Modern Age … New Demographics

Development on the concerns of design for the elderly;

  • It should be transgenerational
  • Patronization isn’t going to work
  • It shouldn’t segregate the generation from others
  • It’s not designing for the elderly, it’s designing for the larger market!

To get a better understanding of the generational differences in society I worked on a visual profile of each demographic:

Baby Boomers

The Sunshine Teens

These profiles allow me to design for the elderly by designing for everyone, the old want to be the young and the young want to be young forever! Everyone feels the same way towards aging and designing specifically for the elderly generation singles out that group when all they want is to be integrated in society.

From the profile of The Sunshine Teens  I will be able to project an estimated profile for their future – as our future oldies! Their needs, concerns and wants will become the basis of my design for the adaptable, changeable growing comunity that I proposed for my intial RSA Modern age project.

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The language of space and place in terms of experience.

Brian Lawson’s main purpose in his overview, ‘The Language of Space’ is – as the title states – a study into the language of space as a form of communication that usually unbeknown to us we use more often throughout our lives. “When we walk into a room, others are reading this spatial language long before we speak” (Lawson, 2001). The book explores the different perceptions of space, in terms of human spatial behaviour; the relationships that develop through space, the rituals, attitudes and territories that inhabit our spaces and how these factors define a space as a place. It is the relationship that develops through the emotional responses to space that I shall concentrate my study on.

Throughout the book Lawson often refers to the statement;

“Whatever space and time mean, place and occasion mean more. For space in the image of man is place, and time in the image of man is occasion.” (Aldo van Eyck, 1962)

It is the inhabitants of space that in turn create the idea of place, through their action, routine and experience of the space. Although we as designers can expand and develop these spaces in order to honour these behaviours.

Lawson goes onto explain that the experience of place isn’t always as easy to communicate as one may think. People no doubt are clear about how a space can make them feel – either good or bad – but the reasons for these feelings are harder to express. Often the easiest way to describe their emotions towards a place is by comparison to another similar atmospheric place.

To understand this emotional response to space Lawson suggests that we must recognize the characteristics of a space that people use to perceive and make an assessment of their surroundings. Asking this as a simple question – How does this space make you feel? How would you describe the space? – opens up the results to a vast number of feelings and emotions evoked from that particular place, failing to get a general atmospheric opinion from the space. To counteract this problem Lawson suggest the use of psychological method that is a simple way of recording these experiences we have with space. It is called semantic differentials. It involves asking a subject to rate their response of a space in relations to a scale that ranged from one description to its opposite meaning.

“For example a scale that ranged from hard to soft, one from open to closed and so on. Usually these scales are either five or seven points long; an odd number of points allow a respondent to choose a middle point in either direction.” (Lawson, 2001)

This method allows us to compare different groups on their experience of place and in terms of ‘externalising’ feeling in order to communicate between the client and the designer it is very successful in keeping them on same page basis.

This study then leads Lawson on the question of stimulus;

“Is it the overall proportions, the variation of colour or texture, variations in sizes of features, or their proportions or frequencies of occurrence?” (Lawson, 2001)

He makes reference to Lynch’s theory in order to make sense of what “features that most determine how people feel about and react to places.” (Lawson, 2001). Lynch (1960) suggests the perception of an environmental image is broken up into three components; structure, meaning and identity. Structure relates to the rules and order of place, meaning is the symbol and message that the place stands for and finally identity represents those identifiable elements that give a sense of exclusivity and distinctiveness to a place. These combined attributes to the stimuli we perceive work as they evoke feeling and emotions that we come to associate with the place we view.

Further study of this emotional response to the relationship we build with space led me to look at Sensory Design by Monice and Vodvarka. An initial quote from the book automatically creates a connection between the two pieces of writing;

“a good house… speaks not just of the materials from which it is made, but the intangible rhythms, sprits, and dreams of the people’s lives… In its parts it accommodates important human activities, yet in sum it expresses an attitude towards life.” (Moore, Allen Lyndon, 1974)

This reference the authors make to the quote points out how – previously explain – a space is not a place until it is inhabited and experienced.

The authors look at a sensory response to space and experience throughout the book, exploring the ideas of perception through our common senses and also our hidden senses. They refer to Geoffery Scott’s description of how “weight, pressure and resistance are part of our habitual body experience” (Scott, 1965) because of this we use them to identify the spaces we perceive.

“In any building three things may be distinguished: the bigness which it actually has (mechanical measurement), the bigness which it appears to have (visual measurement), and the feeling of bigness which it gives (bodily measurement).” (Scott, 1965)

This reference to Scott’s comment gives the impression that on top of the five common senses we use to perceive the world there are other less obvious senses concerning the experience of space. The authors use a reference to Paul Zucker in order to validate Scott’s statement about how we use many other senses to perceive space;

“Space is perceived by the visualization of its limits and by kinaesthetic experience, i.e., by the sensation of our movements. In the state of ‘visual tension,’ kinaesthetic sensation and visual perception fuse most intensely.” (Zucker, 1970)

Our visual perception of space is enhanced by the motion in which we experience the space adding to our sensory perception of the environment around us.

Referring back to the concept that space becomes place through experience the authors use a suggestion from Yi-Fu Taun, “What begins as undifferentiated spaces becomes place as we get to know it better and endow it with value.” (Taun, 1977) The authors interpret this ‘getting to know better’ concept as experiencing the space through our senses; judging perceiving and analysing the space in order to identify its place.

In both pieces of writing studied here the connection between the human presence and interpretation of space is clearly experience. Both portray similar concepts of how place is relative to the activity of space. The importance of the psychological study of human behaviour becomes clear to the relevance of successful interior and architectural design, in the way that we experience space emotionally and sensually. Understanding space is not just based on visual perception but also an experiential process we all go through when making the connection between space and place.

Refrences

Lawson, B. 2001. The Language of Space. Oxford: Reed Educational and Professional Publishing.

Lynch, K. 1960. The Image of the City. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Malnar,J, Vodvarka, F. 2004. Sensory Design. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Moore, C, Allen, G, Lyndon, D. 1974. The Place of Houses. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Wilson.

Scott, G. 1965. The Architecture of Humanism: A Study in the History of Taste. Gloucester: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Tuan, Y. 1977. Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


5 Senses? Lets make it 21!

There are so many blogs out there listing the REAL number of senses that the human body has each claiming a different number and a different list. As part of a current project we are looking into this “official” list of senses, elaborating on the 5 basic senses that we get taught from a young age. But first the design process that brought us to this idea…

Our exhibition project – as part of the international GIDE project – has the theme fabrication (to lie or to build). We first researched the subjects that lied to us and the senses repeatedly cropped up. We took this idea and with further research could not define each fabrication of the sense to the specific 5 senses that we knew, so that made us think there was so many more to investigate.

As our realisation started to grow as did the number and our concept developed further bringing the other definition of fabrication into play. We took the space for the exhibition (The DSA) and looked at the fabrication of it and with inspiration from an exhibition on fabrication we decided that we wanted to physically re-fabricate the space in relation to the human sense. In a way fabricate the senses of a human into the building itself, bringing human elements to the space.

The exhibition would be a sensorium allowing the user to experience and reflect the 21 senses of the body, in perhaps a less obvious way. It wouldn’t in a sense be an educational exhibition, for example like a science centre, but more a spatial awareness exhibit that explored the sensual interior design of the building.

So back to these 21 senses. As we defined these senses big words like quilibrioception were not in shortage (no wonder we they never taught us these in the first place!) and as a design student and not a biologist it wasn’t the easiest to recognise the meaning of the sense by just reading the name. We needed a visual connection to create a fast and creative spark that allowed us identify the sense.  

So 21 senses means 21 visuals!

We will start with the first 4… auditory, gustatory, visual and olfactory. The last of the main 5 is touch but there are more senses within that initial sense…

Thermoception, Nocioception (Sense of Pain), tactician.

Then we start to get those hidden senses that can’t really be associated with an organ…

Kinesthetic (movement), Proprioception (knowing where your body parts are), Quillibrioception (balance)

Then there are the senses that we believe are there but not necessarily confirmed medically!

Spiritual sense, Intuition, Telepathy

Sense of attraction, Sense of direction, Sense of presence, The twin sense

Then there is the condition that merges all the initial senses together and we decided to define that as a whole sense…

Synesthesia, when people sense things differently. They see colours when hearing, they taste when they see, they see shapes when they taste.

Then the last three are the Sense of Danger, the Somatic sense and Precongnition (images will become available shortly).


Modern Age Project RSA Competition 2010/2011

….PROPOSAL….

Everyone gets old but it’s the process of aging that matters. Taking into consideration the social affect aging has on the community, I came to the choice to improve on the elderly’s own home rather than a purpose built home. Thinking further into the future the reality of moving to a care home isn’t as reliable as we are a generation that are living longer – by 2050 19million people will be over 65 in the UK. So another option is to stay in your own home for as long as possible; population increases may lead us to face a fact that we may stay with out families for longer.     

Researching in futuristic designs allowed thinking ahead to the desires we would have to meet being our own generation. Archigram inspired me with their ‘Plug in City’; modular and pod like design – a modern twist on the ‘granny flat’. Parasite architecture also influenced my designs especially the Rucksack House that attaches to the exterior of a building to create more space.

Taking the modular aspect of my research it led me to designs created from shipping containers. This design is transportable, manageable and adaptable which would fix in successfully with my concept.

The idea being that instead of focusing primarily on the elderly when they reach a certain age, we focus on the process of aging and the affect it has on the community around us. If we embrace the stages of life we can adapt our homes to grow with us through the process of aging.

I developed my designs by taking the layout of a typical student flat and experimenting on what I could do to adapt it to meet the needs of the stages in my life as I grow old, right up to the point when I am an old women, family moved out and having a house to big for myself. 

The permanent structures of the building must be the essential rooms that each stage in life needs. Kitchen, living space, bedroom, bathroom.

A shipping container can be added to adapt the home for each stage in your life as your aging in life begins. It can become larger to accommodate for a larger family and as you come to the end of your need for extra space the option of reducing the home size again is available.

The design presents a home that you can stay with for your life, which can adapt to your situation. It grows, expands or contracts as the life cycle continues, also including a environmental aspect from the recycling of shipping containers.

The concept can be taken into a larger scale and can become part of a community, the neighbourhood can then interact with their surrounds and take notice on the different stages in people’s life based on the stages that their house takes the form of.

The community becomes a living and adaptable environment that caters for generations on a whole to include everyone equally in society and design.


Bomb Project

From the 1st November to the 3rd the DJCAD open day tours took place and to encourage activity within the studios a three day “bomb” project was given out to all 4 years. This rapid collaborative project allowed the years as a whole to interact with each other as well with the studio space.

In our groups we were to collectively create a 3D conceptual interpretation of a building typology between dwell, play, shop, learn, care; our group’s typology was play.

We literally “played” with the concept of play and developed connections between child play and adult play; between the idea of play within the working environment and the type of play we do to get away from work; the infectious play that happens within the studio projects and how we respond to ideas and processes.

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We took the playful object of a balloon and experimented (played) with its form, texture, material and visual affects it has on a user. How a singular balloon can be transformed into a modular form with quantity.

We documented our progress with the project and it showed how we again literally “played” with the concept and had fun with the construction of an infection form that inhabited the interior design studio. We built up the balloons and let the spatial structure take form and adapt as we went along, infecting the space that it occupied.

Not only did the 3D structure spread physically but also word spread through the college and people came up to the interior studios as they had “heard about the balloons and had to come up and see them”. This design became infectious not only visually but it evoked curiosity.

The main element of play is fun and our experience of the “bomb” project was defiantly of that sort!


So the dissertation begins …

19th October

This time our study group met up to discuss the beginning of our dissertation topics by brain storming and mind mapping allowing us to develop and refine our topic. Each of us briefly described our research so far and discussed how our interests brought us to the topic.

We recorded our research on a group mind map to allow us to reflect on the groups ideas. A few of the group members took their wiki subjects further as it was a topic they were very interested in and had a lot of research for (Mhairi McDowall, Ethical Labour). Claire McCreath’s topic related specifically to her design discipline, Textiles, looking at the way people interact with objects and textiles – the touch, feel and textures of fabrics.

After the initial group meeting i took my subject and researched further into my idea and interest in my subject for the dissertation with the use of spider diagrams and mind maps.

For my topic I am looking at the physiological effect that spaces can bring to human experience. It is a broad term that needs refining but it is starting point at the least. My mind map takes me through different aspects that effect the research for this topic. Senses, atmosphere, awareness, experience and the simple idea of “what makes a home a home?”. I will look at the physical aspects of a space and environment that would affect the emotions, feelings and atmosphere for the user; what factors are relevant to create an experience and also the perception of space.  

On the 27th we will be taking part in a dissertation workshop to allow us to develop our topics further and help us move on in the process.


Branding and Design

Fiona Sichi  

Interior and Environmental Design

 

Summary

A brand can be defined as a symbol of values and identity for a company, product or services that allow consumers to differentiate between similarities in the market. Branding can come in the form of logos, advertising and slogans, each designed specifically for the purpose of characterising the uniqueness of a company’s goods. “The brand needs to convey a clear and more appealing brand personality than any other brand in its sector.” (Lightfoot, 1998, p.46). A company’s brand is the image that consumers recognize and remember so the importance of a brand is essential in the success of a company.  

The values of successful brands reach the emotions of consumers, embracing the connections and relationships that they may have towards a certain brand and ensuring their trust in that product. “By emotional I mean how a brand engages consumers on the level of the senses and emotions; how a brand comes to life for the people and forges a deeper, lasting connection.” (Gobe, 2001, p.xiv) This “connection” certifies a level of loyalty that lies with the customer’s perception of the brand’s identity, it can lead to success however a violation of this trust could leave a company’s name in pieces.

“If the brand image becomes tarnished through a media scandal or controversial incident or even a rumour spread via the internet, then the company as a whole can find itself in deep trouble.” (Haig, 2003, p.3)

“Companies live or die on the strength of their brand” (Haig, 2003, p.4)  

 

History

Taking the term “brand” right back to its Germanic roots we find it refers to the expression “to burn” (Healy, 2008, p.6). This relates to the task of literally burning a brand into the cattle that you owned in order to promote ownership of your livestock. This earlier branding concept focused primarily on the possession of goods however as time passed the development of branding as an advertisement method progressed.

In the times of the Greeks and Romans shopkeepers had to indicate to their customers what, who and where they sold their goods in order for the public to distinguish between the different merchants. In these early times the beginnings of ‘logos’ were appearing, designed to hang in shop windows to indicate the purpose of that shop. “In classical times most potential purchasers of most products were illiterate…” (Room, 1998, p.14) The ‘logos’ of such took the form of basic pictures, these images were very literal and helped the customer identify visually exactly what, who and where to find their desired goods. “…a butcher’s shop would display a sign depicting a row of hams, a shoemaker a boot…” (Room, 1998, p.13)   

As the modern revolution of branding progressed the development of mass production was intensifying and many companies feared for the public reaction to brands that conformed to this process. The 1880’s marked the stage in advertising and marketing when many companies developed brand identities that would ease the consumer into the idea of mass produced products. “Brand identities were designed not only to help these products stand out, but also to reassure a public anxious about the whole concept of factory-produced goods.”(Haig, 2003, p.3) Consumers were used to their advertising and branding being on a personal level with their local grocer; their beliefs in the values of the product they regularly bought were placed in the image of their “friendly shopkeeper”. A concept to shift this trust to the mass produced brands was to bring in a “human element”.

“By adding a ‘human’ element to the product, branding put the 19th century shopper’s minds at rest. They may have once placed their trust in their friendly shopkeeper, but now they could have placed it in the brands themselves, and the smiling faces of Uncle Bens or Aunt Jemima which beamed down from the shop shelves.” (Haig, 2003, p.3)   

These brands formed their own personality that mirrored the values of the product and allowed the consumer to forge a relationship with the brand through the characterisations that represented the company.

As branding develops further through history its connotations immerge broader; now places, people and experiences can become brand themselves opening up opportunities for corporations to embrace this breed of advertising.  

   

Fig 1: Aunt Jemima the face of the brand that brings the “human element” to the relationship between consumer and brand. 

 

Branding and Design

“I believe that design is the most potent expression of a brand and that ultimately bringing powerful ideas to life through design is the best way to create a lasting link between a manufacturer or retailer and the consumer.” (Gobe, 2001, p.107)

This statement characterises design’s relationship with branding, many other people agree with Gobe’s theory; Matthew Healey (2008) “Design is the single most important tool in branding”. The strength of these claims argue that without the help from designers, companies would fail (or be less successful) in the marketing of their brands.

When designing brands the apparent qualities that are pin-pointed are the form and aesthetics of the logo, but there is more to it than that when designing the visual aspect of the brand. Package design is important to developing a brand as well as sensory and emotional design. These aspects are all very essential to design but without the cooperation of a company the application of these objectives becomes obsolete.

“We are now on the verge of a renewed partnership between corporations and designers. Corporations need innovative designs along with a strong understanding of trends in the marketplace to compete and reach a blasé consumer…These are the companies that will succeed in the twenty-first century.” (Gobe, 2001, p.114)

Proof of this effective role that design has on the image and values of a brand can be seen in the well known brand Gillette – “The best a man can get”. – This slogan for the company depicts the message that the brand wishes to portray; quite literally that you cannot get any better product than this in the “world of shaving”. The best way to depict these values was through the package design of the product, the image of the product that consumers would see on the shelves. “Visuals communicate better than words.” (Gobe, 2001, p.113). The packaging would have to sell the brand to its best qualities and try to capture the consumer’s desires through the design of the brand because the only concrete way a consumer would benefit the full use and understanding of the product would be to effectively shave. “After all, the blades can only speak for themselves when you shave!” (Gobe, 2001, p.113). 

They proposed innovative designs for the innovative product that reinforced the best technology of the blade but in the form of visual design rather than an informative description of how the product meets the needs of the consumer. How the handle of the razor was designed determined the message it gave to the consumer. The design represented the “freshness and technology in line with the core image of the Gillette brand.” (Gobe, 2001, p.114). After this marketing scheme Gillette “considers design to be the lifeblood of its business.”

   

 Fig 2: Gillette Sensor showed the importance design has on branding. 

Bibliography

Gobe, M. (2001). Emotional Branding. New York: Allworth Press.

Haig, M. (2003). Brand Failures. London: Kogan Page.

Hart, S. and Murphy, J. (eds.) (1998) Brands. The New Wealth Creators. London: Macmillan Press LTD.

Healey, M. (2008). What is Branding? Switzerland: RotoVision.

Julier, G. (2008). The Culture of Design. London: Sage.

Lury. C. (1996). Consumer Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press

Fig 1: The New York Times. 2007. Aunt Jemima Image. (Online) [Accessed 6 October 2006]. Avaliable at:

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2007/03/30/business/30adco_CA1.ready.html

 Fig 2: Gobe, M (2001). Emotional Branding.(p.113) New York: Allworth Press