Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Project 2 - Upcycling

E-waste (electronic waste) is a huge and rapidly growing problem in landfill due to the rapid rate at which technology in computers is being superseded, and the old technology simply thrown away. It is estimated that the US produces 50 million tons of e-waste each year, including 30 million computers. One of the issues with e-waste is the amount of heavy metals it pollutes landfill with. In the US 70% of heavy metals in landfill come from e-waste. The Environmental Protection agency estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled. This is the statistic I set out to change.

When given this brief the problem of e-waste quickly came to mind as an area that could be interesting to look into more. When I actually began to pull apart discarded computers I could not help but notice the interesting colour and patterns on the mother board and circuit boards, I was immediately drawn to their aesthetic appeal. I also thought that it would be quite ironic to make something for a computer out e-waste. And this was where my initial concept was born, to turn mother boards and circuit boards into a geek chic laptop case.

My initial idea was mould the boards into the shape to fit around the laptop, set them in resin and join the two sides with a zip around the middle. This had a few issues. First the issue of resin, it is not only dangerous to use but also harmful to the environment, which defeated the intensions of the brief. The second being that the boards are made out of a number of laminated layers, which really didn’t work in terms of heat moulding, as well as the fact they contain flame retardants.

I changed my concept so that the boards where fastened together with very small rivets. They where coated on the outside with a clear lacquer to protect the user from any heavy metals left, and this inside padded with foam and felt to protect the laptop. The handles are made out of reclaimed seatbelts and the whole thing held together by hand sewing in a zip and heavy duty fabric. The resulting product being a protective laptop case for both the laptop and the environment. This specific prototype designed to fit the 13” MacBook Pro.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Design For Life

"Design For Life" is a reality TV series on the BBC. It is much like Master Chef, but designing instead of cooking. The judge on this series is world-famous designer, Philippe Starck, who brings 12 hopeful British designers to a school of design in Paris. Contestants are voted off by Starck based on their design concepts and progress each episode.

This TV series is very beneficial for an industrial designer to watch for many reasons. The first is that it gives you a first hand view of the design process. You see this whole process for each of the contestants, from being given the brief to the final presentation. This involves seeing how different designers negotiate their way through this process, and the successes and failures of each contestant. As an industrial designer it is obviously important to have a sound understanding of the design process, so much so that it becomes second nature.It is therefore very beneficial to watch other designers and the processes they use to help you work out what works well and how you could use this yourself.

Another reason this TV series is very beneficial for industrial designers, especially student designers, to watch is purely to see Philippe Starck. Being one of the worlds most famous designers it is fairly safe to say that he knows what he is talking about when it comes to design. It is therefore very beneficial to listen as he talks about design, whats good whats bad, what works what doesn't. It is not very often that an industrial design student can watch a design develop from concept to final presentation, with Philippe Starck there to comment and judge throughout the whole process. This is a wonderful insight.

This TV series also gives a bit of an insight into the world of design. The design industry is very different to any other industry people go into. For a design student it can be hard to know what to expect once you leave the sheltered environment of uni and into the real design world. I think that in this sense this TV series can be very beneficial to design students to give them a taste of what to expect once they graduate.

I was particularly challenged when Starck made the point that there are too many products in our world. There are products always being designed that society does not need. Why should we design this products? This really challenged me to not design for the sake of more products, but to design so we have more products that we actually need.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Project 1 - Experience Enrichment

Product Poster:

Context of use:

Four Pleasures Analysis:

A product that has hardly changed over time is the Ventolin puffer for asthma sufferers. Currently the puffer looks extremely medical and is not very ergonomic, this means that asthma sufferers do not enjoy using their puffer and try to hide it away when in public. All of these factors lead me to believe that there was lots of room for improvement in this product.

The brief for this project was to redesign a hand tool as to make the experience of the user a more enjoyable one by increasing the products pleasurability. When we got this brief I thought that the Ventolin puffer would be a perfect hand tool to redesign with the purpose of increasing its pleasurability, because there is nothing wrong with the functionality of the current puffer, only with how enjoyable the whole experience of the product is for the user. I decided that my target market for this product would be young sporty women in their 20’s, who are conscious about their health and fitness, but also their appearance.

In my design I decided that it would make sense for my puffer to use the same Ventolin canisters as the current solution. I made this decision because that means that the user can continue to buy the same canisters they used to, and functionally these aerosol canisters work well. In the current solution this canister sticks out the top of the puffer, which is largely the reason why these puffers look so medical. I decided that in my design the canister would be completely hidden from view to avoid this medical look.

Another main issue with the current puffers is that they are not very ergonomic, in particular the mouth piece. Early on I made a conscious decision the make the mouth piece less ridged and rubberised, as the increase ergonomics and thus increase the products pleasurability. I decided that the best material to use for this rubberised finish would be silicon rubber, as it is readily available in industry, and has the properties needed, such as being able to be washed up and moulded into different shapes needed. I also decided to use this material with a grip texture where you place your fingers on the product. I also decided to make sure that the puffer would fit well into the hand of a young woman, because ultimately this is who I was designing the product for.

A big factor that contributes to the overall pleasurability of a product is its aesthetics. The current puffer is very rectilinear, which is not very aesthetically pleasing to my target market. For this reason I decided to make the shape of the puffer more curvilinear, to appeal to them, and to fit in with other products they own. For the body of the puffer I decided to make it out of polypropylene. This was because this material is durable, able to be washed up and moulded into the shapes required.

Overall in redesigning the Ventolin puffer I have increased its ergonomic and aesthetic appeal, particularly to my target market. In doing so, I have increased the pleasurability of the product and enriched the experience of the user, thus fulfilling the brief.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010



This video, directed by Gary Hustwit in 2009, makes me excited to be a designer. I think that this is mainly because there are some designers interviewed and their products shown that are just simply beautiful. I think that the Mac Book Air is a product shown that really is a beautiful object. There are all these tiny details which you might not even notice but contribute to the overall feel of the product, an example of which are the little lights in it that indicate different things. When they are not indicating anything they are completely invisible, because why should you be able to see a little light bulb when you don't have to. It is things like this that excite me as a designer.

I think the concept talked about of wearing in not wearing out is very interesting. I agree that why should products get worse with use... why shouldn't they get better? It is like the example used of the leather brief case. With use the leather has become softer and a much more pleasurable product to use, it has got better with use. Also this means that people are much more likely to hold greater value in that product. The longer a person uses a product for, the more emotionally attached they become to that object because of the memories associated with it. This means they are much more likely not to throw it out.

I also think that listening to some renounded designers talk about design and what it means to them, what they hold as important, their design philosophies, is very interesting. I think that understanding a designers philosophy helps you to understand their products more, and why they have made certain decisions in regards to that product. For example Dieter Rams design philosophy can be summed up as "less is more" and this is very evident in his designs. You can see in his products that form follows function and his products have a very minimalist aesthetic. For me I find it fascinating to hear why people design, what motivates them and their decisions.

I think that this video is good for an Industrial Designer to watch as I think it gives insight into the minds of other designers. I think that listening to people explaining why they design helps you in forming your own design philosophy, and this is something that designers have to develop.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Story of Stuff

This video talks about consumerism and the life of products...focusing on the US and their culture of materialism and consumerism.

This was quite a shocking video to watch with many of the statistics used being very confronting. It started with the process of extraction of raw materials from the earth. Many of these materials are sourced outside the US in developing countries. This has negative consequences for both the environment and also the countries these materials are sourced from. If the whole world were to consume resources like the US we would need at least 3 planet earths to provide this.

The next step is production. This is where energy is used to mix toxic chemicals with the natural resources to make products. There are over 100 000 synthetic chemicals used, only a hand full of which have been tested for effects on health and the environment. An example of this that the video used was Brominated Flame Retardants. These are used in many things like pillows to stop them catching on fire. These are also neurotoxin, which are toxic to the brain...yes each night we are resting our heads on chemicals toxic to our brains! Developed countries like the US don't want to be near the factories which are using all these toxic chemicals, so they too are moved to developing countries where the people who live there work with these chemicals, making both themselves and the environment sick.

Next is distribution. This is where the products are sold as cheap as they can. This means that money is taken from the previous steps, both extraction and manufacture, which both happen in developing countries, having negative effects there. 30% of kids in the Congo drop out of school to mine resources we need for our cheap products.

The driving force of this system is consumption. Ensuring consumption continues to grow is one of the top priorities for the US government. After September 11 George Bush could have advised any number of things to a country in mourning but instead he said to go out and spend. Only 1% of products purchased in the US is still being used 6 months later! This huge culture of consumption was created after World War II when the US economy needed to be stimulated. Planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence contribute greatly to this culture of consumerism. It is planned into products when they will break and become useless (planned obsolescence), or they will be seemed to be needed to be replaced (perceived obsolescence) by changing something about the product. This means that people can tell we haven't bought a new one of these products for a while and it is part of the consumerism culture to shun people who don't consume at this rate.

There is no way that people can keep all these products they keep buying, so there is an alarming amount of waste produced by each house. This either gets put in landfill, or burnt then put in landfill. Both these methods are terrible for the environment, and mean that all those resources that went into making the products are now useless. This is where recycling comes in. This helps out but does not completely solve the problem.

This is a very important video for people to watch, particularly designers. It is important for us to know the effect that our products have on the environment and people health. It is up to us to not design planned obsolescence or perceived obsolescence into our products to stop the rate of consumption. It is also important that we design our products so that when the do come to the end of there life they can be used for something else or an be very easily recycled.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Emotional Design: Donald Norman

In this video Donald Norman explains the importance of emotion in design. This is a beneficial video to watch because it makes you realise that even though a product may be very functional and work very well, it can still be ugly, thus sub-consciously making people think it is not a good product. He says "People used to say Norman's ok, but if you followed what he said everything would be usable, but it would be ugly."

He uses Philippe Starck's design of an orange juicer for Alessi which is very 'fun' in its form and aesthetics, but is practically useless. The one which Donald Norman owns is a gold plated special edition which has a warning label on it saying it shouldn't be used as a juicer because the acidity of the oranges will ruin the gold plating. Even though it has no function, he still owns one just because it's fun to look at.

Whenever we are interacting with a product, we are analysing it on three levels, Norman explains. First of all before we even touch the product our mind is performing visceral analysis. This is when we appreciate the beauty of a product subconsciously. Our brains are all biologically developed to like and dislike certain things, we like bright colours, dislike loud sounds, bitter tastes. Behavioural analysis also is sub-consciences, like our legs moving when we want to walk - we don't have to consciously tell our legs to move one in front of the other. In design this is when we feel we are in control. Norman uses the example of driving a high-performance sports car on a windy road, we like this because when we are driving around a corner we feel we are in complete control of the situation. The last level of analysis is the reflective. This is when we reflect on past experiences, things we have done, seen or heard about, and use this to form our opinion of the current situation.

Overall this video highlighted to me the fact that even if we didn't think about the emotion in a product we design, it will still have a emotion, even if we have not intended it to be there. This is hugely going to effect how people view and interact with the design, therefore it is a very important thing to harness. What Norman says "I always feel that pleasurable things work better" is very true for most people, they do automatically think that something that is enjoyable to look at and to use will work better.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Product Sketching: Sydney Design

Design Excellence

The 5x5 Chair is made of tiles made of xilith, a waste product mined with coal. Through the right treatment of this fragile and brittle material, Barbara Princic has designed a very elegant chair. It is called the 5x5 Chair because 5x5cm is the optimum size for these tiles in terms of being able to work with them. I think that it is excellent to be able to use a material that is usually just thrown out to create something functional like a chair.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Human Centred Design

I think that this video shows the direction in which design is heading. I feel that since things that we as designers design are generally used by humans or have some human interaction, humans and human behaviour should be at the centre of design. This is the point David Kelly is making in the video Human Centred Design, and I agree with him. “We are now focused more and more on human centred design... and that really involves designing behaviours and personalities into products.”

I think that the example he gave of the technologies and products designed for the Prada store in New York. All of these products are focused around the customer and how shopping in the Prada store can be as enjoyable and easy as possible for them. The RF tags allow the customer to view items they are interested in on one of many screen throughout the store. They can see these items in different colours and sizes, and watch them being modelled on the runway.

The technology involved in the dressing rooms in the store also caters very well to the needs of the customer. Firstly the walls and door of the dressing rooms are made from liquid crystal glass. This allows it to be transparent when showing people the clothes you are trying on without having to walk out, and then when getting changed the wall becomes opaque like frosted glass. There are also more screens in the dressing rooms so you can find out more about the clothes you are trying on. The “magic mirror” also allows you to see what you look like in the clothes from any angle.

ApproTec, started by Dr Martin Fisher, takes products to Kenya to be manufactured there, creating 19 thousand companies (this was in 2001). They produce not only jobs in the manufacturing process, but also the produces manual deep well water pumps which allows people to set up their own small farms. This kind of design is human centred because it is designing not for profit, but to allow farmers in Kenya to make a living, benefiting the greater good of the human race.

I think that watching this video has given me a greater understanding of the direction that design is going. After watching this I am also pleased that this is what’s happening in design because I want to design things centred around humanity and human behaviour, hopefully in a beneficial way.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Shape of Scent

We were given a perfume and had to create a shape that represented that scent..from the initial hit of the smell through to the more subtle hints of scents discovered after a closer smell of the perfume.

The perfume our group was given was very much a floral scent. There was quite a sharp initial hit of fragrance which in some ways was very overpowering. After more observing of the scent it was clear that there were many different floral scents such as jasmine and rose. At the end there was also a sweetness from a subtle scent of vanilla.

The shape I ended up making was pointed at the top to represent the hit of fragrence which is quite sharp and over owering at first. This then becomes more complex as the experience of the scent progresses, with the three parts of the shape representing the different floral scents working in harmony. This ends in a bulbuss shape at the bottom, representing the sweetness of the vanilla.
I was not completly happy with how the actual making of the plasticine shape turned out, I struggled
in its construction as the plasticine kept falling apart.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Design Career

Design has always fascinated me. Even when I was a kid I would love to create things. Play-doh, Logo, paint, even sewing, I always loved to just play around with things and create. I know that the whole "I grew up loving design" thing sounds terribly cliche, but that's probably because it is so often true. I am simply just another case.

Another thing that I always found interesting was human behaviour. I have always been a people watcher, observing how people interact with each other, their environment, and the products they use everyday. I think that it is amazing how simple products can so heavily affect peoples behaviour and habits, enriching their lives sometimes without them even realising. When I first see something new I think it is so exciting to imagine how this could be used in the future to change the way people interact with each other, an environment or product.

I knew that I had to go into something in the design field. On a DT excursion to the Powerhouse Museum in year 11 a student from ID at UNSW spoke about the course. At this time I didn't think about it much as I wasn't really thinking about uni then. Later in year 12 when it came time to make decisions about uni I was throwing around a few ideas like architecture or interior design. I remembered about hearing about the industrial design course at UNSW and began to look into it further. I realised that this course seemed to cater fairly exactly to my interests and knew I had to have it as one of my top preferences. I knew that in the end I wanted to end up in some kind of design course at UNSW. I have for a while felt that UNSW could provide me with a quality of degree with recognition in the industry. I could have chosen to do this course at uni closer to where I live, but I always just knew that I wanted to go to UNSW.

I feel that as an industrial designer I will be able to create products which will enrich the lives of those it's designed for. I find it exciting to imaging what products the future will bring and I also feel exited that I will be able to be a part of that. Once I started the course I began to have more of an understanding of what it actually meant to be an industrial designer, and the varied fields of design that this degree can lead into. As I am sitting here in the Red Centre I can't help feeling I have made the right choice, both with the course I chose and the uni I chose to do it at.