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.