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


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,, 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.

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?)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

| Rework: Lessons Learnt |

Today whilst I was thinking thought my business idea and how I could expand on it, I looked to the book 'Rework' by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson for some helpful advice. I haven't read the whole book yet but I don't think it'll take me long, it's an easy read and it's also a real quirky book with valuable advice!

I have highlighted quite a few points/lessons/advice that were of interest + valuable to me, and relevant to my thinking and thought I would share...

The first was: make decisions right before you do something, not far in advance. There is no need stress and obsess about things for months and months, take things one step at a time, and think of this week first.

The second: Be proud of your small business! The success and impressiveness of your company is not based on how big the company is. This really struck me, it's not like a I didn't know it, I had heard similar statements in the past but I think it had more of an impact on me now as I start to think about my own business idea. There is no need to have 500,000 employees to define your business growth, if that doesn't suit your business and it's not you are about that is totally fine. Maybe 5 employees suits you just fine.

Third: Making your dent in the universe. Are you doing something that is making a difference? Do you feel part of something? That does not mean you need solve the issue of poverty, world peace etc, but what you do want is for your customers to say 'This makes my life better.' You want to feel that if you stopped what you do, that people would notice.

Fourth: This point struck me aswell and was something I needed to be assured of - design something you know. As more often than not that alludes to you doing something you care about. And if you do what you do well, you will able to make that difference mentioned previously.

Fifth: Always question why you're doing what you're doing. Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service. You have to believe in something. You need to have a backbone. You need to know what you're willing to fight for. And then you need to show the world.

And finally: Don't wait for the change - make the change.

This has helped me think a little better about shaping my idea.

Friday, 2 March 2012

| NESTA: Values, Evidence Modelling, SWOT + Fake Evidence |

The NESTA toolkit is a fantastic facility to help young creative minds with a business idea to start up their own business.

We were to read a couple of sections from it which has been useful. As of yet I don't have a clear business idea, but we have been encouraged to think about our personal core values and what would make us feel alive and passionate in a business context. My top 5 were: working with others, honesty, cooperation, creativity and job satisfaction. From this I have derived a mission statement that I would be happy being the basis for what my business was about, whether that was just as a freelance interior designer or if another business idea evolves over time I firmly believe these values would still be as relevant to me working in the business world.

 The business exists to give every client an insight into design, let them participate in the design process and share in the knowledge to produce an outcome that satisfies the client best.

|Evidence Modelling|
Today we had a NESTA workshop where we explored the activities in the toolkit. Evidence modeling was the first one which is a way of illustrating the future impact the business will have on the world. It was set out like a SWOT analysis with four quarters with the titles ENHANCE, REPLACE, REVIVE + BACKLASH. We placed our ideas in the centre, I just wrote 'freelance interior designer' to see what I came up with. I found it to be really helpful as it made me think of myself and the skills I had, what I could offer, what I would make less desirable on the market, what I would bring back that was once redundant and what could be the negative effect if I was pushed to the extreme?

ENHANCE: I saw my skills to be creating environments where the client is most satisfied, creating meaningful designs, working with other people in their own home - for the convenience of the client. I would look at the situation before me and give a fresh approach to what we normally take for granted. I would let the client be on board as much as possible so they had part ownership in their vision. They would lay out the ideas and I would be their tool to achieve that. If they didn't have any idea I would build a relationship with them, find out as much as I could about them and their personality, I would provide the tools necessary to establishing a vision best suited to them.

REPLACE: It replaces the client using their own instincts + initiative for designing if I was involved, gives them less stress if it was in my hands. It saves the client contacting larger organisations, as they may cost more and may not be able to provide a close relationship with the designer allowing them to participate, whereas as I would.

REVIVE: It allows people to interact with the designer and how they work. I would create environments where people felt comfortable/stimulated. I would design to suit the needs of the people to improve people's lives, or perhaps to help another company improve business by creating a fresh design.

BACKLASH: The negatives cold be that people are asking me to do too large scale projects for one individual designer. If I was pushed to the extremes I may feel a lot of pressure and stressed. Also the money side of the business I may need help to organise.

|Fake Evidence|
From that exercise we then went on to writing up some fake evidence which is seeing how the business would work and what success would mean to me. Is this through articles in the press, magazines? will it be advertised on tv?
I wrote a short advert for myself, what it is I could offer, and an article in a newspaper that would explain who I am and how I work as a designer. From doing this exercise I got a better understanding of what I could provide.

Then we completed a SWOT analysis, identifying my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
I identified my strengths as being a good listener, working well in a team, having a positive attitude, approachable, organised etc.. 
My weaknesses I felt were the fact that there is maybe skills I don't have that may limit some opportunities. Also I would like to be more confident in my own ideas from the start of the design process and carry them through.
Opportunities that could arise is the possibility of branching out into other fields of interior design. The chance to meet new people and learn new skills via the people I work with to enhance my own skills in practice.
Some threats I feel is that there may be competition - business' that can maybe do the job better then myself. There is also the risk of not being enough demand on the market for the business. 

From these exercises today I feel like I could refine my mission statement (until further business ideas come to me) so that it is suited to me as a freelance interior designer:

Providing an interior consultant service offering advice on how to improve the design of the environments you live and work in to enhance your quality of life.