‘ Designer, Maker, User’ – my thoughts on the exhibition

 

On Friday 12 of October, we went to the Design Museum to see the ‘ Designer, Maker, User’ exhibition. As we approached the museum I was astonished by the building design, it was really impressive, beautifully shaped. After a quick introduction we went to explore!

 

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The first part of the exhibition reflects the quote ‘from the spoon to the city’ created by Italian architect Ernesto Rogers – everything that surrounds us has been designed in every scale; from simple things like cutlery to more complex like cars, computers or buildings.

What is the difference between art and design? Artists create their work to force people to think, inspire or simply to please the audience visually. Designers however, make products that are functional and help people in everyday life. Is it fair, to divide those functions? Can a good design be functional, provocative and touch our emotions? Can a design be considered art?

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Do designers solve problem or do they create them?

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Users are the customers, the audience that experiences various products. Can a designer, also be an user and how fine is the line between one and the other? Often, boundaries between designer and user get blurred during the process of collaboration in order to achieve the best product. The ‘User’ is a part of an exhibition that correlates the relationship between people and brands, indicating changes that came with design. Large corporations like Braun, Sony or Apple had big impacts on our lives and the ways we communicate today.

As customers, are we using products wisely or do we buy new products blindly?

 

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‘Maker’ section explores the evaluation of manufacturing. The progression of technology and new materials changed the way of product making and led to the mass production of identical products in 19th and 20th century. Currently, we are experiencing another revolution in manufacturing with low cost fabrication tools and automated digital processes which give new and unlimited opportunities to makers, affecting industry and economy.

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Does manufacturing harm the planet?

 

As a part of the exhibition, I saw the movie ‘The Problem of Design’ produced by Thomas Thwaites that places many questions around the design industry in a wider context. The pros and cons are highly contradictive. Designers think about themselves as problem solving individuals and without any doubt they help people every day. There was a strong example of how solar panels positively impacted people’s lives in Africa; it gives them electricity and access to new technologies. However, it occurs that the manufacturing industry has a big impact on the global warming, rising sea levels and contamination. According to Centre for Climate and Energy Solution up to 90+ percent of emissions are created from product use. On top of that we face a problem of contaminated oceans and excess of the plastic that has been disposed seems more than the Mother Earth can take. Simply, we buy, we use it (for a while) and we throw it away. Have a look at the video about the stuff by Annie Leonard, who explains more about relation between design and waste, and the actions that we must undertake in order to save the planet. We don’t have much time left, according to the newest reports released by the United Nation’s climate science we have only 12 years to make changes to global energy infrastructure to limit global warming to moderate levels.

‘The story of stuff ‘

 

 

The visit to the Design Museum left me with many questions in my head. I started my journey thinking about where designers take inspiration from and ended up contemplating about huge problem we face with the environment. I guess I went from ‘ from the spoon to the city’.

 

References:

Free display Designer Maker User
https://designmuseum.org/exhibitions/designer-maker-user

Umair.I. (2018) We have just 12 years to limit devastating global warming.
https://www.vox.com/2018/10/8/17948832/climate-change-global-warming-un-ipcc-report

Sunday times(2007) A climate of change: Manufacturing Must Rise to the Risks and Opportunities of Climate Change
https://www.c2es.org/document/a-climate-of-change-manufacturing-must-rise-to-the-risks-and-opportunities-of-climate-change-2/

‘The story of stuff’ Annie Leonard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GorqroigqM&vl=en

Notes taken during the visit to the museum

 

Does less mean more? Business models vs Floral design business.

What is a key to a successful business? Entrepreneurs have different ideas, good and bad and a most of them try to figure out how to sell their idea. The key question is: Does target client actually need what you’re trying to sell?
I have been asked to choose a traditional business model and discuss what would need to change in order to innovate. I was not sure what to pick, initially thinking about big companies and structures. Afterwards, I thought about the visit I made to my sister last week and our conversation about her current business struggles and ideas. I was sure that would be a perfect example for this task.
My sister and her friend decided to open their own floral design company, they started a couple of months ago. For now, they are a home-based business in Nuneaton, England, which distributes handcrafted work to their clients.

Firstly, what is a business model?
‘A business model describes the rationale of how an organisation creates, delivers and captures value’ A. Osterwalder, Y Pigneur (p.14)

Simply saying, it’s an explanation of how a business delivers value to their customers at an appropriate cost!

The value of our products is the key to success. I started to wonder, what kind of problems can we solve through flowers, if any? This is what I find the most difficult when it comes to promoting and selling arts, whether it’s dance, paintings or flowers. It seems like we can live without them, therefore it’s not a basic need and they usually are at the bottom of our shopping lists. Then I took myself as an example, how often do I buy fresh flowers or flower compositions? The answer is disappointing – almost never. I would if I had my own house and I wanted to make it look beautiful and original. After a while I realised there are fresh flowers in my house quite often. Who buys them then? My boyfriend!
To understand how business operates, I created the business model canvas with current services that they offer and I applied some changes they could incorporate in order to achieve a more successful business.

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One of the struggles the Moresque Floral Design is currently facing is lack of marketing. People simply don’t know they exist. I thought it would be a good idea to organise DIY workshops where people could come to make their own compositions with a professional help and be given the experience to become a florist themselves. Customers would pay a fee to join the workshops and at the end they would leave with their own
handmade work! On the top of that, Moresque Floral Design would also prepare some compositions for sale. Another idea to broaden the service would be to recycle the old flower composition (an idea for artificial compositions), for clients who have old flower arrangement and would like to have is renewed for lower price. I think it adds a freshness and a bit of a twist to the services provided and it’s environmentally friendly!

I dug a little deeper in the flower world. I found an article about a ‘blooming start-up that is disturbing the flower industry’, Farmgirls Flowers founded by Christina Stembel. She recognised that every flower room suffers from wastage of fresh materials. ‘Flower shops have to subsidize the 40% of flowers that are brought into the store and never sold’. – says Christina in the interview for Forbes magazine. She did a focus group and asked customers if they would care about having a limited option of fresh flowers, 86% said they wouldn’t. She based her idea on quality rather that quantity. ‘I figured if it worked with the burgers at In-and-Out it could work for flowers’

As the business of Moresque Floral Design is based mainly on artificial flowers, perhaps that’s the example to follow. Instead of avoiding fresh flowers arrangements, caused by the fear of losing money, they could offer a small base of flowers of the best quality for their client. That idea worked in San Francisco, so why not in the UK?

I believe that the business mentioned has a big potential however it needs improvements in the business model, focusing more in marketing and education of their clients. Revising the value prepositions and understanding the customer segment are the key activities that need to be undertaken, for business to thrive.

Here are some examples of their work !

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moresque5
All photos taken by Moresque Floral Design

 

References:
Osterwalder.A,Pigneur.Y,(2010) Business Model Generation a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers.

John Wiley &Sons. Hoboken, New Jersey
Business Model Canvas. Available at: https://strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas (Accessed: Oct 11 2018).

Decker.V.(2010) Flowers: A Blooming Start-up That Is Disrupting The Flower Industry
https://www.forbes.com/sites/viviennedecker/2015/12/22/farmgirl-flowers-a-blooming-startup-thats-disrupting-the-flower-industry/#5a752c566385 (Accessed: Oct 11 2018)

Moresque Floral Design
https://www.facebook.com/Moresque-Floral-Design-07305149959-285036278763686/?tn-str=k*F

Start-up weekend and how 6 inexperienced people created an Adi-Bike!

 

On the 21st and 22nd  of September our class was encouraged to take part in a start-up weekend. During those two days we got an insight of what we’ll be doing for the whole year in ‘Design thinking for start- ups’ module. Yes, one year of learning in two days!
But first things first, what is a start-up and design thinking??

‘At its heart, a start-up is a catalyst that transforms idea into product’(Ries,p.75)

‘design thinking’ – a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centred design ethos’(Brown ,p.86)

Design thinking for start- ups it’s a process of finding a problem and applying an innovative solution to it, through a product, experience or service.

Our brief was the following:
‘Use the power of sport as catalyst for change, with an innovative Adidas product, service or experience for 17-25-year-old in a chosen city’.

So, we divided ourselves into groups (which was not as easy as it seems) and we started debating. There was 6 of us from the different parts of the world: Rio de Janeiro, Jeddah, London, Hyderabad,Mar del and Belchatów. Wow! Such a mix!
We shared the experiences and problems of cities that we used to live in and we had a big dilemma,which one to pick. We all decided that we would go for Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and a common problem there, transport for women. Ghalia said that young women suffer from lack of independence and often they can’t go to various places because there is no one to take them there and waiting list for a driving licence course is way too long. So, we found a problem, we ONLY needed a solution!
We came up with an idea of a sheltered bike (taking into consideration the cultural aspects and weather conditions in Jeddah) that would provide transport and inspire women to be active. Sorted,we had our idea for an innovative product or so we thought, when the reality hit us.

Next step ‘Genchi Gembitsu’ – go out of the building and ask people what they think about your product!

The feedback/ and our solutions
 Political issues: are women allowed to cycle?
– Yes, women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to exercise.
 Weather conditions, isn’t there too hot?
– We found a solution by adding a fan to the bike.
 Dress code!
– Women are allowed to wear trousers. We also developed a line of loose clothing by
Adidas to meet customer’s need.
Design of the bike: would it be too heavy?
– Our bike would be made out of carbon fibre to make it lighter.

We met two women from Saudi Arabia, they mentioned that women there don’t do sports and they wouldn’t do it unless others would. They said there are no places to exercise outside and, in general,it’s not common. They both stated that transport is not a problem and you can always ask someone to give you a lift or take an uber.
We thought that it’s time to change the idea or maybe start the whole project from the beginning,but we couldn’t! We had to work on it till the end…

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So that was our pattern of Build – Measure – Learn

We built our idea, we asked for feedback and we learned that we need to improve, a lot!
There was something very important in what those two women said, the behaviour part. How do we  make women in Saudi Arabia to cycle, how do we change the customer behaviour?
In order to find our solution, we created a persona, one character that we empathised with. Sarah is 23, she lives in Jeddah, she has been married for the past two years. She bakes and sells cupcakes,she is also a blogger, who writes about health and fitness. Unfortunately, her father passed away,and her mum lives on the other site of the city. Her husband works a lot and very often is not home.Would Sara use an Adi-Bike?

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‘As a result of getting to know customers extremely well, it sometimes becomes clear that the problem were trying to solve for them is not very important. However, because of this customer intimacy, we often discover other related problems that are important and can be solved by our team.’(Ries,p.174)
We had to pivot, we realised that transport wasn’t the main problem, the issue that we discovered was the fear to be different, women were willing to do something if they could follow the example. So, we decided to create a campaign and give them the solution, the idea they could follow and, in result, empower them!
Fatima Al – Banawi, Saudi Actress and influencer was the solution to our problem. We created a video campaign ‘Cycle Towards Change’, in which she cycles to work and meets other women on her way, who eventually join her. On the top of that, we designed a line of loose clothing, to make sure women can cycle safely. We found a solution to the problem customers didn’t realised they had and we hoped it would be successful. However, our strategy was based on assumptions, it was our leap of faith.
We made our prototype and pitched our idea in front of the judges and the class.
My head was burning at the end of the day, but it was fun and exciting to share our idea with the group. At the end we had a bike, a campaign and a line of clothing!

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It’s unbelievable how much I have learnt during those two days. On Friday morning I knew nothing about start- ups nor design thinking. I realised one more thing, start- up process doesn’t differ much from choreographic process. Choreography is about ‘designing the movement’, finding a problem (e.g. social or political), there is also an element of strategy and the assumption that we will influence the audience. Then voila, we have a product, a piece of dance that we will deliver to the viewers. I really find it fascinating, how the two processes can be so different yet so similar at the same time.

44173709_737193969972341_725009798327697408_nP.S. I think we all deserved some rest !
References
Eric, R (2011). ‘The Lean Startup’ “How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful
Businesses”, Penguin Books Ltd
Brown, T (2008). Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review

Why a feather in my cap, and why feathers in general ?

An eagle feather symbolises significant accomplishment amongst Native Americans; the feathers were given only to the bravest warriors, who had to earn such an honour, often risking their lives for the benefit of the tribe. In this case, feathers represent challenge, achievement and combat. I love feathers because they are light, plain, pure and remind me of dream-catchers. What is my point, you ask? My aim is to find a way accomplish the challenge, catch the dream and remain light. Impossible? Maybe. It will be hard to combine the strength of a warrior and lightness of a feather, to find a balance on the way to achievement, but guess what? Challenge accepted !

Why, am I here and what brought me here?

Every day people do jobs that they don’t like, jobs that are making them unhappy and sadly, I was one of them. Working full time and collaterally trying to make a career as  freelance dancer, can drive you mad. People constantly asking if you can ‘work’ for free, taking your skills for granted. Nobody asks lawyers or doctors to provide free services! Being an artist can be harsh sometimes.. I kept thinking about reasons, which made me leave Poland almost six years ago and of my hard work I’ve done so far. I came to the UK for an adventure and a better future, but clearly wasn’t happy with the direction of my career. I was looking for a change, new adventure. I was thinking to undertake a Master Degree in ‘Choreography’ or ‘ Dance science and Education’, until I found ‘Managing in the Creative Economy’ at Kingston University. I thought that there was an opportunity for me that no other University would offer. I remember the warmth approaching my body, and at the back of my head I knew that applying for that course, was the right decision. Surprisingly, I was offered a place! How fortunate!

I spent last few year on expanding my dance knowledge: various contemporary techniques, jazz, ballet and choreography. Also, getting to know my body, was essential; finding out what does and doesn’t work. I am a dancer, and my education background differs a lot from what I am studying now, I feel like I know nothing about the business world. In the past three weeks I met many people from various backgrounds, I felt uncomfortable in some situations and got lost million times in the big concrete jungle – London! Even though, I feel lost and uncomfortable I am extremely excited and happy. I am here to add ‘another feather to my cap’ and gain the knowledge in the filed I know very little about at the moment.

I was waiting for a perfect moment to start a new life, new opportunities. The problem is that the perfect moments never come. The perfect moment is here and now.

Erick Thomas said:

‘To  be able at any moment – to sacrifice who you are, for what you will become’

 

So here I am, ‘sacrificing’ my present self, for the unknown future one.

MACE programme is all about new ideas, approaches and solutions. It is about how we think and solve problems. There are no wrong answers and silly questions! I’m grateful that I can grow in the safe environment like that. There is a lot of hard work and sleepless nights ahead, but in order to see the magic happening, you need to leave your comfort zone !

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I definitely can’t wait to see the magic happening !

– A note to myself –

It’s fine that you don’t understand most of the things (that will be your reality for the next year). Don’t be upset, in a year time you will laugh! ( or, smile at least).

 

 

References:

Learn how Native American use of feather play a role in Indian culture.  http://indians.org/articles/feathers.html

image
imagehttps://pixabay.com/en/dreamcatcher-native-american-1082228/

video Eric Thomas – Sacrifice what you are, for what you will became  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46pbEmR4XlM

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