Saturday, 26 December 2009

Suspend Adverts for Christmas!!

Meal over, presents played out to death, jigsaw pieces missing and enough of the groans of family members biting their tongues to say what they REALLY think. The only thing that waits is the saviour - the TV. 

A wonderful invention that can (or should be able to) capture us all and take us away from' oUr HEaDs'. Especaily at Christmas the wonderful people at the BBC, Channel4, Sky etc treat us all with endless amounts of obscure (or should we say lame) Christmas films. This isn't even the problem, it's not what we are watching, it's the time in between these programmes that are brutal. The reason we put on the TV was not actually to watch a paryicular programme or film, it was to escape the stomach ache from too many brussel sprouts and moans from the gran how we look alot 'fuller' than the last time they saw us. Escape. But how can we do such a thing when every 9-11 minutes there is a break in the programme and we are subject to adverts for DFS boxing day sales and how Next opens at 6am today. Just what we wanted! This brings the akward conversation back to the messy living room where we have to drown out the cringy advert catchphrases. 

Yes, I'm being stereotypical, or just plain ignorant, but let's all agree on something, what kind of Christmas celebration is it when we can't even watch a film in peace?!

So next year, there should be a vote, a petetion signed, so these television producers suspend adverts, just for 1 day out of 365, so we can fully appriciate the joys of The Christmas Carol and Peter Pan in a relaxed,  peaceful environment for you, me and Granny Grumps.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

To Bus or not to Bus?

I previously wrote about my experience in London on Black Friday last week and how it was littered with money machines. Now on this news this evening was the talk of buses in London and how they are the 'ones' littering Oxford Street. It was said that the average us has only 10 travellers riding, 1/3 of buses travelling along Britain's busiest shopping street have only 5 people on them! This is considering that 367 pass Oxford Circus every hour! (curtosy of BBC news). 

Are buses really needed in London? Considering it has the most efficient underground service in the world (New York is currently recruiting some planners of the London Underground to transform the New York Subway, which I can say was murder!), you would think that would be enough? Let's not forget it does have the 'Underground Art' scheme, and not forgetting the saxophone players taking the stage next to the ticket stand. But something would still be missing. We wouldnot be subject to Piccadilly Circuses flashing advertisements or the latest Selfridges, Debenhams and Harvey Nichols window displays each fighting to be top dog. 

Underground Map - Iconic Design first created in 1933.

No, I believe you could never get rid of the famous red bus and black taxis that make up overground lanes. The Council has already cut the amount of buses by 10% to last year but looks as though it will carry on this. Will it go further? Will we soon be subject to the same histeria that the Edinbrugh Trams are creating?(not that is is not worth it). But in London...

Give your view on the image it presents for London, email;

Or Log on to the BBC website to see what others think.




Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Emotion patterns when buying a product

From the journal 'Emotion and Design: A Consumer Perspective' - This diagram shows the results from an experiment into how we feel after buying a certain product either for 'luxury' (hedonic) or 'need' (utilitarian)
(see blog below, assignment 4)

Chitturi, R. (2009). “Emotion and Design: A Consumer Perspective”,International Journal of Design, 3(2), 7-17

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Impact of Emotion on Design

Assignment 4 -

Comparing two sources, a journal and book, to show how emotion and behaviour  affects what we design, how we design and how the consumer reacts to the product.


Emotion and behaviour are fundamentally important to the designer, the design itself and the relationship between the consumer and product.  Investigating  ‘Emotional Design’ by Donald A. Norman has proven how our brain and personality affect how we design and react to it. Also a journal article ‘Emotions by Design: A Consumer Perspective’ written by Ritundra Chitturi which questions the emotions evoked in consumers when buy and use a product. Although both sources have similar attitudes to our emotional design experience, ‘Emotional Design’ provides more broad research from different sources and the journal proves good evidence and experiments to form a valid conclusion.


Donald A. Norman is a cognitive scientist and psychologist who teaches at North-western University. He has written many books on the design of products and consumers reactions including ‘The Design of Everyday Things’ and “Emotional Design’ which question two opposite concepts important to a designer – functionality and emotion.


‘Emotional Design’ is a thought-provoking book that argues everyday products work better when they look better - a good argument from someone previously known to suggest function is the true element to a good product (Norman, A, 2004). He also explores why we buy what we buy and how it affects us. Alongside Andrew Ortony and William Revelle, Norman comes up with the theory our brain has three levels which result in our actions and attitudes (pg 21). These are the visceral level which deals with our everyday experiences and emotion, the behavioural level being the way we use a product and how it works. The last is the reflective level includes the overall impression of a design. Being a valuable argument that has been scientifically proven encourages the reader to assume what Norman says to be true. This idea develops through research and example. He proves how different designs concentrate on stimulating specific parts of the brain to evoke specific emotions, for example his experiment ‘We are all Designers’ (pg. 213-218) asked people to describe their favourite design. The results were varied, some appealing to the visual (or visceral) brain which included items such as the Apollinairs mineral water bottle simply because ‘I thought it would look good on my shelves’ (Belanger, 2002).  This is enjoyable design which is used in advertising to create a visual immediate impact. If you design in this way it will always be attractive even if simple, and broadly speaking, universally accepted in all cultures. This is the difference between visceral design and reflective design which is about the meaning of a product not the aesthetic qualities it has. Reflective design is therefore different for different cultures and parts of the world. In ‘The Meaning of Things’ (Csikszentmihalyi, Rochberg-Halton, 1981) it is proven we are attached to things that have personal value which evokes strong emotion of reflection. These are objects that we may not have purchased but still mean more than money can buy despite the fact they may not be functional or even aesthetically pleasing. This advances Norman’s argument that emotion is a huge factor that influences what we buy and our relationship with our products and design companies. It has been said this relationship between human and product is the same as human to human (Fogg, 2002). In his journal ‘Persuasive Technology’, B. J. Fogg uses the example of us treating computers like humans or ‘social actors’ (Fogg, 2002), saying how we take out our anger and blame these inanimate objects. These feelings create our social interaction with our belongings which is what Norman believes to be most important to the success of a product. This is fundamentally what makes a design company succeed therefore has to be crucial not only throughout the design process but keeping this interactions alive for as long as needed.


Norman includes many evidence-based sources to prove the point of the importance of emotion to design from an unbiased perspective. He does not show sensitivity to his point as he states he only began to investigate emotional design after studying functionality of design previously, but now beginning to question that there is more. Interestingly he doesn’t state which he claims to be more important – function or emotion, so enables the reader to make his/her own opinion. This concludes his concept that emotion is a worthy goal of design.


Advancing on Norman’s understanding of emotion and design is the ideas of Ravindra Chitturi who wrote an article for the Journal of Design called ‘Emotions by Design: A Consumer Perspective’. This is good reading for design principals as it explains how different products, the usability of them and how it can evoke positive or negative emotions in the consumer. The main concepts of this article are that there are two kinds of benefit we buy for – hedonic benefits which is buying for luxury and the opposite which she calls utilitarian benefits which focuses on what we believe to be necessities or needs (Dhar and Wertenbroch, 2000) and (Okada, 2005). She goes into each in depth however does not question the point that some products are bought for both or that some are designed to appeal to both parts of our brain. Neither is there any research into products we do not buy but given as gifts or we inherit, find etc. The source is easily followed by the reader because it shows valuable research and explains clearly experiments she conducts to prove her argument.


It has been proven that customers experience negative emotions if they are ‘let down’ by their product if it fails to meet expectations (Mano and Oliver, 1993). Two studies that were conducted to prove this included a questionnaire, ‘Consumer Decision Making Questionnaire’ which looks into the emotions people feel after purchasing a product. Chitturi asked 240 students to asses the emotions they felt after the buying experience. Lookingat a product focused on creating ‘hedonic benefits’ the results showed that if the product met expectations the consumer would feel excited and delighted, but at the same time some amount of guilt was often evident. If the product failed however they would feel saddened and helpless (Frijda, 1986). This differed from the way consumers felt when they bought a utilitarian-focused product which proved evoked stronger feelings such as anger. This also lead to consumers complaining and sharing this anger with others (Chernev, 2004). These findings by Chitturi would be as it affects the way the customer will react, rate and fundamentally make or break a design company.


Chitturi argues the success of a product depends on the designers interest in what she calls the ‘prevention or promotion goals’ (Chitturi et al, 2007). Promotional goals are described as ‘looking cool’ or ‘being sophisticated’ (Higgins, 1997, 2001) and ‘prevention goals’ as ‘being responsible’.  She suggests that purchasing a product you believe you need is a ‘prevention goal’ that means if it works well it will prevent us experience negative emotion. Likewise if a product is bought as a luxury and meets expectations it will have succeeded its goal of promotion as we experience feelings of joy that we will share with others. This ultimately results in the success of a design. It also suggests that a product that concentrates on having hedonic benefits has more chance of succeeding than a utilitarian product because we are more likely to complain about a product we expect to be functional. Thus creates a negative opinion of the design through word of mouth etc. This, however, also means prevention goals are more important to the designer (Kivetz & Simonson, 2002). The affect this has on emotion and design is that what and why we buy will result in the relationship we have with the product itself. ‘Why We Buy’ by Palo Underhill goes further into this idea which I intend to research.


Although the paper is not very broad, for example looking into culture or specific peoples needs, it makes good research into emotional consumerism towards design as it has critical evidence from a series of psychologists and designers and provides interesting findings proving the argument Chitturi is putting across proving emotion and cognitive behaviour should be crucial when designers begin the design process and throughout to keep good customer loyalty which fundamentally a successful design.

Both ‘Emotions by Design: A Consumer Perspective’ and ‘Emotional Design’ provide similar arguments into the importance on emotions and it’s relationship with design. Chitturi however, focuses on in-depth research into specific consumer relations with their product whereas Norman speaks more broadly of product design in general, not just the way we buy. The sources agree that trust between consumer and product is essential as it is creates the interaction which evokes strong emotion. Both use the example of the design of a car and how we expect security such as airbags and locking systems, and if we are not supplied with these ‘necessities’ we feel angry and let down. Norman goes into this further than Chitturi, talking about the things we wantrather than need in aspects of car design too. He uses the example of a cup holder which was created as a prototype that proved successful. This quirky idea then exploded into the whole car industry. Now it has become what Chitturi would call a utilitarian benefit or a need. This, I suppose, is how something changes from a luxury to an expectation. If Chitturi had gone further into the design development this may have created intriguing avenues to explore. I intend to research into this by looking into the relationship between function and emotion in Norman’s book ‘The Design of Everyday Objects’. Another book that will enable me to do this is ‘Design and Emotion Moves’ which looks into the behavioural and emotional patterns of consumers and how it affects buying and owning products.


Another similarity is that the sources agree at our frustration when something that is meant to be functional doesn’t work and we blame the product itself, not the designer (Reeves & Nass, 1996). The journal article goes further by explaining the types of emotion we feel and express, which can often result in complaints and negative word of mouth epidemics. These are all contributing factors to why the consumer buys certain products weather it be for the attractiveness or the functionality or simply because it reminds you of something. Both sources by Norman and Chitturi bounce off one another with similar developing ideas and valid research to come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, emotion is vital to the design process and the relationship it develops with the consumer.



Chitturi, R. (2009). “Emotion and Design: A Consumer Perspective”, International Journal of Design, 3(2), 7-17.

Desmet, P, Van Erp, J, Karlsson, M. (2008). Design and Emotion Moves, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


Graying, A. C. (2002). The Meaning of Things, Pheonix: New Ed edition


Fogg, P. J. (2009). “The New Rules of Perusasion”. RSA Journal, 155 (5538), 24-29


Norman, D. (2002). Design of Everyday Things, New York: Basic Books


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


Black Friday in London?! I don't think so.

Oxford Circus.

Regent Street.

Piccadilly Circus.

Leicester Square.

Covent Garden.

 Piccadilly Circus - London.

What do these six places have in common (apart from being in central London)? Shops. Consumers. Money. Advertising. A disgusting amount of people yearning to spend all the pennies they possess. Even on the day of the year we are supposed to spend NO MONEY!

This weekend I was in London. After spending a day at a funeral questioning life and how important people and happiness are, not possessions, I still managed to spend my only free couple of hours in Selfridges and Topshop London. You would think this may not have been the case after such an event but even I was sucked into the central cortex of shopping in Britain – Oxford Circus. With Arcadia shops taking over, the square is possessed by Topshop, Niketown, H&M, Starbucks and Harvey Nichols. Not to mention thousands of people queuing to buy Louis Vuitton handbags. Never had I seen the likes of this waiting in line to buy a £500 hangbag at 9pm even in Selfridges, especially considering the economic crisis we are supposed to be living in. AND this was the day after Thanksgiving aka Black Friday, aka people are not supposed to buy anything on this day! However in America I have been informed that is the biggest shopping day of the year…an excuse should we say?


A question popped into my head as I fought my way through the plastic bags and up the alley past the homeless men out of the Tube Station – how much more money does a shop make being at the epicentre of Oxford Circus rather than a few hundred metres down Oxford Street? I bet it’s definalty a significant amount, which I’m determined to find out! The amount of consumers in Topshop (in the centre of Oxford Circus) was about ten times the amount of the 2nd Topshop which is only just down the road. As if we didn’t already know, it shows where something is makes all the difference, and we don’t have any sympathy for special days obviously.

 Photo I took of Topshop, Oxford Circus

But…is this then the same for advertising? Just along Regent Street I come to Piccadilly Circus, Britain’s version of Broadway in New York. Coca-cola, McDonalds, L’Oreal and Maybelline are usual advertisers here with huge flight signs flashing violently covering the Victorian buildings surrounding them. But my question – is an advert more successful here or just back down the street in a calmer place where there aren’t others to steal your eye?

 Photo I took, Niketown, Oxford Circus

Do different things work better in different environments? Yes. But does it depend on the idea, or what you are trying to sell? I believe yes.


P.S. Obviously Black Friday does not exist in the centre of London!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Social Etiquette?


Why are men to leave the toilet seat down?

Why is it this way round?

Why should women not put the seat up for men?

If you know, fill me in...I am looking into it...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

MVRDV does Rotterdam Market Hall

Look like your local farmers market selling fresh strawberries?

Imagine beginning your day here choosing your breakfast surrounded by huge flash images of fruit and veg, whilst taking in the sweet scents of the fresh food your about to consume. 

Not bad.

Developed by Provast and designed by MVRDV, this market hall in Rotterdam is about to be begun. This simply comes from a new law placed stating market halls have to be covered which this design has taken to the extreme, with the height and views of central Rotterdam. Not just is it even a market hall but this building 228 apartments aswell as shops, restaurants and a car park with 1,200 spaces! 

This huge project is set to be finnished in 2014 and cost 175 million euros. The fact it has an underground supermarket and places to live permamantly and rent means this will transform the centre of Rotterdam not just for the people living there but encourage others to go. 

LCD screens line the interior whilst balconies decorate the exterior.

Most important is the fact the market is the highlight of the building which is beneficial to people selling fresh food that is produced locally, therefore a sustainable source which will be encouraged to develop. If we had a proper place to buy and sell locally produced products instead of a shabby plastic tent roof taped onto a couple of poles wouldn't we be more likely to go and buy fresh food whilst helping the community?

 Market Stall in Mcleod Gange, India.

Why does Tescos, Asdas, Sainsburys etc have it so easy selling things that markets can sell cheaper, fresher and way tastier?!

Find out more about the Rotterdam Market Hall;

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Jute returning with a vengance

I must have been subconsciously avoiding writing about our project on designing an exhibition based on the Jute Industry, but surprisingly to me I am increasingly inclined to write about how intriging some of the research I found is. Jute, being a ecological fibre played a huge role in the life of the people of Dundee, amongst other places such as India, Bangladesh etc,  even though Jute was not grown in Scotland. Through research much was interesting but what I found the most important was that of jute as a sustainable material.


The most astonishing fact I came across is that jute consumes several amounts of CO2 as Oxygen! Why do we not know this?! Maybe it is just Tesco’s keeping this a secret while they mass produce millions of Jute carrier bags to become ahead of the ‘green’ market. Even on the Santa Claus on the new Tesco advert is carrying a Jute Sack! I wonder if in ten years time when our children see the ‘old school’ adverts (just like us with those familiar Coca-Cola Christmas adverts that we will never forget), will they think this Jute bag was what Santa has carried for years?! Let’s hope this material isn’t as secretive as what it is to us, (unless you have designed an exhibition on it or lived in Dundee in the jute, jam and journalism days!).


This did influence us so much for our exhibition design that we created a sustainable and ecofriendly one that can be placed straight into the environment after the exhibition is over so it can live on forever secretly, better way to leave a mark to remember than a photograph. In brief – based on the Snake by Richard Serra, we created grass panelled walls, creating a atmospheric journey through the space evoking emotions reflecting the social conditions the people involved in the Jute Industy in Dundee had to live with. We experimented by cutting shapes into grass, staining grass and researched finding out it is possible to develop photographs directly onto grass, subjecting different parts to different amounts of light therefore allowing various levels of photosynthesis to occur thus creating a picture perfect photograph.

Artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harveys advertisement installation at Wimbeldon 2008.

Cuttings we made in grass.

Friday, 13 November 2009

'Is there more at home than heart?'

There are three identity types – Social, personal and place. Psychologists’ are usually interested in social and personal identity but place identity is extremely important in not just where we call ‘home’, but why we do and what impact it has on our lives. Recently I attended a talk by Mhairi Bowe who is finishing her PhD in Psychology. She questions ‘what is home’?’

 (my old house - still home)

During Mhari’s talk I was intrigued with what she was saying about how place represents past, present and future and they are permanent features of life. We are always in some environment, whether it the other side of the world or snuggled up in bed, but these places makes us feel. And these places completely take over how we feel even if subconsciously and contribute to the way we act in this environment. This shows how place affects our wellbeing. If somewhere feels like home we feel safe, warm and comfortable. People described home as somewhere you can ‘go and lock the world out’, a place you can ‘safely flop’ and a place that caters to ‘mans instant needs’.  For me if I have my UGG boots, a cup of tea and custard creams and my MacBook (including WIFI!) I would reckon I’m pretty sorted. Now rereading this I suppose this is a consumers point of view in a consumer and media driven world, proving how things have ridiculously changed. But home can be anywhere and home can travel around with you. It is simply somewhere you are at ease and have a sense of self. This is vital to wellbeing.


This point got me thinking about others and how people less off, immigrants, refugees, armed forces and such like see ‘home’. Place evokes emotion, memory and thought. You have a relationship with the environment you are in and for me this is something I am intrigued to find out more about for my designing life. (I shall keep you updated!)


If I put the word ‘PlaceBook’ out to you, what would you think? A place? Or one of Facebook’s new revoltingly addictive games?! Well not quite. PlaceBook is a new website developed to being people and place together, to share peoples’ identities and stories which make us remember and enjoy, potentially improve our wellbeing so check it out if you too and intrigued by the relationship between people and place.

Thank you to Mhairi Bowe for a great talk!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Activity 3 - Annotated Bibliographies

Chitturi, R. (2009). "Emotion by Design: A Consumer Perspective". International Journal of Design, 3(2), 7-17.

This journal concentrates on emotion evoked in consumers towards the product and relationship between them. Chitturi conducts two experiments looking into peoples reactions towards certain products and the emotional experience buying and living with this product evokes. Products are put in one of two categories - a 'utilitarian' being a 'neccessity' and hedonic being a 'luxury'. The article argues the point a 'hedonic product' evokes feelings of delight, but also guilt, especially if the product fails to meet expectations. Likewise a 'utilitarium' product' can evoke feelings of satisfaction and proud but also anger and frustration. These contribute to product, consumer and designer relations that make or break success of a design.

Cronin, A. (2008). "Calculating spaces: cities, market relations and the commercial vitalism of the outdoor advertising industry". Environment and Planning A, v. 40, no.11, 2734-2750.

Based on ethnographic work, this paper examines the market research practices of the outdoor advertising industry in the UK and their commercial production of space.

Desmet, P, Erp, J, Karlsson, M. (2008). Design and Emotional Moves, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

This book is a series of papers from the International Design and Emotion Conference in Sweden which looks at behavioural patterns of consumers and how this affects the way we buy and use products and the way we live with and in the things we buy.  It demonstrates various testing done on the senses and how this predicts how designs will perform and that visual aesthetics and usability can achieve a rich interaction with design and how the consumer responds to it.

Fogg, B. J. (2009). "The New Rules of Persuasion". RSA Journal, 155 (5538). 24-29.

Persuasive Technology is becoming part of our ordinary experience with social networking in the forms of Facebook etc. This is due to our changing behaviour, culture and the way we live. This journal explains different ways we can be successful in design such as building on small successes and the place and way we work that can potentially make or break a design.

Frascara, J. (2002). Design and the Social Sciences Making Connections, London: Taylor & Francis

Psychology, social sciences, anthropology is essential in creating a great design. This book researches the notions of culture and the relationship between people and the way different kinds of people live, for example religion and different parts of the world. Behavoiur and social factors also contribute to the reason things are designed and the purpose they have. How we react with consumers and clients is vital in Interior Design and this book demonstrates various ways this can be done successfully.

Kress, G, Leeuwen, T. (1996). Reading Images The Grammar of Visual Design, London: Routledge 

In today's world we are more visually literate and this text gives important advice to anymore interested in communication, the media and how this coincides with design. Advertising plays a fundamental part which is explored and how to effectively get your point across. this also develops into looking at  messaging, typography and logos and when and why specific advertising is used, for example it shows war posters and how they can be persuading and biased without the viewer being aware, therefore being a good design despite the fact we might not literally see it with our eyes.

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

Norman questions why we hate or love everyday things in this text. By focusing on our sensory needs which consist of our reflective, behavioural and visceral needs, he proves that attractive things really do work better and how our emotion affects this. For example if we are happy, our muscles are more relaxed and therefore our brains are more open to creative ideas and we are more able to see the bigger picture. Coming from a cognitive scientist's point of view rather than a designer is important as he demonstrates why design should not be confusing and frustrating but why we still yearn for things we technically would not see as a 'good design'.

Sparke, P. (2004). An introduction to design and culture, Oxon: Routledge

Looking bak from post-modern design such as the first hoover etc, to today, Sparke looks how new materials and processes affect the designing of products and the environment. She shows how social periods and movements that have, and will occur, will influence desingers and the way we react to design. Aided by the consumption of everyday goods, services and spaces we as individuals and our identities play an active part in the re-design of the everyday world in which we live in.

Zeisel, J. (1984). Inquiry by Design, Cambridge: Press Syndicate

Research into the relationship between human behaviour and the physical environment. This is a series of short books as a meeting ground to anaylse how environment and behaviour mix together. From a variety of perspectives of architects, psychologists and geologists etc, this text presents interesting facts from all fields of people involved in environmental change. There is alot of research into peoples reaction to environments, for example, not just how we site, but why we sit, what people do when they move into a new home, how do people feel when they sit in an all glass room visible for all to see. Zeisel answers and evaluates these questions in a knowledgeable approach.

a cHEaP tHriLl

And after some seriousness...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

2.08 laps of Earth and 10,120 bottles of whisky - the common ground that they could possibly share?

Over the past year the BBC have been travelling the world (2.08 times to be precise) in a bright red shipping container. In a little over 12 months the 'Box' has journeyed over 50,000 miles carting various objects including cans of fish, whisky, even 4,000 sets of bathroom scales! The reason for this was maybe not so obvious a year ago when it set off from the London BBC Studios, but now after a year of hardship on the economy and lifestyle, it became a great example of documenting the situation the world is in. 

One news reader refers to the act:

"This box not only brings the world to your living room - it has changed the world."

This Box has become a phenomena many people from all over Britain have been following over the past year, including children studying it at school etc. This is a great idea considering we are taught next to nothing about globalisation, sustainability and such likes at school and we are the people of the future, therefore the ones that NEED to know about these things. I have to admit I had not heard of it at all until a few weeks ago. Maybe if it was advertised more we would all be able to appreciate the important facts it's journey has proven. Or maybe I should watch the news alot more.

I could go through its journey but the intriging adventures of the battered Box are in detail on the BBC website;

The interesting findings for me however is the point of how this affects us. Practically everything we consume has travelled in one of these containers and never stop to think about where these have actually come from, it has maybe been round the world over 2x! And why would we question?

As a whole, we don't really. Skiting down the aisles of Tesco I don't usually stop and review every package to see where the product has travelled from but after seeing the BBC Box on the news the next time I did. And I was shocked. Some vegetables in Tescos had travelled thousands of miles more than others and they were cheaper! How does this make sense?! Well, I suppose it is down to who does what, and who gets what. Is it fair on anyone - the people slaving away growing spikey pineapples or the farmers here picking each individual strawberry and reaping hardly any award!? No.

We are warned all the time we need to make a difference to sustain where we live and our lives, and this is a little change that can make a huge difference. Just like the Tesco Man says;

'Every little helps!'

And now - every little does help. Even the BBC Box now being sent to Africa to become a soup shelter to help people that have been worst affected by the global recession. It's a little, but it helps.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Now has the design stuck?

So I found out that the idea of the NED Sticks. Fred Perry, oversized tacky gold jewellery and Timberland Boots stick. It's a look. And its associated with crime, Buckfast aka underage street drinking, causing trouble, graffiti and the likes. This affects the environment these people live in. This affects where others choose to go, work and live. This affects workplaces, living environments, different types of people having different needs. It goes full circle, simply an example to start with a 'NED' but it works with whoever. Everyone has different needs, some simply more similar than others. This affects where and how people live. Religion for example, have rituals, like Muslims praying in the Mosques, Buddhists worshipping the Giant Buddha... We have to react to this when designing to fit peoples' needs. Like Gladswell states, something can only stick if it is in the right place with the right idea at the right time. It is not just luck, the idea has to be good to start with. But you would not advertise something like Guinness or Pizza Hut in poorest countries of South Africa would you? However people will design laptops for the children there. So maybe designers would?! You wouldn't win an award for designing a cellotape holder and snipper that you have to hold in two hands would you? Yes. So it is true, people do bad design. And it is even more true, it's much easier to do than what you may think. That is why making your design stick is ridiculously important.

During our brainstorming and discussing, we considered why things stuck and why things didn't. For example the Clutter Problem, like Coca-cola spending millions of pounds on advertising but it wasn't simple, and hardly anyone even knew it was Coca-cola sponsoring the Olympics. It was unclear. One important point. Clarity and simplicity. Not just for advertising but the actual design. Things such as slogans and logos also sell (or not) a product or idea. These are things that can make something popular, and I suppose that is what most designers strive to be. 

As an interior and environmental designer I have to be picky, thoughtful, open-minded but most of all, know what is going on around! I have realised through these exercises I may not be designing something that looks beautiful for my career, but maybe researching endlessly which results in the slightest change to an already OK design to make it stick. I've realised it is about re-designing. At this time when we are told there are '50 days to save the world' we need to concentrate on sustainability, making use of what we already have, without losing anymore of what we already have.

If only the idea of recycling and energy saving would stick..

Sticking to Interior and Environmental Design

The question that was posed - how does the Stickiness Factor apply to Interior and Environmental Design? First answer - it doesn't. Action Brainstorming. To start with it was slow and tedious, however the more the group got into it each of us seemed to come up with more bizarre, broad ideas that we plastered down on the page 'for the banter'. An odd variety seemed to pop up, from Kate Moss to rituals of taking your shoes off at the door to the Clutter Problem to Fred Perry NEDS and Heat Magazine. These are the sort of things that stick but also what we might think of and say 'What the?!', 'Disgraceful', 'Distasteful', etc etc. Me, as a designer, has to research what sticks and why, and this brainstorming and discussing activity set me on my way to broaden my approach in researching what and why I am designing. 

Friday, 23 October 2009

In The Night Garden

I'll admit now. I have an Iggle Piggle cuddly toy. This might mean absolutely nothing to you but I have a feeling more peopele know who I mean than you would think. Iggle Piggle is blue. And has a brigh red blanket. He is simply designed and easily recognised by children and parents,and childmilders, actually probably most of the British society.. Here he is;

(not the seal!)

Iggle Piggle, along with Oopsie Daisie and others (I swear I don't know all the characters' names!), are characters of In the Night Garden, the new phenomena of children's television. It is described on it's official website as 'a modern televisual interpretation of a nursery rhyme picture book.' Simply it is a happy place where the character's care and have fun together. Simple. But, like Sesame Street there has been alot of research and development into the design of the programme to make it 'stick'. Similarly to Blues Clues and Sesame Street, In the Night Garden uses alot of repetition, for example the three blue birds that simply sit on a branch, right in the centre of the screen, and squawk in a repeated fashion. thus also means using rhythm and rhyming throughout the episodes which has been proven to have a calming effect on the children - hence the name In the Night Garden - the programme has been developed to calm the children and put them in a dream-like world ready to nap. 

So I decided to do my own experiment. I tested it on my friends baby twins. They wont watch anything apart from this and Teletubbies (In the Night Garden was actually created by Anne Wood and Andy Davenport who co-created the Teletubbies). When I put it on I noticed certain parts which 'stuck' more than others and came to the conclusion that they preferred the simple characters that were on for the longest period of time. Both of the babies watched vividly at the same parts, and when I attempted the 'Distractor' game the results were the same for them both. 

Unlike previous children's' programmes, In the Night Garden has an official website. I'm not entirely sure who it is focused on, but after alot of playing about on it it becomes evident that it is for all - there are games and facts about each of the characters' and stories that children would be interested it (however I'm not sure if they will be old enough to read much of it, but the graphics and layout etc are intoxicating). There are also pages into the development of the programme which older generations may find interesting. 

I found the website quite addictive and have been back on to 'take the tour' of the magical environment. It sticks, and not just the programme does. The website has a stickiness factor as does other means of advertising that the developers have used such as merchandise, books, clothes and toys. The themes are simple, repeated, at a steady pace children under 4 can cope with, not forgetting aesthetically pleasing to children and adults. Check it out and see what you think;

Sunday, 18 October 2009

How can I design when I don't know anything about the world?!

I actually feel embarrassed about how little I know about the world. I know this is such a gargantuan topic that I can barely touch on but the fact is, I probably don't have a clue. And I have to say 'probably' because I don't technically know what there is to know.  Too much. But so much, and I'm intrigued to learn and experience it. 

I came to this conclusion after yesterdays lecture with Jonathon, where he said 'designers are not creative', then going on to argue his case crazily well and by the end of the session I just thought, 'Man, I' never going to design anything spectacular when I know nothing to begin with!'. He used an example of the One Laptop Per Child scheme creating laptops for children of Africa that cost less than $100 to make. Excuse me for a second but is it not true that many of these developing countries hardly have money for food, let alone a laptop. Who is going to each them how to use them?! Rory Reid, writes on his blog from the gadget blog, CNET UK;

'It's almost poetic that the poorest nations in the world have the potential to push the Western tech industry in a new direction. Don't get us wrong -- we love fast, outlandish laptops and PCs as much as the next blog, but we'd be idiots not to show you the alternative. And what a fantastic alternative it is. We predict some very interesting, and money-saving times ahead. -Rory Reid'

No wonder the company went bust. How can you create an effective design when you don't even know what you are designing for? 

I could go into this for ever and ever and ever but the point I'm trying to get across here is my frustration about how little I know and how much I want to know aka as much as I can. I think I will be about 80 years old before I know enough about the world to be able to create a life changing design. Luckily for me it is the best excuse to get out into the world and experience it.

'Designers are not creative': 'Designers are Wankers' - While I was browsing 'crap designs' and why they are just not relevant to the world they are created in I came across this. They have teamed up with Grafix magazine to uncover the design writers of the future. It looks like a good networking site not just for chat but to experience other ideas, intriguing and some controversial but questioning design and what 'sucks'. Check it out at;

Monday, 12 October 2009

A nice cup of tea. Piece of cake.

A warm sausage roll and tea followed by a french fancy. A nice way to spend an afternoon. But where you have it is important, correct? You would probably prefer to be in a nice little coffee shop on a nice quiet street, having a nice relaxing chat. Where else better then than Greggs?! Probably the most popular bakers in Britain, in Dundee alone there are seven or move Greggs shops. But which one would you go to? Does it matter? I would have thought not o me, but yesterday as I was downtown I realized I'm a little more shallow that I thought. The indoor market in Dundee is a dark, dingy, shady looking place where there are a variety of fleece shops, wool shops and I suppose you could say flower shops. And a Greggs. Infact maybe the biggest Greggs in Dundee, having a large cafe area too. We had been planning to grab a roll on the way back to University but as we walked past me and my friend looked at each other with a kind of 'Hmm I'm not very hungry' anymore look before walking straight to the Overgate Shopping Centre's Greggs and filling our grumbling stomachs there. 

This poses the question, again, why? Similarly to what Gladwell talks about in The Tipping Point, where he writes about how environment affects behaviour and how we react to how we treat our environment. Like the story of how........ shot dead four men on the New York Subway because they looked dodgy and how it has been argued that environmental factors (amongst others) triggered him to do this. Factors like grafitti, litter and noise etc all contribute to environment and how we react to it. As a designer I am realising how important this is to the design process. In my subconscious mind I must have decided in a split second I didn't want that particular Gregg's despite the fact the food is from the same factor, probably the same lorry, and the same waitress serving me it. The only difference was the setting - in the indoor market it is grey, quiet and for some reason eerie unlike the busy, bright shop in another shopping mall. I had blown off the exact same product all because of the design of the location and environment. If all Gregg's were in indoor markets and similar environments, would the tasty lunchtime fix still 'Stick' like it does? 

Obviously a nice cup of tea isn't a piece of cake.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

My hEaDS fiRSt MiNd mAp

Ok. The Tipping Point. Ok, well this book is taken over my hEAd. Everything is seeming to relate do it at every possibility (see previous posts). As is sit in studio trying to concentrate on how I can biodegrade a piece of jute in a week, half listening to others conversations, I can't help categorize my classmates on who is a Connector, who is a Salesman and who of us are just those people following the fashions whilst aiding the epidemic on it's way. An example of this in todays fashion are 'jeggings'. These are leggings that are meant to look like tight jeans without being uncomfortable like skinny jeans. When did people become not just so fashion obsessed but so lazy that they can't just wear real denim? When will this tip? For the sake of us all these sort of ideas need to be addressed and questioned, is this necessary?! Followers aka sheep, follow the herd not even wondering why oh why they are doing such a thing. Just like what Gladwell talks about in The Tipping Point with the epidemic of Hush Puppies. They became popular by the Power of the Few, but started by the Innovators, who just decided to wear them as they were uncool, then the Connectors spread this 'virus' and before you know it, an epedemic has begun.

The idea Stuck. No questions about it it just stuck. That's how epidemics work. Like 'jeggings', no-one as asked why, they just did it. Not because they look good, because lets face it, Hush Puppies aren't exactly a pair of cool ice blue Converse sneakers. But they still stick (not the actual shoe). One of the main points in The Tipping Point for me was the reason why things stick. Gladwell goes into great depth about childrens TV programmes as a great example of this. Everyone has heard and watched at some point Sesame Street. And we probably never questioned why we were watching it, like I said, we just don't. Wrong. Designers do, we ask questions.To me, this is a reason why this text was set. If we don't ask questions things will never evolve and people wont learn. Sesame Street was successful because 'creative geniuses' such as Ed Palmer and Gerald Lesser questioned what works and what doesn't, then they researched and experimented to find out what tiny tweeks have to be made to make something stick. An example of this was the Distractor which was a test for children to look at how they watch a programme and their attention to this. He put two screens in a room, one playing Sesame Street and the other a distractive programme. They watched the children watching with intricate detail to see what parts of the programme kept attention and which didn't. From this research they could then make small adjustments which made a huge difference, this making Sesame Street sticky and successful. That is the point - one minute change can make a major impact. 

This is like the design process and that is why the Tipping Point is a great read for an aspiring designer. I have to research, research, research and repeat and then experiment, test and experiment some more, and in the end it might look like there is little change, but actually makes all the difference and makes it stick.

Yesterday I was privileged to get the chance to talk to the head of Interior Design of The Academy of Design in Slovenia. She spoke of how in today's world we are not trying to design new things, (due to the economy....and the rest) but researching to improve what we already know, to make it more sticky. We might not physically see a change in what the design is but something is different. And we look again. And we understand. And we follow it. And then its too late - it has stuck. And do we question it?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Contagious 'Bobbing Dodge'

You’re walking down the street alone. As you walk past people what do you do? Avoid eye contact? Smile? Stare at them to try to give off a positive vibe that says you’re not one of those people that  ignore human existence completely? It’s simply one of those awkward moments in day-to-day life that we’ve just learnt to accept as normal. But what about when you walk towards someone and you both veer to the same side to pass then try to dodge to the other, resulting in a kind of strange bobbing movement as if trying to guard the basketball ne. Today, this happened to me on maybe 6 different occasions. So, if it happened to me so many times in one day, but on an average day it probably wouldn’t even once, this must mean it ‘addictive’ in a sense, therefore contagious right? And another person is involved meaning they would then spread this ‘awkward dodge’ around for the rest of the day too?! An example of this is shown in ‘The Tipping Point’ when Malcolm Gladwell talks about yawning. By just seeing the word ‘yawn’ written in the book it encourages you to do it whether you like it or not, despite the fact you’re probably not even tired. Like a virus, these things spread and spread, resulting in an epidemic. I wonder if those people I ‘dodged’ today ‘dodged’ others again and again, like me. Could I have started an epidemic in Dundee City Centre? Or, was I simply one of the spreaders of the ‘Stickiness’ that causes these epidemics in the first place?


I can just imagine every single shopper bobbing oddly around the town, Primark bags whirling…

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Salt or sugar?

As a lifeguard one of my positions to 'guard' is the bottom of the flumes, aka a very boring, hot and humid half hour. Today however I am there in my usual slumped pose, eyeing up a couple of girls with a poke chips. It was then I realised they have just started to pour two sachets of sugar on their chips. Did they know it wasn't salt?! It was just like the Starburst experiment we conducted yesterday - seeing whether we can answer the question of what flavour is each sweet correctly without seeing the colour of packet. So did they they realise?! No. 2 sachets of sugar and a poke of chips later (which they enjoyed just usually as the average child) the girls went back to get more 'salt' when they finally realised the mistake they had made. It wasn't the taste that told them the answer, it was the packaging. When do we cross the line from what we see and other senses taking over? The packet did say suagr, not salt. Like signs should be, it just wasn't completely universially obvious. Because their brains believed it was salt, and it looked like salt, it took over other senses, taste on this occasion, and they truely believed it was. Crazy as it seems, I can't help asking myself the same question, would I notice something so 'obvious'?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Jupiter Artland

Jupiter Artland. Bonnington House near Edinburgh. Simply a backyard. Not so much. Here hidden in and around the woods are works by such contemporary artists and desingers including Charles Jencks, Andy Goldswothy, Anthony Gormly and Marc Quin.

 Journeying along a pathway unveiling magnificant pieces of art, some large and others hidden amongst the trees. A fantastic place to dream, imagine and contemplate as you wander in and out, through and around the masterpieces.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Hong de la Kong

3 seats, 3 pancakes and 13 hours sleep and I arrive in the steamy City of China - Hong Kong. The cosmopolitan city is thriving with culture, captivating architecture and not to forget 'New Yorks 5th Avenue x2!'. 

After making my way from the new airport to the City, which is the Westernized main business and shopping outlet of Hong Kong, I meet with Nora, my university friend, and we take the Fast Ferry to her island (not exactly hers, but I'd say a fair share). Cheung Chou is an island 6 miles from main Hong Kong - a naturally beautiful space roming with true Chinese dedicated to fishing and farming. Such a contrast to the high-rise blocks and businessmen that fill the streets and markets just 30minutes away. This is what Hong Kong is about - it has everything. The culture, the contemporary ideas, the city, the shopping, the scenery, the beaches...but most of all the food.                                                

Never before had I experienced such delicate, exceptionally tasting food. Yes I have grown up a vegetarian but coming here was something out of the ordinary. To you average Westerner that is! Birds saliva, ducks tongue and chicken feet were all top of the menus at your average 'diner'. Even at home every evening we experienced culinary delights from choosing your favourite crab for scranning an hour later to trying to master the art of chopsticks (I am now a master let me say). This is an average dinner in the Chou residence, presentation of bright colours, perfected cuttings of meat and vegetables and textures created a meal 24/7. The Chinese take such pride in their food and presentation it put me to sham mouthwatering e, even after 2 weeks without bread, on the plane home all I wanted was rice!

To me, the other most important and memorable part of Hong Kong is the architecture and scenery. Never have I been somewhere that has everything, you could argue it's to do with them having money, being ruled by Britain, but whatever it is, they have it. The combination of sky scrapers, such as the Lippo Building with kuala bears climbing up the sides, and The Hong Kong bank, juxtoposing against the traditional Chinese markets snuggled between them up skinny streets, locking in that cultural atmosphere that is unforgettable. This is where the old men and woman survive selling dried fish they have spent all day laying, and in the rooms above the last existing 'factories', more like rooms, where egg noodles are made daily. You would never guess a two minute walk around the corner and you would be facing Dior's best window display.