Wednesday, 27 January 2010


Balcony View

Not even ten minutes down the road from me, there is a sanctuary. A place where people can go for help and support through one of the most difficult times that you could think of.

Offering a service that is free of charge, Maggie's Fife is there to help anybody who needs support, whether it be you or those who look after someone with cancer. Offering a wide range of services to those who need it, Maggie's helps support those in a time of need.

Designed by Zaha Hadid, she was sensitive to the brief that she had been given and designed a space which was exciting and bold but also receptive to the circumstantial context it was being placed in. Located in the grounds adjacent to Victoria Hospital, it is protected by the natural environment surrounding the centre creating the sense of safety.

A perfect example where design can help.

Exterior View

Interior View

With thanks:

Understanding Bourdieu (literally)

Understanding Bourdieu, WEBB, SCHIRATO & DANAHER

I enjoy reading, but I’m finding that the texts we have to read for Design Studies to be rather difficult to take in. Sometimes I can read a whole page (and sometimes even a whole chapter) and couldn’t even tell you what I had just read.

To solve this problem, I decided to read a small bit and write about it, read a bit and write, etc. This means that I can think about what I’ve just read and put it into my own words and if I really haven’t understood anything I can go back and re – read it, without realising this after ten pages.

The first time I read the Bourdieu passage I suffered from this same problem. The only time I seemed to understand bits was when there was a mention of football and when he only mentions this once, you can see my problem.

Bourdieu is interested in the culture of design asking questions like why do people buy certain products and how does the product they buy help them?

Describing culture as a game, Bourdieu encourages us to embrace this and our understanding on how to play it. He highlights the fact that the social and political context in which we are placed in changes the ‘rules’ slightly and designers have to consider this carefully when designing. Last semester, as part of one of my assignments, I looked at ‘The Power of Context’ where I learnt quite a lot about the context in which we are placed in and how that in turn affects things like our personalities and our reaction to design. As a designer it is important to take every aspect of the client you are designing for into consideration.

Something that Bourdieu mistakenly does, and that John Frow points out, is to treat people as though they ‘belonged to a single class’. He argues that Bourdieu forgets you cannot possibly place for example a football fan, a ballet dancer and Jazz specialist in the same field. Although are all part of the creative field, I doubt you would find a football fan interested in ballet and Jazz, and vice versa so depending our tastes and influences we are organised into social groups.

Evaluating the ideas behind our acceptance to art, Bourdieu asks why is it that some people are more comfortable to talk about art than others? Again referring back to context, he explains that people who are brought up around cultural things like art and fine music are more ‘natural’ when presented with them. What about the people that create this art in the first place, what sort of response do they want to provoke from their audience?

Dividing the field of cultural production into two parts, autonomous and heteronomous poles, we are educated in the difference between the two. I had to re – read this section so many times to understand it but I think I may have understood it, well I hope I have…

The heteronomous pole aims to achieve “commercial success”, where, to me, they are complying with demands from others and not really doing what they want to do or possibly don’t believe in.
The autonomous pole of the field demonstrates that people working in this part are resigned to the fact that there reward won’t always mean finance. They can do what interests them, not restricted with their outcome and can aim at a specific group of people rather than creating a generalised response to something to please a wider niche.
If you really want to make a living in this field it is more than likely that you will have to give into the demands of the general public and conform to what they want to see, which I think is a shame. Or your work will have to be recognised as excellent before everyone follows the herd over. Surely art should be something that the artist chooses?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Bad design, good design?

In all honesty I am not a fan of the apps that the apple iPhones offers. With thousands of apps, who really needs to have an application to tell them how to do things...Well my opinion has slightly changed.

This morning when I was travelling up on the bus to uni, I was reading the newspaper when I came across an article that talked about how a man survived in the rubble of a collapsed building in Haiti for two days (while nursing an injury)!

Lying under the rubble, Dan Woolley used a First Aid application on his iPhone to keep him alive for two and a half days, excessively bleeding and suffering from a broken leg, Woolley was able to treat himself.

When the app also told him not to fall asleep he set an alarm on his phone for every 20 minutes to keep him awake, saving his life.

In my opinion, this is bad design turned good design.

With thanks:

Monday, 25 January 2010


Wired Magazine

One of my favourite foods. Now could it be one of my favourite design companies?

Reading "The Culture of Design" like the wee geek that I am I came across Tomato. Now I like reading but Juiller's accounts of the design world are a little monotonous for me unfortunately but I was soon left intrigued when he mentioned the London - based collective Tomato (Pity it came almost at the end of the chapter).

Not only did the random name grab me but the attitude that the company showed. I have a lot of respect for people who do not follow the herd. Who can be who they want without giving into the pressure of their surroundings.

Bearing this in mind it's little wonder that the title "Tomato" has no meaning behind it whatsoever! Stupid? I think not. I think it's quite genius. Some toff's will try and decipher the title and try to make up meaning behind it and think that they have cracked the title mystery only to discover that a common group of designers and a band have got the better of them.

"The name Tomato means nothing. You can put lots of meanings into it but there are none. A bit like our work really." Warwicker (2008:88)

Well maybe so but I quite like it. It's quirky and different and just what the design world needs to give it a shake up.

Z creation, elements from landscape research

Aerial Photography, Iceland

With thanks:
The Culture of Design, Guy Juiller

Function v Aesthetics

The battle still rages on in the design world. Should an object be functional or just be purely for aesthetic reasons? Can it be both?

In his book, "The Culture of Design", Guy Juiller presents us with this idea.

At the end of last year I watched a programme on the BBC called Design for Life where Phillipe Starck hosted a number of wannabe designers in his studios with the prize of getting to work with Starck himself. Throughout the show the contestants constantly made references to his 'amazing' work.

For me Starck's work is more about making a statement rather than being functional.
This is evident in the example that Juiller presents to us, Juicy Salif lemon-squeezer. There is no denying that this is quite an eye catching design and the description given to us personifies what could be an ordinary juicer into something with human qualities.

"Three slender legs rise from delicate ankles. Bending at an impossibly high knee...this tripod holds aloft the raw nature of the implement's bulbous, phallic head." Juiller 2008:75

After such a description it seems hard to follow and sure enough the next section talks about the bad points. "only half - works", "rendering the first squeezing redundant" and "juice splatters out" are all phrases used to describe this 'innovative' piece of design - not something you would want to hear in a review if I were thinking about buying this!

With thanks:
"The Culture of Design" by Guy Juiller

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Back to the real world

First week has just finished after coming back from the Christmas holidays and already there is so much to be done.

In class we have a new project called "Reduce. Reuse. Recycle."

This is a 12 week project aiming to educate us as designers of our disposable culture and how we can incorporate eco - friendly concepts into our designs without comprising the finished quality.

Broken into two parts, the first part of the brief focuses mainly on 'upcycling', a term used to describe something that has reached the end of it's service life and has been created into something with a higher value.
This first week has been a research week for us, working in groups on the specified subject we were given. Using this research gathered, the aim of the first part of this project is to create a 'book' that has been upcycled and portrays our thoughts about environmental design.

Environmental Design
What does this mean to you?

Starting with a big mind map to help get our 'creative juices flowing', we were able to shout out ideas as soon as they came into our heads. Splitting environmental design into three parts: materials, products and buildings, each member of the group focused on one area (two members focusing on the building section as we felt this was a rather extensive part to research).

With our research gathered, our next task was to create a method in which we could talk about our findings with the rest of the class. We decided to do this through Powerpoint, a little obvious but none the less still an effective way to convey our ideas.

Here are a few examples of the kind of things that we found:

I was able to create this page in the Powerpoint very quickly as I had referred to this building in an earlier post I made on my blog. This proposed building would be able to power itself and ten times over, rotating around a central axis.

A prototype capable of switching off all nonessential electrical equipment to save power.

These towers have been positioned so the turbines gain the maximum amount of energy from the wind.

This week we also had our first Design Studies lecture. Already there is lots of work to do and lots of reading. I decided to create a to do list with things that I wanted to do and found that I ran out of space...

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Dress to impress?

Ask any girl if they bought a new dress over Christmas for a night out and most of them will tell you that they have, maybe even more than one! Well what about this dress?

Digna Kosse

With the weather the way it is just now imagine going out in one of these. Sure you'd have head's turning but not for all the right reasons. These dresses are more about making a statement rather than being more practical. I mean as a piece of art this is successful, celebrating the body and the feminine curves, but as for the design, not so much. Limiting the materials being used to construct these dresses, you can still sense the femininity but do you really need an almost invisible dress to do this.

I suppose one good idea behind these 'dresses' is that they are not wasteful. In a time when we are becoming more and more conscious of our choices and the impact that they will have on the environment, I don't think that there will be any problems with these dresses (except for the exposure!) The amount of material wasted due to the constant changes in fashion would be greatly reduced if a lot more of us wear clothes like this - although I'm not sure I'll ever wear one.

Digna Kosse

With thanks:

Monday, 4 January 2010


B.F.G (Big, fancy giant!!)

A view to die for...

It is hard to imagine that buildings can keep on getting taller and taller but this is precisely what Giorgio Armani has done. Twice the size of the Empire State Building and 8 times the size of Big Ben, this colossal new hotel will certainly be a talking point for many years to come (or until someone else trumps it's size!)

Height Chart.

The astounding engineering is mind boggling! Not only setting a new record for the world's tallest building - thought to be about 818m high-, it also boasts the record for world's highest swimming pool (76th floor) and world's highest Mosque (158th floor).

So many issues would have to have been considered and it is hard to even try and consider how many problems would have arisen with this build. Claiming to be lightening and quake proof, the design would no doubt have to have been changed so much from Armani's original concept.

I suppose this is something quite important for designers to consider. At first glance an idea may seem amazing but put on a serious eye and nine times out of ten it is ridden with problems. This isn't a bad thing though. We are creative people and exercising our minds for constructive solutions will only help us become better designers. Back to reality though, I don't think I will have to consider problems ever on such a scale. Oh well, we can but dream!

A view from the top.
The Burj Dubai is thought to be visible from 60 miles away.

With thanks:

Furniture Animation

I've talked a lot about the chair that I have made so far. Hopefully I've explained well enough how the table slides out from underneath the chair but I've made a little animation to show exactly how this works...


Saturday, 2 January 2010


With the interiors of many spaces becoming more and more contemporary, the need for minimalistic accessories has increased. Everyday objects have been given a makeover and are now starting to look really stylish and desirable. Taking pride of place in our homes, designers are creating new designs which are encouraging us to buy them.

Without over complicating matters, a Japanese designer called Shigeichiro Takeuchi has designed a contemporary and minimalistic bin and shoehorn.

Rubbish Bin
Made from aluminium and maple wood, the design is clean and something I personally think is aesthetically pleasing. With no additional fixings on the bin, there is nothing distracting us from the simple design, allowing us to fully appreciate it. The lid makes it easy for the removal of rubbish and cleaning, due to the fact that the maple lid sits at a different height than the aluminium lip. With the difference in height the lid can balance at an angle, something that I have never seen before and is no doubt the unique selling point of the product.

Maple wood lid and Aluminium base.

I don't personally have a shoehorn but both sets of my grandparents do and I can't ever imagine them displaying the shoehorns they have at the moment in their homes. Unlike Takeuchi's shoehorn, theirs are more functional than striking. Striving to create something beautiful Takeuchi uses the materials to compliment one another and again create a clean and simple design. Although there is two separate components, the design looks like one piece due to the continuous flow of the design and even when they are pulled apart, both work on their own.

Plastic shoehorn and maple wood base.

With thanks:

Friday, 1 January 2010

Capturing Christmas

Christmas Trees, all lined in a row.

I am the sort of person who can't sit still. Even when I know I should just switch off and try and just have time to myself I always think that I can be doing something.

Over Christmas most people will be relaxing; eating more food than they need to and watching loads of rubbish on tv. I will be to a certain extent but I am always pottering about up to something...

In a previous post I said that over Christmas I wanted to try and capture some images using the camera on my phone. True to my word I have been a bit snap happy over the festive period, probably enjoying it a little too much!!.

I decided to set up a Flikr account so that in my spare time I could try and capture things that were special to me because as they say a picture can tell a thousand words...

Remains of a snowball fight.

Snow Glare.

Christmas Cranes.

As Frank says, 'That's Life'.