Sunday, 20 December 2009

walking in a winter wonderland ??

Ah it is that time of year again where we have everything from rain and sleet to full on ice and snow. Yes i agree very pretty and certainly helps you get into the christmas mood and i would normally get very excited. HOWEVER this year is different instead of being able to enjoy this christmassy weather i have basically become house bound because of it and it is not only me i have many other frineds in simlar positions to myself who are now scared to leave the house incase they fall. You may ask what is wrong with a little slip it happens to everyone but with many cases where the person already has an injury a little slip can cause serious damage.

You see there is one flaw with the humble crutch the feet are absolutly useless in bad weather such as this, as a resul they slide from underneith you leaveing you helpless when you are already unsteady on your feet ! It is hard enough to stay upright in this weather when you are able let alone when you have an impairment. Anyway i can tell you i shall be taking to my garage over the next few days to see what i can modify so i will keep you posted on that one ! One of the things i have found most ironic is the drop pavemenets which are essential to so many people are often an area that get missed when it comes to the council throwing down grit !! How this makes sense i do not know, view please =)

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Photo Shoot

I had an amazing photo shoot with some models yesterday to get images for building an image campaign. There were 2 concepts these were:

  • Disability is not a crime – this involved people in a police line up setting. There cards state their disability over the crime which they have committed with the aiming of emphasising societies attitudes against these sub groups. I was careful here to also include a balance of psychological and physical disabilities. The models were very good and were able to perfectly portray the suitable emotions via facial expressions and also with the way which they held their card/or societal label.

  • I have also been playing with an adaption on this image having had one of the more outgoing boys play around with his crutches almost like it is an air guitar. This way it helps to add a bit of humour while attracting attention and emphasising that the person’s personality does not change whether they are disabled or not. To reflect this the intended tag line was going to be ‘Still the same person!’

  • The second is a contrasting side by side shot. This involved taking photos of a model in the back brace and not in the brace in similar poses. The model and brace were styled in a way that the brace was not made as obvious. The intended tag line for this is going to be ‘Would you treat this person the same?’ Its objective is to get the public to stop and consider what their actions and reactions would be. To make them look at the person closely to notice the difference.

What do you guys think of these approaches? I was going to put the posters up as soon as their done but feedback now would be ace =)

Monday, 14 December 2009

PTSD - are women more pron or are we just more open about it ?

The problem that often occurs in the diagnosis of PTSD is that there is more than 1 method of assessment and so the same person can be diagnosed differently depending on the professional they see. This does not say that any of these methods are wrong, this is a very personal area and there is no objective index for its measurement. This just means that there are different interpretations to a diagnosis. You may find you tick 6 out of the 9 symptom boxes that relate to PTSD but not have PTSD.

It is a well known fact that more women are diagnosed with PTSD than men; however I’m not so sure that means females are more likely to have it. I think it’s more a case that females are more open to discussing how they feel and turning for help. So it may be the case that there are just as many men and women with PTSD and other mental disorders however it is recorded that there are more women just because they are more vocal about things. What do you think?

Quote of the Week...

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together”

Vincent van Gough

This quote certainly makes a good point and who better to say it than Mr van Gough himself. I think what can be taken from this quote is that Even the biggest of projects can be broken down into more manageable chunks. I also think that it demonstrates that sometimes it is better to split a big project down into smaller subcategories which are not only easier to manage and research but to also ensure that all key areas are covered. Although the most important thing to do with this would be to remember to keep referring your work back to the main project titles, aims and objectives.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

PTSD - part 2

It can be said that PTSD is the ‘sexy’ psychological disorder, it is more socially acceptable. It is almost like it is not your fault because it is the impact of the incident upon you rather than yourself…if that makes sense. For example since the earthquake in Pakistan around 40-60% of people involved have now been diagnosed with PTSD, this is huge uptake. I do feel that maybe a chunk of this percentage already had some form of psychological problem and were to ashamed to admit it however now its deemed as acceptable. This is not to say that those involved haven’t been through a huge amount of trauma.

I find it quite concerning, this need to shift blame or that it is shameful to have a problem. I found it good news today to hear that depression is now going to be treated as serious as heart disease on the NHS, however I think we often miss the point its not always how quick its treated etc its societies attitudes and stigmas. There are so many people out there who feel they cant speak out about their experiences and issues for fear of judgment to truly help each other and improve society we need to address these things first !

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Quote of the Week...

“Good design begins with honesty, asks tough questions, comes from collaboration and trusting your intuition.”

Freeman Thomas

I think this is one of the hardest things you can do as a designer. To stare yourself in the face and dig down under that perfectly polished surface that you have to protect you. To analyse what you are doing is right? What do you believe? However it highlights that personal experience stands for a lot when it comes to design – something that i feel very strongly about. I believe you can’t design a product if you don’t live it and who you are designing for. If you don’t do this then you risk designing a product based on secondary research and preconceptions. There is only so much people will tell you in focus groups. This is where collaboration can also come in, we need to learn from others and their experiences as much as we need to share our own in the design process.

PTSD - a definition...

Ok so first things first what is post traumatic stress disorder? I had a really interesting meeting with a specialist in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the other week. Professor David Alexander is one of the most highly regarded professionals in the UK in this field – and very lovely man I might add !

He explained to me that only around 10-18% of RTA (road traffic accidents) casualties get PTSD. PTSD is more commonly linked to larger catastrophic incidents such as earthquakes’ and the likes of the 9/11 bombings. He himself had not long come back from helping with the earthquake victims in India and also has a large wealth of experience in working with soldiers.

What he taught me was that there is a lot of confusion between what is known as PTSD and PTSS (post traumatic stress symptoms). PTSS consists mainly of 3 psychological pathogens these are:

1) Depression

2) Anxiety

3) Subsance abuse

Where PTSS crosses into PTSD is where there is the addition of other less controllable factors such as flash backs and hyper arousal. This is not to say that PTSS cannot have the same impact on a persons lifestyle. I suppose what I’m getting at here is that people are more willing to admit they have PTSD over any other mental issue.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Fixing mechanisms

I came across this new hand a wrist brace, ironically I then receive an email a day later from my lecturer also recommending I look at it so obviously great minds think alike =P

I love the way that it fixes on, the ability to customise it and make it your own automatically gives it an element of social acceptability. In addition its waterproof which means no more messing about with the dreaded ‘scuba Steve’ clear plastic bags when you want to wash!

The aspect of water sport/exercise could also make physiotherapy easier ie hydrotherapy as it helps to take weight off of the limbs so if you have a problems with walking it means you can focus more on what your legs are doing and less about staying upright or not falling over.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Just how inclusive are we?

I have to say that this is something that fascinates me with our current society. We have this need to label EVERYTHING – personally I think it is our way of making things easier to handle. In our growing multicultural society why is it that we still find it acceptable to place these labels? Especially in Britain there is this concept of being politically correct, I believe the new PC term for disability is ‘special need’ however when I asked others with impairment which term they preferred the common feeling was that ‘special need’ was more derogatory than disability or impaired !

There is plenty of ‘pro disability’ legislation about however its key focus is often on the built environment and does nothing to address the true route of the problem in society’s attitudes. So are we really an inclusive society or do we just like to pretend that we are!?

Saturday, 21 November 2009


here is a video i have prepared to help those understand what it i slike to live with an impirment. My aunt is disabled and told me that it is essential to have a sense of humour when less abled so i have tried to reflect this in the video. I have annotatded it with my thoughts and feelings about everyday issues that i face. Hopefully you will all enjoy it =)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Can sport be a motivational tool ?

This is an interesting concept for me as I was such an avid sporty person as you may have it that now I am unable to do anything its driving me nuts. I find myself pushing harder by thinking about getting back to the sorts I love. I know others who have been in a similar position but all of whom have been heavily involved in sport before their accident.

So how important is sport to the general public? Is sport more of a social tool? There is many a time I have been in the gym and there are small groups working together either walking and chatting on the treadmill, helping each other do weights or competing against each other on the cardio machines. Could this still be used as a form of encouragement? Could you harness the aspect of exercise and combine it with rehabilitation. Yes I am aware this is basically physiotherapy but what if you could have group physiotherapy in addition?

Quote of the Week...

“Contentment: The smother of invention.”

Ethel Mumford

I think this is the case in the NHS. They have implemented so many benchmarks and hierarchies that innovation simply can’t get through. They are starting to realise this however and open up more via projects with the Design Council and government schemes like The National Innovation Centre. The aim of these is to give a single point of entry to the system making the design process clearer and more transparent. So where can we go from here? How can you tell what everyone wants? Maybe they should provide focus groups, just like they provide guinea pig patients for medical students maybe those guinea pigs could also work with designers to help them understand the situation they are designing for !? Feedback please....

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Quote of the Week...

“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.”

Jamie Paolinetti – digital media designer

I love this concept that we can do anything we can put our minds too. The concept of limitations could be limitations we impose on ourselves or are they imposed on us by society. We seem to have this need to put people in a box so that we know how to deal with them. However nobody deserves this. Alternatively maybe this can be interpreted into the products that we design. To act as a facilitator for others to learn and understand from. So for example with rehabilitation products reminding the user to push themselves and that they can do things, give them goals to aim for, give them something to strive at while reminding those around them they need that little bit more understanding or time to do a task.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Why do we need quality of life factors ?

This is a question which many may ask. The NHS’s performance needs to be measured and evaluated in a way which should not only take account of costs and benefits of those providing the health care but also of those receiving the health care!

The problem that arises with the term Quality of Life is that there are no set defined terms or methodology to measure these factors. As a result the whole topic area is a disputed one with more procedures to test, weigh and measure each procedures different results which then just leads to confusion.

There is no argument that Quality of Life factors could be an efficient and effective way to measure NHS’s output in terms of service it can demonstrate the fact that a treatment which can improve someone’s health physically can actually have a detrimental effect on a person’s psychological health.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

What are your quality of life factors ?

I am running a survey to try and understand what you the consumer consider to be important to their quality of life so please click on the link below to do my questionnaire, Its only 10 questions so it wont take long – I promise !

Click Here to take survey

Monday, 26 October 2009

Quote of the week

“To whom does design address itself: to the greatest number, to the specialist of an enlightened matter, to a privileged social class? Design addresses itself to the need.”
Charles Eames

I love this comment; it is a sharp hit out at needless design. It comes across as something Philip Stark would come out with. I am not sure if many of you have been watching his programme on BBC 2 Design for Life but this is now something which he believes very strongly in now. You would not be mistaken for being surprised at this coming from a designer who designed a lemon juicer which corroded when used – so much more for form than function. However he seems to have performed a complete 360 and is now very much pushing the responsibilities of design in the sense of ecology and democracy. As a result this relates very well to my project looking at the NHS and the designers responsibilities to society and their users quality of life.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Back Brace as a Fashion Item ??

I came across this work via another blog. It immediately drew my interest as it is along similar lines to my project however it looks at the back brace from a completely different angle. This work has been created by a female designer called Francesca Lanzavecchia as part of her Masters Degree. When I researched further its also been featured on design boom with some good explanations of the concept behind her creations.

I have to say I love the concept of a second skin although not a personal area of interest to myself as I feel it would draw attention to my injury it would be nice to hear what other think !?

I do feel that I could learn from her work.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Quote of the week.....

“Design is directed toward human beings. To design is to solve human problems by indentifying them and executing the best solution.”

Ivan Chermayeff

I think this reflects my design values very well. I think that design should always have a purpose, there are so many issues in the world which have either been caused by bad design or are yet to be resolved. Issues also don’t have to be physical there are also many social attitudes and preconceptions which can be addressed and resolved by good design. I believe a lot can be achieved via good design as it is such a clear and effective form of communication.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Is customisation key ?

I have to admit that I felt a lot better wearing my brace after I had had a chance to get my mits on it with a sharpie pen. I hated it when it was bare. The whole design of the back brace is very industrial which is reflected in its aesthetic. I was met with a very bemused face when asking could I take some sharpie pens to it, however I felt if you could get a cast signed why not treat a back brace in the same manner !? Now that it is more personalised to myself with messages jokes and drawings by myself as well as friends and family I feel more comfortable in it. I also feel it is less obvious in a bizarre way.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

So how many forms of back brace are there ??

I picked this amazing link up off a fellow blogger he has put together an impressive combination of the various forms back braces come in and how others have visualised them. The simple answer to the above question is “loads” as you can see:

One thing that did stand out to me is the covers and transfers that some people are managing to get their hands on although not surprisingly they are American so im not sure how accessible to feasible they would be here in the UK and needless to say I don’t think the NHS is going to be willing to pay for you to customise your brace. But maybe if it was an option it would make the concept of wearing a brace more acceptable and less condemning, especially for those of a younger generation.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Quote of the Week...

“Contentment: The smother of invention.”
Ethel Mumford

I think this is the case in the NHS. They have implemented so many benchmarks and hierarchies that innovation simply cant get through. They are starting to realise this however and open up more via projects with the Design Council and government schemes like The National Innovation Centre. The aim of these is to give a single point of entry to the system making the design process clearer and more transparent. So where can we go from here ? How can you tell what everyone wants ? Maybe the should provide focus groups, just like they provide guinea pig patients for medical students maybe those guinea pigs could also work with designers to help them understand the situation they are designing for !? Feedback please....

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Why do we micromanage everything !?

I am currently reading a really good book about the NHS and all the politics within the system and how this impacts what a designer can do. For example GP’s are actually the gatekeepers who have control over what money is spent in terms of what sort of treatment NOT your consultant they have to defer to the GP which is mad in itself. However from the aspect of design user focused design in the NHS actually places the consultant or doctor as the end user for any product. This is understandable when it comes to items such as surgical equipment however this also refers to items such as crutches and braces or as I would call them rehabilitation products.

Consultants are often not involved in the rehabilitation process - you see them for what maybe half and hour a week ? Most designers think that because they have so much experience in the area they are the most knowledgeable but the real fact is that your consultant probably couldn’t pick you out in a police line up ! They have no knowledge about the trials and tribulations their patients face when trying to gain some part of their old lifestyle back, to try and become independent again to gain some form of quality of life ! So surely it would make more sense to go directly to the patients themselves or even better to put YOURSELF in their situation to try and understand. A lot can be said for personal experience and the wealth of knowledge that it provides you. Maybe we should bypass the gatekeepers maybe we should just climb over the fence !

Dress to disguise or display ?

I have found that unconsciously I have been dressing in a manner to disguise my brace. For example wearing darker cloths and large baggy jumpers which I can fit over the top and so completely cover the brace with and so hide under.

Should when you have had an injury flaunt it or hide it ? It is interesting to see it's influence on your confidence for example think back to when you were at high school and broke your leg you would become centre of attention with everyone wanting to try your crutches or sign your cast. Should this be encouraged with more serious injuries to help people embrace their situation to talk about it and deal with it or will it just make them feel worse.

Some of the other designs for back braces which I have seen in particular by Francesca Lanzavecchia encourage the wearer to embrace their situation and living in their brace to show it off and be proud. However I am less confident when it comes to matters such as image not sure I would be able to pull off some of her designs as a result. How do you all feel ? Is it a matter of how confident a person you are in the first place ?

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Do we really live in an inclusive society ??

Am I invisible ? It is bizarre in a society where people have so many rights that so few people show due consideration to people who are less able than themselves, whether this is through an injury or being elderly. It is surprising how few people will move for you when walking down the high street or crossing the road how many cars are pushing you to go faster than you are able.

Is this because we all live in our own wee bubble that people don’t pay attention anymore or is it that our fast paced lives simply don’t accommodate for anyone except ourselves? If this is the case how can we encourage people to slow down, to stop and realise and to help or just be a little selfless and more sympathetic and respectful.

Monday, 5 October 2009

"Quote of the week"

“I wont miss a design philosophy that lives and dies strictly by the sword of data.”
Stop Design Stops Google by Douglas Bowman

I love this quote. I always used to think that paper research was essential in any design process and don’t get me wrong I still do believe it has quite a large part to play but I also believe that experience speaks for a lot when it comes to design ! Especially when it is user focused.

In a world where inclusive design is such a buzz word I would love to know how many people physically put themselves in the position of their users and experience what they do everyday. Its all good and well reading about it but it’s a completely different situation if you experience it !!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Making a postive out of a negative......

I have found another video again from the lovely BBC and Richard Hammond looking at the publics reactions to elderly people. Richard dresses up as an elderly person and tries to recreate his experiences and feelings he experienced while wearing the Mobilistrictor suit.

I think an interesting thing to rememebr is that you can talk to your user group as much as you want and immerse yourself in their situation but there is only so much they will tell you. Sometimes there are aspects of their life that people are too embarrassed to talk about. For example no one would openly discuss their problems using the bathroom !

Although feel free to comment if you feel differently =) It'd be nice to hear some other views on this one.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Making a positive out of a negative.......

When you have a near death experience I think your eyes are opened properly. So many things rush through your head everything from regrets from things you may never be able to do to things you wished you had resolved or never said to someone. Fears that this may be it for you, have you made enough of a mark on this world for people to notice when you are gone? Will you ever be able to say I love you again to your husband and family ?

I am making a plea that from now on to take chances, say what i think and never have any regrets, you have no clue when your life may stop. Live everyday to the full you can not predetermine what happens to you and god I tell you must work in some very weird ways but maybe I am supposed to learn from this.

It helps you see clearly what is important in your life. There are so many things you think are, which when it comes down to it just aren’t ! Memories and thoughts fly through your head every day they are individual to you. Maybe its not about what you do in your life but the QUALITY of the life you live.

A persons experience and knowledge is what makes them them so on the same principle of walking in someone else’s shoes before you choose to judge or criticise try and understand others experiences and how that has made them who they are. No matter how we try we have prejudices and dont recognise them until we experiance it from the other side. This relates to Barthes theory of Ordinary things where sometimes it is the smallest things in life that we treasure the most and have the largest effect who we are and how we live.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

making a positive out of a negative situation.......

I think one of the faults for design especially inclusive design is that many designers don’t physically put themselves in the position of the user as much as they should. For example I believe if you are going to design products for the elderly you should do similar to Richard Hammond in his documentary and wear and old persons suit for a week - the phrase

“ you should walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before passing judgment “

Comes to mind. Many designs which are inclusive are based on book research or prejudices but a lot can be said for first hand experience and living your design process. !

Above is a clip of Richard Hammond in the Mobilitrictor suit that I was talking about earlier it very interesting to see how he reacts to this sudden ageing. Remember here he is only 65 try putting yourself in the position of someone who is 85 ! You can see from his reaction that there is no way he would have fully understood the lifestyle of someone more elderly as well if he hadn’t worn the suit !!

I think the only conclusion that you can draw from this is that personal experiance is one of the best ways of learning and understanding.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

making a positve out of a negative.....

So we are here again starting another year at university although its different this year as this year is 4th year. This year we are actually expected to do something of worth. To start making our mark on the world.

There is always that battle in your mind of wanting to do something worth while in your life, to make a difference to achieve something in your life ! I think that is one of the things im most scared of in life is not making and impression to not be indispensable.

So where have you been all this summer then ? Well I can answer that in one word… I was unfortunate enough to be involved in a severe car crash at the start of the summer needless to say beware people towing things who then think it’s a great idea to block both lanes of a dual carriageway. This resulted in myself lying in hospital staring at a roof with a broken back - not exactly my idea of a great summer. Although i amused myself by counting things on the roof so for example my deaf friends there are 2448 little squares in the lights above my hospital bed in ARI.

However I am determined to make a positive out of this negative experiance. I am now forced to live a life in a back brace and crutches until around Christmas. I find the design of the back brace is incredibly dated and contsrained let alone unpractical. It is certainly designed for function not form which is good in many ways however when I turned to people in a similar situation to myself for suggestions about coping with life in a back brace there are a few phrases which are continually being said

“wearing a back brace is like a 24/7 sentence”

“ After a few months you can get off with not wearing it for an evening so you can go out”

These phrases really scared me as the whole point of a brace is to give you some form of life and freedom when you have a broken back but everyone who wears one see’s it as a limiter and an inconvenience. Being a brace wearer myself I have found there have been so many limitations to my lifestyle not only in personal care but generally living. Now alot of this cant be helped for example the inability to carry anything is due to your broken back not your brace but there bust be better solutions than there already is......or ones that would be feasible for the NHS to put into manufacture !

Thursday, 11 June 2009


Iv had really good feedback about the what shape are you challenge and thanks to a good friend who is spreading the word. I know i found it really helpful. I have just come across a concept called mindapples (again from my dojbuddy, you can see her blog below). She explains it a bit better but its basically to make you stop and think about a place that you find positive to yourself hers is a train or bus etc where she can sit and daydream, mine is anywhere away from a city centre (but the further the better) early in the morning, i find it really refreshing to sit and let the new day wash over me feeling the fresh air and listing to all the subtle sounds of just generally being outside really clears my mind and helps it to focus. So yeh please go on to her blog and comment about where your mindapple is

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Is it all worth it ?

When you believe about something passionatly and others around you dont it can often be a long slog and you can face a lot of criticism over this. To me as a person you should be able to respect others views whether you agree with them or not and especially if you are an ifluential person in their life encorage them to develope thier passion further. Just because it is not your passion doesnt mean it cant be thiers.

Its like in a relationship, you will never agree on everything its just not humanly possible there will always be some form of tolerance and compromise but that is why we are human. Iv had an amazing and very rewarding week which has given my confidence a huge boost, iv had amazing advice from friends and family which i am currently trying out to try and evolve my style although i did hit a slight brick wall when it came to asking others what they thought my style was as there answer......'well your isla' !

So from this statemnet the next challenge is to make it tangible not exactly the smallest of tasks i can assure you but i shall keep you posted. I have started a fun game which i do once of twice a week with a group of frineds which is very revealing about their personalities so give it a try. So this week was what geometric shape would you be. My answer to this is a star because i have more than one passion in my life and more than one influence too which to me are represented by the 5 points like 5 paths in and out of the heart/centre, although i can be sharp if i dont get to where i want to go like the points on the end. So what geometric shape would you be and why, dont think about it too much thought otherwise you will cater your answer to what you want it to be ?

Monday, 18 May 2009

What makes you, you ?

I think this has a large influence on a persons confidence. If you dont know who you are or what makes you special from others it can be hard to believe in yourself and your abilities.

As a design student you are told that your life should be design and art, continually following every step and every event. However what if you have other interests, other desires which you want to follow ? A good friend said to me that there is more to me and my life than just design, is this a good thing or a bad thing ? To succeed do we have to be focused on just on area or can we explore all our other ambitions and follow our curiosity ? I have more than one passion in my life is this a bad thing or is it purely what makes me me ?

To find a style is a hard thing to do as its a reflection of yourself and your attitudes, so if you dont know what makes you special how can you find your style ? Maybe sometimes we cant see our own style and need someone else to tell us.

So this is me, I am a blank canvas. I am a mouldable person someone with more than one passion and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. This is me.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

What makes confidence !?

My confidence has taken quite a battering as of late so this post comes from another post by a close friend and a beautifully worded email to which im extreamly greatful and will reply soon =)

So the task - what makes confidence ? Is it doing well at something - beating your goals ? Is it getting recognition for what you have done ? Can it be as simple and finding others in the same position as yourself - knowing that its not just you ? Or is it beating someone else, knowing that you have done better than your contemporaries (i know this sounds a horrible thing but you all know its true that there is nothing better than succeeding over others its our natural competative streak)

For the next few weeks im going to keep a note of what makes me feel confidant and takes that away.

First off others believeing in me gives me huge strength and when i take a knock from a person and they speak out either in my defence or as a matter of support later it lets me know that even if at that time i dont have confidence in myself that they do and believe in me. Its like a little safety net i suppose that when you fall if you have true friends they are always there to catch you and put you back on your feet.

So for today:

Confidence is knowing that even if you dont believe in yourself that others do. Its like a support net , if you fall if you have true friends they are always there to catch you and help you back on your feet.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

When is it all worth it when is your effort rewarded?

Firstly i would like to say a big congrats to my friend stephanie for her placemnet in London i know you will be amazing and if you need any tips etc you know where i am.

It can be frustrating when you put your heart ans soul into something and feeling your not getting the recognition for it but i spose that is the way life goes and you have to learn to pic yourself up from it and move on.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

This is one of the most interesting websites i have found in a long time.

It gives general meaning to all colour choices and usage - which most people know when it comes to using their common sense however what is more fascinating about it is it then goes into details about what different colours mean in different cultures.

For example where we see green as very positive and ecologically minded in China if a man wears a green hat it means his wife is cheating on him and so can be associated with many negative issues. Whereas red which we see as a negative colour associating it with danger they associate with luck and prosperity. In many ways these developing courties are almost opposites to western coutries.

More interestingly blue is considered a very positive colour and is widely known as the safest colour choice for many. In countries such as China blue is known as immortatlity and all things future forward. As a result of this that is why my focus for my final product is about blue and water.

Also the caption of green by stealth should almost be changed to blue by stealth !

Monday, 20 April 2009

what technology?

advancments in RDIF could be a consideration however it was really interesting to see this article. I wanted to develope something which could be done in the near future, and this certainly makes it seem like it could be possible.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

understand who you are selling to

This article shows quite how hard it can be to understand the young chinese market. Sony's approach seems logical and well thought through, maybe this is a better approach to take and build a consumer profile? It also emphasises thier want for product that are designed for them and thier needs over something which has been done in the west and sent over. It also becomes obviouse that their have a very high view of design and see this as a method of developing your competitivness as a company.

360 degrees

Having met up with geoff yesterday i fear i have taken the wrong track. Where as before i had taken the route of simplicity is best i had forgotten about the high technology drive in many of these developing countries and so simplicity could be seen as too simple. As a result im doing a 360 on the principle of my sketches and instead looking at highly techniqual but still with a plug in and go mentality. From this i have looked at what technology trends are most popular in these countries for example China and mobile phones maybe the concxept could be some form of visual phone application ?

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

energy challenge results so far

Feedback has been good so far. The oldest of the test groups has brought some interesting results with referance to inclusive design. For example the guide would need to be visable from above as one of the males who participated struggles to bend down to turn the plugs off. So the function of turning off the switch could maybe also do with revision - ergonomics and inclusive design. Another issue riased was the success of the chart acting as a reminder, so maybe something which sparks an emotion or memory to give the consumer some form of an emotional attatchment to the energy they use would be more beneficial.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Design is a social Language !

What else can i say about this title. In many ways i think it summarises everything i want this self directed project to be and how i want my sollution to work.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Vampire energy

I saw this picture in a national geographic which really sparked my inspiration. This picture represents the fact that even when appliances are turned off if they are not turned off at the wall they still pull off energy. This is known as vampire energy which can account to around 8 percent of a house's electrical bill !

Monday, 23 March 2009

so where do we loose the most energy?

According to national geographic and and the Energy Information Administration our houses is one of the biggest culprits. Many houses use primarily electricity in the house as our source of energy however we lost 89.3 million BTU (british thermal units) per house in 2006 this is partly because electricity is transpoted via transmission lines and so it is estimated that for every kilowatt hour used we loose 2.2 kilo watt hours as the energy is generated and transmitted.

As a result of this even the smallest changes we make in the house can make a large impact for example if you cut back your energy usage by 10 kilowatt hours a week you would save 32 kilowatt hours. This would add up to 1664 kilowatt hours a year !

In terms of CO2 emmissions if we all converted half of our lightbulbs to compact flourecents we would cut our lighting CO2 emmissions by 36% or 42.4 million tons a year !

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

a picture speaks a thousand words

With referance to many developing countries they are becomeing increasing technology advanced and are catching up with western society's however in terms of communication they are still decades behind. As a result of this i am keen to develope a product which aims to elimate the need for communication, something which can be understood without the need for language.

choose a side?

I have decided the particular focus of this project is going to look at energy usage. China is very good at recycling in terms of paper and plastic etc however it is the largest culpret in the world when it comes to CO2 emmission surpassing america last year by a reported 8%.

I think you could also hit it from an interesting point of view in terms of not just preaching about saving the earth but also saving money.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

world leader ???

Iv just read an article from only febuary which states that china is a world leader in sustainability. This is certainly something which i would want to question considering according to national geographic recently China has just overtaken America in CO2 emmisions.

It is said one of China's best policies is their one child only policy where parents are asked to pay a fine if they choose to have more than one child. They have also implemented the "clean up and be happy" policy, it is said they use this over other methods as they dont have enough resources.

One thing i would like to find out is whether a simple step or product which is low cost and so affordable for a developing nation would make a significant enough fdifferance?

so who is telling the truth?

After trawling through many forms of research including magazine articles from national geographic to creative review and resources off of the internet i have tried to keep an open perspective getting information from both outside of china and from people inside of china.

I have noticed one thing, there is a huge difference between views from each side. In a national geographic it was stated that last year china overtook america in CO2 emmisions however another piece of internet research from associated with ProQuest says that china is set to overtake america in 2020. So the question has to be asked .... who is telling the truth?

Monday, 16 March 2009

sustainability - saving you money?

This months national geographic is based on saving energy within the home and is ideal for me and this project - what a stroke of luck !

One thing that is highlighted is many peoples reluctance in western countries to adopt a sustainable lifestyle as the feel that thier efforts will only be canceled out due to skyrocketing emmisions from developing countries such as China and India.

"As much as 80 percent of new energy demand in the next decade is projected to come from China, India and other developing nations. China is building the equivilant of two midsized coal-fired power plants a week, and by 2007 its CO2 output surpassed that of the U.S."

This only proves to encourage my enthusiasm for this project further. As you can see from the previous comment on this blog i feel it is important to understand who you are designing for and marketing to. I think how you sell this product is going to have a huge ifluence on whether it would be successful of not.

As countiries like China increasingly adopt western products and services they are still very proud of thier culture and i think it is important that you can understand this.

Friday, 13 March 2009

How do you communicate?

I recently read an article written by Jonny Tan who is BBH's creative director. He wrote a diray following a tyical week in his job talking about the difficulties that you can face when trying to communicate especially in advertising in China.

The first issue he highlights is that there is no set rules or system when it comes to advertising. It may be the case that there is but if so it is one which we dont understand as westeners. This can partly be due to there being more than one regulatory body so where we have ASA here they have thie equivilant but also the channels who are broadcasting get a say. As a result there can be inconsistancies in what gets shown.

However general areas to avoid are politics, violence, sexuality and morality. Jonny also highlights that although China has caught up with us in the West in many aspects they are still far behind in the forms in which they communicate. In particular he talks about their strong morals such as respecting elders and those who have achieved and also because they take things very much at face value metaphors, irony and self deprecating humor really does not work well.

China in becoming increasingly techology minded however they and many other developing countries seem to have little consideration in terms of sustainablility. Which is ironic in some ways as we in Britain actually send our paper to be recycled in China. I feel this is partly due to the fact that they are developing so quickly, they are missing steps. I am interested in trying to convince developing countries that sustainability is an important issue without them feeling that they are having western values inforced on them.


Having done some research into China i found a really interesting article in the national geographic which talks about the stresses and starins which are now influenced on the young children who live there. The article follows a family and their progression of thier lifestyle through the class's as china developed over 5 yrs.

In particular it follows a little girl called Zhou Jiaying, however her parents also choose to give her an english name Bella. It talks about how at the age of 4 her parents put her into spoken english and english converstaion classes by 5 she was also in acting classes and by 8 she was in piano lessons which they believed taught disaplin and developed her cerebrum and swimming lessons to make her taller as well as private tutition at weekends for school entrance exams.

Bella comes from a middle class family and as a result there is a lot expected from her, especially as in China you are only allowed one child. As i read through the article it becomes evidant that a common attitude in china is that you can always improve, as Bella is told by her parents 'you are only as good as your worst work'.

"You had to keep moving, because staying in place meant falling behind. That was how the world worked even if you were only ten years old."

I think this is a very eye opening comment made by the author, and something which is evidant throughout the article. Because of this attitude the children overtake their parents. Bella starts teaching her parents the newest slang and cool websites, she guides them on thier purchases of everything from where to eat as to what TV to buy and often is given the deciding vote. It would be interesting to see how marketing is implimented and understand how to effectively target the chinease consumer.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Back again

I do have to appologies dear blog for you being so rejected as of late. I have been written off of uni for the past wee while with ill health (i think staring at the 4 walls of my room is driving me crazy).

We have just handed in the balmoral plastics project. I am pleased with my final idea of a tank which can be inserted into the space in partition walls to recycle rain water for drinking. I rhino'd up a moke up of the guttering shape and storage box for the presentation and am quite happy with the result.

Moving on now we have a new brief. We were given the option between a client based one working with a bus company to improve child safety around buses, inparticular with rural buses. Although i was keen to do another live project a struggled to see a solution and found that the research required would be out of my depth. As a result i am keen to get cracking with the self directed option. We were given a matric of words to choose from these included inclusive sustainable exclusive working living bio mimicary and networking.


Having done some research i am keen to look further into developing contries including China and India and their energy consumption. Being such a fast developing country means that steps can be missed. In China they moved from no tele communications to mobile phones and skipped land lines all together. They are now one of the largest mobile phone users in the world. I think the clash between western and eastern views would be an interesting one to overcome.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


The health has taken a pretty huge hit recently so im afraid i have rather neglected you my dear blog. I am still following through on the rainwater harvesting device.

I have deffinatly decided that a combination of UV and activated carbon filter is the best approach to effectively filter the water.

My intention to place it in the home, preferably in partition walls hit a little bit of a bump trying to overcome the issue of storing the water and the criteria it requires but also the movement of water not only from the outside in but then also around the house. After a lot of persuauion iv convinced the other half to get me some photocopies of housing drawing etc. I wanted to determine the volume which i could achieve in terms of storage when putting it in 'empty space' as i call it.

From what i understand from Craig (the other half and very reliable source) the minimum height of a wall is 2.5 meters with a depth of 125mm and center to centre spaceing of the supporting rods of 600mm. From this i could feasibly go up to the dimensions of 250 x 12 x 50 cm. This would give me a total storage of 150,000 cm3 of water which is the equivilant of 150 litres. Thats a lot of storage. It does mean that the shape ends up basically being a box but then so are most white goods like fridges and washing machines. So is that such a bad thing?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Inside Vs Outside

When looking at the storage of the harvested rain water the automatic assumption is that itwould be outside. I want to see if i can bring it inside as to me it would help me to see it as cleaner as its not subjected to the dirt of the outside and garden etc.

I had originally been keen to put it up in the attic and link it in with the water tank etc so pump etc could easily be adjusted. There are similar product which are around which i have already noted which act almost like top up tanks etc. However as the rain guttering is ofetn at the same level as the floor of an attic it would still require a pump to pump it back up into the tank in the attic. As a result i am now looking at weather it is possible to locate it in house for example in the kitchen so it can easily be linked up to the kitchen taps/sink.

The next step is to find a way of designing something which doesnt look like just a big tank. It therefore needs to be desirable enough to be out in plain view in a house or alternatively small enough to be able to be easily stored.

Monday, 16 February 2009

bleh !

This thing has been rejected however i couldnt get access to internet while in hospital - stupid infection.

So while in hospital it gave me a lot of time to think, i noticed that they are unusually strict with what you can bring in and what state it is (sketch book proved to be a queationed item - dont know why), to the type of water you drink - always filtered, never tap, they even had me brush my teeth with filtered water. When asked why the nurses couldnt answer apart from the comment that it was healthier. I then found an article in the telegraph stating that vitamin defficiencies could relate to some of the most common modern illness's such as cancer and degenerative illness's linked to aging.

Suppliments can help, i myself am forced to take many to help with my condition including iron, k tissue salts and kelp. The hospital have put me on a tonic called Floradix which has pretty much every essential vitamin in it that a person could need as it helps fill in gap when struggling to eat foods. As a result of this i am still keen to move forward with my idea of a natural harvested, vitamin added water supply in the house.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

I dont like water

This thing has been a bit neglected the last few days with all this naff weather iv managed to pick up one of the colds that has been going around. I now cant talk and am in agony. As i say this yet more of the lovely freezin cold white stuff is falling from the sky.

I have managed to get a hold of a few other charities about what is in the food packages that they send but they are often extreamly vaigue. However being ill i have noticed that i am chugging back the vitamin boosted drinks to try and help my immune system. i have hit a huge issue that with my throat being swollen so much i am really struggling to take my tablets let alone eat. I found myself forced to grind my tablets up and put them into drink so i could take them. This is not the first time i have had to do this either and i think the option of being able to have it just in your tap water would be so benificial as at the moment liquids is about all i can have.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

How balanced is balanced ?

After speaking to the Red Cross about their food packages, it arose that they attampt to make the food as balanced as possible, however they do buy the food in the country which they are sending to which makes sense certainly in a financial term but i did want to question that in places such as the heart of africa how balanced can the rations be?

They also said if there are vitamin deficiencies they would tend to just send suppliments in the form of tablets. Is this nessicarily be the best method ? It was also brought up that they tend to use the same filtered water for personal hygine more than drinking etc and so added vitamins could be lost on this sort of cause.

I feel that the form of product i am looking at is certainly based more in the 1st world however i am still keen for it to be adaptable for 3rd world. I feel there is a gap in the market right now in terms of health drinks. We are increasingly becoming health concious hence the popularity of products such as VitaminWater. So why not recycle water and save money by making your own health drink catered to your needs !?

hear hear

I totally agree with this guy, such useful tips !

There is a very valid point made that lakes and rivers are drying up in Britain yet we still seem to disreguard how important water is to us and that it is a finite resource !

Vitamin water

I have tried to contact some on the more major world charities to find out what sort of foods and vitamins are in the food packages which they send.

I have quite taken to the aspect of recycling rain water into drinking water with vitamins in it. I have many vitamin deficencies myself including anemia, i try to counter this by diet and suppliment tablets but i had to consider what i would do if my diet options were restriced. It could be ideal for me if it was always in my drinking water so i didnt have to bother. This made me then think of food rationing and parcels which are sent to refugees etc. I have been told that they aim to be as balanced as possible but mostly local supliers are used which can limit what can be included. I think some research is required

Monday, 9 February 2009


Click Here to take survey

Please complete this survey for me, its all about your own perception of water and recycled water it will only take a few minutes at the most!

Banning of bottled water - just how successful is it ?

"Students at one of Britain's biggest universities have become the first in the country to ban bottled still water from all their bars, cafes and shops, sacrificing annual profits of £32,000.

A referendum at Leeds University has voted overwhelmingly to phase out the product by the end of next year, to allow campus stores to absorb the loss of their biggest-selling line.

More than 200,000 bottles of still water were sold by the university union's outlets last year to students, whose bags and backpacks habitually have the plastic containers peeping from pockets. National sales of bottled water have risen rapidly in the last decade and now account for 5% of all drinks purchased"

I saw this on a another persons blog and it sparked of a memory from high school. Our school was all for reducing and reusing water. Thier cause had actually came from the respect of trying to get students to not drink fizzy juice and encourage healthier aletnatives. They did this by giving us all free sports water bottles and setting up water fountins around school. they then made it a rule that only water could be drunk while in class. You have to remember this was in the start of the year 2000 so quite a while ago and views may have changed but i remember this scheme going bown the pan pretty fast, you cant force a view or opinion on someone.

I believe the only way to achive a successful result from this project is to try and educate people and address their views and try to alter their perception rather than tell them its wrong.

Snatch and run =P

i have stolen this link of off a fellow PD students blog (sorry stephanie) We are all very well aware about others struggles for safe drinking water especially in 3rd world countries. Maybe this could be a combined cause project? Where something her is a cool gadget as such in Britain it could be something extreamly benificial and importnant in a 3rd world country ?

Could this be linked into the use of vitamins in water (although not in the way which Vitamin Water attempt to do) but intead in a prectical and useful manner. People can survive and estimated 3 weeks without food but only around 3 days without water, so could it be combined that safe water was available and so even if there was limited food eg rations people would still get all the vitamins they required?

Ice cream snow !!??

I saw this link on another blog by a woman called piper terret. She writes a blog called the frugal life and it is extreamly good.

The link is actually to the times, and discusses taking snow off of the fence adding milk, sugar and vanilla to make snow ice cream, i would not think to do this as i would be concerned for the safety of it but it has had surprisingly good feedback if you scroll down to the comments.

I wonder if you could link this to the concept of added vitamins to harvested water. For example so if yo are anemic you could add iron to your water out of the tap so you dont need to remeber to take tablets etc.

archi enviromental

I have found this wonderful blog which is great resource for all people who are enviromentally conciouse.

what exactly is in our water ???

Depending on where you go to depends on what you get told on what is in you water. Most bottled water companies tend to state similar values around:

Typical Analysis (mg/l)

Calcium 90
Magnesium 2.4
Sodium 15
Potassium 1.3
Iron <1
Bicarbonate 213
Chloride 33
Sulphate 18
Fluoride <1
Total dissolved solids at 260°C 374


However it has become apparent that you can add pretty much anything you like water as many other companies have shown such as Vitamin water:

What's in Vitaminwater?
Nutrition Facts:

Ingredients: vapor distilled/deionized water, crystalline fructose, citric acid, vegetable juice (color), natural flavor, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin E acetate, magnesium lactate (elecrolyte), calcium lactate (electrolyte), zinc picolinate, monopotassium phosphate (electrolyte), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), cyanocobalamine (B12)

One interesting thing to notice is the amount of sugar in what is supposedly good for you water! This is discussed further on this website as the benefits of additive in water are brought into question.

inhouse water recycling systems

I have found one company which offer something similar to what i was looking at but i believe the issue can be better tackled than thier approach.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

daily weather check

P.s We are due to have a total of 7mm of the white stuff today, however from going out and measureing we have closer to the region of 3cm. Just think of all that water going to waste when over 40% of your household water usage can utilise weather conditions such as these and tuesdays heavy rain !!

Snow !!!

With the huge amount of snow falling today and plumeting temperatures i was wondering whether you can run energy off of the filtration of water? Or heat filtered water? There is a technique called distilation which involves boiling the water and then condensing the steam however this requires huge amounts of energy to do - not exactly the point of this project when i want to look at conservation and recycling.

Loads of people are doing the survey with some very interesting results - the comment boxes are proving to be very revealing about the person who has filled it in. It does seem to be a topic on which many have strong views. Comments about why filter when i can buy bottled has a very simple response as its a cheaper alternative for yourself but also that is all bottle water is filtered - why pay extra for a brand name !?

Many already filter their water so it may be worth sending around another questionair to see views on inhouse circulation of water for example tap water first, then showering water, then water for washing machines etc then for either the garden or toilet. I have seen this demonstrated somewhere i shall have to see if i can find it again.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Taking steps forward

This system has been commented on both by the NY Times

and by Treehugger

This is a system in California which takes toilet water filtering to the extream. Although very unaffectionatly called 'toilet to tap' it is still an interesting concept. However would it work in Britain ? Could it be done on a larger scale ? Does it nessicarily have to be a toilet to tap why can it not work in a life cycle sysem where it starts at tap and progresses down to toilet via in house filtering and then toilet going for proper filtering afterwards ?

The 'Yuk' Factor

This article brings quite a few areas of interest to the front. It researches into the 'yuk' factor of thinking of drinking recycled water with particular interest in the treatment of sewage for drinking.

Daily weather check

Ok todays daily weather check today combining what we are due to have and have already had we are due to finish the day with 16.7mm or water today (combining the melted snow!)

Rain turns to snow !

Its hard to think that with all this rain and snow besieging this country that it wasnt that long ago we (well some areas of england) were concered about running out of water ! As in May 2006 there was a drought order declaired in England.

This was then followed in June with a huge record breaking heat wave across the same area.

I think this clearly demonstrates the influence and effect which climate change is having on our country. With this ontop of increasing economic worries surely it makes sense to recycle your water to save on your finances !?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Rain Rain go away

Yet again Aberdeen being in Scotland has decided to go under water with rain, i swear its not stopped since yesterday afternoon ! Either way i am going to use this to my advantage and track how much rain falls over the rest of this week. I had tried to set up my own rain water gauge but the seagulls promptly attacked it last night and the other one at university got knock over.

I have found this site which gives predictions for rain fall but also includes other factors of interest such as temperature etc.

so today we can see that there is predicted to be a total of 11.8 mm or rain !! with a further 14.6 mm due for tomorrow so it looks like we shall all be getting very very soggy over the next few days !