PSFK Conference

October 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Image from PSFK website.

Have a look at what PSKF had to say about us here.

The conference was held in the Purcell Room in Southbank next to the Queen Elizabeth Hall. There was a fantastic line up of speakers coming from a variety of backgrounds – what they had in common was innovation. I was privileged to be included as a speaker, and I can only hope that I achieve as much as some of the speakers did in my career. There were stories about designing spaces with light and film from the Rockwell Group, and about how the Innocent brand was created.

The experience of speaking on the panel was useful for me; unfortunately I missed some of the talks because I was behind the stage waiting to go on, but I very much look forward to seeing the videos online when they come out. We didn’t have much time on stage so we probably gave out a very limited view of our experience as graduates trying to get work. Halfway through our session I realised that I hadn’t explained the superhero thing, so I tried to reasonably explain why I dressed up for so long to a very mixed audience as part of one of my replies to a question. It was a difficult task but a couple of people asked me about it afterwards in a positive way.

‘For Lior Smith, who spent two months dressed up as a superhero (as part of her final thesis), she wants to make the world a better place, an opportunity not often provided when starting a career, ‘maybe in 20 years we’ll get what we want,’ she commented.’

Video of panel to follow.


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.

Superhero Deed: The Stiletto

March 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been wearing a cape around the Goldsmiths campus, but my readiness to help has extended to wherever I am, whatever I’m wearing.

On the way home from work one evening, I found a pair of tourists struggling to remove a stiletto shoe from the bottom of an escalator in Holborn station. They looked like they’d been there for a few minutes, and many people had passed them by. I saw my opportunity and sprung into action. The couple didn’t know what to do, so I took charge of the situation. They got their shoe back, and nobody got hurt.

I felt good after helping them. What’s more, I knew for sure after that incident, that I was truly always ready to help. I am a well-being superhero – and I don’t need a cape to be one.

If a transformation was necessary immediately before helping the pair, the opportunity would have passed and I would not have succeeded in helping them. The key is to be always ready. This naturally happens when you realise the value of this for your own well-being.

Apologies for the buzzing sound.

Wonder Woman in the 1970s

March 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Great theme song – this video has potential to be edited with me in it.

So that’s what she can do… transform in a flash of light, lasso men with ropes, bend metal easily, and throw her crown like a boomerang like Captain America does with his shield.

How to make it look like you’re fighting yourself in a video

February 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

By TwoPlusTu

Final Year Advice revisited

February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

I think now is a good time to go back and review what Matt said to us at the beginning of the year.

Be productive. Progress your project every day.
Be excited. Take advantage of people and facilities.
Be obsessive. The obsessive ones do well.

Being a good designer takes years to become so don’t worry about representing all of yourself.

The project must be:

Don’t fake it – make it!

Create work you can stand behind ethically and morally.

Start with high ambitions and scale down at the end.

Advice for bad days
Don’t panic.
It’s ok to be miserable, exhausted and tired – this course is hard – you’ll end up better than if you were on an easier course.
Problems are part of process. Deal with them with sense and stucture.
Step back and ask what the project is about – how can I structure it to get out of the problem?
If the tutors don’t like the work, prove them wrong.
Being lost is ok – use the lost days productively.

How to unstick:
Talk to someone
Do something differently (watch a film, draw, model…)
Do something different (work on the oppostive project)
Swap projects
Process potluck – IDEO cards

Kinds of projects
Process driven project: set up a parameter of a way of working. The process IS the project, everything in that parameter is part of the project. Need quantity and variety of quality just good enough to show.
Context driven project: create discourse pieces, observation of personal things.
Design as research: examine self – self turns into research process. Outcome could be manifesto, book, philosophy system.

Think of every detail. Simple, detailed ideas work.

Record process meticulously. Take pictures of everything.

Talk to everyone about your ideas.

Be amazing – change the way people understand design.

Be honest with what you’re interested in. Bring what you’re passionate about in.

At Goldsmiths, it’s about how you communicate your work as design at the end.


January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mappiness is an iPhone app that tracks where its users are happy. At random times throughout the day, your phone beeps and asks you how you are and where you are.
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