Thursday, 14 April 2011

Assignment5(B): My Top 5s!

Throughout the school year I always find I’m struggling for time to do the extra things I want to do. The books stack up by my bed, I don’t manage to do any maintenance on my blog apart from writing the occasional post and the people I planed to write to have still not been contacted. This is why below I have written three top five must do lists for over the summer holidays.

Books I will read:

  • ‘Blink’ – Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell is the author of ‘The Tipping Point’ a book we were encouraged to read as part of our design studies module. I really enjoyed the book and found the way he discussed human behaviour very interesting. ‘Blink’ is about why trusting your instincts may be more effective than thinking a decision through. Hopefully this book will be just as good as ‘The Tipping Point’.

  • ‘Why we Buy: The Science of Shopping’ – Paco Underhill.

I like books about human behaviour and I’m interested in commercial interior design. This book explains how a store layout affects what and how much people buy. Doing a bit of reading on this may help if I ever have to design a store in the future and if I don’t I’m sure I’ll find it interesting to see whether I fall for any of the traps a retailer lays out to make a customer spend.

  • ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’ – William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

William McDonough is an architect who takes the environment into consideration when designing a building. I recently watched a ‘Ted Talks’ video where he was discussing his work and designing with the environment in mind, he recommended this book. I really feel that taking the environment into consideration is the way forward and would love to see what I can learn from this book.

  • ‘I Miss My Pencil’- Martin Bone and Kara Johnson.

A book from workers at ‘IDEO’ a company I hadn’t heard about before design studies. This book looks quite fun, its style and layout is eye catching I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover but… The authors write about different experiments they have undertaken and show that by looking at people’s thoughts and senses you can create a more innovative design.

  • Change by Design’ – Tim Brown.

Another book by someone at ‘IDEO’. I didn’t get around to finishing this book so I need to finish it over the holidays while I have time.

People I will connect with:

  • Last year I carried out some work shadowing at Nicoll Russell Studios in Broughty Ferry. I haven’t been in touch with Andy Baxter since then. I would like to call him to chat as he was very approachable and shared with me some stories and tips about working in the industry. He is someone I would like to keep in contact with as I really enjoyed my time at Nicoll Russell last summer.


  • Twitter is an excellent way of finding out about people and organisations. Since joining I’ve found some great magazines which I am following that are inspirational. I want to search for and find more designers and companies to follow.


  • My Aunt in Chicago. This is not directly related with my course but I would love to get in touch with her. I’ve not seen her since I was about 10 years old and would really like to contact her possibly taking a visit out to see her in the future. She is an artistic person and works for a chocolate factory designing the packaging, so we might have design and art in common.


  • A girl I used to work with is amazing at photography. I was thinking of getting in touch with her over the summer to see if she would explain a little about photography and show me how to work a camera properly! She’s a lovely girl and it would be nice to see her again anyway.


  • The DCA in Dundee offers classes such as book binding, print making or etching. I’ve always wanted to go to the etching class but have never gotten around to it. I’d like to contact someone at the DCA to tell me a little about it and perhaps book myself in.


Changes I will make to my Blog:

  • The design of my blog needs seriously updated. As a designer I feel I should add my own touch to personalise it. I’ve already got a few ideas and sketches in my sketch book for a title and just need to tidy it up, scan it in and upload.


  • My portfolio page where I want to show my work is currently showing a lack of work. I need to update it with my completed projects.

  • I also need to create a contact page and a page that tells the viewer a little about me.

  • I want to set up links to my twitter page and my delicious account.

  • In general it needs to be tidied up and made to look more professional. Next year we will be encouraged to set up a website. I would like to get started on this and link my blog to it.

Assignment 5 (A): Planning for the Future.

Design Studies assignment 5 asks us to develop the topic we researched and wrote about in semester one into a research proposal. Using the knowledge and techniques we have gained so far to investigate the subject.


 Research Proposal.

The subject chosen for investigation is, ‘How the surrounding environment can affect crime.’ The interest in this subject began after reading ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell. There is a section in this book that describes how the rise and fall of crime in New York City was affected by the state of the environment. Crime was at its highest when the environment was at its worst. After New York enforced their no tolerance policy and cleaned up the streets crime reduced greatly. Further research was then undertaken by looking up and reading books and journals relating to the topic. Two that were found to be the most relevant were ‘The Environment and Social Behaviour’ by Irwin Altman and ‘Street Management and City Design’ by E.P. Fowler as they both looked into how the physical environment affects people and their behaviour. This proposal will discuss what methods will be used to research the chosen subject, also to plan when and how it will be done.

The research will be undertaken in the city of Dundee. Firstly the crime rates in different areas of the city will be identified the areas with the highest and lowest rates of crime will be selected. These areas will be visited and observed noting down the surroundings and goings on, for example; is there any graffiti? Are the streets clean and tidy? What are the habits of the people there? This will generate insight into each area and differences between the two will emerge. A general understanding of the area should now be obtained however this alone will not be enough, speaking to the people who live there will be necessary.

Informal interviews with people who live in each area will be useful to gain personal opinions on why they think their community has that crime rate. People who live in the high crime rate area will be asked why they think crime is so high in their area and what they think can be done to decrease it. In the low crime rate areas they will be asked why they think it is low and what stops people in that area from committing crime. This should hopefully give some inside knowledge and lead to other questions that will prove useful in showing how the environment affects behaviour towards crime.  Informal interviews will make people feel at ease and therefore more likely to contribute valuable answers. The interviews will be conducted in a relaxed environment where people feel comfortable, perhaps with tea and biscuits in someone’s living room, or at a local community centre or coffee morning where groups of people are likely to be socialising. Hazel White a jeweller, who now works at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, found that informal interviews worked well for her. When she was gathering information for her research she went along to knitting clubs to speak to members of a community, she found that in a relaxed social space people were more willing to talk. Interviews may not be useful in cases where people want to remain anonymous this is why questionnaires will also be provided so that people can write down their true thoughts if they are worried they may be judged.
Brainstorming sessions and group sketching can be used to generate ideas of how to stop crimes being committed. It will suggest future ways of improving the community whilst also pointing out the ways in which the current environment is affecting behaviour at the moment. These sessions will also stimulate conversation and provoke new thoughts.

The people that are committing the crimes will be given questionnaires and interviewed if they are willing. They will be asked what caused them to turn to crime and if they feel their environment had any affect on this? Do they think that if their environment was different they would have been less likely to commit the crime?

Local police officers should be spoken to, finding out their opinion on how each environment affects the crime rate. The types of crimes committed in each area might link with something specific with the environment in that area, for example if the area has a lot of graffiti other people may be encouraged to graffiti as well. It could be useful to find out about the police prevention techniques and how they deal with the crime in the community and whether or not these techniques are working. There may be limitations to speaking with the police as they might not be authorised to pass on some information however any information gained will be valuable.


This research will be carried out during a one year period this will create the opportunity to observe the environment of each area at different times throughout the year. Will the summer generate more activities keeping people occupied with other things instead of crime? Or as it gets colder in the winter will people be more likely to stay indoors and less likely to be out committing crime? The work will mainly be carried out alone but a group will be brought together at different stages in the process to discuss findings, create new ideas and opinions. Discussion in a group will help stimulate the research from time to time. Once all the information has been gathered the results will be analysed between two and three weeks. A conclusion will then be made about how the surrounding environment affects crime. 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Urban Hub for SEPA.

It’s coming to the end of the year now and not long until our hand in. I’ve been steadily working away on my office design for SEPA which I have enjoyed. The design is finished now but I am still in the process of getting it out of my head and my sketch book, for other people to see and understand.

I have been building a 3D model on my laptop with ‘Google sketch-up’. This has taken longer than expected. It’s still a program I find tricky to use and quite slow. For my next project I plan to try a different program for this, maybe ‘AutoCad’. I’d like to see how it differs to sketch-up and find a program that I can work with quickly whilst also achieving the results I want. I will complete my sketch-up model by the end of the week. On Monday I am going to start rendering my model on ‘3D Max’ with the help of a tutor at uni as it is a programme I have never used before. Hopefully once I know the basic tools I will be able to create six or seven perspectives to use in my presentation.

After that’s all done I’ll move on to doing my technical drawings, presentation sheets and hand  build a model to show my design. Time’s ticking I better get cracking!

I’ll post another blog up soon about the design for my SEPA urban hub. 

Monday, 4 April 2011

Guest Speaker: Peter Morris.

Last week Peter Morris an architect who currently works at Curl la Tourelle Architects in London paid the Interior Design department a visit. He gave a lecture discussing the places he has worked and showed us some images of his work. Later that day, he took the level three students away to do a quick two day project with him.

One of the main topics he discussed was his involvement in the design of the ‘Sutton Life Centre’. It was designed to encourage young people to connect with the community, a 21st century youth centre.

 The local community and its buildings were used for inspiration in the designing process. The final building was split into two sections a ‘Dark zone’ and a ‘Light zone’. The dark zone would be an experiential area where children would come and learn about issues that will affect them such as street crime, drugs and online bullying.  The light zone would consist of a library and community centre.

He mentioned how important the local community were to him when designing the building as it was a community centre he wanted them to use. Therefore they were brought together and talked through the design and any suggestions they had were taken on board and incorporated into the design. He said that sketches were the best way of explaining the design to them even better than computer generated images. A computer generated image looks too finalised for a client so they will not suggest any changes as they feel it is too late, where as a sketch gets the idea across with out being too formal.

The final design looked amazing and something which the community will benefit from. The dark zone which looks like a street has interactive displays which show images at a 1:1 scale involving the viewer. Instead of just watching a t.v. screen school kids will feel part of the action whilst learning, a great way to keep their attention. The light zone was given a street party theme. The centre also has a habitat garden, an area outside for children to play and a climbing wall. The climbing wall was one of my favourite parts, I thought it brightened up the side of the building and blended in well. The grips are multicoloured and to me look like paint splashed all down the wall I never thought a climbing wall would look like a work of art.

Artists impression of the centre.


Image of the completed building.


'Light zone' Lights to look like flags at street party.

'Dark zone' 



Climbing wall.
I love when the department bring in guest speakers to talk about their work. By seeing the different ways in which they create perspectives, presentation boards, or go about their thought process is inspiring. I always take away a few handy tips to use in my own projects. Thank you Peter Morris!