Sunday, 28 March 2010

Design Studeis Assignment 5 Essays

During last semester’s design studies our assignments focused on secondary research methods whereas this semester focused on primary. For our final assignment for this semester we were asked to look back on what we learned in the 1st semester paying particular attention to the essay we wrote and applying the primary research skills we learned from this semester to see if there was anything that we could have done differently to improve on the research already carried out.

My essay last year was based on biometric systems and how they are used to combat i.d. fraud. I looked at both sides of the argument and read various journals and books on biometric systems and i.d. fraud.(Cohn L jul 2009, Jain A K, Pankanti S Sep 2008, Lyon D 2009, Wagner P Apr-June 99)

To be honest the more I read up on the subject the more I realised how serious a problem i.d fraud really is. Not that I wasn’t already aware that i.d. fraud is a major problem but I think it’s one of these things that you tend not to think about very often or maybe we deliberately try not to think about it, or possibly we never really think that it’ll ever happen to us. Whatever way you look at it, it is a serious problem that continues to grow and although technology is advancing at a rapid rate the people who are steeling people’s identities and committing i.d fraud only seem to be a step behind.

Whilst doing research for this essay I found some of the proposed biometric systems that could come into everyday life in the future quite scary and in my opinion somewhat an invasion of personal privacy. I know these systems are supposed to be in place to protect us but the thought of a database holding a massive amount of information on everyone is for me disconcerting and also poses the question who exactly and how would this database be regulated, who would do it, and very importantly who would be in control? This brings on the further question of who would have access to it, why would they have access and what would they do with the information once they had it?

Kind of makes you wonder what ever happened to anonymity?

It would be interesting to see what other people think about this, whether they have similar concerns over these particular biometric systems as I do or whether they think that they would be a good thing and why?

So by using the primary research methods I learnt this semester how would I improve on the research I did for last semester’s essay? Well, first of all I think I would go out and interview people after carefully considering the questions I might ask and how to put the questions as it would be pointless to appear subjective on the matter. The answers given would hopefully indicate their opinion on this subject without me steering them towards a reply. This may even allow me to discover whether or not they are actually aware of biometric systems, because not everyone will be. I’d also hope to hear what they think might improve this ever growing problem. I’d also ask them if they have experience of encountering biometric systems and if so does this happen on a regular basis, i.e. at work.

I think it would be really interesting to find out everyday peoples’ views on this. To see if they are actually aware of how major this problem is.

I suspect the results might be quite surprising.

It would also be a good idea to interview someone who either works with biometric systems or someone who works in some area of fraud prevention, although this might be tricky to organise as they may not be able or allowed to freely talk about their work. However if it was possibly to interview someone in this sector I would ask them questions that I raised from my previous research for example what is the future for biometric systems? Will they become more common place in our society? How or who would regulate them and how secure is the information they hold? Have they conducted their own research into how the general public feel about biometric systems? If so what kind of feedback did they receive?

I may also do an experiment like show people a list of various biometric systems and ask them which ones they think are already in use or which ones do they recognise or do they even recognise any of them. I think this would give me a better understanding of how aware people are of these technologies.

The observation skills we learned this semester would also be helpful in seeing how people react to using biometric systems. Again I think this might prove tricky to achieve as most biometric systems are used in places where you really need to be authorized to be there i.e airports, government offices or maybe science labs. So possibly a combination of the secondary research I did last semester, looking at various books and journals, and the interview methods I learnt this semester would on the whole provide a more productive outcome even although it is not primary in nature.

Out of the different research methods we explored this semester I definitely think that for this particular topic (biometric systems/i.d. fraud) interviewing people would be the best way of gaining more insight into how the general public feel about this topic and also what they know. It would require careful consideration before the interviews took place and careful handling during the interviews.

I may also conduct a poll (this would again necessitate very careful compilation and fairly large numbers to have a meaningful result) to see how many people have actually experienced i.d. fraud, whether it be stolen bank details, passports or national insurance numbers etc and ask them how they dealt with the situation. Was it rectified, was it rectified quickly, how, if at all it affected them on a personal level and what measures they take now to insure that it doesn’t happen again. I would also need to conduct this poll in a variety of different areas to see if there were any places where this problem is particularly prominent or even where there is little or no problem.

It would also allow me to see if there is any particular type of i.d. fraud that stands out more than the others and by asking a variety of different age groups this would allow me to see if there is a particular age group that is targeted more than others. I might also try and interview an equal amount of men and women just to see if more women than men or visa versa have experienced i.d. fraud in some shape or form.

Cohn, L (jul 2009), What you need to know about identity theft, Kiplinger’s personal finance, Business source premier Jain A K, Pankanti, S (Sep 2008)
Beyond Fingerprinting, Scientific American, Business Source PremierLyon D,(2009),
Identifying Citizens i.d cards as surveillance, Polity PressWagner, P (Apr-June 99) Technology for anonymity: Names by other nyms, Information society, Taylor and Francis

Studio Brief essay

For the second part of my design studies essay I was asked to choose a studio brief I tackled this year. Then by applying the primary and secondary research methods I learnt this year during my design studies module discuss how would I utilise these techniques during the research and design process if I was to do this brief again?

So far our studio briefs have been quite diverse. We started off with the vessel project where we had to design and make some kind of vessel for holding things. It could be absolutely anything and was left up to your interpretation as long as it was a vessel. I made a small copper teapot, or should I say treepot, based on the trunk of a tree with the feet of the teapot being the roots. The second brief was the wire project where we had to design and make an item of jewellery incorporating wire in an interesting way. For this project I designed and made two brooches taking design inspiration from Miro paintings as his paintings are full of bold shapes and more importantly are very linear.

The third studio brief was the catwalk project where we were asked to design and make a flamboyant colourful piece, based on a culture or period of time. It’s main reason for being was to be effective on a catwalk as a fashion statement. I decided to make a headpiece and based it on African culture. I chose African culture because of the bright colours they use and because they adorn their bodies in interesting ways. The project we are working on at the moment is stone setting. We had to design and make an item based around symbolism and incorporate an unusual and interesting stone setting into the design. Out of all the projects I’ve found this the most interesting, maybe because stone setting is an art form in itself and most times can be very tricky, requiring much care, taking a great amount of time and much patience.

To be honest I already apply secondary research skills to my briefs. If I take the stone setting brief for instance I started off researching in the library and then online looking at the different qualities of gemstones. I then went on to look at gemstone hardness, how they are formed, different types of cuts and settings. If I was to apply primary research at this stage I think I would have interviewed a stone setter to get more insight into the various different ways of setting stones. This would also have helped me to decide which stone setting or possibly stone would be most suited to my final design.

I then moved on to researching different symbolism through the ages and the ways gemstones and jewellery have been used. I focused my research on ring symbolism looking at various and different types of rings through the ages. This again involved using secondary research looking at a wide range of books and websites. I then moved on to looking more closely at wedding rings, paying particular attention to Jewish betrothal rings, how they came about, their role in ceremonies and how they have been used over the decades. Again I used secondary research at this stage in the form of a mind map to help generate ideas of what marriage might signify to the people involved. Possibly I could have also at this stage conducted interviews to see what marriage actually means to people.

The primary research methods could also have came into play after coming up with a few design ideas. By showing a number of people these ideas and asking them to choose the one which they find the most attractive or the most appropriate for this particular brief.

I think the primary and secondary research methods I learnt in design studies this year would actually be more use when it comes to designing for the public rather than researching a brief. Here it would be imperative to use various primary and secondary research techniques.

For example if a client commissions me to make an item of jewellery I would start off by asking them what exactly they are looking for i.e is it a ring, a bracelet, pendant etc. Then I would asked them what they are in to with careful questioning to try and gain more insight into what design ideas I might come up with which might hit the spot and gain real approval.

Sometimes when designing for people it can be hard to get to the bottom of what they are really like just by asking them questions. Depending on the person people can sometimes seem almost like a closed book so I think this is where the observational skills come into play. For example I would observe their body language, dress sense and their reaction to certain questions I ask. All of these would help me gather a better picture of what they might really be looking for. I would also show them examples of my previous work and gauge their reactions to the pictures I show them. Paying particular attention to the items of jewellery that they find the most attractive and asking them what is it about these items that they like.

Personally I already think I use these techniques in my research process to help me with the design process although possibly before now I wasn’t completely aware that I was doing this. It had just sort of developed and I found it worked for me. So I think the one thing this semester has done for me is that it’s made me more aware of these techniques and how I use them within my discipline and I also feel a sense of pleasure that intuitively I was already sensing the need to do all this to achieve a satisfactory client outcome.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Stone Setting Project

Here are some pictures of my finished stone setting piece. It's based on the concept of Jewish Betrothal rings. Jewish Betrothal rings were mostly used for ceremonial purposes seeing as they were so large and impractical to wear and were kept by the family as a keepsake. They were mostly made to look like temples and had hidden compartments with good luck written in Hebrew on the inside. I added my own little twist to the betrothal ring making it into a little Dutch house. This is symbolic to me seeing as Holland was an important part of my life as I lived there for a few years.Inside the house is a detachable Heart pendant set with an amethyst.I wanted the outside of the house to look old and slightly worn and then when opened up here is this shinny heart inside, signifying new beginnings.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Design studies assignment 4

So for the 4th design studies assignment we had to practise our interviewing techniques. We were given a list of topics and asked to choose one of them to base our interviews on. I chose the topic 'How do magazines influence people╩╝s ideas of design and taste?' Below is a list of questions I asked random people.

What magazines do you read?

Do you read them occasionally or regularly?

Are you aware of the cost of the magazine/magazines you buy or do you buy them anyway?

What is it about this magazine/magazines that attracts you? Why do you choose this particular magazine/magazines? What features in this magazine/magazines do you pay most attention to and why?

Do you enjoy looking at the adverts in magazines? If so do you actually take note of what is being said? Do you ever think about it?

If a magazine has a feature on a particular item or outfit would this make you go out and buy that particular item or outfit?

Would you say your dress sense is influenced by what you see in magazines? Or are you influenced in some other way or do you prefer being more individual?

I tried to ask an equal number of women and men in order to make a comparison. The men I interviewed mostly read factual magazines such as the economist and new scientist where as the woman tended to go for gossip/fashion magazines.
What I thought was interesting was that the women said that they were aware of the cost of magazines but would buy them anyway so the cost really wasn't an issue. The men also said that they were aware of the cost but unlike the women they said that they would not buy a magazine if they thought they were too expensive.
Both the women and men I interviewed said that they didn't really pay attention to the adverts and mostly skipped them.
I was surprised however that the women I interviewed said that their style wasn't particularly influenced by the magazines they read. I thought it would have been the opposite way round. However they did say that they bought magazines for the fashion which leads me to believe that maybe they are more influenced by the fashions they see in magazines than they care to let on.
I think the results from these interviews definitely indicate that people tastes, both male and female, are influenced in some way by the magazines they read whether they realise it or not.

Monday, 8 March 2010


During our seminar we were asked to reflect on how we approached the Design Safari assignment and whether there was anything we would do different.
I found observing people in the mall was pretty limiting especially since most people were just walking by, we never really had a chance to observe people properly. Also the time we chose to do the experiment wasn't really all that great it would have been better later on in the day when the mall would have been busier.
If I was to do this experiment again I think I would choose to go to a train/bus station. I think maybe Glasgow Central would be a good place to go seeing as at most times it's a hive of activity with many different types of people passing through each day.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Design Safari

Our latest design studies assignment involved observing people. So we had to go to a public place and observe people going about their everyday business. In our cause we went to the Overgate shopping centre. So we grabbed a coffee and sat in a place we thought was a good spot for people watching. We'd just started to observe people when a girl in her mid twenties approached us and asked if we wouldn't mind answering some questions about what we would do if we won the lottery. Turns out she works for the local paper. Was kinda funny seeing as we were supposed to be observing people and we end up getting interviewed.

So whilst people watching we noticed at that particular time of day (around 11am) The majority of people were middle aged couples or young mothers with pushchairs.One in particular had a furry boot on one foot and a regular shoe on the other which we thought was a bit odd! Anyway most people didn't seem to be really shopping instead they seemed to be using the mall as a thoroughfare to where ever it was they had to get too. Kinda makes you wonder where exactly all these people are actually going. One thing we did notice though the people who were carrying shopping bags were mostly carrying a Debenhams or Primark bag. We figured that the reason for this was that Debenhams had a 25% off sale and well Primark is pretty cheap so people in the Overgate obviously like a bargin.

We also went to the Wellgate shopping centre to see if there was any difference in the type of people we observed at the Nethergate and there was. The Wellgate has a totally different atmosphere. First of all it's not as modern, most of the shops are bargin shops and the place has a 'stuck in the 80's' feel about it which kinda , without being to harsh, reflects on the type of people we observed there.

This assignment was quite interesting although to be honest when I'm out in a public place I tend to do a bit of people watching anyway. It can be quite entertaining at times.