Informative Links

Below are some of the sites I use when researching they are full of information and can help when you’re stuck for ideas;

The Design Museum in London also has  an online archive of modern and contemporary design which  I’ve used over the last 3 years for researching designers, it’s full of so much information including podcasts of talks from a variety of designers, from Architects to Communication Designers.

One talk which is worth listening to is Sophie Thomas founder of  Thomas Matthews Communication who are designers who want to change the way we think about things.  A lot of what Sophie says echos what we’ve heard in our Design Studies lectures.  One of the things she talks about is the client brief, how its not just about designing a product but researching where the product materials will come from, where the product will end up once  its finished with and then suggesting to the client different sustainable ideas. The companies sustainability booklet is worth looking at;  thomas matthews sustainability booklet.

The Design Museum also lists all of its previous exhibitions and from 2006 each exhibition has a text with bibliography, photographs and further suggested reading and websites. There are videos to watch and conversations to listen too.


Icon is a magazine dedicated to design and architecture.  iconeye is the online version of the magazine and has links to information about many designers.  There’s a gallery showing different designers work and sketchbooks and then further links to their web pages, the architect pages are also an inspiration.


yshlondon is an online magazine aimed at  student, designer or business interested in textiles, fashion and or interiors and offers news, trends and amazing interviews. They feature a designer of the month, look at street fashion, look at what’s hidden away in London shops ( great if you’re heading down to London and don’t know where to start).  They visit trade shows and have images of whats on offer there, inform about exhibitions and visit graduate shows. Its now free to register with yshlondon  too so a great way to keep up to date with current news and information in your chosen topic.


Nuno is a Japanese company founded by Reiko Sudo – worth a visit to see fabric with a big difference. Chemical lace embroidery, origami pleats, woven fabric with glow in the dark thread, they bring something different to everyday fabrics and then have a look at nunoworks where you can see the screen printed and stitched fabrics and pick up great ideas for mixed media.


The Design Council has a great deal of history behind them and have been helping designers since 1944 then known as the Council of Industrial Design.  It offers publications, podcasts, design archives with links to other articles and access to other design blogs which in turn have numerous links again.


The online Tate is one site I cant miss out, go to the tate channel where you can watch videos of exhibitions and artists talking about their work.


The Guardian offers reports on so many subjects e.g. when searching for anthropology it gave me links to their reports all listed by date reported. On the same page are other links relating to your chosen subject some are useful but all will relate in some way to your subject, you  have to be mindful that you don’t get too carried away reading everything!


The Science Society picture library is a great resource when looking for historical images information relating to Britain, it has images from the Science Museum, the National Railway Museum and the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television.


When doing my summer project I came across the following site. Again choosing anthropology as my subject the anthropologie web site offers a wealth of information, I chose Pacific /Australia as a link and came to a list of online resources, then clicking Aboriginal Studies was taken to a another site, again I chose Aboriginal History this took me to list of University web sites, voluntary organisations, Australian Government Archives, Library sites etc. At the anthropologie site you can chose any to look at news, University Courses, Research Institutions, Anthropology by regions, documentations, web directories and museums.


The Texas A & M University Department of Anthropology has a great resource offering a link to all the latest world news on anthropology from the mainstream media.My final link for now is also one I’ve used before and I found this through Joprints its called talk2myShirt, its main purpose is to inform on the latest development in wearable electronics, it looks at new design concepts, developments in technology and research in the subject.



Enjoy the links and hope they help you too

Powerful Images Part Two

Last week I talked about powerful images from the 1950’s and 60’s that bought back lots of memories for me – Similar to the one below but from Ladybird books. Here (at the bottom of the post) was my immediate response and below further thought to a lecture we had on Friday, Im not after sympathy what I’ve written here was just what life was like for many

Pour toujours…’s flickr


As I mentioned I was born in 1960 and things were so different then to my home life now. There wasn’t a TV in our house and although we did have a record player being a child we would not be allowed to even touch it. Our toys were very limited and mostly consisted of crayons paper and pencils, glue with a red rubber applicator (anyone remember what it was called?), a sewing kit  and a doll. I grew up reading the Famous Five, the Judy Annual, Ladybird books, the book prizes I received from Sunday school and the Bible.  I have to point out that I was happy with this I loved drawing and crayoning ( as it was called then) this was just accepted I didn’t know any different and I grew up thinking every family was like our family.

We kept our milk in a milk jug and the sugar in a sugar bowl but it wasn’t because we were “posh” my mum just liked things to be done properly, we had a table cloth and china cups, they didn’t match but its what she’d had since she’d married. My mum stayed home and looked after us and my dad went to work – all seems lovely on the outside doesn’t  it.  Now this is where the resemblance to the images ends. Sadly it wasn’t the happy family that people looking in would see.  We were not wealthy but that didn’t matter and I remember having to have free school dinners. I had clothes for school, clothes for church and clothes for playing out! I had to be seen and definitely not heard, not ask questions and I had to be in bed by 6.30pm at the latest and it was here that I used to draw and design the house and fabrics I would have if I were wealthy, my imagination was incredible,  I went through a purple phase where I’d have purple carpets which went up the wall, a sunken bath, big floral curtains (purple) – the bigger the flowers the better. Exquisite lamps and so many art supplies, there was never a TV in my designs, how things have changed with flat screens, music players, mobile phones and computers.

The books I read back then must have had some influence on me  – in the Judy Annuals there were articles about becoming a hairdresser, going to modelling school, being a secretary, becoming a fashion buyer and going to art school but I cant find that one anywhere.  I left school and home at 16 to escape an awful situation I was in and desperately wanted to go to Art School but I had to earn money to support myself so  became a receptionist, then going on to work in the Beauty Industry but my dream was always Art College. Think a picture is starting to form here.

Its interesting to see in the article above that the main tutor is a man but all of the

students are young women!



So you get the picture! Do I think the images influenced me? Yes they probably did because they were my escape. I’m not sure if things would have turned out differently if I’d been able to stay at home with the support to go and study, that I’ll never know but one things is certain I eventually made Art School!

Wish my immediate thought had been the gorilla!



Design Studies – Assignment Two

Our task for Assignment Two is to think of as many different ways in which the Law of the Few from The Tipping Point relates to design – how could design or designers help? How could a specific area of design e.g. textiles work with the law of the few?



Friday was Helens birthday (and Jonathans’) we had goodies to help us through

and below taking the initial brainstorm on Law of the Few and linking it to design

Next have to look into these points in more detail and meet up and discuss next week 🙂

powerful images

Yesterday I really needed one of the wind up computers we’d discussed earlier in the morning.  With both electricity and internet connections failing I realise how much I rely on technology, not just for keeping in touch with my son in Australia and daughters in Edinburgh, I do my husbands business letters, prices etc. I process my photographs, do digital design, write the assignments/lecture notes up and then place my assignments on my web log. I check my flickr site, twitter and facebook and also my two email addresses not forgetting VLE! I couldn’t even access the world wide web through my iPhone! Which brings me nicely to that brilliant design; the wind up computers are actually produced by OLPC – one lap top per child a non-profit organisation, their mission statement: “To create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future”. OLPC

A brilliant design without the need for electricity it uses a wind up handle to power it. They are sent to schools in Africa however as much as the children enjoy the laptops can the programme really work without the primary concerns being addressed, providing a school building, teachers, desks and books, can the children  learn with these alone if no other resources were available ? More can be read here.

Staying with Africa another image was of the T. shirt designed by Danish artist, Nadia Plesner in response to the  press reporting on celebrity news, whilst in Darfur there was genocide.

Nadia PlesnerNadia Plesner Foundation

The design featured a naked African child holding a small dog and a Louis Vitton bag. I remember at the time initially being quite shocked by the image but then Nadia sold the T shirts and posters on her web site and all the profits were given to an organisation helping out in Dafur. Although this backfired for her and ended with a law suite from Louis Vitton the press picked up on this and the exposure was immense and raised large amounts of money for the cause. This was Nadia’s way of using design to raise a point, she didn’t sit back and watch it all happening she made a design decision and went through with it.  There are those who feel the Louis Vitton bag shouldn’t have been used as it infringed copyright but what Nadine was trying to say was how our society is more interested in so called celebrities having breakdowns than in the real suffering which wasn’t getting the press it should have.  Whether Nadine used the bag in the  image to provoke a response like this I’m not sure but if she hadn’t would she have got such a response and got so many people to talk about it?  I know I’ve still got a lot to learn and I do realise copyright shouldn’t be infringed but I  believe her response was from the heart.

The other images really brought back bad memories as they had associations with things which weren’t good. I’ll maybe go into this later but to put you in the picture I was born in 1960 and my early years were very different to my life now.They were taken from Ladybird Books from the 1950- 60’s. They depicted the ideal family where mother was in the kitchen cooking with daughter and father was in the garage with his son. Another was mother feeding the children and father sitting by the fire in his suit reading.  The perfect family?  Below are the kind of  images  that publishers printed in their magazines and in books in the 60’s. These images were influencing  how we thought and behaved but a lot were a contradiction to how we lived. These were most definitely middle class images being shown in schools mine included but so many in my class were working class families; miners, farmers and manual workers. The images gave men and women stereotypical roles and  looked very harmonious but behind the images the messages they portrayed were very powerful for us as children.

The nuclear family as seen in this advertising material, from 1960

the nuclear family

and just for fun? Although we do need a new sink,this better not be me on my birthday !

Leisure sinks advert




service design

Over the last two weeks we’ve had another two awesome lectures, one on Service Design was delivered by Professor Tom Inns.

We all know of the many services available; leisure, travel, tourism, business, financial, insurance and health.  These services are all similar in that they involve an action or help that one person can give to another but unlike the manufacturing industry doesn’t end in a finished product.  Services cannot be stored, the results cannot be touched but the outcome can often be seen.  Services cannot be transported and therefore cannot be sold as manufactured products to interested parties, its quality is usually dependant on the giver and its often this quality which will determine whether customers remain loyal.

Service designers look at the customer experience, the employee experience and if the service is offering what it intended and in the best and most cost effective way which benefits everyone.

I’ve been looking at a service that I’m in the process of going through – the services of my GP and referral to hospital and I feel there are lots of ways the whole process could be considerably improved!

Below I’ve used a service blueprint, this notes the sequence of events of the service experience, it notes the physical evidence; the touchpoints and the part the customers cannot see; below the line of visibility

From the first appointment with the GP there is so much waiting and wondering and the whole time scale just makes anxieties grow.  Backward and forward from GP to Nurse and back again then the referral to a Consultant. There are many things I could comment on but one which I won’t forget  when eventually attending for my appointment at a huge teaching hospital was asking for directions to the relevant department; I was sent to 3 different places before I got to the correct place!

24/06/10 - Hmmm which way?

So here is just one area where design could help and improve the customer/patient experience don’t get me started on waiting times.  Signs within the hospital are so confusing the area is too fussy with cafes and shops and although a big area it feels very closed in.  Once you get to your department the nurses are very nice but make mistakes and these are silly mistakes and don’t do anything for customer/patient anxiety (my wrist band had me down as a male! I am quite obviously female even my name is a feminine name)



I also asked about the procedure and could they explain what would happen, I was told that she (the nurse) was only helping cover in the department that day and couldn’t.   All the little things add up; where I should have felt confident at ease and reassured I felt anxious, overwhelmed and scared.

A Service Design team would look at the experience from all levels, the physical evidence, the external and internal interaction, the service user and members of staff and how the building works.

An example can be found here with a case study carried out by Kipum Michael Lee for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre. If you have time click on the link and read through the pdf it’s an example of how service design can help a very busy hospital and on page 34 is a service blueprint of the hospital.