Thursday, 31 March 2011

Humourous street art...

So through my usual internet browsing I came across the a few street artists, OaKoAk being one, Banksy being another. They are both quite different, OaKoAk seem to be quite humourous and all about the harmless banter of it all. Where as Banksy creates slightly more controversial pieces.
OaKoAk takes what the city gives and create a witty street piece out of it for our entertainment. A lot of these pieces are simple statements very well done.



Banksy is an anonymous British graffiti artist, political activist, film director and painter. His street art often combines irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stenciling technique. They have been found on streets, walls, bridges of cities throughout the world. Banky's stencils feature striking and humourous images occasionally combined with slogans. The message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalism or anti-establishment. Subjects often include rats, apes, policemen, soldiers, children and the elderly.
I heard that Banksy started creating stencils for speed incase he was caught in the act, and could potentially be charged for vandelism. So prepares the stencils beforehand so on the scene, it takes less time to create his art. Because of all this recognition now, it has also been said that if you live in an area close to a piece of Banksy's work it increases the value of your house..

I like how his work is so distinctive, it tends to nearly always be the figures in the art being this particular style and colours, of black and white stencil. The best work in anything, is that which is instantly recognisible, and Banksy is really distinctive so has therefore become successful and known worldwide. Here are a few example of his work.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

"Life's too short for the wrong job"

Are you tired of working 9 to 5 in a cramped office space? A German online recruitment website, goal was to break people out of the this very situation and help them find a perfect job through this advertising campaign. This company ran a campaign in 2006 that won many advertising and marketing awards. The whole concept of the advertising campaign was to introduce the idea that there are people behind these machines that are hard at work in cramped spaces. The campaign itself was actually a print campaign that introduced a very real concept.

As soon as I saw these ad's I completely understood what was going on. The picture told the whole story. Even the tagline on the ad was in German, and although I can actually read German a little, it was hardly even needed. It just let you know that it was about career choices. Are you happy where you work and in the conditions? A 9 to 5 job sitting in a cramped office all day you can imagine could perhaps get a little mundane, unless of course you enjoy that. However many people don't and realise that they made the wrong career job in life. So these adverts I think depicts very well the point of capturing 'working in a cramped space' and makes you think of how awful so little breathing space is! Thinking as an interior designer, space for me is key. So the idea of working all day in a job where I had little moving space, and quite frankly was not happy in my job (the bigger picture) sounds hellish. I like to design a space where it stimulates people senses, they feel instantly good being in the environment. This is a job I can see myself working in (if the job becomes available!) But back to my point of good advert design, this comes high up for me...and if nothing else they are quite amusing! Take a peak..

Sunday, 20 March 2011

assignment 4 - interviews not as we know them - & further research

So for this assignment we have to conduct a certain number of interviews. We were given a list of questions to choose from, the one I chose and thought would provoke a lot of questions and answers was 'What object do people treasure the most? Why?'
I initially did a little mind map that included the kind of questions I would ask that would allow me to obtain all the knowledge I wanted about that person and their object and why it means so much to them.

Some of the questions I intended on asking were:
- What is your most treasure object?
- Why is it treasured?
- Where did you get it? Tell me the history of the object?
- Where is it kept? secret place? loose drawer? on display? locked away?
- Do you use it? How often? Do you wear it?
- Is there a certain person/place connected with the object? Souviener?
- Was it achieved?
- Is it linked with memories? Good or bad?
- How long has it been your treasured possession? Gift? Homemade for you?
- What is the value of the object?

Even amongst these questions however I adopted a semi-structured type style of interview, which allowed me to deviate from my set list of questions to follow up any interesting feedback I got so I adapted some of the questions or just added my own ones in on the spot to suit the situation depending on the interviewee and their responses. Sometime I could ask extensive questions based on their answers to prise more out of them. I also found that the responses to some questions sparked off or answered some of my later questions.

I interviewed 4 people; 3 females, 1 male.

that threatening interview feeling - but they don't have to be!
I'm not going to list out every answer the interviewee gave me one by one, but rather compare and contrast the answers from all the interviews as a whole.
For 3 of my subjects, interestingly not simply the 3 females (suggesting it's not gender biased in anyway), but the 2 females and the male  - the object was something they treasured for the fact that someone special gave it to them. In both the females circumstances it was a bracelet. For one woman, it wasn't actually the look of the bracelet she liked, nor did she wear it much, or was OCD about where it was kept, but it was the last gift ever received from her child minder of 10years who later died of a brain tumour. So it was clear it was more the memories of the child minder linked with the bracelet she has fondness over and not so much the physical object it was purely just a physical lasting object with much deeper personal recollections of this fond child minder.
The other female's bracelet was one of greater value and of label she really liked (Tiffany&Co), however even though the bracelet was much loved and she had asked for it, the thing that meant most to her about it was her sister only few years older bought it for her as a surprise in the end, after saying she wouldn't get her it, then unknown to my interviewee she did get it. So not only does she take great care over her possession now because of the price, but also because it reminds her of the kindness of her sister, and her 16th birthday - the day she became the proud owner. So without even going through the whole interview and finer details you can see similarities & differences already. For my first interviewee it wasn't necessarily the bracelet she treasured as an item, it was probably only worth £5, but she treasured it simply for memories linked with it. My second interviewee did treasure the memory linked with it too - that her sister gave her it as a surprise for her 16th, as she knew how much it would mean to her. Which was evident that it means a lot to my interviewee still to this day due to the fact her sister knew how much it would mean to my interviewee, but it is also a particularly expensive bracelet she had wanted and so displays her affection for it by wearing it most days of her life. Whereas the first woman doesn't wear it to show it off but just as a keepsake. Perhaps this is because the bracelet of my first interviewee is also linked with sad memories as well as the good - seeing as the giver is now not alive anymore. So maybe having that reminder there on your arm everyday would be a bit much, so rather just looks at it now and then..

My third interviewee -a male- treasured a particular item of clothing most, a hoody. For similar reasons as my first 2 interviewees, it is treasured most for sentimental value. His girlfriend had bought him it one birthday a few years ago completely unexpected and it's one of greater value than he would normal spend on himself. It's interesting when thinking about the response to this because it's similar to both my first interviewee's responses. It is similar to interview 1 in the sense that it is the memories and affection towards the individual that he has makes the item more treasured because every time he wears it he thinks of his girlfriend and evidently has more love for his girlfriend rather than the hoody alone but it's a reminder of her affection towards him so means more to him than any other hoody he owns. And similarly to interview 2, probably more so, because not only are the good memories linked with the item as I just stated but also the hoody - one which is a particular label that he wouldn't needlessly splash the cash on for himself, so because of this - he worries everytime he washes it incase it shrinks or he damages it in some way. So interviewee 2 & 3 are similar in the sense that they take great care in looking after their item as the fond memories of the one who purchased the items are evidently special people in their life.

Interviewee 4's treasured item was her diary. This interview differed from the other 3 as it is not connected with a special person, but rather just herself. It allows her to record daily her plans and future events, and she can look back and treasure the memories that have made up her life story. This was the most different of all the interviews to the others, this is an item that she would be pretty gutted if she lost but she did admit it wouldn't be the end of the world. Although some previous memories would be lost, she would go out immediately to replace it to continue writing her plans. This suggests a really organised person! So it is not the physical diary she cares for, but rather - as cheesy as it sounds - 'the treasure it contains' that means most to her. Whereas the other interviewees items are irreplaceable for that same sentimental value would be lost if ever the item was missing.

Every interview was the same with regards to how long it had been treasure for, the unanimous answer was since it was received or purchased. None of the objects were kept particularly safe, just loosely in their bedroom or on possession at all time, no sign of it being hidden away or locked safely. Interviewees 2 & 3 were the most similar due to the fact their items cost the most so most care is taken of them, making sure it's not damaged compared with the other 2 where the actual physical item isn't as valuble it would seem.
Every interview in some form or other, it came out that the object was linked with memories. The objects are to remind them of memories, however some daily, some not as often. They are also a variety of memories, and not all good ones, they can remind you of the good and bad situations you find yourself in. The last interview helped create her own memories day by day, but this was for future benefit, to organise her time and what she was doing, but also by doing that and writing everything down she good look back in the future to comfort herself of the memories she keeps.

After doing all this, and discussing with my friends thinking of the bigger picture, I guess it has made me think about the kind of people we are. We are quite nostalgic people, and I guess the reason you treasure items at all is for this purpose. Life throws at you all sorts of thing to deal with, but myself included, I quite often like looking back at old memories to remind myself of how I got to where I am today and the events and people that have shaped my character, so I guess that goes for most people. That's what makes up YOUR character, that is YOUR personal life story, YOUR personal identity. One of my personal favourite things for good memories are old photographs because that can take you right back to that time and place in your life and often leaves you with a smile on your face. Quite often things like food and smells remind you or people or places as well, and transports you back to that point in your life you want to spend a little while in, just simply remembering...
the attachment & love for a favourite possession you hold dear

I have a particular interest in this area, but if I was to research this further I would look more closely into identity and what makes us who we are, and the resources into the reason for attachment to items. I came across this book I stumbled upon whilst browsing the topic online, by Gary Younge called 'Who Are We? - and should it matter in the 21st century' There is also an interesting article in The Guardian I came across about the book -
I read a bit about the book he notes that 'identity is dependent not only on the individual but also the behaviour of the wider world.' Having just recently done this assignment I think he is right, the people I interviewed - the object in some shape or form reminds them of someone or something and connects with memories that they don't want to lose, which shows the type of people we are. And these people we see as 'special' and the whole point of attaching ourselves to these items is to remind us of these certain people. Clearly, these people are loved greatly, or are influencial on our lives. And it is this kind of influence that people can have on us that shapes us, we are subconsciously connected to them and it just proves that the influences of the wider world (I've used the example of special people but it could be anything and also differs for every person!) that make up our own identities.
Attachment could be reasons why someone is physically attached to something, or it could also perhaps be seen as a problem. In the sense of, if you are a person that attaches yourself to everything, you may accumulate clutter and actually have a problem detaching yourself from stuff. I would look into all these areas further.

Whilst interviewing I found myself to do a lot of immediate in depth thinking on the spot. It's a completely different process to questionnaires (what I'm used to) as you don't have to think you just write down or ask the specific set questions in front of you. Whereas this time around I have questions merely as a guideline but I wanted to know certain information so to receive what I wanted I had to think about what they were saying infront of me think fast of another question to follow up for more indepth questions. It was a little uncomfortable and awkward at times when the people did not respond in the way intended and so had to think of asking questions to receive the info I wanted. i found it useful as well to think ahead before the interview, to the kind of answers I was looking for, preparing myself. So then I didn't stumble in the moment as to what to ask, I just had to adjust what to ask for the different people being interviewed.

Monday, 7 March 2011

3c,d&e: Ethnography into practice!

After looking into what ethnography was, the next part of the assignment was for us to put this into practice ourselves. The task was to visit an unfamiliar and potentially uncomfortable environment that we had never been in Football match, Bingo, Casino...
I ended up going to the Casino as I myself had never been before. The one thing I would note about this is that we went off-peak, on midweek afternoon time, so we will just mention that it didn't give a true representation of perhaps the atmosphere that the casino on busy nights can give off. However it was still very interesting...

Seeing as we went at this time the place was primarily occupied with elderly people, who very much seem creatures of habit. There was one couple who we noticed who were there the whole time who went purely for what seemed a day out. There was something about there casual body language that seemed to me to suggest that they were very comfortable in the surroundings, very familiar with how to act and what goes on. They were on their fourth round of drinks by this point... The gentleman occasionally walked off to the roulette machine and left her..but even when they were together the conversation wasn't flowing..why? It could be that they had a minor fall out or something, however I think that is perhaps not the case. It seemed like that is just what they did and how they acted around each other and were quite comfortable with that.

Another thing that I found quite daunting was the various table games of poker etc. In fact what I found even more uncomfortable was I didn't even know what all the games were never mind how to play them! It also seemed like the players were not told, they unlike me were very familiar with how to act, so indicating their regularity at the place. How did they learn? Did someone show them? It almost seems private as well, some kind of private connection between the staff/dealer and the player. I took a slight detour to the toilet so I could subtly have a little watch at what they were doing without embarrassing myself completely as a total novice.
The people I observed that interacted with the staff all seemed really comfortable with them. One lady left her family at the machines whilst she quickly nipped over to the bar and shouted over 'I'll have my sandwich and drink now!' She maybe also felt comfortable as the place was so quiet and she would be heard easy..but she was in no time for chatting or hanging around - she was straight back at the machine whilst the barman soon followed her back to her place of belonging. Speaking of 'her place' the place did feel quite territorial - everyone had there 'own' spot for the time being of being at that machine, or playing whatever game at any given time.

The place has quite an open plan layout, I guess because it is a very sociable place and this further encourages that. Each area is a separate 'zone' if you like, this is shown in a variety of ways, where all the tables were they were at a slightly lower floor level - perhaps this allowed people up at the machines/ bar area look down and observe fellow players. The casino has been designed in such a way where there is very little windows and there is no sign of any clock to try and distract the players from remembering the time of day. Gambling with money is something that can become quite addictive, you enter into your own wee bubble and hours can just disappear.. however if the bright light was shining in massive windows one minute, then the next you were aware of it becoming dark - that bubble would burst sooner, bringing you back to reality and you'd remember that you really need to get home! It is purposefully designed this way though to keep you there longer, sucking you in, whether you are spending/winning/losing money...

Some people were quite expressive - either delighting in their triumph or griping in their failures - both of which are amusing for the observer like myself..and makes for an interesting, alive atmosphere.
I felt pretty uncomfortable at times, I didn't feel comfortable around the machines, a) because I didn't know how to use them anyway and b) I didn't want to appear nosey or get in the way of the engrossed players! However up at the bar, chatting away to the friendly Australian barman and ordering food was all very normal, however I guess that was just like ordering food in any restaurant which is a pretty comfortable familiar task to many of us..

It's interesting watching people just go about their habits and usual business, and for me to feel the complete outsider.. It's one thing being told by someone how someone else acts in their own environment, however it's completely different you being the unknown and doing the observing from the outside looking in for yourself. That way we are not interfering with their own habits and also they don't have to think about how they act, because they are just doing it, it is all completely natural actions - which will all give better results in the research outcome to design from. This in essence, is ethnography in a nutshell. Going out and observing the reality of life, and how people express themselves and identifying barriers where potential issues arise and gathering the results from all this to improve the situation is where we, designers, step in.

Its interesting when you think of unknown rules, no one has ever said anything to you about it but something inside tells you that they exist.. like going to other peoples house, do they expect me to take my shoes off or do they not mind? Do I wait for them to tell me or do I volunteer? When going to the casino, it was a sort of subconscious thought crossed my mind to dress smart-casual is not essential, but I didn't know if jeans and converse would be acceptable - so I played it safe with dress and tights, however there was still men with jeans, but also a jacket. Jeans were obviously allowed but they still kept a smart appearance. I was never told this, it was just one of those you're expected to know, an unwritten rule.

The last few times I have used a bus station I have observed how people act and react to certain circumstances. Things I have noticed, are generally the seats in the station are primarily for the elderly. Having said that I have not yet seen a younger person get up to give up their seat for one, however I'm sure if the occasion arose they would. That's not to say younger people don't sit on the seats, in fact I did, I found myself sitting down beside 2 elderly women nattering away typical elderly women chat about the bus services, where they were going, what they see, and recent news 'Oh did you hear about such-an-such?' - you know what I'm talking about, we've all heard it! I didn't feel awkward sitting down, I was quite relieved to get a seat but the moment an elderly person struggling appeared I perhaps would have felt guilty and got up at the point. What is also interesting, I don't know if it's just me or not, but in the Dundee bus station the seats are arranged in 3's, I have found this to be particularly awkward because if someone sits at one end, the liklihood is the next person wanting a seat will sit at the opposite end, I suppose I would too, to give the other person room and since it's available and all that, but the situation then becomes awkward to go and sit in the middle of them. Obviously if you were dying for a seat you would, but because you have to sit in between 2 it feels a bit uncomfortable, almost like you are intruding into both of their personal spaces..which is silly because if it's free you have every right to that seat. On the other hand if a person sits at one end, the next person to grab a seat would never sit on the middle seat directly next to them (obviously this excludes those travelling in twos) they would always opt for the seat on the other side leaving a gap in the middle. Maybe this is some sort of unwritten rule, some form of etiquette and mannerism that almost seems polite not to land yourself beside them but to give them that little bit more room. You merely want a seat also but as well as not wanting to get in their way at all. This is just an observation I have made..

People interact with staff in numerous ways, there is some kind of nervousness almost. I think it is because if you have been told what bus to get or at what stance, you really know the answer. However there is still that awkward moment when you want to just double, perhaps triple, check that the bus you sit your backside down on is going to take you where you intended. My personal experience anyway, the drivers/staff have always come across quite sarcastic, as if to say 'obviously!' which can make you feel foolish and uncomfortable.
Staff can also come across quite angry and frustrated, because they are running late, or having to leave late as the bus they are waiting on hasn't come in yet, perhaps it's been a bad day, people have made things awkward for them, who knows! Also sometimes you can understand, as people are clearly waiting on the bus to be somewhere at a certain time and this bus is holding them up as it's not running to they can be semi impatient asking when is the bus due in? And more often than not the driver/staff can't do anything about it, other than simply to say 'I don't know, hopefully soon' which can cause a bit of tension in the atmosphere at times..

On the bus the unwritten rules would be that when you sit down you always half take up the seat beside you with a bag or coat or something to kind of indicate that little bit of extra room beside you is yours for the next little while. Or you sit on the aisle seat and only move over when the bus is starting to fill up and you are more or less asked to move over.

Bourdieu's theory discusses that ordinary people often don't visit museums and galleries due to this uncertainty of how to behave. I sort of got this feeling also in the casino, if I hadn't been going over to the bar for food, I don't quite know what to do or where to go because I don't know how to play any of the machines. So unless someone is willing to show you this puts you off visiting this place, like in a museum there is no one telling you how to behave or what to do you just sort of please yourself walking about at your leisure.

Discussing these things with my friends was interesting, especially at the different sites. One friend went to a football match and she found it quite hostile at points almost with all the loud rowdy atmosphere, people screaming, swearing and cheering all around her! And I think at times she didn't quite know how to act. The friends who went to the bingo felt a bit uncomfortable to begin with but as soon as they were aware of how the game was being played and the manager came and spoke to them they began to understand the environment and therefore enjoyed themselves and even joined in! Whereas because I was not shown anything I was more like my friend at the football and not really sure how to act which made it seem more awkward.
Because of the whole situation, me being the outsider, I felt I was taking in the surroundings a lot more. For example, at the bus station I was not just looking at the people waiting on bus. I was watching them behave, how they were checking the time every now and then, looking out to see if they saw there bus coming. How they interacted with the staff, their attitudes as they asked their questions or expressed their concern. Watching in the casino the people in a little world of their own infront of a machine, how they completely focused in on it, getting up occasionally for the essentials. How they spoke to staff there, at times it was almost like they were royalty sitting there on their thrones (their position in front of the machine) and they called upon their servants for their requirements (the barmen/staff bringing them food).

It was all very interesting, and I think this is a skill I quite enjoy, people watching on the extreme level, to the point where you want to know what their thinking and you want to almost predict their next move.. This is something I want to improve and I feel I could, to when it's almost second nature, all in the aim of understanding the needs of the people, to help design a better world. Whether it's the spacial environments they find themselves in everyday, a product, or service etc....

Saturday, 5 March 2011

3b: Ethnography

Ethnography is a term I was not too familiar with before this assignment, but having read the Ethnography Primer, which I really enjoyed, I feel I have a better understanding and can now see the great need and connection it has with design. Before you design anything you need to understand the clients' needs and determine what or how the product/interior etc being designed will be utilized for it to be a success. Ethnography reveals a deeper understanding of people and how they make sense of their world. It is a research tool which designers, including myself from now on, can use where we can observe the users/clients as they go about their own business in their own natural environment. For me (an interior designer), I would watch carefully how a person interacts with the space/environment they are in, for example, how they move around the room, use equipment, react to forms, if they materials used has any great effect. This can help me understand the normal behavioural patterns and observe the reality of the situation first hand to therefore potentially create a better solution, down to the communication between me, the designer, and the client being better through this wonderful technique.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

3a: design tools.

Going through the website I read through some of the tools used in the design process. Some I was familiar with, others I have found may be useful in the future:

mood boards - a mood board is a visual composition of pictures and materials that propose an atmosphere by giving the generic perception of it. I have used these before on a number of occasions. Collecting random pictures of shapes, colours, forms, relating to a particular project and sticking them all together to create a board that is completely captivating and draws you in and inspires you as you soak it all in.

group sketching - quick, fast and economic toll for developing and explaining ideas simultaneously. This is something as a group for our furniture project would have been useful. Coming together at the start of the project and quickly, without thinking sketching whatever came to mind would have been a useful tool.

mind map - tool for the visual elicitation of our thoughts and their connexions. We did do this at the beginning of the furniture project we all sat down as a group with a large sheet of brown paper and were sketching words and ideas together bouncing initial ideas off each other.

storyboard - I could have used this technique in the domestic dwelling project, as a storyboard 'shows the manifestation of every touchpoint and the relationships between them and the user in the creation of the experience' So when I was designing the interior based around a children's hospice, a storyboard visualizing the relationships between the experiences I wanted to create and the user I was observing would have been useful.

quite similarly is 'the trainride' - which implies the observation of the user experience and the representation of that experience through its touchpoints. When my group and I were designing our furniture, in particular the bench, and thinking about the overall experience whilst sitting and spending time on this piece, this would have been a very useful aid. To observe how users interact with certain chairs and the they experience they get depending on form, material. texture etc. Taking notes on this observation at the beginning and having this at the foundation of the project would have been a helpful tool.