles Eames Quote. Accessed March 15, 2016, from Jennifer Hoey Interior Design: http://www.jenniferhoey.com/charles-eames-quote/

Jim Connolly. (2016). Paul Rand: Defining design. Accessed March 15, 2016, from Creative Thinking Hub: http://www.creativethinkinghub.com/paul-rand-defining-design/