Design Agenda Analysis

A series of group projects were delivered. Upon completion of the projects a short presentation was delivered to all other groups and the head lecturer. Introducing an element of completion and pride and ensuring a conclusive presentation was delivered summarising the work undergone. Each presentation was both beneficial to the other groups and gave a sense of unity and finality to the module.

Through out this post, I will comment on each of the fellow MA- groups; design agendas, the different collaboration styles and I will also reflect on if ‘in my opinion’ it was successful.
The pairing of each group had been pre-determined by our Head Tutor; Dave. We had been encouraged to pursue a design agenda from the list laid out below

There was however, no end design brief or product spec to meet. This implied the task was focussed on how we collaborated and responded to a set design agenda rather than the product outcome.


Group 1 | Josh and Jim | materiality agenda.

- Step one for them was to determine the end product (a Bag)
- They both chose 3 products they had a ‘deep connection’ with and interrogated why.
- They then explored materials, and created a pallet of materials that were of interest to them both.
- Research into the use and tradition of these materials provided new inspiration.
- They then looked into textile innovation.
- Meshing the two (history and innovation) became the new direction

The stand out part for me was the ‘three products you love’ this is a lovely ‘ice breaking’ activity and could really help designers get under the skin of why.
Working in a new group always has challenges and I feel James and Jim’s pairing gave them both new insights and learning’s.
Early into the course and both from differing commercial backgrounds I feel their individual design styles may have clashed rather than harmonising though no fault of their own.
I asked Jim how he had enjoyed working with a materialist design agenda. He replyed “I enjoyed it as I am trying not to be influenced by what I already know”.


Group 2 | Alex and Ezgi | Inclusive design agenda

-       Survey and questionnaire
-       Summary of points of interest and issues
-       Brainstorm ideas and solutions
-       New technology – any relevance?

Working with a new team member, with a new agenda is hard enough. To then add outsiders as the main driver for design considerations is a challenge.
I feel Alex and Ezgi presented a fantastic range of outcomes with some interesting solutions. Due to the nature of their project (designing seating for a bus) no product was taken to realisation.
For me, their use of a questionnaire instantly reminded me of my A level Product design and having a structured market research approach. Due to their design agenda they had to know their audience and a questionnaire gave them a broad understanding of many views. Having good, focused questions and a friendly approach helped; Alex and Ezgi ride the bus daily so knew some of the main concerns themselves, they also had a lot of friends who ride with then and then took the questionnaire.
Similar to the of Jane Fulton Suri 'IDEO' Jane "pioneered human-centered approaches… She evolved techniques for empathic observation and experience prototyping.” (Navigate, 2015)  getting into the environment of the customer, living out the rituals surrounding your intended product will help you ‘the designer’ to fully understanding them ‘the customer’ giving relatable experiences to fall back on throughout the design process. Also experiencing the problems yourself first hand helps to truly understand what your need to design.


Group 3 | Pippi and Daecan | ‘Super Normal’ & ‘ Function & Interaction'

-       They determined the product area – Sandwich box
-       However they concluded this easily and quickly
-       They then explored the subject ‘food pawn’
-       Introduced the obscure to the ordinary

The work complied here was excellent and a really thorough and well-investigated project. By reaching an end point mid way through the project they were forced to redefine their design parameters. Having a basic topic, they then subversifed it and found the most taboo element of this area. Lunch boxes = food pawn.

They then researched the activities and rituals surrounding each. Then investigated further more into the emotion and feelings towards these rituals. Their product range was based around the combination of a taboo activity or ritual with an everyday ordinary activity or ritual.


Group 4 | James, Kasia and ME! |  Biomimicry and Digital Craft

-       introduction to the design agendas and how they influence product outcomes.
-       research current designers using these design agendas
-       create a process by which the design could be created though no influence of our own ‘the designer’.
-       Design something using this process.

Our design agenda was concerned with creating a process that enabled the customer to have an influence on the product outcome through their personal statitics and data. Eg date of birth, height, or favourite music.
If you are interested in my thoughts on how we worked as a group please see this blog post Click here
This was a new Design approach for me and I am keen to investigate it further, as I am very interested in personalisation and customisable design.
In the current market for product design, I can see two main routes for innovation; invent something with new technology that helps the customer in a way they didn’t already know about. Or personalise a product that is used daily and relied upon. Giving that treasured product a feel of individuality and uniqueness that is often only achieved through hand made pieces.

Going forward as a product designer, I will investigate this method as an option for customisation as I feel the ability to change the product outcome with the data you provide as a customer has a fantastic gravity, especially if you are looking at key life events and celebrations.
For example, having a poster for your new-born baby with: weight, date, name and star sign on. Transforming that into a night-light where the shape, colour and potential design detail is determined by these key information’s?


Comparing the group approaches and Design agendas, I feel that those with a structured and focussed design agenda could explain their success and direction as stemming from their focussed design agenda. Where those with less focus and more meandering could attribute the lack of outcome to not truly understanding their agenda. It would appear that ones approach to design can really instigate ingenuity. With Daecan and Pippi’s product range that was based around the combination of a taboo ritual and an everyday ritual, I can see how the process and the Design Agenda really influenced the diversity and originality of the outcomes.

I can see now how the process, and journey can really affect the outcome. After all, our own individuality and personality creates our own personal approach to design. Reflecting on James and Jim’s ‘three products you love’ activity highlights how ‘why’ can be such a personal thing. The reasons for loving a product can often be quite individual. Again thinking of Alex and Exgi’s product design for their own problem, and how experiencing the problems first hand helped them to truly understand what was needed highlights how having an understanding of how YOU design, what makes you tick creativity will help immensely when faced with – a design brief.

I guess the aim is to understand your design process so what ever you are faced with personal or professional, you know how best to approach and tackle the problem. Having a formula, or a step by step plan, will help on the journey through designing a product. Not truly understanding the map, or maybe not even having a map can of course lead to getting lost.

But understanding other design agendas from the offset is where I personally found the challenge, because there are few commercial designers who write down (and share) their step by step approach to design it is more of a backwards unpicking of their process through observations and analysis.

I will see. Yet to be completely convinced and yet to fully understand my design agenda!