Week 5

Week 5: Lecture

Considering the past few weeks had been purely based upon ourselves and our identities I felt it so refreshing to be able to pull ourselves out of this self-reflection mode and take a look at the wider environment. Albeit inside our brains. The lecture was content heavy but so fascinating – I’ve decided to pick out the different processes analysed in the video that really appealed to me, whether because I could absolutely connect with the process or because I’ve never tried it that way before!

Lateral and Literal

On a basic level, we all think in both a lateral and literal sense. I found this is the main theme that runs throughout the all these design process analyses. No matter where you are in your process you need to be acknowledging both sides – not always equally. This is where the more defined design processes come to light, which side do you focus on and when? When should you be more lateral in your thinking and when should your more literal side come through?

Of course Bauhaus has defined the process of thinking which clearly demostrates the different hands on work available. For me, it was really refreshing to see that within all methods of working, there were different focusses on colour, geometry and materials. They weren’t limited to just one method of working and I feel this was a very modern and potentially groundbreaking education. The production of new ideas through this format has made Bauhaus legendary within the design world. It’s also a clear reminder that rules are there and are important but it’s not always necessary to follow them to the letter.

Initially looking at Bruce Archer’s design process my immediate thoughts were how literal and straight he believed the design process to be. A lot of what Susanna said in the lecture didn’t seem to resonate with the image we had in front of us. To be a successful designer we need to “combine the intuitive and the cognitive”. However upon digging deeper into Archer’s research I found another diagram with more “loops” – I feel this demostrates Archer’s reflection on both linear and lateral thinking. It reassured me that during the whole process it’s ok to go back to the step before or even two steps before. It’s ok to get to development stage and realise you might need to go back and revisit the data collection section. Interestingly, and perhaps related to Kahneman’s two systems, my initial reaction to this process was completely different to how I am thinking now. It also reflects how you can use System 1 thinking to your advantage but still use System 2 to control our reactions – essentially taking stock and managing your initial reaction.

Looking at Kahneman’s description of the two systems, it’s evident we absolutely connect easier with System 2 – to be able to control your way of thinking and it’s also where we make concious decisions and choices. We can understand this system much better. system 2 is lateral, it’s careful, it’s measured and gives us our ability to control our mind-computing system. For humans, this orderly, prepared, focused function is comforting and safe. BUT, system 2 (like McGilchrist’s right hemisphere) is all too easily loved and cared for, and it has the ability to change System 1. system 1 is the recognition of everyday objects, it’s being able to drive a car without reading the rules first, it’s all the beautiful life experiences sketched into our memories that we can tap into within a millisecond. It’s also our initial reactions to situations or photographs (I can’t look at that woman picture for more than a second before becoming quite anxious – my system 2 takes over very quickly to make me look away and choose something else to look at). We have these systems to minimise the effort in daily life, to systemise what we do. We need to live efficiently and when our speedy System 1 hits difficulty, it relies on System 2 to break it down and work through the problem. It’s such a lovely, minimalistic way of looking at our brains and honestly, quite refreshing from the research into our inner selves!

De Bono’s breakdown of the design process for me was so clear, and so functional I’ve decided to research further into this method. I think, because of the nature of our course, we are unable to sit in a room together, put on the metaphorical (or physical if so inclined) hats and thrash out our thoughts, ideas and inspirations. This makes me quite sad because we’re such a fantastic group that the processes we would go through would be so rewarding. However, Sarah has recently encouraged our use of the ideas wall to do this group discussion that I will conduct a semi-investigation into these hats. My first question to the group was to try to probe for more “red hat thinking” – asking about emotions, the initial feelings after watching Susanna’s lecture, bringing in a personal feeling about this week and trying to encourage empathy. Perhaps using the Ideas Wall in this way will encourage us all the connect on a multitude of levels.

RSA’s amazing informative animation

Firstly, this animation was just pure joy to watch – from a design and art point of view it was super enjoyable and clever! I felt the theory behind the video connected every design process we’ve come across so far. To break the brain down into the Right Hemisphere and the Left Hemisphere connects with Kahneman’s systems, Archer’s approach and the Double Diamond. The Machiavellian, Static, Vocal and Reasoning left side of the brain, personally, is quite scary – the huge potential this side has and how much it takes over has the ability to crush our creative and emotional aspects. We as Designers use empathy in everything we create, not just empathy for our clients or the product, but to bring out empathy in the consumer or audience. We want to bring out that sense of emotion and the “system 1” sub-concious reaction to our work. We want to bring the real world and a sense of reality into a subject which is becoming more and more virtual and digital.

In the past two weeks I’ve been focusing so much on the dimension of self and delving so deeply into who I was I lost sight completely of the real world. For me, I needed to recognise through understanding the brain that I was not stepping back into the real world and looking at myself as an individual that doesn’t need to be categorised or slotted into a specific area of Graphic Design. I followed one design for a number of days perfecting it and curating it, only to quickly dismiss it because I believed it wasn’t a true reflection of myself (only to then produce work which had taken direct inspiration from another designer and really didn’t reflect my own way of working or thinking). Looking back on last week having taken a breath of fresh air and a step back I now know I got so lost in focusing on who I am, I actually managed to lose that sense of self. My lateral brain over took my literal brain and stomped all over my right hemisphere.

We are not mechanical, we are human – we may have intensely clever brains inside our heads but we still can not completely understand the emotional response we have to subjects. For example, someone else might eb able to look at the photograph of the angry woman for more than 3 seconds and might have a different response to her face. We can scan, analyse, cut apart, break down the physical being which is our brain, but can we ever completely and fully understand it’s workings? The final video clarified this for me, we can look into all the MRI scans and take apart all the wires and axons as much as we like but will one process be all it takes for us all to produce amazing work? Definitely not!!

We need flexibility, we need to recognise our initial reactions to a subject in order to empathise and understand how that changes our views on the world. We need to utilise these feelings and emotions and thread these into our designs to produce personal, descriptive, emotional work.


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