Wednesday, 31 March 2010

assignment 5b

In Semester One we were given a brief to design an exhibition space based on the Jute industry in Dundee. As part of this project we visited Verdant Works, a current exhibition centre in Dundee. This provided part of our research as we had the opportunity to speak to people who worked in the factories when they were in the peak of the Jute industary in Dundee. This was a group project in which we decided to base our idea of the maps of Dundee and how the landscape changed over time because of the industry.

We carried out some primary and secondary research while doing this project. We looked at old and new maps of Dundee and spoke to people about the changes in Dundee and how they felt about them. We also looked at other exhibition designers and their work, and the thoughts and ideas behind it, for example David Dernie. This research could have been developed further through the research methods that we have used in Semester Two.

Primarily it would be useful to go to other exhibitions and see the techniques and ideas they have in place and watch how people interact with the space. As exhibitions often have both information and installations it would be interesting to see how much time people spend at both of these different aspects. When doing this project I went to a few different exhibitions and did find myself observing what the other people were doing as I usually have quite a natural instinct to watch what others are doing and how they are acting. Here I noticed that the older people tended to be reading the information while the younger visitors were more interested in the visuals. I think this is something that could be investigated and researched further and would also very much depend on the topic. With the Jute industry being a historical topic, it would have been interesting to visit other history based exhibits and see if this was true to all.

Along side the observation of people I feel that because this exhibition design was to be designed for the public, the public should have a say in what they would like to see in this exhibition, what interests them or what form they like to see in exhibitions. Is it information? Or images? Or an interactive design? I think interviewing people about this would prove very useful. As the exhibition was designed for a large age group of people it would be essential to make sure that all ages were interviewed providing a large bank of information. This would also help with the publicity of the event, making the public feel that they have been involved in the design may interest them in coming to view it more. If it has been designed with all age ranges in mind it will then suit all age groups to visit. I think this broader idea of thinking is highly important in any form of design work and is something that I have learned a lot this year throughout design studies.

As part of our exhibition that we designed there was a timeline and imagery throughout the journey though the exhibition. If this was being built in real life, I feel it would be very important to get a graphic designer alongside to ensure the images are powerful and create an impact showing the link between interior design and graphics. This would also have been something that would be taken into consideration when designing the flyers and advertising for the exhibition. One of the main aspects of having an exhibition is getting the public to come and visit and view it. The location is vital along with the publicity. Our design was to be designed for the centre space in the DCA, although part of the brief was for it to be a travelling exhibition and so publicity would be needed at all parts. Throughout this year I have learned a lot about publicity and the use of blogging, twitter and networking as a form of advertising and so feel these skills will prove very useful in the future for other projects and through to the working world.

Another aspect of the design brief was to make the exhibition design as sustainable as possible. This involved doing quite a lot of primary research into different forms of sustainable materials and looking into upcycling and recycling materials. Our most recent studio project has caused this research to develop even further in creating a sustainable redevelopment of a house. Looking into what other people have researched can be very interesting and also lead to your own research ideas therefore proving very useful. When given this brief I felt a little unsure as to how I, as one person can have any impact on sustainability or the impact of it in the design world. After visiting London I realised that this was very untrue and that we are the current up and coming designers who have an interest in making our designs sustainable and so feel that this is a route that can be taken in the future, both with research into the materials used and putting the different techniques and design ideas into practice with the projects we will be taking part in and designing.

Throughout this year I have found myself constantly looking at the world in a different way, from a designer point of view. Looking back on the lectures, my blog and the mind map of the years lecture points has caused me to realise how much I have learned about the designer world. I have always been interested in what other courses are doing and other designers other than interiors, but feel that this year has caused me to think about this in a much deeper way. It is something I feel that I will continue to do, possibly without realising, linking the different ideas and findings to my projects.

Dernie, D, 2006. Exhibition Design. London : Lawrence King

assignment 5a

When entering a building our emotions and feelings can be effected and impacted. This happens to different people in different ways, possibly depending on their personality and thoughts towards the style of building they are experiencing. I am very interested into why this happens and the impact a space can have on our personality and emotions. For example, there are many different styles of cathedrals throughout the UK. Some people will be affected very differently by these than others. Some people will see than as purely a religious building in which they have a very strong, or no reaction to; others will see more modern cathedrals very differently to traditional ones. This could be taken a lot deeper with further study. The idea of how these large vast public spaces, yet still very personal compare or contrast and in turn impact a person differently or similarly to their small, comfortable home. This is something that I feel needs to be understood and explored when designing an interior space.

There are several different ways in which this idea can be investigated in order to gain a better understanding of how people react to different kinds of spaces and the impact this in turn can have on their emotions and personality. Personality, Values and Motivation by Laura Parks and Russell P. Guay looked into how a special environment impacts our personalities, this in turn can also have an impact on our values and motivation. This is closely linked with the investigation of cathedral design as people with different morals and values will view the spaces differently. In ‘Art, Community and Environment: Educational Perspectives edited by Glen Coutts and Timo Jokela’ research was undertaken into environments on a much larger scale, for example the arctic or the desert and how this idea of surroundings and experience can impact our emotions and communicates different ideas through the natural design. Both these journals and books were secondary research which plays a very important part in researching into what others have found out. For this investigation there are several different forms of primary research that can be used to work out the strength of the idea of a space having an effect on our emotions and character.

Observation of people would play a very important role. A lot can be told from going into an unknown environment and watching how people react to the space. Keeping a log of what is noticed; different unwritten rules, regulations and etiquettes that take place within the space can be very interesting, providing a greater insight into the design of the building and the reactions to it. For this investigation I would visit two or more very different cathedrals and see the comparisons and contrasts of the buildings as well as looking into the similarities and differences of how the people visiting these spaces react to the different styles or architecture and design. Watching peoples body language, if they look comfortable in the space, what areas do they spend more time in? Do they sit down or walk around? Are they on their own or with others? Do they look like a tourist on their first visit to the cathedral or someone who visits it regularly for religious reasons? Some of these would be based on personal judgement and therefore may not give the correct results careful consideration would have to be taken, or another style of research would have to be used alongside this idea of observing people in order to give a full understanding and significant results.

As cathedrals are designed to have a very personal impact on a person I feel that they are a suitable style of building to investigate. It would also be interesting to speak to the people visiting in order to find out if they are religious or not, or the purpose of their visit? Is it purely for religious experience or is it due to the style or the building or the history of the cathedral and its impact on the city in the past? Obviously this can be a very personal thing and not everyone would be willing to share their religious views or thoughts. This therefore means that careful wording of the questions, or not asking direct questions about their religion etc would be the best method. From previous experience of interviewing, it is important to get a wide variety of people, from different backgrounds, different sex and different ages, whilst taking all these factors into consideration in the results also. The place in which people are situated when interviewing appeared to have a considerable impact on the results of the interviews and so this is something I feel is important when interviewing. I found that people were more comfortable talking when I could see what they were talking about, it also gave me a better idea of what they were describing and so providing more accurate results. This idea of being able to see what the interviewee is explaining interlinks with the visual side of investigation and research.

Another method that could be useful in gaining primary research would be to show people photos of the different cathedrals or spaces and look into their thoughts and feelings. From experience the method of not asking direct questions about what they see, but to get them to write a story about it showed their reaction and so this method could be used. It gives a more descriptive idea on the person, without making them feel intruded. The photos that are chosen to show the candidate would have to be done so carefully in order to achieve the results wanted. Again, their background, sex, age etc are factors that could impact the results and so need to be accounted for.

It is clear that all the above styles of research are all of value and work together to gain a full understanding of the investigation and primary research methods. If I was to carry this research out I would definitely use the observation and interview techniques with the possibility of also using the visual, photo idea to gain a greater depth and variety to the results of looking into how a person can be impacted and their emotional reaction to a powerful interior space.

liverpool metropolitan cathedral

liverpool cathedral

Coutts, Glen. & Jokela, Timo, 2008, ‘Art, community and environment : educational perspectives / edited by Glen Coutts and Timo Jokela.’

Parks, Laura & Guay, Russell P, 2009, ‘Personality, values, and motivation’, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 47, no. 7, pp. 675-684, Nov 2009

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

assignment 4 - interview

What does the way someone decorates their living space tell you about them?

This year I have been very interested in how spaces affect a person’s personality and so the idea of interviewing people about this topic really appealed to me. As an Interior Design student I feel that it is important to have an understanding on how an individual makes the space in which they interact with personal to them. I created a mind map with this idea of ‘living spaces’ in mind. This caused me to come up with a much broader idea of what a living space is; not necessarily a living room, but could be a bedroom, kitchen/dining room or even a mans garden shed. It is a space that someone interacts with and spends time in. My interest in how some bodies personality can be effected by a space came through in this mind map, as well as asking he question of how someone’s personality is shown through how they decorate their living space.

While creating this mind map I realised that there is going to be quite a difference in the people that I interview. One of the main differences I think may be between students and family/home owners. This caused me to think carefully about who I chose to interview and the questions asked. I am interesting in finding out students ideas of their student home versus their original home. I have decided to create a base set of questions about living spaces and their ideas on what their living space is. Some examples of these are; Where do you spend most of your time when your at home? Can you describe this room? Do you have a favourite piece of furniture? Do you have a particular item in your home that describes your personality?

I then made up some more questions for students that I interviewed, for example; What differences are there between your house at home and your university residence? How do you personalise your room at university? Do you have a notice board? If so, can you tell me some of the items on it?

I also created a set of questions to ask family/home owners, for example; How has your living space changed over the past 10 years? How would you describe something homely? Do you have a piece of furniture or an item that you have had for a long time? If so, is there a story behind why you have kept it?

When interviewing I understood that asking someone about their home is quite a personal thing and so took this into consideration when asking the questions. I was aware that some people would be more open to talking about their home than others. While interviewing I noticed that everyone was willing to tell me a lot of stories about their living space as it is a space that is very close to them, that they spend a lot of time in. I had my original set of questions, but these sometimes needed to be reworded slightly to achieve the information I needed. I found that the approach of an informal chat worked better, asking small questions of interest sometimes sparked off a whole new conversation and depth of information about an item of interest that they felt was personal to them.

I chose to interview two students, one male and one female. I also interviewed two homeowners. One of which was a middle aged couple with three children, the other a retired couple living on their own. I feel that this gave me a wide range that would give me a broad insight into the ideas of living spaces and what they mean to them. If I was to take this investigation further I would interview a greater number of people to see if the ideas were similar within each category of people, or to add a greater variety of people or example a bachelor.

Both students I interviewed lived in halls, this proved interesting as they both described it as their bedrooms and being their living space also as a “box room.” During the interview described their rooms to be very different. The female was a lot more descriptive, explaining about the memories she has on her notice board and how she has been slightly rebellious by putting magazine cuttings on her wall beside her bed and photos on her door as well. The male described how his room is still pretty bare and that he hasn’t really added a lot more to his notice board since freshers week, anything that is this is just timetables and a few union bands. The way in which they both described their rooms was really interesting. The boy had a tone in his voice that gave the impression of not really caring, seeing it just as somewhere that he slept and lived where as the girl gave a lot of detail into what she had on her notice board and wall, trying to remember as much as she could, showing there is obviously a lot on it. This gave the impression that she has tried to make it as personal as possible given the circumstances. When I asked about their attitudes to the main kitchen and dining space in university halls, both screwed up their faces slightly before continuing to describe that its often a bit messy and smelly but that its somewhere that fun takes place in as well. It took a while to get any specific ideas of how they had personalised it, this may be due to being a shared space with people that they have been forced to be friends with and so don’t feel it’s an individual thing. The male started to tell me stories about how many parties they had had there and their bottle collection. At times like this I felt it was important to let the interviewee tell the story and then I asked another question to bring the conversation back around to what I wanted it to be about. The girl described the people she shares the flat with and how they tried to have a cleaning rota at the start of the year but how it didn’t work. By her tone of voice ad expression I felt that she didn’t really spend a lot of time in the kitchen/living space and felt her bedroom was more of a living space this year. She was very descriptive when it came to asking questions about her living room at home and how she misses it a lot.

I find the comparisons between interviewing male and female students really interesting. They were both very different to interview and so something that should be taking into consideration when choosing the candidates for interview. A different style of interview was used with the male, as he was more relaxed and at times I had to ask a few short questions to keep the conversation going. This was something that I was expecting to happen and so had prepared for it. I feel that a group interview may have been interesting to find out if people open up more when bouncing ideas off each other and so keeping the conversation going. This is something that I would try and achieve if taking this investigation further.

The interviews with the family and elderly couple where a little different from the students. I felt a little more under pressure for it to be more formal although it soon relaxed into an easy conversation. I found both very willing to speak to me and tell me about their homes and life in them. It was very interesting to notice while I was interviewing the couples, in both cases the female spoke more than the male. After thinking about this, I reckon it may be due to the traditional role of the woman in the house while the man is out working and so she spends more time in it and so it may be more personal to her. This really interested me and again, is something I would like to investigate further. Throughout the interviews I learned how in one case the kitchen was described as the main “hub” of the family home. I think this may have been due to the layout of the living and dining/kitchen space being open plan. The lady described how the kids come home from school and sit and the kitchen table instead of going into the living room. She felt that they initially went to the space they felt most comfortable in, but maybe this was due to the food and tv both being in this space! While I was interviewing the kids were running about a bit and so caused a bit of distraction and I felt that I had invaded the space a bit, but was still welcomed in. It was a space in which the woman was relaxed but I felt she felt a little under pressure to have someone in her house while asking questions about it. She pointed out the different pieces of furniture that she was talking about it making it easier for me to understand how its personal to her. I was interesting to be able to see the space she was describing, giving me a greater understanding. Again, this is something that could be taking further when interviewing in the future; seeing the object that is being described. Throughout the interview the lady started to relax and the kids started to pay interest into what I was talking about, with the little girl wanting to show me her dolls house! (ironic)

When I went to the elderly couples house they seemed slightly nervous, or in need of reassurance that they were giving me the right answers. Im not sure if this was due to how my questions were worded or if it was due to having a neighbour in their house. They were incredibly welcoming though, offering me tea, coffee and biscuits causing the atmosphere to relax. They were both very interested in what I was interviewing for and gave me very detailed answers in describing the stories behind different pieces of furniture, painting and ornaments that they felt were personal to them. Again, it was really helpful to be able to see these objects and made it easier to understand the stories behind them. When they were describing how the décor has changed in the past 10 years it was a bit more difficult as I couldn’t see what they were speaking about when describing what it used to be like – maybe some photos may have been useful? It was interesting to hear the stories about how much their living space means to them and all the memories that come with it. They had lots of photos of grandchildren and children around, along with photos of themselves from their wedding etc. They said they living room was the main space that they would spend time in in the evening, but more the kitchen during the day. They said that they had been in this house for 37 years and so it means a lot to them, but that it has changed quite a lot since the moved. They described how a few of the décor changes were influenced by their daughter, for example they got a new kitchen and bathroom fitted. These were both a lot more modern than their own living space and so shows how they don’t necessarily feel at home or totally comfortable in these spaces. The kitchen still showed signs of their personality though, with photos and paintings on the walls and objects on the windowsill.

Though out the interviews with both the students and the couples I became aware of many different factors that have an impact on the results of the interview. This ranged from the sex of the interviewee to the location of the interview. With the students I was speaking to them outside of their halls where as with the couples I was in their homes. It was also interesting when I was interviewing the couples it was more of a discussion and conversation where as with the students it felt a little more like an interview. The students were more willing to speak right from the start in comparison to the couples being a little unsure at the start but soon becoming very willing to give me lots of information. With all of my interviews I used the medium of noting down points while interviewing, but still tried not to spend lots of time writing all the information down. I found that I was able to remember lots of what they had told me from the pointers that I had jotted down. I then made a mind map for each to gather my thoughts and see the comparisons and contrasts between the 4 different people. In conclusion, I have found this really interesting in gaining a greater knowledge into the process of interviewing and how much has to be taken into consideration when planning and doing the interviews with different types of people.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

assignment 4


During our recent trip to London we had to use the underground to get about. This is something I had never experienced before so was a little apprehensive about it especially when the station closest to our hotel was Russell Square; the site of the bombings in 2005.

As a group of 20 students arriving at the station at rush hour on the Monday evening, I straight away noticed that everyone else seemed to know exactly what they were doing and the rituals that took place. Business men in their black pinstripe suits and briefcase in hand strode past, swiped a card onto the machine and lined themselves up at one of the lifts getting prepared to go deep under the streets of London. It took us a while to work out the zones, peak times, how much the tickets were and then how to work the machines to get a ticket. Thankfully pretty soon were swiping our tickets with everyone else and ventured towards the lifts. In Russell Square station, there are lifts that take you down to the platforms although I soon realised this isn’t always the case.

While waiting for everyone else to get their tickets, I had a while to stand and watch what was going on, how everyone knew which lift was coming next and the system that appeared to be very efficient in getting everyone down to the platform. As it was peak time there was an operator/assistant there ensuring that everyone knew which lift was coming next and he was manually pushing buttons and twisting knobs, closing the doors of the lifts and making them go up and down faster. The lift doors opened, as the group of people coming up from the platform to the station moved out of the front set of doors, those waiting moved into the lift through a back set of doors. Everyone automatically moved right to the front, knowing that another person was soon going to move right into their personal space. I could sense that people were preparing themselves for this to happen, it was nearly like they had a gasp of their own fresh air before going into the lift and sharing it with everyone else. Eventually we joined this man/penguin style rush onto the lift. I automatically felt myself joining in with the crowd straight away, heading straight towards the opposite end of the lift, ensuring that I as far forward as possible so that everyone could cram on. At this point I noticed the silence that struck as soon as the lift started moving down to the platform. Everyone stared straight ahead of them avoiding eye contact, or looking at the posters on the walls, the same ones as they probably pretend to be very interested in everyday, just to avoid catching someone else’s eye unintentionally. I found this really interesting, an unspoken ritual and rule that everyone obeyed to. But found myself wondering why this occurs? Why don’t people look around, look at what other people are doing, wearing, reading etc? Or why don’t people even make eye contact or smile at each other?

Once out of the lift and down to the platform everyone joined in with the trot like pace through the tunnels to the platform edge. Within no time there was a strange gush of humid air flowing through the platform and a tube appeared. Again, we joined with the crowd making a mad dash for the nearest door, at all times remaining silent. I find it strange that is it so silent, that while on these journeys when the majority of people are travelling alone no one speaks to each other even just to make their journey a little more interesting or pass a little quicker. As a group of students on the train we obviously spoke to each other while trying to work out which station we should get off at, how many more stops there were to go etc. I automatically found myself discussing the rules and regulations that appear to happen on the underground with my classmates. We had all noticed the same thing and were all experiencing this strange silence in which we felt we were breeching by speaking to each other while on the tubes and noticed people looking at us. There was a few other small groups of people having discussions, the majority of these seemed to be business chat or some groups of girls discussing their weekends events but the high majority of people were staring at the person opposites feet or again, pretending to be very interested in the same poster as they were very interested in on the lift. We soon became used to this experience through using the tubes on a very regular basis. We were travelling on the trains about 6 or 8 times a day and visiting many different stations in the process. We gradually found ourselves not finding it as strange, and breaking off into smaller groups to travel. The first few times we went onto the tubes I noticed very few of us actually sitting on any of the seats, even when there were some available. We tended to stay standing near the doors. I think that this was due to being unsure as to when to get off or how close our station was, but I think there was also a sense of apprehension; not being sure of the person that could be sitting next to you. As we started to use the trains more, some of us ventured to sit on a seat, especially if there was a few together. This was a slightly strange experience and found myself wondering why the seats are designed to face each other. The already awkward situation of looking straight into some bodies eyes is somewhat exaggerated when sitting down, it’s harder to find other places to look other than their feet.

We visited many different stations throughout our time in London. I noticed that each has their own characteristics that made them distinct. This varied from starting to recognise the different kinds of escalators or the amount of swipe machine/gates to the street performer in the designated place at the bottom of the escalators in Leister Square. One that was very different from the others was Westminster; when the tube pulled up at the platform there is a Perspex screen that goes right along the length of the platform with doors that open at the exactly the same place as the doors of the tube. Initially I thought this was an attempt to try and prevent suicide attempts but I then noticed the amount of metal around. Every wall was covered in metal, the floors were metal and the roof also. I felt an instant sense of security and safety here. In other stations I had always felt on edge and unsure of those around me but I felt a lot safer here. The girls I was along with at this point also agreed. We got off the train looking about and commenting on all the different safety factors that were in place here, working out that it is probably due to being so close to the houses or parliament. I then wondered why it wasn’t like this at all stations, especially with the current bombing attacks?!

Throughout our time in London I really enjoyed spending time ‘people watching’, especially on the tubes. I found it really interesting thinking about all the different factors and rituals that took place and wondering how or when these started to come about or if they had always been in place? I noticed a big difference in the London lifestyle to the Scottish one and found this to be an interesting and important factor when designing. I think it is highly important to experience what you are designing for, especially in interiors. This is the only way of really getting to know the lifestyle of the client and getting an understanding into their way of thinking, rituals and ways.

Monday, 8 March 2010

puff and flock

Puff and Flock is a company/design group made up of 8 female textile graduates. They all share the same vision of wanting to give textile design a different, more environmentally friendly take. They also have a very strong conceptual way of thinking in their designs with many of the designs being dysfunctional but completely conceptual in the hope of showing people their thinking and ideas through designing.

I had the opportunity to attend a seminar to hear more about the work of puff and flock at Ecobuild in London. I loved the idea of simply creating a disfunctional concept piece that had an impact on the people viewing it.

ecobuild - london

Last week a group of keen and excited IED students jumped on a train to the big smoke aka London town. For some of us, this was our first time down to London, for others it was just another adventure there. For us all it was going to be an insight into the big wide world of everything environmental and sustainable

We are currently in the middle of a sustainable design project so for many of us this was the perfect opportunity for us to make the most of the thousands of exhibitors that we were going to meet. Personally I was quite excited about this overload of information, but also a little apprehensive. I felt that these ‘big important business men’ wouldn’t be interested in talking to or selling their products to us ‘nosey, scrounging students’, but I found myself to be very wrong. While going up and down all the aisles, I noticed so many of the exhibitor’s eyes brightening up to see a young and fresh face interested in their product. They automatically came strolling over (power suit was an essential, filofax optional!) to speak to us. They were so keen to tell us all about their product, project, material, tile, stretchy wall or recycled tin can. I found it really interesting and revitalising that they didn’t chat in a language only they would understand but explained everything in common terms and were more than happy to fill our bags with samples and leaflets and answer some of the silliest questions I think I have ever asked. Many of the exhibitors’s expressed their interest in us, explaining that the current generation of builders, architects, designers or project managers aren’t interested in sustainability like we are. Many said that reckon they all already have their ideas and thoughts and are stuck in their ways, so they believe that we are the generation that can change this idea and way of thinking.

As the time moved close to going to ecobuild and during our sustainable project so far I have felt myself having the idea of, I was never really going to have any impact on how peoples views of sustainable building can be changed and needs to and so why bother? These exhibitors could obviously see something different in us, something that the current designers etc don’t have. I feel this is going to be something to our great advantage, we will be the ones coming into a business with this fountain of knowledge and excitement of sustainability and how we can actually make a difference. If we all make an effort together, it is actually possible. I found it really refreshing to be reminded that there is actually a purpose in putting in the effort to the sustainable side of a design and even more important now that I can see that there is actually a positive future in it. The world is becoming more and more aware of the need for this, but it isn’t happening fast enough. It is up to people like us to realise this and start taking it into consideration in our designs, still making them exciting and interesting so that people will catch onto this idea so we can make a difference

So yes, attending ecobuild did fill me with way to much information about solar panels and water reclaim systems and how you can make a rather nice house from old container cabins, but it also filled me with an excitement about sustainability and how we can and will actually have an impact on our future, and for once we weren’t just viewed as students trying to get what they could for free, but as something positive, someone who excited others.