Leadership Election…

This week I was voted to become the Exhibition Leader. A committee made up of ‘Real, Right and Possible’ Reps and Marketing, Finance and Space Reps were also elected. I am keen now to ensure that we push on with some decisions and ensure that everybody is represented. It is important to me that the decisions made are done so democratically, with everybody given an opportunity to suggest ideas. Without this, we risk alienating and annoying people unnecessarily. It is crucial that this is avoided, in order to ensure the process of creating the exhibition space is efficient as possible. my next thought surrounds roles. I don’t believe I should prevent people from working in the departments they want to work in. In the day or two after the election, the teams naturally began to form themselves around the reps, and soon every department had enough members to run effectively. It is my opinion that there is little point in forcing those who have yet aligned themselves with a department, to  do so. Those who have already aligned themselves with a department, are those who have consistently turned up to meetings. This number remains at around  seventeen people per week, or 46% of the year group. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to me to assign roles to the remaining 54% as it would be unpredictable to rely on them to turn up and complete the tasks assigned to them. Instead, my approach is to encourage those who are passionate to work in a group to do so to the best of their ability, this in turn I believe, will draw more people to join in.


A Counter Design – Continued Discontentment…

This week has seen some very interesting developments. Although we are still without an official leader, the election is fast approaching (23rd of February). The individuals who are pushing to change the space design have produced a range of developments for the ‘Three-Fold’ design to show where the believe the flaws lay, along with a range of far simpler table designs without these flaws. New issues have been raised surrounding the ‘Three-Fold’ concept, these include the lack of height. We responded as a group by developing the design to show it in a portrait format, giving the unit greater height and a smaller footprint, but this had the result of reducing table space. The argument was then made that a lack of table space would restrict the number, and size, of models which can be displayed, along with the format in which work can be displayed in. With the new ideas emerging, I am beginning to recognise the potential shortcomings of the ‘Three-Fold’ design. We have access to tables, so using them as opposed to producing a triangle would reduce the amount of construction and material necessary. Use of table tops would also allow students more freedom, I am currently concerned that out ‘Three-Fold’ design lacks space for objects such as sketchbooks. I remain open minded, and I have lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had this week with regards to how the space should look. I suggested to those interested in using table tops instead of the triangle, that they produce a full scale mock-up so we could assess the design (as our ‘Three-Fold’ team had done in the previous week). I took part in assembling and assessing the new space, and was keen to remain impartial and analyse the reaction  of my peers. With my desire to become the leader of the group, I want to remain as impartial, positive, and fair as I can.

The design uses our metal desk legs. The tabletops are the back boards to our desks, removed and placed on top. The side paneling is made of two recycled boards, of which there are 150 available to us. All of the materials used for the construction were free and available to us for the show. The tabletop space visible here would be shared between three students.

A Mixed Day…

Today was a scheduled exhibition meeting. Our tutor Richard was unfortunately absent with illness today, but we continued anyway, with the aim of resolving the issues of space design by ourselves. The session turned into a large heated debate, with the two separate lines of thought over the design, remaining as separate as the previous week. For around two hours we debated, shared ideas, showed each other CAD models, and attempted to find similarities. When finally the topic moved on to planning and structure, I announced to the group that I had some ideas and had produced a slideshow to explain them. My plan outlined a democratic structure with representatives for each design philosophy tutor group (Real, Right, and Possible) and a rep for each of the departments; Marketing, Finance, and Space. These collectively would produce the ‘committee’. I talked through the tasks I envisaged each group undertaking. I highlighted that, should I be elected to lead the group, I would work to ensure that all major decisions were made by the year group as a whole, in a fair manner. The role of the committee would be to decide on the issues to be discussed and to tie up any loose ends. I was heartened by the response to my presentation, and it appeared to have the effect of bringing the group back together. UPDATE: Richard later requested the presentation and used the structure to produce a plan for the roles for the following week. This included a committee system.

Discontentment and Other Developments…

During the last week there have been tensions building over the design of the space. It would appear that our winning ‘Three-Fold’ idea has pulled the group in two separate directions. Half the group seem content to take the winning design and adapt it, while the other seem strongly opposed to the idea, citing that it is not an efficient use of space or not suited to displaying the work. I am not personally insulted by the criticism given by those who don’t believe the design is suitable, on the contrary, I am heartened to see my peers so passionate. My only real concern is that this argument appears to be an issue which will continue to drag on until a line is drawn, and without a leader no line can be drawn. I have produced a plan this week to try and establish what projects each student is undertaking to try and find a way to group projects and recognise how many large model spaces we will need.

Our Design Chosen…

Having presented our idea to our peers and tutors, our design was put forward as a marginal winner. I am pleased that our hard work has paid off, however it is crucial to realise that the second place design came only one point behind. It is also fairly clear that my peers have strong opinions about which designs they like and do not. It seems that our design is somewhat like Marmite; a love hate thing. It will be interesting to see how we go about adapting and improving the idea over the coming weeks to establish a solid final design suitable for everybody’s needs. Here are some images showing our development stages running up to the presentation day (images courtesy of Angelo).

ISC Using My Graphics For Their Instructions.

I’ve just discovered that the graphic design instructions I produced for ISC during the summer of 2013 have been published online for download.

The graphics can be seen here: D4


I entered my third year of study with a predominant sense of excitement. Over the previous two years of study I have grown in confidence, skill and tact. I used the summer months, prior to third year, to reflect and prepare myself. I spent periods of two to three weeks at a time investigating potential major project ideas. These included ideas for a pram using alternative materials, bicycle safety helmets, cancer hair loss treatments, and asthma treatment. Upon returning I had established a title for my Technical Report and had started the research. From reading previous examples I understood that the opportunity provided by a Technical Report allowed me to explore both research and design, and so I was keen that the design stage be of value for my end of year degree show. Many successful individuals in the past have produced work of considerable enough quality to be presented.

I believe the initial stages of writing my essay were fairly slow, owing to my focus and desire to submerge myself within my major design process. I believe that the period around Christmas has allowed me to learn and develop skills of time management and balance. I tend to find that I work best when I can immerse myself in work and tend to be capable of working through the whole day and into the early hours of the morning comfortably. I enjoy the work I do. I feel that my working philosophy and commitment is a testament to this. I am optimistic that my work reflects this too. I have noticed that my skills have developed in the previous year, and that I am more inclined to self reflect and not just accept the need for improvement, but strive for it.

In the previous year, I have also learnt more about how I would like my future to be shaped in terms of a design career. I have had more exposure to medical design, having had tours of PDR and discussions with former students who now work within the medical design sector. I am keen to maintain strong relationships with my tutors. I find their words both encouraging and supportive. I have also recognised my desire to continue my education within design. As already mentioned, I strive for self improvement, and as such I want to be the best I can be at what I do, as opposed to simply sufficient.

In  terms of my technical report on biopolymers, I enjoyed researching the topics needed for the content of my report. I drew on understanding from my Chemistry A-level studies, which formed a backbone to expanding my knowledge. I realised that in order to explore the technical detail of biopolymers, there was first a need for an understanding of broader polymer science principles, which included; polymer formation, chemical structures, degradation, and terminology. I also felt that it was pertinent to give understanding of the history of all polymers to contextualise new knowledge about biopolymers. Understanding biopolymers solely would be inadequate, I hope that my technical report has displayed both technical knowledge and also provided detail into why the knowledge is important within the world of Product Design and Manufacture today.

At times I felt frustrated by the technical nature of the report, in so far as not being able to express particular view points on the topics discussed. In particular those points on the environmental and health impact of some polymers, which I have personal opinions about. I believe that a lack of this opportunity made it difficult to discuss the diplomatic issues surrounding biopolymer development to the fullest extent. I learnt much about the subject I chose to research and noticed that my views developed throughout my writing. For example, prior to researching PVC, I was unaware of the depth of the potential issues with its use. I can’t help but feel that more should be said about the dangers of materials such as this, and yet it was difficult within the format of the report, to extend my views beyond facts provided by others. I was surprised that I was unable to find any major negative points surrounding biopolymers. Whilst there were several minor negatives, such as current cost and negative press surrounding use of food stocks (which proved to be unfounded), the use of biopolymer as an alternative for many synthetic polymers seems sensible and forward thinking. As such, I feel the way I will consider manufacturing options in my own design practice will develop. I will now give consideration to biopolymer as a realistic option when designing polymer components.

I believe another positive from my technical report was the opportunity to carry out primary research. I took the opportunity to carry out an experiment into the production of my own biopolymer. Although I was unable to fulfil my aim of producing a biopolymer capable of being formed into a bag, the experience was enriching and added a new depth to my understanding of the material. It was an intriguing experience being able to produce my own plastic on such a small scale with such basic ingredients and tools, and it made me consider whether this might be a way we develop our means of manufacture in the future. As many experts already predict, the 3D printer may soon become a common domestic product, but if so, why not too the facility to produce our own packaging materials, or even fabrics, using simple biopolymer ingredients?

Looking forward, I hope to build on the skills I have developed during the production of my technical research report for the remainder of my studies. I have found this stage in my studies to be engaging and rewarding, I hope to do more academic work in the future, and apply the knowledge I have gained. I also hope to display the composting unit I produced during the design stage of my  report at the product design end-of-year show in recognition of the knowledge I have gained during the process.