GDE740 - Week 9

Week 9 – Research

This week is all about taking the ideas and concepts, feedback and comments and just running with it – prototyping and experimentation will be coming in the next couple of weeks and this is the time to take risks, not be afraid of falling flat on your face and, as Stuart put it “be bold, brave and experimental”.

The question for the Ideas Wall this week is how do we stop ourselves from being risk averse – we’re all guilty of it from time to time but it can MASSIVELY affect the way we live our lives, our identities and the work we produce. Because we are only risk averse when we are afraid of failure. I think I often fall into this trap because I still don’t feel like I’m experienced enough, creative enough or confident enough to just pursue some crazy big idea but I also panic that I don’t have the time to follow something so huge through.

This time round I’m running with my idea, and even if it falls on it’s face, I’ve tried. In my last module it was picked up on that my UI/UX design skills weren’t up to scratch (they weren’t I just photoshopped my designs from Illustrator onto a picture of a phone – because I was terrified of trying to learn App design and not completing my work in time). So this time, I’m spending the time watching videos on app design, looking at the many different websites or software that offer wireframing and really honing in on that skill.

The designers were this week asked to describe a specific case study where innovative design thinking and fresh ideas enabled a surprising outcome – it’s been really refreshing to hear some of their stories.

Torsten used the example of redesigning the reception area of Reebok HQ, it’s a perfect example of how they ran with a certain idea, only for it to be swiftly halted and it’s direction changed. The reception area was the only area of the offices that wasn’t aesthetically pleasing and they came up with an innovative kinetic logo idea, where the logo was taken apart and put back together. They were working with and for like minded people and they really connected on this idea. They just forgot about one connection – the CEO, when showing him the idea, he said absolutely not, you’re cutting up the logo. Going back to the drawing board felt like a massive failure and starting from scratch isn’t something you want to do! But, incorporating these new ideas and perspectives, they came up with a fantastic dynamic idea which was very successful.

Matthew discussed their design for Rapha, a cycling brand. It was super interesting to hear the back story about this as I’ve come across this design before. They were looking at a new cyclist for Sky, he was a more technical cyclist and that reflected how cycling has changed over the past 10 years. Cyclists love data and so they took Peter’s Tour De France data and used this graph to create a pattern that is used across multiple garments, bottles, etc. BUT they didn’t use this back story to advertise the design, it just was! Only on the cycling jersey is there a small label describing this back story – and this gets spread by word of mouth and becomes a lovely little back story that people love. And having Accept&Proceed on their bottles is another lovely little hint to them. I love this idea of having something witty and small on the product that make people smile – it’s the little design aspects that work!

Wouter worked with a University in Netherlands to rebrand their identity. Focusing on the fact this Uni is heavily science based, they decided to take this part of their inner identity and bring it forwards – Rather than just a basic logo or mark, they turned it on it’s head and focussed on the Scientific aspect. I absolutely love their designs and how it’s applied to all areas of the identity.

Stjin covered a more vague area, giving the example of a contact lens website rather than brand or identity. This online platform needed to consider the audience – people NEED contact lenses, they don’t just WANT them. They might be scared first time users or have the wrong ones. They looked at it from a totally different perspective and used that to create the website. They also looked at using empathy within design – how can you convey empathy within an airport car park where you’re charging loads?

Luke on the other hand covered a design that he wasn’t aprt of, but felt inspired by. Dutch railways were having numerous complaints about full trains, too many people getting on in the middle and not utilising all carriages. They wanted an app for it which they initially looked into. But, on speaking to the train users, and observing their habits, they realised most people won’t have previously downloaded the app, or might have briefaases in their hands so can’t use their phones. They went back to the company and told them it wouldn’t work – and so a successful digital screen was created 10-15 mins before a train arrived showing where the carriages were full or had empty seats, or where the wheelchair access or bike storage was.

I really loved Marchello’s Naivety+Invincibility Venn diagram – It’s a lovely way to consider the idealism around the world that I have, it’s something I think holds me down occasionally but it’s also important for me to recognise that I might have a fresh outlook on my work.

Bob Gill just told it like it is, and sometimes we need to hear that. Don’t be influenced by culture so much so that you just regurgitate the same old crap. Don’t just go with the fact that design needs to look good, it’s got to work and be innovative. I need to remember this, it’s so easy to fall down the “trends” route and stick with the usual!

Beirut’s book, again goes over the same designs that was in the video in the previous weeks but I love reading his thoughts. What I really took from his writing is that a brand goes WAY beyond just a logo or typeface, it’s like trying to get an identity by just buying a new hat. That’s not how it works. His example of this is the st John the Divine, I’ve already discussed my love for this but it went beyond just a style or a logo, it was implemented across the board – from the signs in the gardens, the website, the advertising for events and even t-shirts. It’s CONSISTENT and I need to keep this in mind if I am to follow through with my subscription box and app idea!


Beirut, M. (2015) How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world, London, Thames & Hudson.

Glug, (2019) Marcello Google Creative Labs.

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