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…