Monday, 28 February 2011

Assignment 3 (A): Service Design Tools.

Assignment three is based on observing others.

 To get started we were asked to look at the website and read through some of the examples of service design and the tools used in the process. I thought a few of the tools were very useful and I have even used them in my own projects. There were also other tools I liked and found interesting, I may try to use these in future projects. Before I explored the site for these tools the assignment recommended I had a look at ‘The Trainride’.

I interpreted ‘The Trainride’ to be a map of a person’s day. The subject would be observed throughout the day and their actions would be noted down onto a continuous path. The path will show who or what they have come into contact with and what they do. This tool will help designers design something relevant for that person as the designer will now have an idea of who the person they are designing for is and what they do on an average day. With this understanding designs will be better, a designer will know what needs to change and what can be kept the same. This is useful for all designers we should have a clear image of our client before we begin designing for them.

'The Trainride'

‘Group Sketching’ is a powerful tool. Before I saw it on the site I wouldn’t have really described it as a tool I think it’s something we all use without thinking about it. It’s described as a “quick, fast and economic tool for developing and explaining ideas simultaneously.” It’s said to be great for groups with different cultural and social backgrounds as it helps create a common understanding. I have used this in all my group projects it’s a good way to show someone else the image you have in your own head because sometimes words just don’t work! I found this particularly useful in my last project which was furniture design. A girl in our group was from Lithuania and even although her English is very good there were times when a quick sketch got us further than talking.

‘Rough Prototyping’ “is a quick method to build prototypes using all the objects and materials available in that specific moment and location.” Again this is used to explain you’re ideas to others, this time through a model. We are encouraged in the studio to build maquettes during the development stages of out projects. I think it helps me gain a greater awareness of space and size when I do this for interior design. We are currently designing offices for SEPA and I am about to do some rough models of my ideas to see how they look in 3D form outside of my sketch book.

‘Affinity Diagram’ “a creative process used for gathering and organising large amounts of data, ideas and insights…” Write down the goal or problem then around this stick ideas written on post-it notes. Whilst doing so the group will be discussing the topic and be left with a wall of information that can be referred back to. I sometimes do this on my own when I’m not working on a group project. It’s a useful way to explore a subject and quickly jot down ideas before I forget. When you look back over the words you can see if any patterns have emerged, it’s a good quick way to keep record of what is being discussed.

A couple of the service design tools I liked but have never used were ‘Tomorrow Headlines’ and ‘Poster’.

The ‘Poster’ tool encourages designers to think of possible future promotional advertising for the service. It may help produce ideas for the design process along the way. It also creates a like between the design and the consumer. I would like to do this in a future project as creating an advertisement is useful when trying to connect with others. It may give a potential client a clearer understanding of the design.

‘Tomorrow Headlines’ “are fictional articles published on magazines or journals that the designers imagine by projecting themselves in the future and trying to understand what kind of impact the service will have on the society.” This should be done by every designer. Designers should always be forward thinking and take time to think about how the design will be received now and how changes in the future may affect it.

The Service Design Tools website was very useful. Even although I’m not doing service design there are a few techniques I can take away from it to apply to my own work. I also enjoyed the little icons by each tool…cute!

Sunday, 27 February 2011


Friday's lecture was on the Disneyfication of our culture. We were warned that after the lecture we wouldn’t look at Disney in the same way. Maybe I’ve been brainwashed by Disney because I still love it.  I guess to me Disney is like an old friend, I know at times they do wrong but at the end of the day I forgive and forget. There were three points mentioned that I want to discuss; the quote from Umberto Eco, ‘Celebration’ and the Disney movies themselves.

A lot of people are appalled by Disney when they realise they are all about making millions I think many people feel cheated. But Disney is no Saint, at the end of the day they are a huge organisation like any other whose main aim is to keep shareholders happy and make a large profit. It would be foolish to think other wise.

"The Main Street facades are presented to us as toy houses and invite us to enter them, but their interior is always a disguised supermarket, where you buy obsessively, believing that you are still playing," Umberto Eco, Travels in Hyper-reality.

This quote makes it seem like Disney is being sneaky about what they’re doing, trying to get people to spend with out knowing. I’ve been to Disneyworld and walked up Main Street U.S.A and have been enticed into these shops. I spent money and it did feel like I was playing but not to the extent I thought I was using monopoly money. Also is that not the point of Disney’s design to make everything more fun than it would be in the real world.

Shop fronts.

Inside a candy store.

I just wanted to mention ‘Celebration’ the town created by Disney. We had a brief discussion about it in our seminar on Friday. Who would be happy to live there and who thought it was weird. I think the majority of the class said they wouldn’t live there as they didn’t like the restrictions it posed. People that stay there have to cut the grass to a certain length, keep the neighbourhood clean and tidy, they can’t put campaign posters at their windows or hang anything other than regulation blinds. I guess I wouldn’t mind living there as I think it would be nice to stay in a community where everyone takes pride in keeping the place clean and be part of a friendly environment. However the fact that it is compulsory to abide by the rules would be a little off putting. It would feel a little claustrophobic and odd to be living somewhere that’s taken away a part of you’re freedom.


Disney gets a hard time from a lot of people about its movies not being ethical. A video clip we watched in class was about gender representation from a programme called ‘The Mickey Mouse Monopoly’. I will post a link below so you can watch it for yourself and make your own mind up about it.

The women speaking in this clip were basically saying that the Disney cartoons watched by little girls will encourage them to grow up using their body to get what they want, be weak and accept abuse from their husbands. I watched these films when I was younger and I certainly don’t do any of these things. I think when adults watch films made for children they can read too much into it as they’re not watching it with the innocence of a child’s eyes.

Disney can not be held fully responsible for the content of films such as ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as these films are adaptations of classic tales. When Walt Disney created his first film the world was viewed a lot differently than it is today, things that are totally unacceptable now were the norm back then. I do agree somewhat with what was said, Disney does need to change with the times and I think with films such as ‘The Princess and the Frog’ you can see it is doing so.

 If you really are worried about your child watching Disney movies change the channel to something else, but beware there’s a lot worse out there. 

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

'Redjotter' for Design Studies.

Last Friday’s lecture left me feeling positive, motivated and maybe a little scared for the future.

 We had a guest speaker, Lauren Currie, who was previously a product design student at the University of Dundee, she later went on to complete the Master of Design course and has now started her own business called ‘Snook’ which specialises in service design.

The lecture was entitled ‘Studio Unbound- Designing Your Network’. It was about how the internet and its tools can help you connect with people that seem out of reach and getting yourself known to potential employers or people who may be interested in your work. Lauren or ‘Redjotter’ as she is know online spoke from self experience. She believes that blogging, tweeting and skype-ing helped her, along with her determination and hard work, get where she is today.

I really liked some of her tips about how to get noticed online. She suggested signing up for twitter, so I did! I was a little against twitter before but thought I’d give it ago and now I actually think I like it. It’s still early days though and I’ve only tweeted twice so far but I’ll keep it up and see how it goes. I also liked the idea of creating a name and an avatar to use on all my sites which people would then recognise as my symbol. This worked well for ‘Redjotter’ the avatar she uses is a photograph of her writing with her nails painted red. She said that sometimes when she’s out people will recognise her as she is wearing her signature red nail polish. I think this links with what she was saying about turning yourself into a brand just like other brands they all have a symbol that helps them become recognised quickly.

 It was great to have someone speaking to us who has been in our position and has experienced the difficulties of looking for work experience or a job after graduating.  She was very encouraging; she seemed to have a “go get ‘em” approach to life telling us that if you work hard enough and do a little bit extra you will go a long way. I always feel I hold back instead of creating my own opportunities especially when asking for work or help. She made me think maybe next time I should just be bold, take her advice and ask that person I need to connect with out for a hot chocolate, it couldn’t hurt.

Thinking about the future I do want to get that job that makes me happy so I better start now and if there’s anything that can help my chances of that I am more than willing to do it. So I better start blogging more!! Lauren’s lecture was good as it felt like she cared and seemed like an approachable person. If she wasn’t doing service design she should move into motivational speaking! There was one thing I was left wondering though… did she get to speak to Ewan Mcgregor?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Assignment 2: What Images mean.

We had to undertake several tasks for this assignment to understand and test the concept of polysemy.

 Firstly we were asked to read an essay by Roland Barthes called ‘The Rhetoric of the Image’, take notes and then get together into groups of three or four to discuss it and suggest why it may have implications for our design disciplines. ‘The Rhetoric of the Image’ was a difficult essay to get my head around I think this may have been due to the fact it had been translated from French to English. Barthes suggests in his essay that an image has more than one meaning, the meaning may change depending on who is looking at it. He also uses the example of an advert to show that advertising images hold three particular messages; a linguistic message, a coded iconic message and a non- coded iconic message. He suggests that a linguistic message, an image with text on it, will direct a persons thoughts towards a meaning chosen in advance it also will limit the projective power of the image. A coded iconic message is symbolic. From the image he used, shown below, the message will represent something such as; Italian food is about to be freshly prepared. A non-coded iconic message has no symbolic meaning, the message from the image will simply be a bag of pasta and vegetables.

Polosemy creates a problem for designers as it means a persons interpretation of your work may not be the message you want them to receive or think of. Polosemy means that your work can be open to several different interpretations. This is a disadvantage if you want your design to speak for its self. The accompaniment of a presentation, text, additional drawings, image or even the context in which it is shown will be necessary to ensure everyone understands and sees the bigger picture you intended them to. I feel this is particularly necessary for interior design as not a lot of people realise that there is a lot of thought and meaning behind the design created. Shows like ‘Changing Rooms’ told the world all we do is thoughtlessly pick paint colours and a few pretty scatter cushions. Extra information should be provided along side our work so that people can see the depth of our designs or at least the story behind them.

After our discussions we moved on to the next part of our assignment. This involved selecting three images at random through the ‘randomizer’ on the ‘Stock.xchng’ website. Below are the images we selected.

We took our images out and about to start the first part of our experiment. Asking people (who weren’t design students) what their thoughts were on each individual image, then to think up a story linking the three images in any order they liked. As we asked each person their story we took a note of their name, age, nationality and occupation. We asked about ten people some had similarities in their answers but as the concept of polosemy tells us there were many interpretations of these three images. Here are a few examples:

Julia, 24, British, H.R. Advisor.
“A grandmother flies in to see grand-daughter perform in the spotlight.”

Lynda, 50, British, French teacher.
“Light in a parents head as she realises the urgent need to be present her daughter’s ballet. She takes a plane to make the journey on time to see daughter perform.”

Ryan, 21, British, Student.
“A wealthy business man and his wife take a private jet to a remote island where the lights light up the runway. They then have a relaxing evening at the ballet.”

Murray, 54, British, Self- Employed.
“I’m flying in to watch a performance. The lights light the way to the show. The last picture is me watching the performance.”

Julia’s story above was chosen to be our target story. We wanted everyone we asked to say this story and put the images in the same order. A fourth image was added to see if this would make people think of the same story, this was our fourth image.

We asked more people their opinions on these images and found the images were still polesemic with the fourth added.

Craig, 18, British, Student.
“The couple flew off to have a romantic weekend to see the sights and the lights are on the stage at the ballet they are watching.”

Meghan, 19, British, Student.
“The couple fly in to see grand-children perform then go for a stroll along a lit up bridge.”

Sharon, 19, Greek, Student.
“The dancer loved ballet from a young age, she then met a boy and they flew to the bright lights of New York to grow old together.”

We continued the experiment by adding a word to one of the original images but this did not help people reach the conclusion we wanted them to. Even by adding one word to all three of the original images gave a variety of stories.

Colin, 19, British, Student.
“Grand-daughter took a journey to perform on stage in front of lights for her Gran.”

Nicole, 20, British, Student.
“A couple in the spotlight take a journey but die in a plane crash. Their grand-daughter is left dancing without them watching.”

We decided to use all four images with one word on each. This gave us the results we wanted, everyone we started asking was coming up with the same story!

Alex, 20, Romanian, Student.
“Grand-parents take a journey to see grand-daughter perform in the spotlight.”

Anne, 50s, British, Librarian.
“Grand-parents take a journey to see grand-daughter at ballet in the spotlight.”

Well almost everyone. No matter how much you try to direct peoples thinking to come to a certain conclusion there will always be an exception. There is probably no way to completely resolve the concept of polysemy as some people will always think what they want.

Irene, 25, Polish, Student.
“Grand-parents on a journey to Paris to see the Russian ballet.”
(The word grand-daughter on our image was ignored)

After completing the experiment the rest of the group and I felt that our understanding of polosemy had improved. Our findings created what looked to us like a pattern. Most of the males we asked interpreted the images in a similar way saying that a couple were going on a romantic weekend away. Yet most of the females saw the images as telling a story about flying to see a daughter or a grand-child. It seems that a person’s interpretation will change depending on their sex. This agrees with Barthes as he says that different people don’t interpret an image in the same way, someone with knowledge of a subject will interpret an image differently from someone lacking knowledge. “The variation of reading is not, however, anarchic; it depends on the different kinds of knowledge…” Maybe a person’s sex makes them react in certain ways they may be different people but the connection through being male or female can make someone tell a similar story. Females in general are more maternal than males so this may be why they interpreted the images to tell the story of watching a child perform.

I found Bathes easier to understand when I went back to read the essay. We can see that one image without a linguistic message is open to many different interpretations. Even by adding text, if it’s not the correct word or not enough words, a universal message will not be formed.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Masdar City… The Future is Coming?

It was only recently I heard about Masdar City. It has not been built yet but is currently in the process and when it is finished it will be the world’s first carbon neutral city!  
 The city has been designed by British architects Foster and Partners and will be built in Abu Dhabi. The project looks to cost between £10 billion and £20billion and will be paid for by the ruler of Abu Dhabi. It is said to be finished in the next ten years and when it is it will have a university, house 50,000 people and 1,000 businesses.
Masdar City believes “Only use energy when you’ve exhausted design.” Therefore to try and keep energy usage to an absolute minimum solar power will be predominantly used. A huge solar farm was built and experiments have been carried out with mirrors that reflect the sun down a beam to produce heat and drive generators. Solar power shouldn’t be a problem for this country as they have no shortage of sunny days unlike rainy Dundee. Some electricity will still be used however for gadgets and air conditioning.

All the sun in Abu Dhabi is great for solar power but creates the problem of how to keep the city cool for its residents. The designers have made Masdar a compact city, like the ancient Arab cities, so buildings are close together creating shade and wind towers will be built to drive cool air through the streets. The buildings are covered in a mesh that will keep sun out but let the breeze in. Hopefully together this will help cut down the use of air conditioning systems.

 The city is surrounded by a wall, everyone must enter through the gates of the city and if they have a car this is where it must be left. The city has been designed for people to walk around it is compact so most things should be in walking distance.  However if you don’t fancy walking you can go below street level where there will be pod cars which will be programmed to take you anywhere you ask. These cars are solar powered and guided by magnetic sensors, they don’t have a driver! The pod cars are where it gets a bit too futuristic for me and I start thinking about films like ‘i-Robot’ and ‘Minority Report’.

I’m glad to see someone taking a huge step and creating a city like this. It’s quite ironic how it is being built in Abu Dhabi which is know for its oil production but it will be great to see when it’s finished. It will also be something other architects and designers can learn from, we will be able to see the mistakes they’ve made and what brings success. I would love to visit to see it for myself when it’s finished and take a ride on a pod car! I will definitely be watching to see the results of this project. Standing tall for all to see in the centre of the city will be a light which will show the city’s actual energy use. Red will show when too much energy is being consumed and blue will be a comfort as it will show that the city has achieved what it set out to; being carbon neutral.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Assignment 1: Are You What You Wear/Buy/Sit On/Sleep In/Talk To?

For our first assignment of this semester we were paired with someone in the lecture we hadn’t met, and asked to swap photos with them. The photos were to be either; un-posed photos of yourself from childhood to the present day or photos of your bedroom. I sent a selection of un-posed photos to my partner, Laura Turok from Textile design, and she sent me images of her room. After we swapped photos we had to then analyse them.  By applying some of the concepts we came across in ‘Snoop’ by Sam Gosling we were to analyse the photos and form a profile of our subject from our observations.

Analysis and Deduction

Below are the photos from Laura’s room which I found useful, I have also annotated these to show my thought process.  I will then write a brief summary of my thoughts about Laura.

My first impression of Laura was that she is someone who has her own style. The items found in her room are not the type of things you could pick up in any shop or that you would find in a typical students room.  I noticed this in the fist picture I looked at, with the brightly coloured cushion of President Barrack Obama on her bed next to her red and yellow bed spread, which to me looked like it had an African style. I also saw this individuality in another picture where she has a retro radio on her desk.
The African style seemed to continue as she had a carved wooden bowl on her dresser, little elephants hanging from her curtain rail and some images on her wall of African villages. I also noticed a picture which I thought might have been her as a child, she had bright blonde hair and blue eyes, all of this led me to think Laura may be South African and lived there when she was little! She also had a car number plate hanging over her door I knew this plate wasn’t British. The plate began with the letters CA so I thought maybe it’s from California but noticed it was a different shape to the number plates in America. Due to my previous thoughts that she was South African I looked up South African number plates to find that this plate was from the Western Cape Province in South Africa.
 Laura’s room had plain walls which were decorated with photos and some colourful pictures.  I therefore thought she must live in rented accommodation and was personalising the space. As the photos were not framed and hung on the wall, they were pinned up, suggested to me she was living there temporarily.
I felt by looking at the photos that I could relate to Laura as one of her photos was of a chair in her room which had clothes thrown on it. I have one of these in my room and feel it’s not because I’m untidy just busy! Her room in general was tidy and clean apart from “the clothes chair” and the bowl on her dresser which seems to collect all the odds and ends you don’t know where to put. (I also have one of these) On her desk was a jar of paperclips which was labelled and contained only paperclips. I came to the conclusion that she might be a bit like me in the sense that she wants to be tidy and organised but finds this not always manageable. She may not be a neat freak but she’s no slob!
The photographs in her room were mainly of her childhood or with other members of her family this shows me that she is a family orientated person and has fond memories of her childhood. I thought that she may be a quiet person as there weren’t any photos of her with large groups of people or out clubbing.
From Laura’s room I thought that she was a creative person. She had some ornaments which I thought she may have made herself. She also had a Mac book on her desk, people who use apple Macs are believed to be more creative than others.

Yesterday I met Laura so we could discuss our findings. I was a little nervous and didn’t know what she looked like as I had only seen photos of her room.  It was nice to put a face to the room and it was quite funny swapping stories about what we thought about each other from a few photos. (She thought I was Mexican, I thought she was South African!)
I was amazed at how accurate (apart from me being Mexican) she was especially as I thought she had a harder task as she didn’t have images of my room. She could see that I am a family orientated person and have been with my boyfriend for a long time. Although I’m not Mexican my gran is Italian so I do have some foreign connections which she was right about. Laura also asked if I had relatives that lived abroad which was correct as I have family in Italy. She also said that she thought I was from a middle class family which I would say I am.  I would say I was quite casual in the way I dress and like to feel comfortable which she picked up on, she also noticed that I feel the need to dress up a bit more when I’m going out to pubs and clubs with friends. I didn’t realise how much I wear the bracelet my aunt gave me for my birthday a few years ago. Apparently it was featured a lot in my photos. So much so that Laura thought it must be very important or remind me of the person who gave it to me. This is partly true as it is probably my favourite piece of jewellery as it is comfortable and easy to wear but I wouldn’t say I am reminded by my aunt every time I put it on.
I hope Laura thought my feedback about her was quite accurate although I did get a few things wrong. It turns out she’s not South African. I wasn’t too far off though, she is still connected to this country as she told me her step-dad who she is close to is South African and she is not long back from a holiday there at New Year. She said I was correct that she is someone who aspires to be organised and tidy but can’t always keep it up. I also thought she had an individual style which she said she is not conscious of but is drawn to things that are bit different, like the Obama cushion. The thing that I did get completely wrong was that I thought she was quiet. Her and her friend thought this was quite funny. When I explained the reasons why I came to this conclusion (I didn’t see any photos of her out clubbing) she said it was because she prefers to go out for drinks at pubs or at a friend’s house and not to go to a club.
 I was glad I to be paired with Laura she seems like an interesting person, we also swapped photos quickly and she was happy to meet up to discuss the assignment.  I think overall we both did a good job. It was quite a tricky task especially trying not to jump to conclusions or rely on a stereotype, for example just because someone doesn’t show signs of clubbing and drinking doesn’t mean they are quiet. I didn’t mind being a research subject I quite liked hearing what someone else could pick up on that I might not have noticed about myself. It was also quite fun to put ‘Snoop’ to the test and see if I could actually create an accurate picture of someone by looking at their room.

Ethical Considerations
Some ethical considerations which are important when researching someone you don’t know would be; to ensure you have permission to use the information they give you and make sure the information they’ve given you stays private and confidential unless you have permission to do otherwise. For this task we swapped pictures so before I posted Laura’s photos on my blog I asked her permission to do so. Honesty is also key; you cannot ask for information under the pretence of using it for one thing then use it for something completely different. These are issues that would need to be taken into account when I carry out research in the future.