Monday, 29 November 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow... Okay that's enough thanks!!

I do like the snow and love getting into the Christmas spirit and what better way to feel Christ-massy than by watching the snow fall or going out sledging.  All this snow is fine when there’s nothing to do but enjoy it. However with deadlines looming and a rocking chair to be built it’s a real nuisance!!

Today the city of Dundee has come to a standstill and the university is closed so no chance of us getting on in the workshop.  I’ve taken this opportunity to stay cosy in my house and try to get on with an assignment for my design studies module. Sadly no fun in the snow for me today but I’m sure the way things are going I’ll have another opportunity for that!  So today I’ve put on my Christmas cardigan and had a cup of hot chocolate to keep me going until the 14th of December when(for me) the holidays begin and I can get the Christmas DVD marathon started!


I've been watching the birds from my window munching on the apples.

Snow falling in the garden.

My hot chocolate with pumpkin shaped 'mallows.


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Consumerism.

Last week I received an e-mail about ‘Buy Nothing Day’ in the U.K. this was the first I had heard about it. It was on Saturday the 27th of November. It is a day which tries to highlight the environmental and ethical consequences of consumerism. It encourages people to fight back against consumerism by asking everyone to stop shopping for just one day in the hope that people step back and think about the situation and maybe gain a consumer conscience. The website says, “We want people to make a commitment to consuming less, recycling more and challenging companies to clean up and be fair.” For more information on ‘Buy Nothing Day’ click here.


I’m not really convinced that ‘Buy Nothing Day’ would have been a success especially since most people I had spoken to hadn’t heard anything about it. I do agree with it though, I think we all need a day or two to detox from shopping even although I can’t lie I do like to shop!  One thing that gets to me every year is the Boxing Day sales, what’s the need! Most people have probably got all they need and more judging by how packed the shops are leading up to Christmas but still the majority of people get up early to queue up outside shops to buy more stuff! I know that big companies would laugh at the thought of just keeping their stores closed for an extra day, I’m sure in a few years most will be opening their doors on Christmas Day. Boxing Day is the day when the British public should be united, say no and have ‘Buy Nothing Day’. Then we can all slow down, relax an extra day, spend some quality time with friends and family or do the things we complain we never have time to do because we’re always too busy working. This will give us some extra time to just enjoy Christmas. Hopefully then the stores will close and leave us in peace just for a day or two and people will realise we’ve got what we need at least for a while.

I think they way people shop and where they shop needs to change to stop the consequences of consumerism. I don’t think it’s really that wanting stuff is bad, it’s wanting too much stuff that is the problem and buying things that have to be thrown away because they are out of date or not durable enough to last.

‘Primark’ is a shop that I try to avoid and have rarely bought anything from. It encourages disposable fashion and by offering their clothes at extremely low prices they give people the chance to buy into trends that will change the next month. The magazines feed us with what’s hot and what’s not and a lot of people try to keep up, by buying cheap clothes to stay trendy but then throwing them away when the trend changes. They do this because shops like ‘Primark’ let them and encourage them. This doesn’t just affect the environment, to achieve such low prices children make their clothes getting paid pennies and working conditions are poor. In 2008 I watched ‘Panorama, Primark: On the Rack’ which showed ‘Primark’ breaking their promises on child labour and long hours. Click here to go to the BBC website and watch a video to hear a little about the investigation.

Shoppers with bags and bags stuffed with Primark clothes.


People need to think before they buy. Buying key pieces and things that they will treasure for years to come in my opinion will slow down consumerism. Being sensible with what you buy can lead to an item of clothing being fashionable for years and will also show someone’s true style and personality instead of wearing what the media tells them to wear. But buying cheap items of clothing is more appealing to the majority of people so I’m not sure how disposable fashion can be stopped. Not many people are willing to pay more for something that will last longer or sometimes these things, particularly if it’s jewellery, can be passed down for generations.

Due to the poor quality of cheap goods people often need to replace them year after year, so these goods don’t end up as cheap as people believe. An example of this that I keep hearing about is winter boots. I bought a pair of boots 6 years ago and every year when it starts to get cold I bring them out, they are starting to look a little faded but they are still sturdy and still cosy. I know other people who have bought similar boots not paying as much but have had to replace these boots every year as the soles wore away along with the fur and the boots stayed damp.

I know most people object to paying more for a product or feel they can’t afford it but maybe they should spend a little more on one thing instead of spending their money buying lots of stuff which is turning out to be dangerous to our planet.

‘I think it is a good thing to buy less and choose well - it's good for the environment...’ 
– Vivienne Westwood.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Time Changes Everything.

It’s strange how time changes someone’s opinion of something, whether it‘s a place object or person. An object that was once a tacky souvenir may be sitting in a glass cabinet in a museum years later. Or someone who was once an outcast may be remembered as a hero. We should always try to remember the context in which something was made to have a proper understanding of it.

In the lecture Jonathan showed this poster for ‘Bovril’ from 1896.



Today someone may hang this up in their kitchen they might find it stylish and quirky. But when it was designed it was designed to sell ‘Bovril’ and it would have been the same as hanging a picture of an ‘Utterly Butterly’ advert on your wall, this wouldn’t look stylish and not many people would do this.


Matisse in his day he was an outcast and now his artwork sells for millions. Cave paintings that could have just been for decoration or simple communication are now analysed and written about. These are other instances where we now have a higher value for something than it had years ago.

I think over time we gain a greater understanding of certain things and appreciate what we once had or what other people had a lot more.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Design Studies Assignment 3: Looking Up, Looking Down.

For our third Design Studies Assignment we were asked to identify useful resources on our topic from Assignment two. The topic I have looked further into is Crime; the different causes of crime, how design effects crime and how a bad environment can increase crime.  I found a selection of useful books and journals using the Dundee University library and their Cross Search website.  I have produced a bibliography of these texts below.

Altman, Irwin. (1975) ‘The Environment and Social Behaviour’. Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc.: Belmont, California.
This book analyses the concepts of privacy, crowding, territory and personal space in humans. Altman examines how people are affected by the physical environment and how this shapes their social interaction with others. This is a book I’d like to look more closely at. It discusses that people are attracted to commit crime if design isn’t distinctive enough. The ideas in this book can be used as guiding principles in environmental design.

Belfield, Clive, R. and Levin, Henry, M. (2007) ‘The Price We Pay: Economic and Social Consequences of Inadequate Education’.  The Brookings Institution: Washington D.C.
Belfield and Levin examine the costs of investing in good education and the costs of not doing so. They write that educational attainment is one of the most important determents of how a child’s life will turn out. It will affect their employability, income, health, housing and their social status to name a few. I found this text useful as it talks about crime and where it might stem from. Bad education may be the root or the beginnings for someone who turns to crime.

Box, Steven. (1987) ‘Recession, Crime and Punishment’. The Macmillan Press Ltd.: Basingstoke, Hampshire.
This book discusses why recession may cause crime and confirms this with evidence. It states that income inequality results in crime and social policies must aim to reduce inequality to reduce crime. This text would back up my thoughts from assignment two that the recession, inequality and social status affects whether or not someone will commit crime.

Dahlberg, Matz and Gustavsson, Magnus. (2007)’ Inequality and Crime: Separating the Effects of Permanent and Transitory Income’. Blackwell Publishing Ltd and the Department of Economics: University of Oxford.
This paper was written to show the effects transitory income and permanent incomes have on crime.  Dahlberg and Gustavsson have broken down income into two parts (transitory and permanent) as most other papers just look at income as a whole. They did this as they feel permanent income effects crime rates more that transitory income, as an individual’s permanent position in society is the main factor in whether or not they will commit crime. 

Fowler, E.P. (1987) ‘Street Management and City Design.’ Social Forces, vol. 66, no. 2, pages 365-389.
Fowler discusses and tests some of Jane Jacobs’s ideas about how the physical diversity in cities encourages neighbours to relate to each other, discouraging crime. Fowler wants to show that our cities today lack diversity and are almost inviting crime. Jane Jacobs was a writer and an activist her primary interest was in communities, urban planning and decay. This journal again links with the topic of our environment changing how we act.

Hensworth, Simon. (2008) ‘Designing to Prevent Crime: Crime Prevention through Environmental Design.’ Architecture Australia, vol.97, issue 2, pages 111-112.
This article is about crime prevention and how projects would be more successful when security needs are considered at the beginning of the design process and not added after. It is based on embedding safety and security into the built environment. It discusses natural surveillance, territorial reinforcement and natural access control. This would be helpful when trying to decrease crime as it suggests ways of changing the environmental surroundings to deter criminals. I found this article very interesting.

Roncek, Dennis, W. (1981) ‘Dangerous Places: Crime and Residential Environment.’ Social Forces, vol.60, no. 1, pages 74-96.
Roneck looks at how characteristics of a residential area in the city affect where crimes occur. The text gives an understanding of the reasons for a rise in crime. He shows the variance in crime depends on opportunities provided by the social and physical different ion of the city.

 I’ve composed a list of the top websites I like to check to keep up with developments in Interior and Environmental Design:
 http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/
An american website/blog. Good to look at for inspiration with interior design in general and furniture design. I like this website because there's always something different and a little quirky.
http://www.designboom.com/eng/
This website was introduced to me by one of my tutors. It features design, architecture and art. Some things on the website are quite crazy and out there. I like that it's not ordinary, it's fun and encourages to think outside the box. 
http://www.digsdigs.com/
A home design website but not your average home design website. The objects shown on this site are everyday objects with a twist. Inspirational.
http://www.thesocietyofbritishinteriordesign.org/
We had a talk last year from someone from the Society of British Interior Design to encourage us to become members. As I am a budding British Interior Designer I'm looking into this and like to see how the society is progressing.
http://www.treehugger.com/
Keeps me up to date with "green" designs and the environmental issues we are facing in the world.

Also a list of top websites to keep up to date with goings on in the world in general:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/
BBC iplayer is good for catching up on radio 4 programmes and any television programmes that are useful, whether it's the news or a programme about design.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/
A reliable website to keep up to date with world news.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/
I prefer this website to the BBC news website for some reason, I think I prefer the layout. Again I use it to keep up to date with world news and other stories that catch my eye.

http://news.sky.com/skynews/
This website allows you to watch sky news live which is useful for keeping up to date with the news as it happens.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Furniture Project... Update.

We are now in week four of our furniture project. My group are trying our hardest to get started making in the workshop but we still have a few things to do before then.


Since I last blogged about this we’ve been coming up with our own furniture designs and figuring out a concept. We got together and did some brain storming Design Studies style! We thought about different types of people and what they wanted out of a piece of furniture, for example most elderly people would probably choose comfort over style whereas young children may want something fun and interactive. We then discussed what types of furniture already exists and what styles we liked. 






Thinking about people’s habits led us to the path we’re on now. We noticed that in general people fidget and move a lot, swinging on chairs is common.  We therefore wanted to create a chair that can give people this option, to swing or not to swing. We’ve gone on to develop an idea of a modern rocking chair, which will hopefully look stylish and give the user the option to rock or be stationary depending on their mood.  We also like the idea of a rocking chair as it is a place for mothers to sooth their child and some people find it relaxing to sit rocking and read a book. We are also thinking about adding a table that rocks along with the chair. Below are images of some rocking chairs we looked at in our research.




1960s Rocking Chair



Unusual Danish rocking chair, designer unknown.


Ku-dir-ka rocking chair by Contraforma




Charles Ray Eames Rocking Chair



 We incorporated our early research in the design (some of this is shown in my previous blog). We are keeping our design very angular and we would like to add some colour.  Below are some sketches from my sketch book.



 1:5 scale models have been made which I still need to photograph and today we were working on our full scale model. The advantages of a full scale model are that it is easier to see areas that need to be changed or tweaked for example the height of the seat or the thickness of the wood.
Work in progress...



Frame of Chair... this may be made from steel.



Tomorrow we will complete our full scale model and amend any problems we have encountered.  Hopefully we’ll get everything sorted and have the go ahead to start in the workshop soon.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sex Sells... 'Huggies' advert.

They say sex sells, and we're used to seeing scantily clad men and women on our TV screens posing provocatively but now I think they are crossing the line.



Controversial advert by 'American Apparel'


 I came across a new ‘Huggies’ advert for jean diapers and it was just a bit too suggestive. Adverts for nappies are supposed to be cute with a parent looking adorably at their baby. This advert has a baby dressed in a man’s shirt tucked into his denim nappy walking alone down a city street with passers by stopping to stare in awe, one man even letting go of his balloons. It is quite funny, but is it supposed to be? Also I feel that this video has a slightly seedy side?

Take a look at the video here see what you think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLBOLfMMwdw



Why is there even a need for denim diapers?! Babies aren’t supposed to be fashion conscious or look cool. I feel like this is just another example of children being forced into growing up too fast. Is this where it’s going to start... with a baby in a denim diaper.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Think Big! Design Studies Assignment 2

For our second Design Studies assignment we were asked to ‘Think Big’ and brainstorm the topic we chose in the last assignment to see how it connects with Interior and Environmental Design. The topic I chose in the last assignment was ‘the Rise and Fall of Crime in New York City’.
                                                                                                                                                               
Assignment 1 Mind Map.

I got together with a couple of girls from my class and did a brainstorming session with them. At the beginning we were all struggling a little but once we started writing down ideas it became easier and other ideas began to form. We all had different topics so set a time limit for each topic to brainstorm them individually. Our ideas ranged from the serious to the silly. We suggested integrating graffiti into the community by having specific areas where people can graffiti. Another idea was self washing walls, so that when someone put graffiti on it the graffiti would be automatically washed off. The ideas that I began to look more closely at were that a better home environment can create a better life and a person who is less likely to commit crime.










After brainstorming we went away to discuss our results. We thought again about our topics. For my topic we discussed why people are likely to commit crime. We also looked back at the book ‘The Tipping Point’ and the examples of why crime fell in New York City.

How can Interior Design make an impact on crime? I began to think in depth about this and the idea that if you are happy at home you will be less likely to commit crime,  if you live in a rat hole you’ll act like a rat was a point made in ‘The Tipping Point’. Economic recession sometimes leads to higher crime rates. In a recession people can’t afford as much as they used to and therefore may have to resort to crime to get what they want. Creating affordable ways to achieve beautiful home interiors may reduce crime as people will be able to afford the environment they want to have in their home. A lot of people still like to ‘Keep up with the Joneses’ and feel like a social outcast or inferior if they don’t, this may lead to anger causing people to turn to crime. Affordable interiors again would help hold on to status, make people feel socially accepted and happier. Recycling or up-cycling old furniture would also be an affordable way to change how a home looks the “vintage” style is becoming more and more popular.  I have developed this idea into a poster. I do apologise my poster making skills are not the best but I thought I would attempt it, practice makes perfect after all!


The poster shows an ex criminal relaxing in his home watching the news which tells us that crime has fallen. To the right of him hanging up is his swag bag and the stereotypical robber’s uniform, this is supposed to link with the saying ‘hanging up your gloves’ which means to quit or retire, showing that he no longer commits crime. The flowers, phone and the rest of the furniture are to show that he has a nice affordable home which is his reason for stepping away from crime.
I have also created a Mind Map to show my thinking.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Design Studies: Make Things. Make Sense.

In Friday’s lecture we had a guest speaker, Hazel White. She is a graduate from the Jewellery Design course at Duncan of Jordanstone and is now the programme director of the Master of Design course.

The part of the lecture I found most interesting was when she mentioned her visit to the Shetlands. To get to know people and ask them questions she knitted with them. Knitting is very popular in the Shetlands children there learn to knit when they’re at primary school. As knitting creates a relaxed environment and brings people together she felt it was an easier way to ask questions and get answers. In another situation this may have seemed like she was prying.  She mentioned that questionnaires are another way to get information but creating a situation where people feel relaxed, like knitting together, will provide more valuable answers.


At the end of her time in the Shetlands she produced the ‘Hamefarers’ Kist’. This is used to connect people across generations by sharing online photo albums with people who don’t use computers. The ‘Hamefarers’ Kist’ is a box that contains knitted pin cushions each with a different pattern. The different patterns are used to represent a different person, either a family member or friend. Placing the cushion in the box will bring up the images of the person it represents on the screen. The family member or friend will update their photos using ‘Flickr’ so that the owner of the ‘Hamefarers’ Kist’ has access to new images without having the knowledge of how to use a computer. I think this is a lovely idea and I know my Gran would like this as she always enjoys seeing new photos of me and my sisters.

I like the idea of designing for people. Even if it isn’t something dramatic that saves lives. Just to brighten up someone’s day and allowing them to easily access photos of their grandchildren can be life changing.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The chosen one: V&A Dundee.

Today the chosen design for the Victoria and Albert museum Dundee was announced. The design proposal was from Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and associates. Before making the decision the panel took into account public opinion, questioned the designers, examined their designs and looked at their previous work.






I’m quite pleased with the final outcome. This design wasn’t my favourite- I did really like Snohetta’s design on the river- however it was in my top three. I’m also glad the general public and their opinions were considered because it should be something the people of Dundee can be proud of.

Over 120 firms took part in the competition, now that the waiting’s over and Kengo Kuma and associates have been announced the winners, work is expected to commence in autumn 2012.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Selective Attention Test... Tested!

In Fridays lecture I found the selective attention test (that I blogged about on Saturday) very surprising, mainly due to the fact that I never saw the gorilla.

All weekend I kept quiet about it and tested a few of my friends and family. I was a little disappointed when they all spotted the gorilla. Why did I miss it and they didn't? I began to think that maybe the context it is shown in changes what you see.

I watched the video on a big screen in a lecture hall trying to focus and not let those around distract me from counting the passes. When I showed the video to people I knew, it was played on a laptop with only the viewer and I in a quiet room. Maybe if the viewer is relaxed and feels comfortable it is easier to take everything in, enabling them to see the gorilla.

I think this theory makes sense as when you are relaxed it is easier to have an open mind but when you are stressed or on edge you shut things out. It won't really matter if you're a positive person who tries to keep an open mind, certain situations may cause you to change and become overly focused and miss the bigger picture.

I do still agree with the fact that you should try to keep an open mind and if you feel unlucky you will most likely be unlucky. However I think that sometimes even if you try your best to see everything other factors may get in your way.