Wednesday, 13 April 2011

5b: Summer plans

Five books I plan to read over the summer -
1. Personality - Daniel Nettle
"It is one of the great mysteries of human nature. Why are some people worriers, and others wanderers? Why are some people so easy-going and laid-back, while others are always looking for a fight? This brief volume takes the reader on an exhilarating tour of what modern science can tell us about human personality. Revealing that our personalities stem from our biological makeup, Nettle looks at the latest findings from genetics and brain science, and considers the evolutionary origins and consequences of different personalities. The heart of the book sheds light on the "big five": Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientious, Agreeableness, and Openness. Using a stimulating blend of true-life stories and scientific research, Nettle explains why we have something deep and consistent within us that determines the choices we make and situations we bring about."
   -  After reading Snoop by Sam Gosling I was really intrigued into the whole psychological aspect behind the book and how the mind works. This is where the big 
five, mentioned above, was first introduced to me. I have always liked looking at 
different peoples' characters, so for the chance of this to be explained further this 
book sounds like a good one!

2. Made to Stick - why some ideas survive and others die - Chip and Dan Heath
"Unabashedly inspired by Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling The Tipping Point, the brothers Heath—Chip a professor at Stanford's business school, Dan a teacher and textbook publisher—offer an entertaining, practical guide to effective communication. Drawing extensively on psychosocial studies on memory, emotion and motivation, their study is couched in terms of "stickiness"—that is, the art of making ideas unforgettable." 
  - This book seems to stem from the The Tipping Point which I read earlier in the year due to Design Studies, I preferred Snoop to read just because it's something I have personal interest in, but certain aspects did keep my attention. The Stickiness Factor being one, and this book seems ideal for explaining further the reason why some ideas stick and others simply, don't. I think this will be will useful from the creative perspective and for when I'm thinking up ideas, what helps make them stick.

3. Happiness - science behind smile - Daniel Nettle
"What is happiness—is it an unpredictable emotion like joy? A rational construct like personal fulfillment? Or is it some subtle, elusive combination of both? In this enjoyable, thought-provoking book, Nettle digs into the subject with great insight and just a bit of cheeky irreverence. In clear, succinct prose, he argues "that what we are programmed for by evolution is not happiness itself, but a set of beliefs about the kinds of things that will bring happiness, and a disposition to pursue them." He cites survey after survey that report that people's sense of their own happiness outstrips their actual material well-being."
   - Again along the lines of questioning something we see hear about so often but when it comes into question we often son't realise all that lies under the skin.. I feel this book may shed some light on these things, especially taking something like an emotion that we all relate to - sounds like another interesting read by Nettle.

4. Blink - the power of thinking without thinking - Malcolm Gladwell
"Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of "thin slices" of behavior. The key is to rely on our "adaptive unconscious"--a 24/7 mental valet--that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react to a new idea." 
   - This also sounds a good read, the review appeals to me, and again it is by a well recognised author. After reading the review that give little insights to the topics and scenarios Gladwell will introduce and link into this strapline 'the power of thinking without thinking' all sounds really good. The fact that again it is something we are unaware of, our subconscious train of thought seems to be where our best ideas and thought patterns come from but sometimes we don't always know how to reach them. Perhaps Gladwell will shed light on this?

5. Digital Photography Book - Scott Kelby
 - Away from the psychological/personality side of things I plan to take up photography over the summer as a hobby. It has always appealed to me, and another side that has opened up to me was after one of the previous assignments about reading into photographs in a way I never thought of. Photos can tell a whole story and ones of multiple meanings. Creating photographs that can be analysed to decifer the true meaning is something I'd love to do. So this book, along with a number of other Kelby has wrote, has many tips on photography and lighting etc. My dad being a keen photographer aswell has a few of these books so should be easy to get my hands on for a wee read over the summer!

Five things I plan to do to my blog -
1. I plan to set up twitter account, it has been opened up to me over this past year as not just another social network like the others that have taken off, but one that fellow students, designers, employers, lecturers, celebrities, everyone seems to use and use daily! Which i think is why I have been so dubious and anxious to set up, so I have put it off till the summer when I can set it up professionally.
2. Delicious account - This is something I have thought about a lot recently certainly throughout this last project, i have bookmarked many, many pages but so many I have stumbled on that I feel I could use another time but I have labelled them under this project and finding them another time may not be so easy! So over the summer when hopefully I have the time I would like to organise all my bookmarks so they are all in the one place for ease of access next time I look.

3. New layout - when first starting out my blog I spent wee while getting a layout and colour scheme I was happy with but I do feel that I ended up spending more time on that than project work so for the last wee while I have stuck with it. However over the summer is the perfect time for a new look and update!

4. Flickr/Photography - I plan to take up photography more over the summer, so hopefully learning more about this I will keep my blog updated and also post some photos! If I could organise my photos and pictures and keep them in folders all in the one place as well would be useful for future reference - and allows others to benefit also.

5. I would also like to add my previous projects into a digital portfolio on my blog, so not only will this allow me to organise my work but it makes it available for others to see on my blog who may be interested.

Five people I would like to connect with - 
1. Susan Stewart - second cousin of mine, who studied the same course as I'm doing now about 12 years ago. She has worked with interior design companies since and has also set up her own business. I would like to speak to her about what she's been up to lately and perhaps show her my projects. She is based in Northern Ireland, but I think she still has a few connections over here so it may be good to get names/companies off her that I could visit or contact, even if it's just for a chat.

2. Andi Ross - a friend who studied the same course more recently, she just graduated a few years back. I have a feeling she moved on from the interior design pathway as I seem to recall her final project being more animation based. But I know not so long ago she was down in Bristol for a while, perhaps teaching? I would like to give her a wee email/text to see what she is up to and to see if she has any advice for me.

3. Vanessa/Rania - fourth year students last year who i helped out for their joint final project and help set up their degree show so I still have their numbers if they still have the same one. I would like to contact them to see where they are at, one year on.

4. Lauren Currie - a former product design student at DJCAD and graduated from the MDes course not so long ago. She inspired me greatly with her lecture, she showed real enthusiasm and drive for what she wanted and where she needed to be, and did everything she could to get there. If you don't try and throw yourself out there, you won't get. She was one of the main reasons I am converted from an i-will-not-join-twitter club, as I now see the benefits it could bring even if it is just to keep in the loop of the modern world!

5. I would like to browse on my twitter account and stumble upon a few design related people, I will try and connect with one complete random to perhaps email them about their experiences on twitter, finding jobs after uni etc.

5a: Proposal

Last semester I looked into how designers can trigger a response by good store design/layout, to lead people straight to a specific section in the store or just in general to buy more. I looked at specific store design examples and found out why they designed the store like they did and why certain materials were used to create certain atmospheres, generally connecting with the products being sold. This area interested me greatly and I would like to go back to this later.
This time round I intend to be a bit more specific, thinking as a designer, I’m going to look at how 15 year old girls shop. I would research this topic by looking at various journal articles on behavioural patterns and how people interact with environment around them. Firstly, I would be able to see from this how different age groups behave in certain situations and certain patterns to look out for, what is normal behaviour from a 15 year old shopping? It may become apparent that girls of that age groups like to shop in groups, how does this affect how they go round a shop? Do they like to unfold things? - are the clothes better in a position where they can be picked up, held against body, touched easily on a shelf rather than hanging up? Do they often pick the clothes that are in the sale? Do they like to pick the outfits that are on display in the windows or on mannequins throughout the store? Does the group of girls often have a leader? Is she the one that has all the opinions for the group? Do they all buy what she buys? Do they like to try stuff on together? Is then perhaps the layout of the fitting rooms a key aspect in a designing a store if they know that 15year olds are frequent customers? Should the fitting rooms be bigger? Should there be a designated comfortable lounge area outside the cubicle for the rest of the group/family to see what the girl is trying area to take photos with their friends all in dresses?
fitting room with central area to show off tried on clothes?
I would also early on probably mind map what I was expecting from the results at the beginning, and then compare that with a mind map at the end of how it was they behaved. I was also thinking of maybe constructing a rough prototype...perhaps not from scratch in an empty room but within the store, if I could ask for permission to have the shop laid out in a certain way. For example having a table with a bundle of tops on it, and have the same tops elsewhere in the shop hanging up. Which section do they see first? Is it a coincidence that girls look around at eye level at what they can pick up? Or maybe the opposite - do they scan up and around to see if anything takes their fancy.. What about having the table/shelves at differing heights? This could be easily created using plinths/blocks. As a designer I am interested to see what kind of store layout is more effective for 15 year old girls as they tour the shop. Is it better to have everything they would like all together in the shop so there friends can see similar items at the same time in a big circle? Or is it better having things spread out and creating a certain pathway to get round the store to increase the length of time they spend in the shop hoping they see other items on their travels? Or does this put them off looking round the shop?

The method I intend to use is the observation technique. I feel this is the best way to see for myself how the girls behave naturally without being prompted when asked questions where they have to think on the spot and force an answer out. This is especially hard when you are looking for answers about natural behaviour which is best not told, but seen and observed from a distance from an someone unknown to the group for unbiased results. So this is why interviews would not be as appropriate, as the answers are forced on the spot. Although you can ask questions to prompt the response you want, that I feel, is not the main aim. From previous experience of doing interviews, the interviewee can get quite nervous and anxious that they're answering correctly for me. In my opinion there is no wrong answer, but I have found that people feel uncomfortable on the spot and take a mind blank and could produce unreliable and false results. I especially think 15 year old girls would do the same, and more so if their friends were around, as they themselves probably are not aware of how they appear as they’re shopping.
should a fitting room be more like a girls dressing room?

I would try 2 different methods I think. I would ask permission from the shops to install myself in a particular shop, say, H&M and I would spend the day observing the different groups of girls that wander in and out and watch how different girls behave. I think during the school holidays or weekends are best for catching the young teens shopping with their friends. The strengths of this are it allows me to observe the same store layout (H&M) and how the different groups react in it, keeping the shop the same and just making one variable, the girls, would allow me to make easy, valid comparisons between different groups and their behavioural patterns.
The second method I would use would be going with a friend to make it look like I was just merely shopping and subtly follow the same group of girls in and out the shops to see how the same girls behave in the different store layouts to see if this was a factor that affected their behaviour as a group. I would do this over a few days, if need be a week or 2, with different stores and different groups and it would then take a day or 2 probably just to average out my results.