Idea – what to take away from the exhibition

April 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

What my tutors get up to.

‘I think we are all a bit uncomfortable with making stuff to sell, so what’s the other “product” of a piece of design? What else can people take away as a thing to keep? It might be an image of an experience rather than a consumable artefact.’ – Laura

Making stuff to sell is something I don’t exactly have a problem with, but making stuff just because it will sell is. In my project, I have made a make up box. Initially I was imagining that people replace their own make up with the make up The Optimist uses, so stickers would be needed to make the set hang together. So I designed stickers – I’m not happy with them, I need to talk to the fabric technician, maybe she’ll have ideas.

Then thinking about it, I realised if I really want to do that, I’d have to charge people quite a bit for each make up set. I could go that direction, but it’s not really the point. The box communicates the idea of the make up superhero transformation well. It’s in a superhero shaped box. It’s make up for superheroes. But I don’t need to make them to sell. I can use it as a prop to explain the project.

I can give something else away to communicate the idea: the stickers for make up. Also, the guide. I did spend about three or four days on the make up guide.

Still, it’s not quite enough, I still need to do a film of the superhero activities and explaining well-being. It communicates more clearly. The stickers and make up guide are something for people to take away, perhaps.

On top of that, the well-being guide I’ve actually tried out on people hopefully has done something positive, so it’s design in the real world, not just ideas in my head that might not work. If the well-being guide worked in some way, it proves that I’m on to something here.

Having said all that – the stickers and the guide are consumable. They might not be actually used. But they could be. They are not necessarily things to be bought.

But the stickers are a memento of the idea of the project. They are a related image to the experience of the superhero transformation.

‘MW: We see this as a piece of design research, so we are making things to investigate our experiences of the world. It’s not to create a product at the end, it’s to – in some way – open a context to question something, and find something out, even though we don’t quite know what that is yet.

JL: [sarcastically] Yeah, it’s generative, non-directive philosophy.

MW & LP: [laughter]

MW: Please use that

JL: Don’t use that’

Being the superhero has been a piece of design research. I have researched my emotions. I have gone on a journey to explore my well-being and what has an effect on it. The costume and video diary process were aids to investigate my experience of the world through the frame of the Five Ways of Well-Being. I have created a series of products at the end though. I created a context in which to question my well-being and whether simplifying well-being to five ways can work. It did for me.

I have a bit of a problem with ‘design research’ that doesn’t end up with something people can benefit from. If I did my project and then didn’t produce any outcomes for other people, I don’t think it would be design. I can present the research as something that people might use to start their own quest into their well-being. But I’d like to do it not just through film, but through something they can take away with them. A guidebook. I’ve already done it but it does need some graphic work to look good. Also the activity cards. They are mostly documentation of things I actually did as a superhero – or while I was playing the character but not actually in costume. Some cards are from research into subjective well-being that I haven’t actually done.

I feel good about having done loads more outcomes. The guide I would have been satisfied with if the tutors had been, or even as a website. But I’m glad I was pushed. I’ve got more to show. I understand a bit more how the idea of dressing up as a superhero as a taking notice aid needs to be explained through film, and that that element of it needs to stand with the rest of the project. Or if not that, transcripts of conversations. Those could be in a book too. I quite like transcripts.

I know I’ve got a lot of film work to do and I’m bloody daunted by it. I still need to finish the activity cards and stickers too at least.

So much to do, so little time. All I can do is my best.

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