My final year has started with one of my major projects for the subject part of the course. I have been approached by a local farm looking to increase their profits. Customer had an idea of using dried vegetables to produce instant soups. The idea was to use vegetables grown at the farm.
I have started by learning about the customer and the way in which the business operates. I have evaluated customers website which was one of the main sources of sales along side of a weekly market stall. I have quickly noticed that the website doesn’t sell the produce very well, the product is poorly advertised on the website and there is no real choice of produce for the customer. I thought that improving those aspects of the business will also be important and have a positive impact on the profits. I have also created a list of questions for the customer which gave me more insights of the business and the farms constraints.
I have began my ideation process by thinking about the problem first and how it can be resolved. I thought that instant soups can not be the only way in which a farm can improve profits. I have started to explore other ideas which will help raise profits. Some solutions have included vertical farming, increasing the amount of produce will increase sales which increases profits, however this is only true if the demand for the product is existent. I also thought that improving the market stall would reflect on profits. My idea was to have a more appealing and eye catching stand with controlled environment for display and transportation to ensure freshness of the produce which would be a unique selling point. Some other ideas have included opening up a local veg shop or entering a different market, for example, crisps.
Once I have generated My ideas I decided to review them with the customer, during our meeting the customer has complimented the ideas, however, he was set on the idea of dried soups. He also gave me more information and showed me a business plan which he has generated for the dried soup product. After looking at the calculation and being convinced by the customer he has a strong USP (80% veg content in comparison to super market soups with much lower veg content at 20%-30%). I have decided to go back to research stage and look into dehydration and explore the process.
My client has outlined that the farm is off grid however some power can be purchased at the start of the business to get the business going. Another constraint was the fact that there is only one person working at the farm and the dehydrator would have to be relatively large in order to dry a sufficient amount of veg in order to make enough soup making it hard to move, load etc. Client would also like the dehydrator to be cheap to produce or even possibly made out of reclaimed materials in order to keep costs low. My client also wanted to share the plan and business idea with other small, local farms around the UK in order to help them boost their profits also. I believe the dehydrator files should also be available to download.
I have therefore gone back to the research stage to learn about the process of dehydration and different types in which it can be carried out as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each type of process in order to find the best solution for dehydration. This helped me understand the design process and made me realise that being able to converge and diverge in between ideation and research leads to a better design and practising this will make me a better designer.
during my research I have also expanded my sustainable energy knowledge and learnt about a process of anaerobic bio-digestion which is a perfect way for farm to reduce their waste and save money on energy. This process uses food waste to create energy. Explaining it simply, The wasted food is digested by microorganisms in absence of oxygen causing fermentation which creates bio-gasses and water. Bio-gasses can then be combusted to create energy.
My final design uses minimal fixtures, controls and mainly press fit components making the design simple to use and maintain on a low budged. The dehydrator size can be easily increased and decreased by stacking more trays on top of each other. Cleaning is made easy as the tray and mesh simply push out. The product can be easily moved around the farm and transported easily in a small van as the entire product comes apart easily.
This project taught me first insights of working with a real client. I have enjoyed the experience and enjoyed the fact that I have received feedback on designs and ideas from the actual user of the product, someone with knowledge of the subject.
If I was to do the project again I would have definitely liked to do more experimenting as well as having more meetings with the client in order to improve the product more.
In term two we have begun our first field project which focused on ‘The City’. I began carrying out research into various areas of the city such as the hidden city, power and technology and migration. During my research I have carried out primary and secondary research. I have looked at the ways in which urban foxes migrate around build up area dominated by human presence. I have also looked at the ways in which big cities are monitored by the use of CCTV cameras. I have visited the CCTV control room in Cardiff from which the whole of Cardiff is monitored via an incredible monitoring system and help of the Police. This research experience helped me develop more of an understanding of this project as well as it helped me to understand that in order to get the best information which you need, you have to explore the subject fully and experience it yourself in order to interview people who are involved in the area and know all the weaknesses and have ideas of improving the system.
Once everyone has completed their research, the whole class presented back their findings and area of interest to each other and following on from that we have arranged ourselves into groups with people in our class who have carried out similar research or we have simply been curious about each other’s research. In our group of five we began to combine our research into the migration of wild life and Chernobyl. From this point on we began to research deeper into the radiation in Chernobyl and the wildlife there. The fact that all of our research has been slightly different we managed to combine it well as a team and come up with many different ideas which we have explored and eliminated the ones which we thought to be weak after conversations with lecturers.
After previous group projects we knew that everyone has to turn up on time and we need to stay in contact at all times in case anyone doesn’t know what they are supposed to be doing or in case there are questions or new ideas to be discussed when we are not together. We have therefore started a group chat which helped us manage our communication and everyone participated in it, in order for the good communication to happen. The fact that all of the group members have studied product design made this project easier because we have all had the idea of locating a problem in the area of our combined research and then designing a product in order to resolve the issue.
During the development process of our design we have all looked at each other’s strengths and skills and assigned each other tasks such as building specific parts of the model. Some group members have been better working with certain materials, some of us have been better at animation and some at using the CAD software. However, we have all helped each other and gained new skills. I have definitely enjoyed working with people who I don’t know well or I have not worked with before but share common interests with because the project had a nice flow, the design process was clear and everyone understood what they were doing. I believe that this helped us achieve a very nice model and a strong presentation.
I really liked presenting this project with my group members because everyone has given their opinion and spoke about the parts which they have contributed to. This made the presentation easy and professional in my opinion because each member spoke at the right time when it was necessary for them to explain their part. I have also enjoyed that the audience knew who to address with which questions in order to achieve the best answer because it was clear who did what and which part of the project they are an expert at.
The second field project of term two has been less enjoyable even though similar approach has been taken into account by all the team members as in the first project, everyone knew that one person can bring the whole team down, the only difference between this project to the first one was the fact that my group was combined not only of product designers but also a textile student and fine artists. We have soon found out that all these subjects are similar in a way but they have very different priorities and aims.
I have found it particularly hard to create a brief with my group members because their aim have been different to mine they were not looking to identify a problem and resolve it. The idea was to create a persona, a character from a fictional past, purely based on the objects which they have owned.
We have assigned each other tasks but not everyone understood what they were doing, lack of attendance from some group members meant that people in the group were getting confused or have not been there when significant decisions have been made which then has set everyone behind when for example someone didn’t agree with something which has been agreed during a meeting which they have not attended.
Although the work process was less enjoyable in comparison to the first project I have opened my mind up a bit more because the fine art students have showed some creativity and unusual thinking which intrigued me. Now I like to look at briefs and problems from a different perspective. The final solution does not have to be the easiest way to resolve the problem, the solutions can be creative and complicated.
In term two field projects I have learnt that communication and similar mind sets are a key to a successful group project in my opinion, everyone has to be motivated and aim for the highest which can be achieved. I am glad to have developed my presentation skills more during this experience, I feel more confident when presenting in front of a large group of people, I’m not scared to put my point across and explain my ideas, I have also started to understand CAD more which helped me this year, I was also inspired to explore working with rendering software’s in order to help with my product development and presenting my models.
I would like to try a similar project with people from other disciplines in my second year to now improve up on the last experience and make it better by learning on my previous mistakes from the group work in the second and first field projects.
In the following Lectures we have discussed ideas of Steve Reich and his minimalistic music as well as focused on Ambient music by people such as Brian Eno who is a very interesting and passionate character. Mr Eno says that ‘Perfection is Characterless’ which he explains in many of his videos.
Furthermore, we have looked at soundscape’s and carried out an exercise in which different groups visited specific locations and recorder sounds of those locations and then arranged them in a series of overlapping clips and then played them together creating a piece. We have also looked at the ideas of Muttay Schafer where he explains hot to classify sounds.
During this Period of constellation, the second half of the second term I began to think about my essay and possible questions but I still had no idea how to link sonic arts and product design together and I was very worried about not being able to think of a good enough question which will talk about enough interesting areas but also a question which will get me fully engaged in this piece of work.
I have then thought to maybe not focus on the experimental music but sound in general, This is when I had a meeting with my Constellation lecturer Alexadros where we have discussed the idea of sound design where specific sounds are designed for specific products in order to make them sound better or of a higher quality or even just to make them easier to use. We have then went on to discussing the idea of sonic branding where products are branded/ advertised through the use of sound. I have then decided on a title for my essay ‘ The importance of Sonic Branding and Sound Design in Product Design’ where I would discuss both of these ideas and how useful they are for my subject ( Product Design).
In order to have a better understanding of the area I have done research into Branding and sonic branding in particular as well as looked at examples of products where sound design plays a huge role such as motor vehicles.
I was now happy and satisfied with the title of my essay which I began to write as well as made progress in class in comparison to the first term I feel like I have put in a lot more time and effort into my studies this term which gave me a huge satisfaction and motivated me for the final project in term three on which I hope to work hard on and achieve the best grade I am capable of achieving. I feel like my time management and work ethics have improved over this first year of university which I am happy about but I am also ready to make more improvements and produce more higher quality work in the second year of my product design studies.
During our following lectures we have discussed Max Matthews and his project/ piece ‘Bicycle for two thousand’ as well as interesting pieces such us Alvin Lucier’s ‘I am sitting in a room’ where Alvin sits in a room and records him saying the following sentence: ‘I am sitting in a room’ and then plays it back in the room while recording it again and then playing this version back and recording it again, repeating the process over and over until the material turns into a series of noises and voice is no longer recognized. I found this very interesting and impressed how such a simple idea creates such an interesting and abstract outcome.
We have also explored Bill Fontana’s acoustical vision of the golden gate bridge where the noise of the bridge has been captured and arranged into a piece. furthermore we have looked at compositions such as David Byrne’s talking heads and Lejaren Hiller’s ‘lilac suite for string quarter 1956/’57’ this piece has been composed on the computer where the computer arranged the sounds.
we have also carried out an exercise where we have sat in the room in complete silence and noted down everything we could hear, this exercise showed us how hard it is to achieve complete, absolute silence. Furthermore, this exercise highlighted how ambitious John Cage’s idea of silence is and made me realize that there is more to experimental music than just noise and series of sounds. This simple exercise showed me that something might seem strange or odd might have an interesting story which can be very interesting or inspiring. By this point of our lectures I didn’t see a way in which those lectures could help me in my subject however the stories and ideas of the legends of experimental music were very inspiring and motivated me to do more work and work towards my goals which payed off with a’First’ in my class field project which made me feel very satisfied however I still had to improve my work ethics and change around the way in which I study and arrange my time to get the most benefit.
During My first Lecture with Alexandros I was rather surprised about the type of music which we were going to be studying. Before those lectures I didn’t really know anything about experimental music and it’s history which is what /i was soon about to find out through very interactive and fun lectures. In our first lecture we have studied the past of people such as Varese who dreamed for technology and music to merge. He spent 40 years of his life achieving this!
We have also learnt about people such as John Cage who is an absolute legend in experimental music, he believes in the idea of silence and achieving perfect silence was his ultimate goal. Stockhausen however was the opposite of john cage.
We have also furthermore talked about Pierrepont Shaeffers first music concrete piece called Etude aux Chemins de fer which he produced in 1948.
At the start of second terms constellation and the first lecture I wasn’t very sure on whether I enjoy this subject and the area as well as how beneficial these lectures are going to be for Product Design. However, I was also interested to find out if there is any connection between this strange at the time subject and product design so I decided carry on building up the interest and exploring this subject area.