Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Research Proposal


Assignment 5

Throughout semester 1 I investigated into the subject of advertising and social networking, using secondary research to support my views and allowing me to evidently verify my opinions. Books such as Emotional Design, Norman, D, and a journal article, Reaching Generation Next, Sylavain, L, were successful in my research however in order to proceed further with the investigation I had to have primary sourced research to create stronger evidence for this subject.

After studying different techniques of primary research I was able to assess the topic and allow myself to take my research further. Visual experiments, observation and interviewing all present valid choices for research approaches into the topic of advertising and social networking and taking my previous results of these methods I was able to determine which suited specific areas of the subject.

I previously undertook an investigation into the question of whether buyers are knowledgeable about what they are buying. I theorised that to determine this answer, the question of where the information was obtained from was most important, believing that advertisement was an essential source of knowledge. I proceeded with the investigation supported by interviews undertaken by a sales adviser (18-24), ‘shopaholic’ (45-55), ‘non- shopaholic’ (18-24) and a couple living together (45-60). The results from this research, however broad, would be a primary source in the investigation of advertisement; showing a brief demographic for products and the affects advertisement had on the consumers. However in order to achieve a more successful result, a different and wider variety of subjects could be carefully interviewed, taking into account the way the questions are phrased. People generally do not always like to openly admit that they are influenced by advertisements so in order to get an honest answer I would have to ask them to account situations and let them tell a story that may present evidence to support my theory. Learning from the last interviews, avoiding ‘closed’ questions prevented dead ends in the conversation and allowed the interviewee to feel more at ease. In addition to the nature of the questions, an opening ‘visual’ question seemed very effective in allowing the subject to relax and feel more open to answer further questions.

The topic of interviewing would not need to be limited to just advertisement, the social networking aspect of the subject has still to be covered and integrating the two topics into the same interview would allow further support for the subject. Interviewing people that use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis would be classed as good subjects; the results, if successful would show how subjective the users are to the advertising integrated into the sites. Creating a control for the interviews such as comparing the results to a group of people who don’t use social networking sites would bring a better balance to the research. Learning from the results between the ‘shopaholic’ and the ‘non-shopaholic’ interview proved that in some cases opposite personas do not always produce opposite results.

Whilst exploring examples of advertisement within social networking site, I came across many successful campaigns that integrated these two sources allowing them to effectively sell their product. This process works on any level of consumerism, and most importantly as a designer selling yourself and your practice follows the same nature. My interest fell primarily on the work of Johanna Basford due to the level of design that was put into this advertising network strategy. Incorporating her own designs and work (that she wishes to be known for) into the world of social networking presented an interactive source of advertising; allowing her brand to ‘stick’ in people’s mind without harassing the networking users. As in the article from the journal, ‘Applied Arts’ (Sylvain 2008, Reaching Generation Next) says, “That community has a fortress around it. And so, it’s getting harder and harder to find a way to get through. The people are there to socialise, not to be sold to. If we’re too aggressive, they’ll find somewhere else to go.”(Tony Chapman, CEO, Capital C, p.40). Basford has successfully infiltrated the social network of Twitter in a fun and interactive way that most of the users will hardly notice that they are participating in an act of advertisement. Therefore arranging an interview with Johanna Basford would get a designer’s view on the subject of social networking being used as a canvas for advertising.

As well as interviewing techniques there is also the method of observation that would use primary research to support the subject. A previous investigation involving observation as a source of research, primarily took the role of observing people, however it would work just as well by observing a social networking site. Instead of watching the mannerisms of people in say a shopping centre an observation of the process people undertake to involve themselves in the ritual of networking would class as supporting evidence. Breaking down the process right from the very beginning such as how to log on to the site, the first thing people appear to do once on the site, the patterns that emerge through the communication between fellow networkers and so on would allow, if thoroughly executed, a deeper understanding of the behaviour conducted buy the users. These results in turn could propose new methods of advertising techniques, filling niches that have been unturned and enabling the full potential of the social networking strengthening sites.

With social networking sites many word of mouth epidemics are started but aren’t necessarily based on advertisements. This is the case of the colour status that spread across the pages of Facebook. The colour represented the colour of bra a female was wearing at the time they updated their status, raising awareness of breast cancer. However it is suggested that the initiation of this viral trend wasn’t started by a breast cancer awareness foundation, instead by a regular user of the networking site. Malorie Lucich a Facebook spokeswomen said “What is particularly unique about this grass-roots campaign is that it seems to have been started by a user or group of users, as opposed to an official entity, and spread virally throughout Facebook,” (Jan 2010, Telegraph.co.uk). This type of evidence could support a cause for an experiment that involved the use of epidemics to spread advertisements. The experiment could initially be based on a simple idea like the example above, and by conducting a trial to produce a viral trend within the networking site would allow me to obtain results based on the complexity of the task. Whether the idea became a successful trend or not would depend on the techniques used in the experiment to make it into a craze.

These proposed research techniques would work with each other to support the views presented in the previous report on Advertising and Networking in Design, offering it primary research strengthening the subject in question.

These research techniques that I have investigated in the past year will allow me to tackle design briefs differently from now on so that I can gain the full potential from my designs. Thinking about previous studio briefs I can easily see how these methods would have benefited the outcome of my projects an example being the furniture project. The brief required us to work as a group to design and create a working piece of furniture out of specified amounts of oak and laminated plywood. My group found the subversion of use an interesting topic to base our design on, the idea that people used their furniture for things other than its original function was an appealing and an ironic fact that we wanted to incorporate into our own design.

Our initial research included looking up books in the library that had examples of furniture design developed with an idea similar to ours. Books such as 1000 Chairs, (Fiell, Charlotte, 1997) were examples of our visual research; also design websites were a well used source in finding examples of furniture design that influenced us one of which was http://www.treehugger.com/. However this method limited mostly to just a visual example of design rather than the thought process behind it, as our design was also based on psychology I think it would have been necessary to research outside our discipline. Making use of the library cross-search resource would have allowed us to research deeper into the topic of subversion; by simply searching for both psychology and furniture design the results would have produced journals and books that had already researched into this subject. Using this method would have perhaps made our development process more structured and productive allowing for a more knowledgeable outcome.

As well as the designer research we decided to obtain primary research to help influence our design, it was important for us to find out exactly how people used their furniture as it was a key aspect in our design. We created a Facebook survey that asked people to tell us of how they used their furniture the ‘wrong’ way. This process allowed us to acquire first hand experiences that strengthened our design features as we based a lot of the design on the responses we received from the survey. The only negative effect of this survey was that it was a case of one question, one answer per person so the results were briefer than they could have been. An interviewing technique would assist this research allowing for a more in depth description of their use of furniture. Learning from the previous interviews shows that sometimes you can achieve a more honest answer from an indirect question than direct question so the results could be strengthened, reinforcing our design characteristics.

As a piece of furniture is an interactive piece of design it is important to know how a person would react to the final design however if the results of this were not desired then success of the design would be weak. To prevent this outcome an experiment could have been implemented to try and foresee the final result. If simple prototypes are designed in order to get a feel for the design, an analysis of the design so far can commence and troubled features in the design can be resolved. For this analysis to succeed an observation of how people interact with the prototype would have to occur thus allowing us to find out whether our design features are seen the same way to a person outside our design group. If the reaction isn’t the desired result then, because the design was only a prototype, there is room for error and it can then be altered.

Another use of an observation technique that would add to research for this project would take a simpler role however would produce good evidence to support the design process. The way that people sat on their seats was also another aspect that influenced our design, even though we did ask people how they did this it wasn’t the most effective result as many people subconsciously position them on seat a certain ways. In order to capture this aspect of habit we must observe people in a natural environment in which sitting is a key activity. The library or any location that fits this description would be acceptable and would allow us to have a more reliable account of how people interact with a seat. The analysis of the comfort and problems that people face whilst sitting for a long time could determine design features that we could have incorporated into our design altering the ‘failed’ elements of the chairs we had observed people on.

These methods of primary and secondary research would have unquestionably helped with our design process, opening our designer minds up to explore the psychology side of the project. If I was to take one thing away from this year it would definitely be that as designers we do have to be so much more open minded about our design process and think outside of the box to allow us to reach our full potential. Perhaps if we had used these techniques in this project a completely different outcome would have resulted, I’m sure for the better. However this just leaves me to think about how to use these processes further in third year as the dissertation process approaches. Knowing now that having primary research as evidence for your theories only strengthens your views and in turn presents you with better results in your designs; basing your designs purely on someone else’s results limits your own outcomes and your design do not reach their full potential. I now understand why research is just as important as the design and will continue to utilise this information in projects to come.


Basford, J, (12.11.09) Twitter Picture, Available: http://www.johannabasford.com/twitterpicture (23.11.09)

Dunn, C (03.17.08) Hanger Chair + Inflatable Table = Small Space Fun, Available: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/03/hanger-chair-inflatable-table-living-small.php (06.11.09)

Fiell, Charlotte J. 1997. 1000 Chairs. Koln: Benedict Taschen

Gladwell, M. 2005. The Tipping Point. New York London: Time Warner Audio Books: Hachette Audio

Hough, A, (9.1.10) Facebook 'bra colour' status update craze 'raising breast cancer awareness'. Avaliable: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/6954696/Facebook-bra-colour-status-update-craze-raising-breast-cancer-awareness.html (28.3.10)

Lyttle, K, (9.1.10). What’s your colour? Available: http://karenlyttle.blogspot.com/2010/01/whats-ur-colour.html (28.3.10)

Norman, D. 2004. Emotional Design. New York: Basic Books

Sichi, F, (2.12.09) Advertising and Networking in Design, Available: http://fionasichi.blogspot.com/2009/12/advertising-and-networking-in-design.html (27.3.10)

Sichi, F, (26.03.10) Evolution of Twitter Picture, Available: http://fionasichi.blogspot.com/2010/03/evolution-of-twitter-picture.html (28.3.10)

Sichi, F, (26.03.10) How Knowledgeable are shoppers about what they are buying?, Available: http://fionasichi.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-knowledgeable-are-shoppers-about.html (28.3.10)

Sichi, F, (11.03.10) London Underground and it’s Population, Available: http://fionasichi.blogspot.com/2010/03/ass-3.html (28.3.10)

Sichi, F, (23.11.09) Social Networking, Available: http://fionasichi.blogspot.com/2009/11/social-networking.html (28.3.10)

Sylavain, L. 2008. Reaching Generation Next. Applied Arts. 23,2 (Apr) 40-53.

Friday, 26 March 2010

The Evolution of the Twitter Picture


She's done it again. Moving up with the loyal help of Twitter.

Johanna Basford as been commissioned by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to design the cover of their 2010 programme. It's thanks to how successful her original Twitter Picture was, and just how interactive it became with her general public. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has obviously realised the potential in Johanna through design and networking to advertise the event. Allowing audience participating once again increases the interest in the event and shares the same ideas as the event, like giving everyone an opportunity.
The theme is, 'What is the most unusual thing you'd like to see at the Fringe?' already crazy suggestions are being tweeted right now as the deadline for suggestions runs from 10am on the 25th to 10pm on the 26th of March. Not only can the audience participate in suggestions but they can watch live as the masterpiece takes form. Right now as I type Johanna is drawing a penguin listening to music while shooting a bazooka! She has already drawn a rubber duck parachuting towards a tiny paddling pool, a barrel of laughs and many more weird and wonderful suggestions.
Check her out and suggests something crazy before time runs out!

Look out for the baboon playing a piano with his feet... or a rhino doing ballet and wearing a tutu... fingers crossed!


How knowledgeable are shoppers about what they are buying?


Assignment 4

How knowledgeable are shoppers about what they are buying?

Taking this question and expanding on it led me to realise that it related a lot to my previous semester work; thinking about where they got there knowledge seemed to be the most important because not only was it knowledge, it was also influence. If you received advice or information from an advertisement then you are really being influenced by that advertisement. It works the same way with friends they suggest something, share their knowledge and in turn are influencing you in your choice. After mind mapping and brainstorming I wanted to focus primarily on the source of the knowledge shoppers obtained. In doing this it would allow me ‘rate’ how knowledgeable a shopper is from their source, however depending on a shopper’s opinion of a source means that what some may class as a valuable informer could be inadequate to someone else. By selecting a different variation of interviewees I would be able to study these diverse opinions to help answer the initial question.

Mind mapping allowed me to broaden my mind and think of different sources of knowledge that a shopper would have access too. Peers, advertising and staff seemed to be the most obvious, so I thought it only evident that I interviewed a sales adviser, a primary source of knowledge. Peers being friends, partners even enemies must heavily influence people with their knowledge of what’s good or not, but some people are affected more than others. I wanted to investigate this factor further by interviewing a couple to get the male and female perspective of whether they know more than their better half. Finally I wanted to interview someone who classed themselves as a shopaholic and someone who didn’t allowing me to compare their knowledge of shopping, ironically enough the shopaholic was female.

The sales adviser I interviewed worked in a well known clothing shop, so this interview not only covered the knowledge of consumers but also the taste of consumers. The knowledge was taste, what was in or not and who decided this, it related a lot to the lecture we had on the matter of taste. I believed that a lot of people obtained their knowledge of taste from the staff in shops and wanted to investigate this further. I didn’t want the subject to feel like they were interviewing for another job, I wanted their honest opinion, however starting off with the interview I did find this hard to achieve. Perhaps my question was too rigid and didn’t allow the subject to feel at ease so I introduced a visual question. Showing the sales adviser a number of pictures of well known celebrities and asking her to pick out the celebrity she thought was the most fashionable, I then asked her why she thought that, hoping that I would get a lead on where she learned that knowledge. Explaining that it was Pixie Lott because she wore the ‘in’ style at the moment and it was a style that she herself would wear. She told me that she had seen this particular picture of Pixie Lott in a magazine before where it had been talking about the best dressed celebrities, from her answer it was fair to assume that she based her knowledge on the magazine article. Hopefully after that question she felt more relaxed and the questions next did not seem as tense.

I then wanted to learn about her process of advice, how the customers obtained her knowledge, I asked her to tell me about the last sale that involved a customer asking for her advice. She explained that the customer required shoes to go with a dress she had purchased recently, this told me that the customer may have approached her due to the customer’s lack of knowledge and the assumption that the sales advisers would have that information needed. She filled me in with the process she took with the customer, showing her variations of shoes that she believed would be appropriate for the dress, suggestion alternative styles and colours, showing the customers examples of the same outfit in the store to validate her opinion and also suggesting added accessories that went with the outfit. This showed how willing the sales adviser was to share her knowledge with the customer not only did she share the required information but she offered additional advice; perhaps this was a sales tactic to guarantee the sale. I then followed up a question of how the customer reacted to such advice, whether she took it or not. I found out that the customer asked for the opinion of the sales adviser between two of the shoes she had seen and in the end the sales adviser technically made the choice for the customer who happily bought the pair the sales adviser had picked.

This made me think that staff knowledge seemed to be ranked pretty high with the customers allowing me to assume the buyers tend to get a lot of their knowledge from the staff that they buy things from. However this does not also suggest that they have more knowledge than those who don’t ask for advice, so I though I should ask what type of people tend to ask for your advice and who don’t. I got a shaky result but none the less there was evidence that a lot of the time people who (in the opinion of the sales adviser) look like they are wearing the most fashionable outfit don’t tend to approach them, assuming that they already have the knowledge needed to obtain a fashionable outfit. I asked her to describe what the women looked like from the previous question and I got a very descriptive answer as I found out in a previous lecture that females do tend to be more expressive when answering questions. She pointed out that the women wasn’t particularly up-to-date with her current outfit, she got the impression that she didn’t really know what suited her but none the less still managed to put together something that wasn’t hideous. So it wasn’t that those who asked for advice were clueless but it was more that they need that extra knowledge to complete their outfit.

These previous questions allowed me to target where the customers got their knowledge but not where the sales adviser got hers so I ask her; where is it that you find out what is good or not, what is in or isn’t? I first got a professional answer stating that her knowledge came from the managers who told her that this was fashion, that there was a certain zone in the shop that was known as zone A, the new in style high street fashion section, I assumed that this was the knowledge that she based her advice on when speaking to the customers. So I then asked out with her job what else helped her in advising the customers. Magazines then became apparent, advertisement, but also other clothes shops, what she seen in them classed as a source of knowledge for her. So it seemed that even though her knowledge was sought after by customers it was not necessarily ‘her’ knowledge but decided by her managers, by advertisement, and then by those who decided this for the managers.

When interviewing the couple separately I again referred to pictures in the first question to allow them to feel at ease. I instantly found evidence that a lot of the reasons why the man bought the products were because his wife told him so. So he therefore got a lot of his knowledge from his wife. Asking them to choose which of the following items they would buy ahead of the others allowed me to compare there answers against each other and also to find out why they would choose such item. Like I mentioned before the husband’s reason was that his wife had told him to always get this product (when referencing to the non-bio washing powder) yet his wife went into a lot more detail of why she had choose this product; it had been recommended by someone she knew, in particular her mother, she had to learn to trust the brand, and also she bought it out of a successful experience from her previous use of it.

It became apparent that recommendations were held in high regard when it came to knowledge of what the couple was buying. The wife told me of how she bought the dog Pedigree Chum not just because the dog likes it but because it came recommended by the top breeders. Also a colleague recommended a recipe with certain ingredients she had never used before she then took it on board and cooked it not long after. The husband pointed out that if he was unsure of what product to buy then he would ask for a recommendation from a friend of family member before approaching a retailer.

Experience of the product also seemed to play a big part in the knowledge the buyer had of it; it seemed apparent that the couple both relied on its success rate the first time using it. It would give them the knowledge they needed about how good the product was and reinsure them that the product would perform the same time and time again. They both claimed that this was the reason why they bought the same brands each time needed the product.

When trying to find out what influenced them in their decisions to buy certain product I managed to get what seemed to be an honest answer from my questions. The husband instantly said his wife (with a ‘isn’t it obvious’ smile) and the wife to also claimed that her family, the children mostly, were the drive behind the reasons for a lot of her purchases. It was similar to the case with the sales adviser how she got her knowledge from the managers but the managers had to get their information from someone, so who did the children get there information from? I asked the husband about the last well known brand he bought and by chance it was a pair of Nike trainers for his son; he didn’t make the choice of the brand it was his son’s choice. I asked him why his son wanted and how his son found out about the trainers to try and determine where his son was getting the information from - it had to go with his full Nike outfit! It was simple advertised on his son’s sporting heroes that told him this, so to his son that meant to be like his hero he must wear Nike, therefore advertisement was the source of his son’s knowledge in the product. The husband also told me of how he seen an Air Flow fishing fly line in a respected fishing magazine the ad was so convincing (as he had never tried the product before) that he bought the fishing line from the knowledge he had gained from the article.

Advertisement seemed to influence their decisions as well however bad advertisement was just as strong. If the packaging didn’t look as good as the leading brands then to them it meant it was low quality. When asking them about which chocolate brand they were most likely not to buy both husband and wife stated that in would be the Asda Smartprice because of these reasons. They were reading the aesthetics of the product as knowledge of the product- it didn’t look good so it would be good. Over all both of them were getting their knowledge from recommendations, advertisements and experience, however whether that information was good or not was based on how the product performed once they had tried it out.

I then interviewed two people, one claiming to be a shopaholic and the other a non-shopaholic. Again starting the interview with a visual question regarding who they considered to be a fashionable celebrity allowing them to feel at ease. Out of the shown celebrities they both classed Cheryl Cole to be the ‘most fashionable’ however the non-shopaholic (who happened to be male) found it harder to make his decision. They both gained this knowledge of ‘fashionable’ from magazines and T.V, however claimed that it was also ‘their sort of style’ and a matter of taste had to be considered. Compared to the couple, when asking these subjects about what their latest purchase of a named brand was, they talked more about clothes rather than shopping items. This may have been down to the pictures that I showed them at the begin of the interview – fashion against household items – and also that the non-shopaholic was between 18-24 and the shopaholic relates herself to clothes as that is her weakness in purchasing.

They both told me about items they had bought for themselves and although claiming to be different people were answering the questions similarly. Each found themselves finding items they liked in advertisements on TV and magazines, also having high regard for recommendation from people they knew and again experience was a main factor that built their knowledge up about the products they bought.

The difference between the two was that the shopaholic was more susceptible to the aesthetics of the products; she read the look of the product as a description of the product’s quality. If it looked appealing then she would get positive knowledge from the visual image that it would perform well. Compared to the non-shopaholic, she also never wrote herself a list before going shopping always allowing herself to obtain knowledge from the advertisements, promotions, and shop displays and perhaps not always acquiring the right information.

Investigating the source of people’s knowledge allowed me in this assignment to process how reliable he information is about the products we buy. It is fair to assume from the evidence that recommendations are classed as a reliable source of knowledge; people must be trusting in order to believe in a product without having tried it first. There is only so much that a salesman or women can tell a potential consumer and many people do not always class their opinion in the highest degree. However in the case of the sales adviser their opinion mattered a lot to the customer, their expertise were valued in the decision making factor and a customer would feel more knowledgeable after the sale. The problem with recommendations is that the source of the information is not always obvious; who told that person about the product and that person before? That is were the experience of the product seems to be the most reliable, it’s the primary source that allows the consumer honest feedback from there own use of the product, they can base their judgment on the success of the product. Wherever the knowledge is obtained there is still the issue of how good that knowledge is, whether one shopper is more knowledgeable than the other. Nevertheless it is all based on taste, what’s one man’s lose is another man’s gain.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Designing for the Whole Picture


Just the other week I noticed a design issue appearing in my work that reminded me of an example a guest lecture, David Townson, told us in the 'Service design in Practice' lecture just a few weeks ago.

He told us of how he had visited Manchester on a horrible wet and gloomy day, everyone had their umbrellas up and as soon as he had reached the fancy hotel he noticed a design that apparently seemed to solve a problem he didn't even know he had. It was a contraption that's allowed him to bag is soaking wet umbrella avoiding any drip-age through the lovely hotel. However this design was not thought through entirely, ok the designer may have solved the so called problem of dripping umbrellas but unfortunately he was going to have to use the umbrella again and there was no available disposal area. The is typical case of a designer trying to hard to design for a problem solving so instead makes an unnecessary point of a problem and doesn't follow it through the whole way.

In the restaurant that I work in I came across an example just like this. We have a red theme in the restaurant, red aprons, red ties and red candles. Usually we would have normal, plain candles in a container lined with red film that allowed the candle to glow red. However this film was apparently too fiddly so the manager (who thought this was a great idea) decided to buy red glass candles instead to 'save' the hassle. However he did not think until the problem came about that these candles would eventually need disposed of once used and unfortunately there is only clear, brown and green glass disposal bins! Now we have a lovely collection of used red candle glasses.

The London Underground and it's Population


Assignment 3

NOTE TO READER, unfortunately my camera was recently stolen along with the photographs for this assignment so thankfully Rachel Laing has kindly gave me a copy of her own photographs allowing me to illustrate my observations.

For design, observation plays a big part in your research process. It creates an opportunity to study the effects of objects, services or places allowing you to uncover design problems that you in turn can solve from your primary research. For this assignment we were to undertake some observation of our own to allow us to study they way people react to certain rules and how they react in different situations. As I have just recently been to London I took the opportunity to study the ideal location; The London Underground.

The London Underground is certainly no stranger to crowds; the direct Londoners, the hesitant newcomers and the excited tourists all taking part in the underground experience. So many people using this service everyday entails a great need for security especially since the 7/7 devastation and everyone whether local or not must follow a set of rules. These rules aren’t all plastered on the wall for all to read; they can take the form of technology, custom and sometimes it’s just a case of ‘following like sheep’.

There was a process to riding on the tube; your bought a ticket, went through the barrier, took the elevator or escalator underground, waited on a train, got on the train, waited for your stop and got off the train, back up the escalator, back through the ticket barriers and back out into the ‘fresh air’ of London. However within this process there was mannerisms and etiquette that certain people followed and others took time to catch on to.

As a group of students mostly from Scotland I would class our group between the hesitant newcomers and the excited tourists; it was all very new for some, not an everyday experience. Russell Square became our common ground, it’s where we started and ended our days. So it began…

Buying tickets eventually became like second nature to us as we got used to the process. What I noticed was that some people would double check their journey on the handy little underground maps first before queuing for their ticket; seemed a sensible start but it amazed me how many people got to the ticket machine and stared at it bemused. They were given the option of different zones and being new to the experience were not sure of what to select. This is where the first unwritten rule appears; these people did not initially turn and ask the next person for advice, they simple fussed about for a bit (holding everyone up) eventually giving up and apprehensively asking someone to help. The unsocialable rule had come to order. On the other hand the Londoners were pros, they’re process was instinctive, in and gone before any of us had figured out our zones.

Following the ticket success, you just had to make sure you had it ready to put through the machines; it was common sense really to make sure you didn’t hold up everyone waiting to get through. It was then the race to the first elevator. I have to give credit to efficiency of the elevator but for some reason everyone treated it as the last ever lift of the day. It was a guessing game of which lift would arrive first making sure you were in the optimum position to get there first. As soon as one appeared people would push through just to guarantee their place on it, even though in about a minute or so the next elevator would be waiting and willing. It was helpful that the lift took the form of a one way system allowing people to enter one way and leave in the opposite, it did it’s best to control the situation. It was a different story on the other side of the elevator doors though; awkward silence. People tended to fidget and avoid eye contact; there were a lot of eyes darting about the lift not really knowing where to look. Conversation was limited and if someone spoke louder than a whisper they were sure to get a few funny looks. That however ended as soon as the lift doors opened and the race was on again!

As the escalator took us down further there was no clearer rule than to KEEP TO THR RIGHT, standing on the left side of the elevator was unheard of and occasionally when a newcomer forgot this rule they’d be sure to remember it when a Londoner comes charging down adamant that he’ll be late for his train. The funny thing was that most of the time you’d meet the same person down at the platform waiting for the same train as you. However sometimes you could hear the train approaching the platform as you were on your way down and again everyone acted like it was the last train of the day. There were occasions when half our group would reach the bottom before us, see the train and tell us to ‘hurry up we’ll miss it!’ when the next train was literally a minute away. There was a real sense of urgency at this stage and it wasn’t just the newcomers that presented themselves this way, even those who knew the next train was a minute away still felt the need to rush about. Especially getting on the train was a race, once those doors had opened it was a case of if you weren’t first you were last. People would be so desperate to get on they would risk the doors closing on them!

Once again we got to the unsocialable rule. Ipods in, newspapers out, eyes locked on the adverts above. You’d catch a few eyes staring at certain people but quickly look away to avoid getting caught. The underground does present a big violation to people’s personal space, everyone is so crammed in but they do their best at shielding themselves and their belongings. Conversation between strangers is rare and limited, we usual conversed in our own groups in hushed tones but on one occasion I reacted typically to a stranger talking to me on the tube. I was instantly defensive, he only apologised because he thought he was in the way but I hadn’t heard him right. I assumed he was asking me to move so that he could get off at the next stop so I set him straight telling him I was getting off at the next stop too. Realising the innocence in the brief conversation I considered what the man must have thought about me – an angry Scot perhaps. In my own experience I reacted defensively because of the abnormal communication but while observing everyone else it didn’t surprise me that this response was instinctive. Talking to a stranger broke the unsociable rule so irregular activity brought on this defensive nature in me.

Whilst waiting on my stop I was able to observe the body language and flow of passengers on the train. Whenever there were available seats the Londoners were sure to get there first due to their direct nature, however newcomers were always hesitant and unsure whether they had a right to sit down before others. Yet you always saw those in the crowds crammed at the door ready to pounce on the next available seat. As the seats filled up an invisible barrier seemed to be created between the door area and the area between the seats. No one really stood beside anyone who sat, and after observing this pattern I came to the conclusion that they avoided this because it presented an awkward position regarding eyelevel. Also the potential to intrude personal space even further in case they fell onto someone’s lap became apparent.

Another issue that surrounded the activity of the underground was the safety of the passengers. Considering the terrorist attack on the underground very little police were present during the time I spent on the tube. I was wondering whether this was a tactic that prevented panic or worry from the public or whether an increase in their presence would reinsure people of their safety. As Russell Square station became an everyday location, travelling through different stations allowed us to see the difference in design between them. What struck me the most was when I got off at Westminster station and how an over whelming sense of safety came over me. The location of this station was obviously the reason behind the security of the design, its industrial look and strength in the structure reassured you that it was a safe place. Even the platform had reinforced security, a glass barrier was constructed between the platform and the rail only opening it's doors once the train had arrived. It wasn’t until a few days into the trip that I realised the 7/7 bombing in London actually took place between Russell Square and Kings Cross. A small indication of this was presented as a plaque in the entrance to the station, perhaps this was another form of keeping the panic and worry of the public and a minimum.

Overall the experience was a learning curve, I found it easier to adapt than others because I had experienced a smaller version of the London Underground; the Clockwork Orange in Glasgow. Allowing myself to look further at the affects of processes and designs made me realise the potential this sort of research can do to improve on you own designs and concepts. Just noticing the mannerisms of the public or the target audience you are design for makes you a better designer, thus allowing you to interact with the design potential rather than taking a back seat on design just assuming the reactions you want.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Eco Build London


Eco Deco: Sustainable Interior Design. Eco Chic by Elisabeth Buecher and Aurelie Mosse from Puff & Flock

Puff & Flock are a recently formed textile company that took part in Eco interior seminar at the Eco Build. They create both products to buy but also conceptual design, one of which interested me the most. The quirky collection called 'My shower curtain is a green warrior' by Elisabeth Buecher, consists of a range of shower curtains that focus on the issue of excessive water consumption and its effect on the environment. The shower curtain 'Trap' inflates around the person in the shower after 4 minutes of being in the shower preventing the user from continuing showering, reducing their water usage. The collection intends to trigger discussions regarding water consumption and provoke thought into the environmental issue.

'Trap' by Elisabeth Beucher

'Trap' by Elisabeth Beucher
'Spike' by Elisabeth Beucher

Eco Build London


On Tuesday 2nd March Eco-build took place in London, Earls Court for sustainable design, construction and the built environment. A group of our IEDers took a trip down to attend it on the Tuesday and Wednesday collecting information to help us with our current sustainable renovation project. The first day was spent taking time talking to companies selling the products and designs that they believed were sustainable or Eco. They were very encouraging and enthusiastic talking to students, many of them felt that we were the ones that benefited more from this information as it's easy to teach us the 'Eco' way rather than change everyone elses usual 'un-Eco' approach.
However on the second day we attended a lecture that spoke about a different approach to sustainable living;

Cradle to Cradle: Re-thinking the Way we Make Things by Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart.

In this lecture it was clear that Barungart didn't agree with the world aiming to be carbon-neutral instead he believes that being carbon- positive is the best way to go. A tree is not carbon neutral, it's carbon positive taking in the excess co2 in the atmosphere, to be carbon neutral means you must not exist, it is impossible. Just thinking about it stops you from being carbon neutral! Braungart talked about some amusing ways of reducing your carbon emissions such as drinking still water rather than sparkling water, it's proven that wearing a tie reduces your emissions and even taking the elevator rather than the stairs can!

Braungart talked about how at the Eco Build event many of the displays, flooring and materials used to create the exhibitions were filled with chemicals and were un-ecofriendly, it seemed ironic that the carpets used at a sustainable event were designed cheap, to look good with a short life span the opposite of the Eco Build's vision.

Braungart believes the concept of Eco-Effectiveness is the way forward rather than Eco-Efficiency. Eco-Efficiency means doing the right thing where as Eco-Effectiveness means doing things right. Embracing this concepts allows us to think about transforming our footprint into a source that supports the environment allowing it to rely on the footprint rather than trying to reduce our footprint. In order to adopt this method a we must be positive driven rather than blame driven, celebrate our footprints to succeed in reaching a beneficial impact.
It was a though provoking lecture that helped me realise the alternatives to designing sustainably, how instead trying to fix our mistakes we should embrace what we have done and improve our processes. It's a process allowing us to move forward rather than dwell in our past. Eventually designing sustainably wont be a requirement we need to fit into our products and designs but instead will be subconscious and automatic. It will come naturally.