GDE740 - Week 10

Week 10 – Research

This week is all about the design development and taking the project outside your comfort zone – getting feedback from peers and the target audience to really finalise the design. We need to ensure our ideas have clarity and focus and are concise. Communication here is key and I really felt this was backed up by the interviews. This week they were asked to describe a development process that took a u-turn and evolved to take a more revolutionary and innovative approach.

Torsten spoke about their VW research program – not specifically a design related brief as you’d usually expect, but looking at how driving is becoming more autonomous and more interface focussed. There was essentialy, no brief, the client was willing for them to try anything to help them develop their program. Interestingly, FELD are not interested in cars or car design so they didn’t really know what to think about initially – this actually made them turn this whole project on it’s head and look at it from a different perspective. The work they do helps communicate ideas and thoughts and so they needed to think about how humans communicated to these “autonomous” cars – it’s not just an ordinary car interface setup. We now have apps or text conversations between us and machines, they tested this using humans acting as machines (being told what to say, being really slow and ineffective) – They gained a really valuable insight into how humans WANT to interact with a machine and what feedback they expect. It inevitably contributed towards a design project but they were solely focused on the research aspect and took a really innovative approach.

Matthew looked into their Canary Wharf project which I really loved and was inspirational from the innovation point of view. They were struggling to make Canary Wharf feel more residential to promote the new apartments, it’s such a huge financial, cold feeling sector of London and I took great interest in this. They took all the articles that had ever been written about Canary Wharf and fed these into a machine which took all the words and split up the verbs and adjectives. Using these thousands of words (from 1420 different headlines!!!), they were able to create an algorithm to join random combinations of these verbs and adjectives together – they ultimately allowed an algorithm to write their headlines or adverts, it’s so simple and so effective and innovative – I really liked looking into this project.

Wouter described the redefining of the Amsterdam Sinfonetta’s identity – this was not a new company for them and they’d previously done work on their branding. However, this was a draw back for them as they knew what the company was about, they had similar branding time and time again. They wanted to mix things up this time and modernise their identity. they used the musical aspect of the orchestra to experiment with how form and typography interact wih sound – it resulted in a really quite abstract and recognisable design.

Stijn’s exploration of revolutionary design was really clear and simple – whilst completing work that it current and innovative for the time, they also run alongside that ideas of what they can achieve in 5 years, 10 years time – constantly reassessing this and looking towards revolutionary design for the future means they don’t stay in the same area, they don’t get stale.

I loved hearing from DIA Studios, they’re diagram of the Input, Improvisation and Output made this whole process so much clearer and I really liked looking at that as a design process. It’s separates the input to the output which I do, I focus so much on the Input (research, questioning, mind maps and exploration) that I lose focus on the output and that’s what the improvisation does. Just by taking your research and ideas, playing, iterating, testing, you refine your output and push it that one step further.

Mahaneela’s presentation really spoke to me and I loved her discussion around the phrase “Jack of all trades, Master of none” – I’ve always described myself this way in a totally non-derogatory manner. I believe it’s a good thing and it means I’ve got knowledge in all areas (dipped my toe into many a pool) and if I wanted to or needed to, I can delve right in there and utilise that skill. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, it just sometimes means I struggle to refine my focus because I know I could do something a different way!

All the above made me really think abuot my idea and how I can “revolutionise” the product I am creating. Of course, I’m not intending on really pushing the boundaries of app design or subscription boxes, but it’d be good to look into what was revolutionary in this field and try to push the boundaries from there.

Thinking about it, the plant scanning tool was the first step for me in connecting technology and plants, never before had there been a scanning tool for plants, it’d always been “oh look in that book and try to recognise the plant” – I remember years ago thinking about having a tool to help identify plants and I’m so glad it’s progressed in this way. This has also been the way to link the younger generation with recognising, respecting and understanding different plants which is huge!!

I cant’ see how a subscription box could be revolutionised, the only thing I’m doing a bit differently is including the QR code to quickly upload your new seed and register it. But that’s by no means revolutionary (it’s just something I think has been missing from subscription boxes!!). I wonder if I can take the plant scanning tool and implement it into my app – perhaps to help identity the current stage of a seed, to swiftly give the user help on problems they’re facing with their seed?

I also think I might spend a bit of time exploring animation with typography – my designs so far have been quite flat and static – plants grow, they develop, they push through the soil and release seeds. It’s constantly moving and growing and I think I need to bring that into the app in someway – connecting the growth of nature with technology…

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