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.