Saturday, 4 December 2010

Journey In The Snow

This weekend I took the bus back home which was a bit risky considering it had been snowing so much. The bus journey was lovely as I just spent the whole time looking out of the window at the snowy landscape around me. Anyway, I just thought I'd share a few quick photos I took on the way. Im sure you can see my reflection in the window in some of them but nevermind ! :)

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Screen Printing with Plants: Research into Alternative Ink Technology

The main purpose of Phil Shaw’s article, ‘Screen Printing with Plants: Research into Alternative Ink Technology’, is to investigate whether it is viable to use ‘water based’ screen printing inks on an industrial scale. These plant derived inks are known as ‘process’ or ‘trichromatic’ colours which have led Shaw to create the term ‘Phytochromography’. The article is an experimental text explaining the alternative natural ingredients available to create ‘eco’ prints and their success.

The key question Shaw aims to thoroughly explore is, ‘How far can we go in recreating the natural dyeing and printing processes of our ancestors?’

The information of greatest importance within this article is the findings of the author’s experiments, as they are individual and reliable experiences due to them being carried out primarily by the writer. Rather than compiling information from others Shaw validates his conclusions through this technique.

The secondary information within the article has been gathered from relevant journal articles, key texts and newspaper articles. It has been extremely important for the author to explain the history of the subject make he intends to explore further.

Primary sources as previously stated consist of the experiments conducted specifically for this article. Contacts such as Sue Minter of the Chelsea Physic Garden and John Keesing at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew have been aids in the sourcing of rare seeds and key information.

After much experimentation, Shaw concludes that it is viable to conduct a printing process with fully natural ingredients. An example of this is:

“On the industrial front, the Auro corporation of Germany has been manufacturing a range of vegetable paints for some time at a reasonable cost.” (Shaw, P 1997)

He is although realistic when he explains how unlikely it is that there will be a complete shift in the way the textiles/ dyeing industry use synthetic parts.

It is important to understand the printing practice itself and the techniques which produce these ‘green’ dyes. The concept surrounding nature’s capabilities creates further understanding on the subject and the idea of being as sustainable as possible. Using nature itself to prevent further environmental damage:

“once all the factors are taken into consideration, including those that concern the overall well-being of the planet, then any alternative resource ought not be ignored.”(Shaw, P, 1997)

It may be fair to say Shaw is over estimating the extent to which the use of plants can be still considered sustainable. If these techniques were used in excess it would almost inevitability result in the extinction of already scare plant material, unless of course they were managed sustainably and monitored closely.

If we take this line of reasoning seriously, the implications would be that the dyeing process would be overall a much ‘greener’ technique as it has been in the past.

If we fail to take the author’s line of reasoning seriously, the implications are that the textiles industry will inevitably come to an abrupt end. This would be due to lack of resources. The negative impact on the land itself caused by synthetic pollutants would be drastic.

The main point of view within this article is that nature can provide the key elements needed to create successful dyes, although exploration of these techniques needs to be taken further in the future.

Phil Shaw’s extensive research teamed with his practical approach makes this article more believable and admirable.

Eco Chic, The Savy Shoppers Guide to Ethical Fashion

‘Eco Chic, The Savy Shoppers Guide to Ethical Fashion’, written by Matilda Lee is an informative text which thoroughly explores the structure of the textiles industry, its evolution throughout current years and its potential future developments. Lee covers many of the important environmental and social issues surrounding the negative impact the industry creates. Positivity is also a key element in that the majority of information included focuses on what designers, consumers and buyers can or are currently doing to prevent further damage. The main purpose of the text is to create an awareness of the impact we are having on the environment and others, in order to encourage sustainability within a highly influential industry.

The key question the author is addressing is: ‘Why should we be making changes to create a more sustainable and ethical fashion and textile industry? ‘

It is made clear how important is that we ‘buy less and care more.’(Lee 2007) Understanding how organisations as well as individual choices can help better the current situation is explained throughout the text. In regard to textile design, many are not aware of what alternatives are available that it is possible to implement these techniques on an industrial scale. T Shirt and Sons, is a company set up by brothers, John and Andy Lunt in the 1980’s. They use eco printing techniques for designs used by Greenpeace, Katharine Hamnett and The Glastonbury Festival. Although the overall process is extended, Andy states:

“We have saved a lot of money going organic. We spend much less on waste management, for example.”(Lunt, A, 2007)

Matilda Lee has used primary sources to compile her own personal research through interviews with designers and retailers currently implementing sustainable elements into their practice: “It is based on...interviews with people involved in designing, making, promoting, retailing and writing about clothes and fashion”.

Through secondary research sources the author has created a clear image of the current issues worldwide. Examples of these are journal article extracts, newspaper articles, relevant texts and statistic reports. These were most likely gathered through contacts, catalogues and extensive research within this field.

Lee concludes that although the way consumers shop will not drastically change the fate of our planet, as individuals our everyday choices play a huge part towards climate change. Designers and retailers decisions on what they make available and how they use resources are included within this concept of sustainable living. Understanding the ‘green’ possibilities and how to resource ethically is key. Lee includes many contacts and businesses operating in this way within the text.

The main assumption underlying the authors thinking is that people are going to be so easily converted to this ethical way of shopping/ living. She takes an optimistic approach which is understandable in regard to the content of the text and doesn’t often create an opposing argument from designers/ makers maybe less interested in the ‘green’ shift.

If we take this line of reasoning the implications are that we could as a union create positivity by making small changes and genuinely prevent further damage to the environment.

If we fail to take the authors line of reasoning seriously, the implications are that we will continue to ruin the natural environment around us through over consumption and pollution.

It is designers, makers, retailers and writers points of view along with the authors which create the main perspective throughout the text.

Globes by ImagineNations.

I discovered these quirky decoupage globes by Wendy Gold's ImagineNations. Each globe is vintage and individually hand decorated to create fascinating fictional worlds. I find the creation of such lovely pieces from recycled materials, which would otherwise be completely disposed of, an innovative and clever idea. I'm going to keep an eye out for any future designs posted on her website.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Alain Delorme

This new collection of photographs by french photographer Alain Delorme really caught my eye! The series is entitled 'Totems', and captures huge built up sculptures of products which are presently made in China. Although they portray a current working culture within the country his photographs are constructed in an eye-catching and quirky style. The coloured patchwork stacks are just amazing ! Have a look at more of his work .here.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Lyndie Dourthe

I find the work of french artist Lyndie Dourthe utterly amazing! With her clever use of digital print and stitch she creates delicate flowers, mushrooms and anatomical based pieces from light papers and fabric. She draws inspiration from the intricacies within nature. The careful presentation of her work adds much to her already beautiful creations. I find her work extremely inspiring ! Take a look at her website .here.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Dissertation Discussion

I found the Dissertation Workshop extremely helpful as the tasks helped me to decide how I could tackle my chosen topic using different research techniques. I can use the techniques I have learnt throughout the research process. I found working within a group and hearing the opinions of everyone else very helpful.

Above is the mindmap I created whilst brainstorming my initial ideas for my dissertation topic. My ideas were linked to the subject I researched for my wiki entry of 'Resource Depletion'. This research made me aware of the techniques we as textile designers could use to reduce the negative effect we currently have on the natural environment and its resources. I find exploring the alternative methods available extremely interesting. I would like to focus on the effects resource scarcity has upon the cost of production, buying and recycling and what innovative methods we could use to reduce them. I would also keep a strong connection to my discipline: textile design. I will continue at this point to research further sustainability throughout the life cycle of materials and how we can create products from recycled materials. An example of this are Alyce Santoro's sonic fabric neck ties made from recycled cassette tape. The conceptual artists creations are multifunctional as they also play if a tape head is run over them. They are 50% tape and 50% polyester.

Sonic Fabric Necktie, recycled ties, recycled mens accessories, eco-friendly ties, eco-friendly mens accessories, Sonic Fabric, Alyce Santaro, cassette tape ties, cassette tape fabric

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Wiki Entry - Resource Depletion and Design

Sara Greenwood

Textile Design

Resource Depletion and Design

Resource depletion is the term used to describe the decline in the raw material of our world. They can be categorised as either non-renewable or renewable resources. Renewable resources are continually produced usually through natural cycles. Non-renewable resources cannot be replaced within a socially relevant time scale to prevent the damage which extracting them causes. (Chapman and Mather 1995, pg14)It is in our interest to prevent resource depletion from further occurring as our planet’s resources are essential to the human economy so they must be sustained in order for us to continue to exist.

“The limited availability of these commodities, together with their technological importance...begin to act as a constraint on the economy’s growth potential” - Heal, G, The Optimal Depletion of Natural Resources (1974 pg1)

The main causes of resource depletion are our ever growing population, our excessive consumption and the poor distribution of our natural resources themselves. These factors are putting increased strain on earth’s finite materials. We are now working towards cutting back on our use of these scarce resources by using renewable alternatives to prevent their complete exhaustion.

A Brief History

Economists are highly interested in the depletion of our resources as it has an adverse effect on economic growth. It is ‘...the allocation of scarce resources to satisfy human wants’ (Norton, 1984), that is the reason for economics. Early economists from the late 18th and early 19th century had differing opinions on what the causes and effects of resource depletion were.

The economist, Thomas Robert Malthus, was known for his pessimistic views on the world’s ability to cope under the extreme pressure of resource depletion. Malthus believed that natural resources reach a point at which they can no longer provide adequately for the expanding population. Once the population has reached a certain point the land is the limiting factor as it does not have the capacity to provide for such masses, (Norton, 1984). An ever increasing marginal cost will be the result of any additional output during the production of our natural resources.

Source: Resource Economics, G.A Norton, 1984

John Stuart Mill had differing opinions on the topic of resource depletion. Although his logic was similar to Malthus’ in that our natural resources are not limitless, he did not believe that complete exhaustion was inevitable (Norton, 1984 pg106). His belief that technological advances would keep the population from exhausting our resources as it increased can be found in ‘Principles of Political Economy’, 1848. Norton states Mill’s idea that resource scarcity is not a consequence of our population but a specific problem in itself. Furthermore we must consider that the depletion of our resources have varying consequences depending on the individual category which is diminishing.

Resource depletion has been an issue since the 1700’s within Eastern European society. Although prior to this indigenous groups used sustainable agricultural methods within their networks. This was to ensure the land was kept fertile, for reuse.

The 26th president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt stressed the importance of preserving our resources during his seventh annual message, of December 1907:

“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed”.

As Roosevelt states, the careless ways in which we did and continue to use our depleting resources will not help in reducing the effect facing generations to come.
The consumption of oil in the United Kingdom over recent years has become increasingly higher. Oil reserves cannot withstand this pressure which is why as shown in the below image less oil is available for extraction. It is clear we are already struggling to meet our needs due to the depletion natural resources.

“Levels of oil extraction amounted to 72 million tonnes in 2008, approximately 5 million tonnes less than in 2007”. – National Statistics Online, (2010)

Source: Office for National Statistics; Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)

Pearce and Rose explain that we must not focus primarily on the short-term events which occur prior and during the shortage in natural resources, as the future is of most importance (Pearce and Rose, 1975 pg 21).

Resource Depletion and Design

Design practice is greatly affected by resource depletion, regardless of discipline. The key elements, which designers use to create their designs, are mainly sourced originally from nature. The extraction of these materials from the land and the production methods which the textiles industry implements, can have a devastating impact on the land and its resources. It is important that designers know the origin of their resources and that they can ensure they are being economically gathered and processed. Sustainability must be considered now, before it’s too late.

“Issues such as global warming, resource depletion and waste disposal are strongly affected by product design, and urgently need addressing” – Greenwood, T, ESP (n.d)

The textiles industry plays a crucial role in resource depletion. The manufacturing of resources from raw materials can be extremely wasteful and harmful to the environment. Population increase has meant that there is increasing demand for commodities, thus resulting in mass production and resource depletion.

The cotton industry infrastructure is changing due to increased rainfall and flooding throughout countries such as India, causing a decrease in cotton production. This therefore means the price of cotton will increase due to high demand. By March 2010 cotton yarn prices had already increased by 25%.

India has adequate spinning capacity although the lack of power supply hinders production. The chairman of South Indian Mills Association, J. Thulasidharan explains, “Most spinning mills in Tamil Nadu are able to operate only at 65% of their full capacity”. (Livemint 2010)

To try and reduce the effects of the current rate of production The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association temporarily banned the export of cotton. Countries which have a high consumption rate such as Vietnam and China would feel the effect of this. Clothing prices would increase due to the limited resources and their demand for garments would no longer be being met. (Livemint 2010)

Similar price inflations are set to occur within the UK market due to the scarcity of resources. Neil Saunders, the consulting director at retail experts, Verdict believes the hardest hit will be retailers in the mid-market range: "Retailers who will struggle to grow volumes will have to take a hit on profits or put up prices - that means those in the middle market, such as Next, Bhs and Marks & Spencer." (Saunders, N, 2010)

Scarcities lead to innovation. Designers can work towards solving the problems resource depletion is causing. Dramatic changes should be further made as to how we use our resources. (Chapman and Mather 1995, pg16) The introduction of new ecological techniques within the textiles industry such as botanical dyes could decrease the effect harmful dyes have on the environment. Use of botanical material in its natural form for dyeing will deplete the stages at which harmful dyes are discarded after use. The dyes are made from renewable resources, which lead to an increasingly sustainable environment. It may not be plausible for the mass market at present to use these dyes although if independent designers chose this method over the conventional then it could encourage others to consider this technique at a later date.

Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles, India Flint (Source :

Designers must realise that the resources our planet provides us with are not in any way unlimited. With this in mind, it is essential that we manage the distribution and use of these resources conservatively rather than to continue to take advantage of what we have at present.


Barbier, E.B, (1989), Economics, Natural Resource Scarcity and Development, Conventional and Alternative Views, London, Earthscan Publications Ltd

Chapman, K, Mather, A.S, (1995), Environmental Resources, Essex, Longman Group Ltd

Greenwood, T, ESP, Eco Sustainability, (n.d), [accessed 4.10.10]

Heal, G, (1974), The Optimal Depletion of Natural Resources, University of Sussex, The Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Livemint: Cotton Yarn Prices May Rise Further, (2010), [accessed 4.10.10]

National Statistics Online, Oil and Gas Reserves , (2010), [accessed 3.10.10]

Norton,G.A, (1984), Resource Economics, Victoria, Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd

Pearce, W.D, Rose, J (1975), The Economics of Natural Resource Depletion, London, The Macmillan Press Ltd

Roosevelt, T, (1907), Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, [accessed 01.10.10]

The Independant, Soaring Cotton Prices Put Pressure on Inflation, (2010), [accessed 3.10.10]

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Mind mapping

As I explained briefly in my previous post, we began brainstorming ideas within our groups creating mind maps of our thoughts on each individual subject we had chosen. This is the mind map we made for my issue of 'Resource Depletion and Design' :

This mind map was lacking in research as it was just primary thoughts, so I created a further mind map which included some research into our ideas. I feel I have delved a little deeper into my chosen subject here :

I have included information regarding the decrease in cotton availablity in recent years and the effect this has as demand is ever increasing. I have also researched ways in which ecologists have attempted to calculate the economic value of our planets biomes. Hopefully after more research and reading of journals/ books I have collected I will have a better understanding of my issue and how it effects designers presently and in the future.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Design Studies -Level 3 Assignment 1

During our first Design Studies lecture of this term our lecturer divided us into groups which consisted of students from a range of different disciplines including Graphic Design, Textile Design, Jewellery and Metalwork Design, Interior and Environmental Design, Product Design and Interactive Media Design. We were asked to each choose a separate design related subject from the list provided so that no two individuals from within our group are researching the same topic. We then met up to discuss each topic, creating mind maps which would act as a starting point for later research. The topics chosen within our group were :
  • Branding and Design
  • Up-Cycling, Down-cycling and Re-cycling and Design
  • Mass Production and Design
  • Population Overshoot And Design
  • Resource Depletion and Design
  • Fair trade and Design

The fact that our group was made up of students from different disciplines meant that the discussions we had covered a wider scope than many of last years single discipline tutorial dicussions. I found this extremely helpful and came away with ideas for the different directions I could take my topic of 'Resource Depletion and Design'.
I am now in the process of further researching my chosen issue which will be used to write an entry in a wiki style. We will later recieve feedback from the other members of our group which will contain their thoughts and any constructive criticism they may have on how we have approached our topic.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Assignment 5B

After exploring new primary and secondary research techniques over the course of both semesters I feel many could be greatly beneficial when applied within my studio work. I will use my ‘self motivated project’ brief as an example of how I may implement these techniques. Within this brief, my aim was to research densely populated spaces and explain the strain which has been inflicted on our environment and architectural building due to our ever increasing population. My intension was to create a body of work capturing the essence of city living with the potential for development into textile designs.
Within these areas where many people reside housing seemed to be of a low standard. The slums or shanty towns in countries such as Peru and India display a prime example of such conditions. Western countries have also had to accommodate for the rise in population. Architectures answer to this problem in many cases was to design tower buildings which were when first built an innovation although now are deteriorating quickly and commonly known for having a low standard of living. With these issues in mind I will explain how I could have researched this subject differently with my current knowledge.
Research techniques from semester such as exploration of relevant literature would be beneficial. I could read architectural journals and magazines with which I could collect source material as inspiration for my designs. Reading Textiles magazines containing trends which relate to my project would be another means of incorporating these skills. I could also read articles which addressed my topic such as individual’s views on tower buildings and whether they feel they should be demolished or left as part of a city’s heritage. Part of the reason why I chose to explore this issue is due to the recent demolition of many high-rise buildings which would surely mean it would be easy to access these through library records in the affected areas. Literature written about the lifestyle of someone living within a densely populated area would allow me to replicate this idea into my designs. It would increase my understanding of the world I am designing for by learning about a wide range of cultures and lifestyles. Reading academic literature would result in my awareness of what has been done before and allow me to be innovative.
Another technique used throughout my design studies assignments was brainstorming. Applying this within my studio research would allow me to highlight initial thoughts which I could later elaborate on. During group discussion and brainstorming issues are highlighted along with possible solutions. Interacting with fellow students and collecting their opinions at the first stages of my research would provide me with more opinions on my chosen subject, rather than just starting from a point where my thoughts could potentially lead me to only explore something within my comfort zone.
Primary research techniques from the second semester assignments such as observing and recording, within environments which relate to my subject, would arm me with documentation of an experience that I am trying to portray through my textile designs. I could visit and explore tower buildings to really grasp how their interior and exterior structures are up close. I could establish how these buildings had been built first-hand and study their extreme dimensions giving my designs an increasing chance of success. Watching how residents interact within the communal areas in the building could also be recorded in quick observational drawings and note taking. Source drawings recording what I saw would be much more expressive if completed within the exact environment I am studying. It would not be possible at present to visit a range of other locations I feel demonstrate the living environment I aimed to portray throughout my body of completed work due to costs. These include previously mentioned locations such as Indian slums and Peruvian shanty towns.
Finally interviews would be another likely choice for collecting information. By interviewing residents from areas concerned I would compile inside information for someone who has experienced living in tower blocks for the majority, if not all their life. I would use a semi-structured layout to gain qualitative results allowing interviewees to tell me in detail about what it’s like living in a building which houses so many people. I could interview an older inhabitant who was one of the first to live in these huge innovative buildings and compare their thoughts to that of an individual who has only in recent years lived in the same building. Interviewing as many individuals as possible of differing ages would be essential in gaining valid informative results. I could also find out through surveys what the general public thought of these buildings. Interesting survey layouts would encourage participation. Allowing each individual to personalise their thoughts by providing them with space to draw and highlight sections which they believed were most important to them for positive or negative reasons.
The research skills I have learnt to implement effectively throughout assignments I feel I would benefit me greatly if used within my studio work. They would if used correctly allow me to delve deeper into the subject I have chosen to explore and develop my ideas. My research would be reliable as most of it would have been conducted personally. The outcome of researching at this higher level will only increase my appreciation of my subject matter, in turn creating a much more believable case. In future projects throughout my third year I will implement these extensive research skills at the beginning of my brief carrying this new mind set I have acquired to break new boundaries with my research. I believe I will be much more adventurous in general when tackling future projects as I now feel I know how to obtain the information I need the most. I will use these skills to further research all fields of design and broaden my knowledge of the market. Finding out about the world I am designing for is important in order to progress with my designs. Continuation of design literature reading literature is also key in helping improve my design knowledge as well as being aware of contemporary design throughout all disciplines. Prior to completing these assignments over the course of the Design Studies module, I believed I could only implement my skills and designs within my own field of Textile Design. I now understand I have the freedom to explore design in general and have more confidence which I believe has equipt me for tackling bigger issues in the future.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Assignment 5A

Throughout this text I will describe the research methods I could potentially use to further explore my chosen subject of auto theft from semester one. I will explain my reasoning for using each method thoroughly and how I believe my results will be affected by these choices.
Primarily I would review the literature I have already read as well as exploring further relevant academic texts. The data within would develop a greater understanding of research which has previously been carried out and also create a case to work from in future.
After reading my source texts from previous research into this issue, the article by Michael Cherbonneau and Heith Copes entitled ‘Drive It Like You Stole It’, Auto Theft and The Illusion of Normalcy’ demonstrated the potential interviewing has as a primary research technique. Whilst completing the tasks assigned throughout semester two I became aware of how interviews should be conducted in order to produce qualitative results with the potential to solve existing problems.
I believe I could potentially interview auto thieves myself which would make the results more reliable as I would have collected the information first hand. Asking these questions within a safe and monitored environment would be essential. If the questions prepared were carefully considered then the information would be exactly what I feel was required to better my understanding of the issue and how criminal’s decisions affect the outcome of the crime. Derek Cornish and Ronald Clarke’s text, ‘The Reasoning Criminal: Rational Choice Perspectives on Offending’, places emphasis on this theory. Paying my interview subjects has its pros and cons and at this point I would have to guess which would provide me with the most reliable information. The prospect of gaining money from partaking in these interviews may encourage individual’s agreement although I could not be sure of any other aspect such as sincerity. Willingness of these individuals to take part isn’t certain and it may be unsafe to use them as subjects so possible alternatives could include police officers who deal with auto thieves first hand and will be on many occasions the first to discover stolen vehicles. They should also be more reliable generally regarding their answers. I will gain an understanding of how often and where these crimes occur as well as generally how the crime unfolds. Through conducting my own interviews during semester two I have discovered that giving my interviewee the opportunity to elaborate on their answers improves the information gathered and provides me with an increased amount of knowledge relevant to my chosen subject. It would also be sensible to interview a broad range of individuals from as many different locations as possible to increase the validity of my results.
Observing and recording is another technique which would be beneficial when further researching auto theft. I could arrange to view CCTV footage of auto theft crimes taking place watching the offence unfold, how the criminal acts and the process in which they go through whilst stealing a vehicle. Problems could occur due to the poor quality of film and focus which may lead to inaccuracies. Uncertainty of whether I could gain access to the footage due to reasons regarding confidentiality may cause difficulty. Taking notes would leave me with information I could elaborate on later and the experience in general would further enlighten my understanding of the criminal act. With this information I could set up mock thefts to simulate what had happened in reality to help future design and test prototypes. I could arm vehicles with existing products to test their effectiveness. Awareness of the market concerned and what is already available whilst researching for the purpose of design is extremely important. Observing and documenting the surroundings and goings on when on patrol with police would be another opportunity to gather research. Witnessing the damage caused during a break in at such an early point in its untouched state would provide knowledge on what wasn’t effective regarding the vehicles security. Experiencing just how criminals behave in general would be greatly beneficial in distinguishing character profiles without generalising them as one identical group.
Conducting public surveys to enquire what they felt would increase levels of security and if they had ever encountered auto theft would be beneficial. This would ideally be done in an area with a high level of vehicle theft incidents. To pin point these areas within the United Kingdom I would access the most recent records from the Home Office. I could then search worldwide records if I were to tackle vehicle theft on a global scale. Asking a broad section of the public would give me a clearer idea of the issue and increase validity. To increase levels of participation as stated previously for interviewing purposes I would keep surveys short and to the point. Hopefully the results after implementation would be qualitative and therefore back up design development in future. Again I considered using car thieves as subjects during further investigation. In doing so I believe it would result in a better grasp of their mind set and decision making although they may not be reliable.
Using skills developed from previous assignments, surveys could be conducted as visual experiments using scenarios and allowing the participant to explain how they feel about an issue or make sense of what is occurring within images. For example illustrations showing possible theft deterrents could be shown to the individual so they could explain which would make them feel safer and which they’d like to see integrated into the vehicle system. Using this layout would encourage participation and make my gathered research much clearer for future reference.
With the use of research methods explained throughout the course of this text I feel I could successfully explore the issue of auto theft. Observing and recording would allow me to understand how design could improve the current spatial situation. The interviewing and surveying processes would allow me specifically, to gain information without relying on research carried out by others. I believe these techniques would benefit me greatly as the information gathered would be of a higher standard and reliability.


Cherbonneau, M, Copes, H, (2006), ‘DRIVE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT’Auto Theft and the Illusion of Normalcy,
British Journal Of Criminology Vol 46, No.2, University of Missouri, Advance Access

Cornish, DB, Clarke, RV,(1986) The Reasoning Criminal:Rational Choice Perspectives on Offending,
New York, Springer-Verlag, New York Inc, (accessed 26.11.09)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Assignment 4B & C

During the interview stage I asked four individuals a list of semi-structured questions which I primarily felt would help me understand what people were heavily influenced by and why. My subjects were of differing gender and from a broad age range to gain the most accurate information possible. My results should not be age or gender biased. Here are the questions I asked them:
1. What magazines do you read regularly ?
2. Where do you read magazines ?
3. Do you read newspapers/ newspaper supplements (if so why) ?
4. How often do you watch television/ see advert breaks ?
5. Could you name an advert which sticks out in your mind ?
6. Can you name and advertisement or campaign that has encouraged you to buy/ participate in something recently and why?
7. Could you tell me if you have a favourite brand ?
8. Are you brand loyal and what elements make you this way ?
9. What was your last and will be your next major purchase ?
10. How would you describe your personal taste ?
11. Has a product been designed during your lifetime that has had a huge impact in you personally ?
12. Do you have a favourite designer ?
13. Why do you feel their designs are successful/ you are drawn to them ?
14. What do you spend the majority of your money on ?

My first interviewee was a female business woman who placed importance on the necessities for her and her family as well as work. I got the feeling after discovering that she read only a couple of magazines regularly that she wouldn't be influenced majorly by them. Although, the fact that these days we are surrounded by the promotion of new design where ever we are and what ever we are doing she may be affected more dominantly by online or television advertising. She stated that aesthetics were quite important to her and this is reflective in the magazines she reads which are known for being full of fashion and beauty advertisements. Her loyalty to certain make up and supermarket brands shows she does not spend money on extravagant things although she does appreciate a certain level of quality and also value for money. She obviously doesn't spend money before considering these factors.
My second subject was a female social worker. She stated that her taste in her own opinion was traditional and told me that she only bought products which were completely new to her on the odd occasion. She reads the highest amount of magazines out of everyone I interviewed and yet she seems to be least likely to spend money on the latest products being advertised within these magazines. Once she discovers a brand she likes and trusts she becomes loyal to that brand and is unlikely to change. Her traditional tastes are reflected in her choice to read a women's home interiors magazine which contains exactly the type of lifestyle she portrays through her answers. This is an indication that magazines in some way influence and reflect the readers tastes. She concludes that most of her money is spent on household bills and her car as it is a necessity allowing her to get to work.
My third interviewee, a male history student stated that he was in his opinion fairly traditional. His choice of magazines were traditional in a sense although not all overly common as he reads an army based magazine. He is logical in his purchases and doesn't over spend only buying newer products if the deal is worth it in the long run. He seems to be influenced more heavily by other means such as television advertising due to watching 5 - 6 hours approximately a day. He is not interested at all in fashion which clearly reflects his choice of reading as it is more about practicalities rather than extravagant purchases.
Finally I interviewed a younger male student who seemed to have a completely different opinion on what is important. I put this down to age and the time in which he is growing up. Continuous innovation within technology has given him a totally different outlook. Saying he watches two to three hours of television a day means that he is exposed to advertising frequently. His choice of magazines shows he is interested in film although, he still understands and cares about what is going on around him in the world today due to reading cultural newspaper supplements. His money is spent mainly on concert tickets as he has no financial responsibility yet. He seems to have some interest in fashion stating that he finds designers collections to be inspiring yet this does not relate in any way to the magazines he reads on a regular basis.
I have found through interviewing this group of people and discussing my findings with others that women seem to be more likely to focus their attention on magazines with interiors and cooking in their content. Three out of four read newspaper supplements which in turn suggests they read newspapers often. This should make them aware of issues and surely mean they will understand the value of most things. The younger generation watch a greater amount of television which along with the magazines they read could be part of a great sphere of highly visual influences. Magazine advertisements and television adverts to an even greater extent stick in your mind due to their repetition. Everyone is brand loyal to a certain extent confessing to purchasing familiar products because they feel they are of a high quality or good value for money. These brands are usually well established through advertising in magazines where my interviewees will have undoubtedly seen them. Products mentioned frequently as having a huge impact were all technology based. They included iPods, laptops, mobile phones and the Internet. These products are mainly advertised within magazines usually with price reductions and deals attached for potential buyers which encourage them to spend money. It is the design of innovative products which entices the magazine reader to spend.
From completing this assignment I have concluded that magazines are highly influential in regard to the advertisements and design they contain which is seen by the reader who automatically thinks the design/product is 'good'. Critics opinions may sway the reader but ultimately if they genuinely like something it will not change their opinion completely if it does not completely appeal to them. This is evident in my findings that my first interviewee would not buy a product unless it was in her own opinion aesthetically pleasing in for example colour or outward packaging. It's is clear that magazines do not always determine a person's individual taste entirely as by not reading fashion magazines in particular an individual can still be aware of designers collections through other connections such as the Internet. I believe design on the Internet, billboards and television to be more influential than magazines as they are viewed more frequently by both genders.

Assignment 4A

For this assignment, we were told to choose a main question to investigate. By conducting semi-structured interviews with three or four unfamiliar subjects the idea was to produce a conclusion based on the information compiled on our chosen subject. I decided upon the question "How do magazines influence people's ideas of design and taste?" My decision was based on my interest in advertising and which elements have a huge impact on the viewer. As the majority of magazines are filled with advertisements promoting the extensive range of brands available today I thought this would surely have a huge impact and on how those reading magazines thought and what they inevitably liked design-wise. I began by brainstorming my first thoughts to get an idea of what sort of things I would be looking for and the most suitable questions to ask in order to gather qualitative information and come to a solid conclusion. I began by listing types of magazine and their content and cover material as well as aspects of an individual which would reflect their tastes.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Assignment 3A & B - Design Safari

I chose to observe people’s behaviour within a cafe environment so went to the Tartan cafe along the road from the art college. When we arrived we sat down at a table next to the wall from where we could see most of the room. Even before I had begun observing the people around me it occurred to me that I was already experiencing unspoken etiquette. We had seated ourselves without interacting with any member of staff. This behaviour I know myself is common in the relaxed environment of a cafe. It would be different if say we had been in a restaurant where a waiter/waitress seats you at a table on arrival. Our decision to sit where we sat was probably instinctive as we knew that we were here to observe we sat with a view of the majority of the cafe. It wasn’t until we had read over the menu for a few minutes that a waitress approached us to take our order. This is clearly what is thought of as adequate time for the customer to make a decision and is another act which adds to the experience and service type we experience we get when in this environment. How was this decision made? The waitress must therefore be aware of customers arriving and leaving for this service to work efficiently. This is easy to manage if the cafe is quiet although later on as more customers began to arrive certain groups were left for slightly longer and were forced to make an effort to be served. This is usually done through eye contact to attract the attention of a member of staff. No-one is ever really taught how to act within this environment, it is just understood from observation and copying of others after visiting cafes regularly. The staff are all dressed in black so it is clearer who to approach. This also adds structure and creates an increasingly effective service.
Whilst observing those around me I began to piece together behaviour which was similar within certain social groupings. I did this through note taking and an annotated sketch I drew on site. Parents are aware of the environment they are in and try to keep their children entertained. Cafes usually supply colouring books and crayons to occupy young children. I noticed as two women sat down with two young children the older boy dropped his jacket on the floor and immediately one woman picked it up and hung it on his chair. This instinct may not have kicked in so soon if they had been at home. They sat down at a table near the door with lots of space around them. This as well as the fact that there is one adult for every child means that they are less likely to irritate other customers and have more control. When they first arrived a waitress automatically brought over a high chair for them which further proves how aware waitresses must be. Another couple with two children arrived later and they sat opposite one another presumably so that their young children could interact and they could have a conversation at the same time themselves. People were leaning inward towards who they were talking to which conceals their conversations and helps stop their voices being lost in the background noise. I noticed others, probably family, didn’t converse with whoever they were with for a length of time which suggests to me that they are relaxed in each other’s company. If someone leaves their table intending to come back they usually leave their jacket on the chair to show that their seat is taken. Women take their bags with them as they contain more valuable items which is common sense. I noticed a woman sitting in the corner of the cafe alone reading a newspaper. She had obviously chosen this area as it seemed quiet. Another calm area was nearer the back of the cafe where mainly older people sat. It only filled up after the front section was full.
From my analysis I realised that the designing and layout of the space is very important. The main desk is situated on the left when you arrive through the front door. This is the most logical location as it is the first thing the customer sees upon arrival and the last upon leaving where they pay. A glass fronted display cabinet containing cakes, biscuits, etc was also near the front of the cafe. This is an example of good design as customers are likely to be enticed by its content’s and therefore more likely to buy. The cafe has many different areas due to pillars and sections of free space although it is still in a way unified as nothing is closed off. The large area in the middle of the room I have selected within my sketch acts as a design feature due to the fact that it is clearly there for a reason. It is opposite the gap in the main counter where food can be easily distributed from. It is central to the working of the cafe in an effective and efficient manner.
After discussion I have concluded that in order to use design to better the cafe’s environment, research could be done through questionnaires handed out to customers to get feedback. In my personal opinion although the Tartan cafe’s layout works well it still lacks originality. Possibilities are limited due to the fact that the image the cafe is trying to portray is traditional. The tables could be rearranged to space out some of the busier areas of tables so that the layout is more balanced and less awkward. I noticed the chairs did not have cushions and I feel this addition would give the cafe an even cosier feel.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Assignment 2D and Final Conclusion

The next step was to choose one story from 2C and add a fourth image. I then asked a separate set of individuals to see if this addition caused the stories to be read in just one sequence with a singular storyline:

i chose my eighth from the previous task :
8. 49 year old female business development director
The man in his old boat was terribly unhappy due to the fact that he could not harvest his crops. He then received help from an aid worker, which allowed him to travel to the big city where the weekly market was held so he could earn a living to buy food and in turn support his family.

I decided to add an image of an African market :

I later added the word harvest to my third image which seemed to help connect the images resulting in a more successful set of results. Here are the results from my second and smaller sample of individuals as i felt eleven may have been too many :

1. 20 year old female textile design student
The worker harvests his produce and gets in his boat and goes on an adventure to the big city where he sells them at the market.

2. 19 year old female textile design student
The boy’s job is transporting local produce from the market, across the river to the big city. On his trip one day he got stuck in the thick moss.

3. 11 year old female school student
There was a palace which the man in his boat worked for. He went to harvest the weeds to take and sell at the market.
4. 19 year old female jewellery student
The boatman picked up the plants and took them to the town to sell at the market.

5. 19 year old female art student
A young man sailed to an island to harvest his crops, he then went to town and to the market to sell his produce.

6. 16 year old male school student
The market was far away and the river was full of thick weeds so it took the man until dark to reach the city where he would be able to sell what he had made the next day.

After adding the 4th image and a single word, it is clear that the stories thought up by the individuals asked have become increasingly similar and there seems to have been a constant interpretation between everyone asked. This proves that text and imagery, if displayed in a certain way can be successful in portraying a story/ idea/ product/ lifestyle which is more universally understood. My understanding of polysemy has improved as I now see how important it is to carefully compose and conduct within design to ensure that the viewer/client experiences and sees your work as you intended. I feel this experiments results agree with Barthe's theory that images have many differing meanings and understandings due to the differences between the stories first collected. The differences will most certainly be based around age and background. It is only when information is made clear and stories are emphasized that more people being to make similar connections. How information is composed is therefore critical in levels of understanding.

Assignment 2B & C

I began this task by selecting three random images which included :

I then asked a selection of people to make up their own stories which linked the images together. Here are the results :

1. 47 year old male managing director
A merchant banker, walking through St James Park in London, is inspired by the beauty and simplicity in the plants living independently of financial support. He decides to move to the Somali village where his grandfather grew up, to become a fisherman and help educate young people.

2. 17 year old male customer service advisor
A fisherman loses his oars for his boat, in river weed so he cannot get back to the nearby town with his catch before dark.

3. 14 year old male school student
A man rests his head on the bow of his boat moored at the bank of the muddy river, surrounded by drift weed. On the opposite side of the river, the palace towers are illuminated by hazed lights tinged blue by the reflection of the water.

4. 19 year old female jewellery design student
After years of sailing along the river, a young man decided he wanted a new life of luxury and to live in a white tower with a beautiful woman. He went to search, sailing solo and finally came across a damsel in distress on a rock. His boat got trapped in weeds and the woman turned into an octopus and eats him.

5. 19 year old female textile design student
A boy who owned a boat took tourists back and forth to two local islands. One was historic and full of amazing architecture and the other was a more traditional, natural and earthy land.

6. 19 year old female textile design student
An African farmer who is also a fisherman has been growing crops for export to a large city, His produce so far has not been allowed into the country and politicians are meeting at night to discuss whether the produce should be allowed into the country.

7. 19 year old female fine art student
A young man sailed for 2 hours in his homemade boat across the river to harvest his crops. He worked all day and then sailed back to sell his harvest at the government building so he could afford to feed his family for the next week.

8. 49 year old female business development director
The man in his old boat was terribly unhappy due to the fact that he could not harvest his crops. He then received help from an aid worker, which allowed him to travel to the big city where the weekly market was held so he could earn a living to buy food and in turn support his family.

9. 19 year old male engineering student
An African boy grew up as a fisherman on a farm where they harvested grasses. He dreamt of a life in civilisation in the nearby city.

10. 20 year old male history student
A fisherman set out on a fishing trip. When he reached the centre of the lake he looked into the murky weed filled water where he finds the Lost City of Atlantis.

11. 19 year old female jewellery student
A man was sailing when he found a strange plant in the water. He decided to take the plant to be tested in the city and he arrived after dark. He could see the lights hitting the building as he docked.

It's clear that asking a broad range of individuals to explain a story from three images, results in many differing interpretations. The order in which the images have been placed shows some similarities in certain peoples thinking. The most common was the man in the boat followed by the river weed and finally the buildings at night. Although the stories show connections there doesn't seem to be any which show a exact replica of another. This is expected as no two people could possibly word their stories exactly the same. This experiment is already backing up Barthes theory of differing interpretations of the same source.

The Rhetoric of the Image - Roland Barthes

Reading Roland Barthes' essay 'The Rhetoric of the Image', has allowed me to understand the many ways in which images can be read. An image can be an extremely successful means of projecting an idea, lifestyle or product. Barthes studies how we can communicate by means of signs and symbols collectively known as semiotics. He uses an advertisement from the Italian food company Panzani to illustrate that we automatically associate elements such as colour and symbols with a certain culture/ lifestyle. The tri-coloured hues and Mediterranean vegetables immediately evoke thoughts of the Italian culture - 'Italianicity'. Individually, we interpret images in different ways as our understanding is based on previous life experience and background. Polysemy, as Barthes explains, is the term used to describe a sign with multiple meanings. He explains within his text that there are three separate types of messages within an image. The first is the linguistic message which is the language and text. Text can in many circumstances enhance an image by increasing our level of understanding of the designers message. For example, clever use of text within textile designs, produced to raise awareness for a certain cause, may clarify the issue which the designer set out to highlight. The second message is the denoted message which is non-coded and iconic. This includes our basic knowledge which is fixed within us from a young age and is understood by most without much thought. Finally the coded-icon or connoted image is elements which could indeed be interpreted in many different ways. Depending on how knowledgeable an individual is, any image can be read into mainly to uncover elements which evoke feelings or connections to another known source.
To relate this to textiles, I feel it is important to be aware of the differing interpretations people have of symbols depending on their background and culture. To project a particular idea you must understand how to help the viewer see your work as you intended. Composition can have a huge impact within textile designs as it can either enhance or take away from the overall success of a piece. Researching before creating textile designs is important so that your designs are not likely to be offensive to a certain group of people or an individual. Colours are also key in attracting attention as they are associated with many emotions, organisations, religions, etc. The visual is extremely important to designers in general as it is what their audience or client see and interpret. So in order to engage your desired customer you must understand how they view the world and present yourself and your business in a manner which they can relate to.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Catherine Campbell

I have been following the Australian artist Catherine Campbell's blog for a while now and thought I would share some of her work. The way she combines her delicate pen and watercolour illustrations with snippets of colour and paper cut outs is very effective. I think she is a perfect example of an artist who uses collage beautifully.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Consumption of Design - My Thoughts

Reading chapter four of Guy Julier's 'The Culture of Design' brought my understanding of our consumer driven culture to a new level and go me thinking. It is impossible for us to escape consumerism as everything has been invested in by someone at some point in time. Even voluntarily run organisations involve elements of design and therefore capital. Design in general plays a huge part in shaping our society. The money and time invested in products, experiences and services proves how responsible we as designers are in influencing how society spends and interacts. The constant flow of design and production which occurs primarily to feed consumer demand is effectively further encouraging society's need for the new and improved. As long as designers continue to develop new products for consumption this cycle will inevitably exist.

The chapter also explains that consumption is believed to be personal choice and a freedom to express individuality. In reality, the consumer is being manipulated into buying and experiencing a lifestyle which effectively has been designed and provided by someone else entirely. Individually and even more so as a potential designer, I contribute to and am responsible for a great deal of our consumer driven culture just like everyone else. Relating to my discipline, textile designer's influence and create with the intention of fulfilling consumer needs whether that be in the form of a useful product such as fabric or a purely visual gallery piece. Due to previous disregard for the origin of raw materials and the disposal of chemicals, the textiles industry has ruined the much of the landscape. This has been down to quick fixes and bad judgement in a time when the height of consumer demand has clouded our morals. Is it possible for us ever to live in a society where consumerism doesn't play such a great part ? Can we amend the damage we have already done in our quest to feed our consumer appetite? As potential designers of the future, I feel it is important that we understand the current problems so we can try to be more ethical in our consumption of raw materials and the ways in which we process them into final designs. If we are thoughtful when considering these elements of our design processes, consumerism will unavoidably still exist but will not be at the destructive level it is at today.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Semester Two: Assignment One

Our first assignment for semester two was to swap a collection of photographs with another design student we didn’t know well. The photos were to be either a selection from different times throughout our lives or of our family home and room. When we were first given this assignment I wondered whether I would find it almost impossible to define what kind of person someone was from photographs alone. I swapped photos with Abbie Graham who is studying Graphic Design. She gave me photos of her family home to study. To begin with it was quite daunting, as I felt rather intrusive analysing photos of a house belonging to someone I didn’t really know. After looking through them I decided to focus on six photographs which included photos of her kitchen, living rooms, bedroom and sibling’s room.

The first thing that stuck me was that her home was quite minimalist but not to the point where there wasn’t character and I still got a feel of what she and her family are like (well I think anyway). From looking at these photographs, I decided some of her family members were organised, taking pride in the appearance of the house whereas others are slightly more relaxed. An unmade bed suggests to me that her parents are not overly strict but because the house is very tidy they still have structure. There are posters on her brother’s bedroom walls. Posters of Bands like Kings of Leon and Foo Fighters as well as electric guitars suggests that his taste in music is mainly rock. Therefore Abbie may have similar taste in music, although McFly tickets in her room make me think that her music taste is more pop/rock. Music generally must be important to Abbie’s family as there are various musical instruments, radios and iPod systems around the house. The interiors are mainly neutral which suggests her family don’t like overly bright colours. Her house also has mainly modern unfussy furnishings. Her family’s taste may be an element which led her to studying Graphic Design. It is clear that her family or certain family members are active as there are walking boots by the door, a wii fit and they have a family dog.

I think Abbie’s room is decorated fairly similarly to the rest of the house which suggests her tastes have been somewhat influenced by her parents. The walls are fairly neutral with a touch of colour on one wall. She still has elements which illustrate her own personality, such as collections of her possessions in certain parts of her room. I get the impression that she likes to have lots of her own possessions on show in her room to make it her own. She does although still keep things in order on various hooks and shelves. Maybe she has acquired this trait from her parents. Lots of her possessions look like they have been kept from certain occasions which illustrates that she is sentimental. She has collected glow bands, concert tickets and masks probably from special occasions and nights out. This suggests to me that she is sociable and a fun person to be around. This is confirmed by the photograph of her and a few of her close friends on her desk. Both Abbie and her brother have lots of their own possessions so it seems that their parents don’t favour one of them over the other. This may suggest that there is no sibling rivalry between them and they probably get on well. She must like elephants as there are quite a few wooden elephants on shelves around her desk and also a toy elephant in the living room. They may have been presents from her friends/ family or bought on holiday. Abbie’s collection of possessions she has complied over the years and displayed in her room suggests she has lots of great memories. They probably all individually remind her of a certain time or person.

Being a subject of research myself I found strange as I have never previously had someone describe to me what kind of person they think I am. I was intrigued to find out what conclusions Abbie had come to after looking at my own photos. On meeting up to compare our notes I discovered that everything I had guessed from her photos had been accurate. Neither, did I bring up anything that Abbie didn't already know about her self. From completing this assignment, I have come to the conclusion that you can discover a lot about someone by just looking at their home environment and possessions.

I feel that by completing this assignment, I have learnt that it is extremely important to take into account your subjects opinions and consider their feelings in general. I understand that I must notify my subject if I intend on publishing any personal information/photographs I have gathered.