Starting part way through.

Challenges faced:
Outside of university I have picked up a significant freelance contract with Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco, alongside this my waitressing job have given me triple the amount of hours due to being Christmas time! This is all fantastic news and money in the bank, however trying to catch up on two months of research is proving difficult.

My main concerns are around the key introductory research sessions and analysis of design agendas I seem to have missed. During the introduction to the course each member of product design has gone away and researched individual design agendas and then presented them back to the group. To have been at this presentation would have really helped with my understanding of each of the design agendas.

Having found myself in the situation I felt it important to consider upfront the course objectives and then backfill any areas that may have been missed. As part of this research I have identied that the main things to consider are 'what is my practice and how has this changed over time?' and 'how do I approach design?'

What is my practice and how has this changed over time?

My practice was originally identified at the beginning of the Design Lab course as The creation of 3D surfaces as a medium to enhance the user experience. - interaction, collaboration & illumination

However, this has evolved slightly through the research and learning that has taken place so far. My practice is now best defined as:
illuminated or interactive surfaces.

I looked into lighting design over the years, to see how the practice and key designs have changed. In 1878, Thomas Edison invited the light - the design was determined by function. By 1880, W. A. S. Benson (who was a metal worker), was encourage to adorn the bulb. He became the greatest lighting desinger of the Arts and Crafts movement. By the early 1900s, lighting had transitioned from purely function to become part of design. Tiffany Studios believed that "nature is always beautiful" and used stylised representations of flora and fauna to bring beauty into the home, which was intended to enhance the quality of life. In the 1930s, the availablity of new materials began to change the design approach. Richard winkelmayer designed lights that had an overriding concern to create simple forms and to exploit modernist materials.

In 1944, Kaare klint developed "his well known fruit light, which incorporated an innovative cross pleated consruction. simple, structural and relatively inexpensive". In the late 1950s, George nelson anticipated the fashioning for plastic origami like lighting products. The lanten series exemplifies his approach to lighting design through the innovative use of material, bold forms and functional practicality.

It is important to me that my design direction is current, so it's important to consider what is 'big' within product design at the moment. A literature search revealed that, amongst other things, 3D printing and concrete are popular at the moment. I came across a prime example of the use of concrete in California [Click here to find out more]. Another thing I stumbled across was the pragmatic development of 3D printing - its called a 3D pen and it allows the user to 'draw' in 3D - this is stretching the boundaries and opens up new possibilities.

Personalisation seems to be very big within deisgn at the moment, for instance vauxhall are offering the new 'adam' with a tag line of 'one car, a million possibilities'.. Reebok are offering completely customisable trainers [see link]. This is something that i can build into my design practice to look at customisable lighting and surfaces.

How do i approach design?

My design culture is fast paced, originating from a design company. This got me to thinking about different ways of approaching design and different design cultures. Three main types come to mind: mass produced design (e.g. ikea), bespoke design, or design informed by tradition. The design culture will heavily influence the type of product and the materials involved.

It was interesting to consider other aspects, appart from financial viability, when designing products. Alot of these are know to me from my experience in a design company, such as eurganomics, costs, public perception (it's best to avoid unintentional phalic shaped objects!). However, there were some more interesting areas that I haven't necessarily already been exposed to. For instance, political considerations - only recently SONY had to abandon the screening of a film due to politcal threats, this led to the 'product' having effectively no value.