Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Summer Placement

For the month of June, I took part in a summer placement through in Glasgow with icecream architecture. It was based in The Lighthouse, Glasgow and we completed a 'research by doing' project, which looked at redeveloping Custom Quay Gardens on the River Clyde.
During the duration of the project we met and worked with a number of people including council representatives, architects and designers and received presentations on the VeloCity project which helped us work towards improving a run down area of Glasgow in preparation for the Commonwealth games.
We also worked with MAKLAB, Glasgow's digital and fabrication studio, learning new knowledge of the software and equipment they use.

In response to the issues we discovered it became apparent that hardly any community members went down to the site to stay - merely passing through. Mainly this was due to them feeling uncomfortable as the place was known as a loitering area for drug users. Through branding and changing the identity of the area we thought this would reinforce the site as a place in the minds of visitors and hopefully give them a sense of purpose to be there. Our identity colour for custom quay was red that was inspired by the red steel on the pedestrian and rail bridge in the close proximity to our site. The Custom quay logo is an abstraction of the site itself which further specifies the branding of the site. We used red balloons to announce the pre torch party and to display a celebratory aspect of our project.

Each week we had small interventions as a way of making the issues visual on site. The first week we highlighted the usable seats among the broken ones by painting them our identity colour red. By doing this we were publicly displaying information to the community what seats were safe to use. Not only that but it was a way for us to announce the presence of this project on site and it was visible from both sides of the river.

As a result of us painting the seats people started to stop and ask us what we were doing which more often than not ended up in an engaging conversation suggesting what they would like on site or what it used to be. Using the history of the site and how it was used previously as inspiration for the way forward, we envisaged a flavour of this being brought back through a programme of creative activities as performances onsite engaging with the community.

Another intervention was the planting of fresh new flowers in the cracks of broken paving and in the neglected flower beds.
 This was conducted as a poetic gesture inspired by the gathering of people at the green spaces. From speaking to community members on site who were looking for more flowers and colour - we felt a good way to quickly address the issue and responses was to plant some in the neglected flower beds where evidence shows there may used to have been some, and some in the areas where maintenance is rarely looked at and potentially causing danger to users. We also wanted to use this intervention as a means of accessing the vandalism in the area - would they be respected and appreciated or would they end up torn out?
We gathered that there was a potential need for more vibrancy and vegetation on site but it would need maintained fairly frequently as does the paving for the safety of users and for the overall atmosphere.
We found there to be a lack of visual connection between the different levels of the site and other important spaces and routes, thus resulting in people not occupying the site. Because you can't see the differing levels due to thick high walls it becomes uninviting, but we think that with sufficient and relevant signposting advertising the space or various performances it would reposition this site on the map.

Along the site there is traces of river facing bars cafes and nightclubs which are now boarded up. We marked out the commercial and social spectres of the past and potential future. The bricks alone are a very subtle trace of what once was. Our intervention was to add visually clear graphics with red tape to mark out the sites intriguing history visible for all the visitors which was to also inspire the community for a vision for the future.
We also hosted a pretorch party - to capture the crowds that gather in the city centre to see the Olympic torch to come down and occupy the site. We had invited live musicians, pop up shops and bands to entertain the passing crowds in the ampitheatre area to stop and linger for a while. It was amazing to see how many people were drawn in because of other people or because of the music - they felt like there was a purpose to be there so felt free to stop and sit.
From all of this our research led us to 12 directives that we presented alongside icecream architecture to an audience and a panel of Glasgow City Council representatives and I was one of the students selected to present part of it.

Overall I really enjoyed my experience, I met a lot of great people that might be useful in the future and more
than anything it was an exciting prospect to be part of a live project!












Wednesday, 18 April 2012

| NESTA: Refined |

|Mission Statement|
My aim is to conduct a market research analysis on sound and how it is used in business, specifically in the retail industry and how it can further increase sales.

|Evidence Modelling|
Enhances. A wider audience, improves sales/business, improves productivity, creates a better working environment
Replaces. It makes shops with bad noise pollution less desirable, and also shops that are too quiet.
Revive. It provides an improved shopping experience. It encourages people to go back to traditional high street shopping for the atmosphere, to enjoy the experience rather than just shopping online for convenience.
Backlash. It could result in paying for these changes within the business but not benefitting in much of a sales increase so ending up in the business making a loss.

|Customers|
Who? Shop/business owners
Their needs? Inexpensive installation costs, a quick turnaround time so the shop doesn't lose money. They also would like a positive outcome benefitting in increased sales.
My offer? A new environment to work in. A better store that will encourage more sales. Improves working environment = motivated staff = happy staff = happy customers = more sales.

|Blueprint Modelling|
This is the operational stages that the business carries out. There are three stages,
engagement, development and delivery. Engagement is the time that it takes to plan who your prospective customers are and how to persuade them to buy from you. Development is the time that it takes to design and create your offer. The delivery stage is the time it takes to get your product or service to your customer.

These activities take place either in front of the customer – ‘Onstage' or out of sight of the customer –
‘Backstage’.

Engagement backstage- The market research I would start with is how people respond to sound, what are the behavioural effects? I would look to find out what is already out there. How is it businesses use sound as it stands? What are their motives? Is it successful? What do they think could be better?
Onstage- One way to develop the market would be to find out who would want the changes, what shops? Specifically clothes shops, shoe shops, food places? Networking is another great way to develop interest in an idea.

Development backstage- Developing the idea that I'm offering. Is it a toolkit of suggestions based on my design knowledge on what would work better? Will I know what sounds to offer? Is it certain materials that the shop should use that help? For this project it is more likely that I do a research analysis study of how using sound can shape the behaviour of people to obtain desired results (i.e increasing sales) and using my knowledge to then educate those in the business industry that would benefit.
Onstage- I would show my customers perhaps an early prototype model of a flagship store that successfully uses sound. Perhaps short videos of customers being interviewed in different shops saying they ''enjoy shopping in this store because..'' and ''hate this shopping environment because....'' then the shopowner (my customer) sees firsthand what exactly the shop customers likes/wants/needs.

Delivery backstage- This is decisions I would make based on what needs to be carried out. Is it a physical change? If so who would carry out the changes, who's fitting the store? What effects this had on the store - how long would it need to be closed for? When is the best season to install?
Maybe it's just small scale changes that requires a series of meetings discussing and demonstrating the subtle changes and affects the shop needs to make.
Onstage- Presenting the final design idea to a client creating an example in a store of what the changes are and how they benefit.

|Relationship Modelling|

Every business needs a set of relationships to make all the steps happen. These have been split up into four-
Generator – originating, directing and developing.
Realiser – manufacturing and producing finished product, services and experiences
Distributor – delivery, sales and marketing
Customer – buying, utilising and experiencing your business
This will help to think about which activities you need to keep inside your business, and which will be done with others.

When considering this I realised that a lot of this was quite business focussed and so I tried to pick out the relevant aspects of building relationships amongst my research task and what would be appropriate for me.
I will need to talk to the shop owners and ask if they have ever thought about the sound environment affecting their business. If they do consider it how do they approach it?
I need to think about how they would benefit from the relationship. I can hopefully offer them advice about what might be a better solution or things to think about. If it became a recognised or talked about event/situation that was covered by the press or anything, more people would know about it so would naturally attract more customers.
I would need to talk to the shop customers to see what they thought. After all they are the customers of my potential customer. If it becomes clear what sounds put them off etc and what shops they like going in, I could investigate what some shops do better than others. What might be interesting about the shop customers is that they may not know it's the sound environment that attracts or repels them going into the store, or it may be a part of a fuller package (good store layout) aswell. Maybe this is more of an observation task, but speaking and having a relationship with them could inform this task and so is still valuable information.

Blueprint Modelling

Evidence Modelling

Customers

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

| Crowdfunding |

Crowdfunding
This is a new term I heard about recently in a design and the market lecture. It has something to do with obtaining 'free money'... *ears perk up* So what is crowdfunding? It describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowdfunding occurs for any variety of purposes, from disaster relief to citizen journalism to artists seeking support from fans, to political campaigns.

Pros - Allows good ideas which don't fit the pattern required by conventional financiers to break through and attract cash through the wisdom of the crowd.

Cons - There is a risk that your idea could be copied.

Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. Unfortunately it is a US resident based website so from UK we can't pledge, however there are equivalents where we can, one being Bloom VC.  Here is an example of what the Kickstarter website looks like and below is the link to follow this exact project that I found interesting:

http://www.Kickstarter.com/projects/855802805/lowline-an-underground-park-on-nycs-lower-east-sid?ref=live


This may be of interest in the future if you would like help for start up funds/free money to get you places, if you get right people (the crowd) behind you they may be able to help you get there. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

| sound in business |

Having spoken to my lecturer this week he seemed pretty interested in my topic and quite happy that I carried on down more a research line into business rather creating a business plan. Who knows, having researching into this further I may end up having a business idea?

As I briefly mentioned previously I was interested into this man Julian Treasure who lives to listen. I found he wrote a book called 'Sound Business' which covers issues like "the way sound affects human beings - and the way business can harness the power of sound for better results" - perfect! So I have ordered the book from amazon this week.

It says this about his book online: 
"Sound is a great undiscovered country for business. Most organisations are blissfully unaware of their sound, and yet sound affects people deeply. Sound can change people’s behaviour in almost any commercial environment, including offices, shops, showrooms, advertising, the internet, hotels, bars and restaurants. Research shows that appropriate sound can increase retail sales by over 30 per cent and triple productivity for some workers.

In 'Sound Business', our chairman and three-time TED speaker Julian Treasure explains exactly how to predict these effects and take control of sound to improve almost every aspect of business. Combining the latest psychoacoustic theory, original thinking and practical tips for every application of sound, this is the first book to map this unexplored land of sound in business. First published in 2007, the new second edition of this seminal book includes case studies and many updated references. There is also a Japanese edition out now, published in Japan by Yamaha Music."

I think what also intrigues me more is how untouched the subject seems to be yet I think it perhaps is something so vital that we may be missing from within the business industry... I look forward to reading his book and finding out if we are!





| listening to sound |

Below are 3 informative TED talks that are linked with sound, and have been inspiring to me in my current interior design project where I'm placing sound in a place just as valuable as the visual. When considering my design and the market assignment and having not been 100% sure on a business plan I have been thinking of ways I can include sound into my project. I have an interest in the retail industry from an interior designer's point of view, I'm really interested into the pyschology behind everything. I was wondering if I could research into sound within the retail industry and how it affects business. When researching and looking into sound I came across this guy below, Julian Treasure who lives 'sound'. Have a listen to what he has to say and hopefully you'll be as inspired into 'listening' better as I was.

 Under each video I have just noted and quoted certain parts that stood out to me..

4 ways sound affects us - Julian Treasure




accidental/unpleasant noise
unconscious listening.
1.physiological (heartbeat)
2.psychological (music being the most powerful mediums that affects our emotions)
3.cognitive (we have a small bandwidth that processes auditory output)
4.behavioural (how sounds affects how we act/decisions we make etc)
we move away from unpleasant sound towards the pleasant.
designing soundscapes.

5 ways to listen better - Julian Treasure


we are losing our listening
conscious listening creates understanding
tips on how to improve our listening quality:
1.three minutes of silence each day, take time to recaliborate.
2.’the mixer’ – when listening to sound, how many channels of sound can you hear? This will improve the quality of the different sounds you are hearing all together.
3.’savouring’ – enjoying the mundane you sounds you hear, this is what Julian called the ‘hidden quiet’
Receive Appreciate Summarise Ask
listen consciously.

Making sound visible through cymatics - Evan Grant


public installations
likes to find hidden data within nature
cymatics = magic tool/acts as a looking glass into a hidden world.
sound has form. sound has an effect on matter.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

|Whitespace|



On Friday we received a lecture from Iain Valentine, creative director at Whitespace. He gave us a little insight into his company and what it is they do. The company's moto was 'Work hard + be nice to people' He said he has that on the wall in his office, but more importantly than that - it works! He gave us some advise into the kind of thing he would look for in a designer, some of which I already do but other aspects has helped me think a little deeper into what it is I'm doing just now at uni.

+ Do more that what you're told to do
+ Try new things
+ Teach others about what you know
+ Make work play + play work
+ Take breaks
+ Make your own inspiration
+ Love what you do, or move on.

Iain also talked about the social media marketing that Whitespace do, which was really relevant having just learnt about it earlier. An example of some they have done is for Peter Vardy. Using daily tweets, twice weekly blogging and a hairy mini increased awareness of the leading second hand mini seller in Scotland.


After visiting their website I found another few things that were helpful! 

"Could we meet here?
Isn’t it easier and almost always nicer if you host a meeting or have friends round to yours? Unless of course your place is a mess or they come with dirty shoes. It’s the same for your audience – if you go to them online, where they are, they’ll appreciate it. But just like in the physical world you need to follow the right etiquette for each site and community, to ensure you are a good guest and don’t outstay your welcome."

"15 minutes of fame.
Warhol was so right and so wrong. You can easily get more than 15 minutes of ‘fame’ online. Some folk share so many photos, videos, blog posts and tweets they probably end up ‘broadcasting’ more a week than Chris Evans. And so can you. Content sharing sites like YouTube, Metacafe, Vimeo, Flickr, Photobucket, WordPress, blinkx, blip.tv, etc. . . . can deliver content much closer to your audience."

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

| NESTA: Customers, Blueprint Modelling + Relationship Modelling |

Last weeks workshop has helped me develop one idea for a business, as it was focussed on the customers - who exactly are the potential customers of the business.
The first activity from the NESTA toolkit today was to identify a customer group, determine what their needs are and what we are offering them.

Since last week and speaking to my lecturer I have thought about a potential niche that would fit in with my core values for a business model. The one idea I thought about last week was to create a new shoe shopping experience that will be more focussed on the client having an unforgettable experience. The shoes will be on display in a new innovative way and also the process of trying on your shoes will be different instead of having to wait for ages until a member of staff retrieves them for you.

For the workshop I carried on with my idea to see how these activities can help develop a business idea. However the idea may be subject to change over the next few weeks.

|Customers|
So I have thought about retail store managers as my customers. It is them that I am going to have to take my ideas to to introduce into their stores. I am going to look into independent shoe store retailers rather than certain chains as to begin with they are much harder to break into.
The needs of the store managers are:
- to attract new/different customers into the store,
- to reflect brand image,
- increased sales

The business would offer them
- a new experience/environment to work in
- an improved store layout to enhance business/productivity
- better working conditions
- a different way to brand themselves?
- an enjoyable stressfree working environment.


|Blueprint Modelling| 
This helps to visualise how the business will function and describe how it will be done. From doing this today I realise that for my idea it would probably benefit me to conduct two of these, one for the store managers, and one for the customer.

Store managers+Customers_
At the engagement stage I would carry out market research to find out what exactly is out there already - different examples of shoe stores across the world. I would speak to the store managers of the store I was looking to change to find out the limitations. What aspects of the store need to remain the same? I would
carry out focus groups with the customers to find out if this is something they would like and benefit from.
I would also develop a market at this stage by perhaps creating a video showing what it is that I could provide for people. For an idea like this and to get people interested they have to be able to visualise the changes to see how it would look/function so I feel like to arise interest in this a video is the best approach.

At the development stage once the essentials are identified and the desires of the customers are known then I would begin to develop the idea further. I would need to find out the effects this new installation would have on the store. When is your quietest time? What is the best time to install it? How long can you afford to be closed for?
To show the customers early prototypes I feel rendered sketches, digital created images and perhaps a walk through animation of the store visuals would work best. Also creating a test/prototype shop to test the public interaction.

At the delivery stage I would find out who the contractors are who are fitting the shop, and where is it going to be first installed? One individual flagship store? Then for the shop opening and delivering to the customer I would promote/advertise the opening through flyers throughout the city where the store is. Attract people in to the 'opening event' with discounts etc.




|Realationship Modelling|
We had a quick introduction today to relationship modelling. Every business needs a set of relationships to make all the steps happen.
The people that I have identified so far that I would perhaps need to build relationships with is the retail store managers (are they interested?) the customers (their input into what they want from the design)
I would also have to meet the contractors (those fitting the shop) and shop employees (has it provided better working environment?)
The customers (has it improved their service/shopping experience?)