Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Sunday, 10 October 2010
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Permaculture and design
Jewellery and Metalwork
Definition of Permaculture:
Permaculture is an innovative way of creating sustainable ways of living. The word 'permaculture' comes from 'permanent agriculture' and 'permanent culture'. This is an integrated system of design, that includes not only agriculture, horticulture, architecture and ecology, but also economic systems, land access ideas and legal systems for businesses and comm
It is about living lightly on the planet, and making sure that we can sustain human activities for many generations to come, in harmony with nature. Unlike other modern agricultural systems, permaculture is based on ecology - the study of interrelationships and interdependence of living things and their environment. Permanent agriculture is understood as agriculture that can be sustained indefinitely.
It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their own food, energy, shelter, and all other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Alternative currencies and trading systems support community agriculture. Community governance is also an aspect of permaculture which is vitally important but generally remains unseen as it is cooperative system. Mollison (1988) believes that without permanent agriculture there is no possibility of a stable social order. Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from tightly packed urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to whole regions.
Brief History of Permaculture:
Modern permaculture can be traced back to the 1970s and the work of Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren but in some respects it is not a new thing. The idea of agricultural systems that can be put into practice for an unlimited time, in a sustainable way, has been around for thousands of years, it was the new interlocking pattern or plan, which combined animal and social systems which was different.
The modern permaculture movement came about when Holmgren was writing a thesis about developing an interdisciplinary earth science (permaculture), while working together with Mollison who was directing his research. Mollison added to Holmgren's thesis and they produced a book, ‘Permaculture One’. This was in response to soil, water and air pollution by industrial and agricultural systems; loss of plant and animal species; reduction of natural non-renewable resources; and a crippling economic system. From the book came a series of lectures and workshops. It was January 1981 before the concept of permaculture was fully formed and suitable to be taught as an applied design system. The intent is that, by training individuals in a basic set of design principles, those individuals can design their own environments and build increasingly self-sufficient human settlements, ones that reduce society's dependance on industrial systems of production and distribution that Mollison (1988) identified as, fundamentally and systematically destroying our ecosystems. As this idea was tried and tested it became apparent that people could make a living from products which came from these new environments.
This was not the initial aim of permaculture, which attempts first of all to stabilise and care for the land, then to serve household, regional and local needs, and only following that, to produce a surplus for sale or exchange. Permaculture has n
ow developed a large international following. The "permaculture community" continues to expand on original ideas. Permaculture has developed from its Australian origins into an international movement. English permaculture teacher Patrick Whitefield, suggests that there are now two strands of permaculture: Original and Design permaculture. Original permaculture attempts to closely recreate nature by developing edible ecosystems which closely resemble their wild counterparts. Design permaculture takes the working connections at use in an ecosystem and uses them as its basis. The result may not look as natural but still respects ecology principals. Through close observation of natural energies and flow patterns efficient design systems can be developed. This has become known as Natural Systems Design.
Principles of permaculture
Relevance of Permaculture to design:
Modern permaculture relies upon designing an agricultural or living space to take into account the natural needs, outputs and consequences of all the elements within the surrounding system. Elements are assembled to create a combined effort where the products of one element feed or improve nearby elements ending in a natural interaction and very little waste. The end result is a system that produces large quantities of food with minimal input or impact to the environment. The methods used can change and are taken from well studied and accepted practices including land management, organic farming, agroforestry, sustainable forestry and horticulture. These methods are not restricted to agriculture, many practical solutions have been developed for the built environment. Highly efficient sustainable buildings can be made using timber frames or straw bales for example. Architects and builders are now being encouraged to use sustainable materials such as these and to incorporate solar, hydro and wind power.
Permaculture aims to also encourage the community to live full lives and is not necessarily as restrictive as it may seem. A sustainable environment requires creative and vibrant people to develop new skills and ideas. Their specially designed education system encourages the development of intellect, artistic and practical skills based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori.
A good design helps to make the best use of the available resources and create a more productive system, that meets more of the community’s need and creates less pollution. According to Morrow (1993) permaculture design skills include observation, deduction, analysis, mapping, pattern reading and experience. All of which are skills required universally by designers be it an architect, a toy maker or a town planner. Designers have a responsibility for the effects of the products they design, and need to think about their potential impact on the environment, designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to respect the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability.
Designers in all fields are becoming increasingly more aware of how what they do can effect the environment. The website, Lovely as a tree, claims to be, the website that tells you everything you need to know to be a more environmentally aware graphic designer. From choosing recycled or more sustainably sourced paper to choosing a greener printer. There are lots of little changes designers can make to reduce their design footprint. Unfortunately, the jewellery industry also has a long and ugly history of environmental destruction, human rights abuse, and issues with fair trade. More recently, however, jewelers in particular are trying to put an end to their old ways by making small changes to the way they work believing that jewellery should not come at the cost of the environment. By recycling and being more careful with metal, disposing of chemicals safely and in some cases, finding ways to avoid using damaging chemicals. By taking a little time to consider the basic permaculture design skills and going back to basics all designers can help towards the future of our planet.
What is Permaculture? Hobbs, J. http://youtu.be/8X0H7V6dDi8
Mollison, B. (1988) Permaculture A designers’ Manual. Australia: Tagari Publications
Morrow, R. (1993) Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture. Australia: Kangaroo Press
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
During our second meeting we decided to share the research we'd found so far by creating a sort of joint mind-map. Once we had all added our information to the mind-map we all tried to chip-in where possible with other peoples topics just to perhaps add a different slant on things. Also Fiona and myself had opted to change our topics and so took the opportunity to update the rest of the group. Fiona changed to Branding and Design and I changed to Permaculture and Design.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Having spent last semester developing an unusual obsession with subways, the idea of revisiting the subject was not too painful. The subject of crime was my original starting point, I discussed the “Broken Windows” theory as talked about in “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell (p141) which, in very simple terms, suggested that if a window is broken and not repaired, people passing by will decide that no one cares and that no one is managing the area. Soon, more windows will be broke
n, and the feeling of chaos and mayhem grows. Especially in a city, comparatively small problems like graffiti or public disorder are the equivalent of broken windows, a temptation to more serious crime. The atmosphere created in a confined and isolated space, such as an underground station, dictates a passengers feeling of safety and in turn, their likelihood of being a returning customer.
In order to research the pros and cons of subway atmosphere last semester, I spent a great deal of time, through books and internet sites, researching the most famous subway stations of the world and how they function at present. I did the same to get a better idea of how atmosphere can be affected by architecture. This topic grew arms and legs as many factors play a part in creating the atmosphere in a space.
Having previously been anti-mind-mapping, I reluctantly completed one on this topic as part of an assignment in semester one. Annoyingly, I found the mind-map extremely useful as a way of documenting and organising my thoughts.
This threw up many issues and ideas surrounding subway atmosphere. In order to take this research further it is now clear, having completed this semesters assignments, that primary research techniques are key to discovering the public’s needs. The underground system is of course a public transport service and so who better to look to to answer the question, “how do we improve the atmosphere in our underground stations?” than the public?
Most subway systems tend to be filthy and rather dull aesthetically. But there are cities that explicitly foster arts and good architecture in subways. Works of art or sophisticated architecture can be inspiring and thought-provoking for daily commuters as well as an attraction for visitors. Distinctive colour schemes and works of art help passengers for orientation. Furthermore, there is evidence that vandalism diminishes in appealing stations because works of art and good designs are widely respected.
Observation would be my key form of primary research here. So much can be discovered just by watching people, but not just watching aimlessly, by really observing their body language and behaviour and in this case their movement patterns, speed of movement, interaction, age, sex etc... Gathering this information to discover the patterns of behaviour would be invaluable to ascertain how the public use stations. The present design and decoration of each station would have to be considered as these factors would effect their behaviour. Observation would highlight the problems and possible good points of the existing stations. To develop the data gathered from such observations, an experiment could be arranged to temporarily alter the atmosphere of the station, for example, the lighting could be changed or a variety of music played to see if behaviour changes. In the London Underground was said to play fast marching music during the morning rush, and calm relaxing music in the evening rush - the first to get people moving, the second to calm them down.
A series of focus groups of regular commuters, combined with a small visual experiment could prove useful as an insight into what commuters would like to see happen to their stations. I this think would prove more effective than interviewing individual commuters as a discussion tends to throw up more interesting results and the idea of trying to get a commuter to stop and answer questions fills me with fear! Various stations around the world have instigated innovations in an attempt to improve their commuters daily experience, such as Moscow Metro’s mobile art exhibition. Perhaps a discussion surrounding the various innovations around the worlds subways would show up a particular favourite, an area which needs improving and possibly a solution. Involving regular commuters who can take the time to converse with other commuters should throw up the real problems they experience daily and what they would like to see done about it.
Our underground stations are ever changing and improving, with the addition of interactive technology as one example. TFL (Transport for London) will be investing capital into the renovation of the Underground network in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games. In a private venture, CBS Outdoor (a leading outdoor advertising company) are investing £72 million over the next two and a half years to improve every single advertising site on the Underground including installation over 2000 digital sites. These days advertising seems to be playing a huge part in creating a stations atmosphere, keeping things interesting and stimulating. So with all this money flying around to invest in this country’s largest underground system lets hope that they have used their primary research to talk to the public, the people who will be using this service. Here is an example of some advertising in a Tokyo subway tunnel. This particular technology, brought to my attention by Jonathan Baldwin, uses the old-fashioned zoetrope device as its inspiration. A zoetrope is a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures.
Bennet, D, (2004), Metro the story of the underground railway, London, Octopus Publishing
Gladwell, M, (2000), The Tipping Point, Great Britain, Abacus
Lepori, R, and Franck, K, (2007), Architecture from the Inside Out, Great Britain, Wiley-Academy
Preston, J, (2004), Interior Atmosphere, London, Artmedia Press
In order to demonstrate how the skills we have learnt in Design Studies can be applied to the discipline of Jewellery and Metalwork, we were asked to review and rethink a studio brief we tackled this year. Then by applying the primary and secondary research methods learnt this year during my Design Studies, discuss how these techniques could be utilised during the research and design process if I were to approach this brief again.
Our studio briefs have been wonderfully diverse this year. We began the year with the vessel project which asked us to design and make some form of container. The second brief was the wire project which was to be influenced by the work of an artist or sculptor whom you found inspiring. The third studio brief was the catwalk project where we were asked to design and make a extravagant, colourful, piece based on a culture or time period. It had to be effective on a catwalk as a fashion statement. The project brief I would like to reconsider in connection to the secondary research methods we have developed, however, is the project we are working on at present, Stone Setting. This project did not simply require us to learn a selection of new jewellery skills, it also encouraged us to research into the ideas of myth, legend, superstition and religion which surround semi-precious stones.
At the beginning of any new design brief I have always applied secondary research skills, however, possibly not in the organised manner to which we have been introduced by Design Studies, more in my own mish-mashed style. To begin the stone setting brief for instance, I started off scouring the library with a clear idea of what I was looking for but as always, other books caught my eye and I was drawn towards them. My next step is always to conduct the same sort of search but online. To get a an overview of the subject I began with a general look at gemstones, then going on to look at their hardness, how they are formed, the different types of cuts and settings. Having now looked into and practiced Primary Research methods, I believe that interviewing a jeweller who uses stone setting widely throughout their work or possibly interviewing a stone-setter would have given me more of an insight into the various settings, their pros and cons and any hints and tips which only come with years of experience.
Having gathered a wealth of general gemstone knowledge I then moved on to researching their individual symbolism throughout the ages and the ways gemstones and jewellery have been used. I found some of the myths and legends surrounding the stones fascinating but found that, after doing all my research and telling people what I had discovered, they had heard other variations which could have been added to my bank of knowledge had I shared my findings earlier. Luckily by this stage I had not decided firmly on which myth to go with and so I went with my three or four options and basically had an informal brainstorming session with some friends. I tend to do this at some stage during every project as I find it invaluable in the design process. It is too easy to become blinkered to other views and to become fixated on one design without trying out any alternatives. Other people see things differently and can input observations and ideas which would never have occurred to me, they can broaden your thought process.
The primary and secondary research methods I have developed this year in design studies will, without doubt be even more useful when it comes to designing for the public in the form of commissions. 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 think a combination of interview, observation and experiment would hopefully give me a real insight into exactly what they are looking for. Initially, I would conduct an interview to ascertain the basic requirements and get a feeling for what the client is looking for. A good line of communication is essential to keep your client updated and to make sure you are both on the same page.
Sometimes when designing for a particular person it can be hard to get to the bottom of what they are really like just by asking them a series of questions no-matter how well thought out and planned your questions are. In this case I believe observational skills are invaluable. We use observation almost without thinking from the moment we first see someone, this can be a dangerous thing which can easily cause you to jump to conclusions but if used properly can be incredibly useful. As with interviews, people can portray themselves in a particular way by means of dress, hairstyle etc when in-fact this is not reflecting their true personality. 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 conduct a sort of experiment by showing them examples of my previous work and gauge their reactions to the pictures or items I show them. Paying particular attention to the items of jewellery that they find the most attractive and enquiring after what exactly they like and dislike about them.
Without really realising it, I believe I was already using these highly beneficial research techniques, introduced to us this semester to aid me with my research and design processes. This series of assignments has been beneficial as they have made me far more aware of the techniques and how I use them within my discipline. I may have been already using these skills, however, I was doing so without thoroughly thinking about what I was doing and so was not using them to their full potential. Books and internet are not the be-all and end-all, talking to people and observing their behaviour holds a wealth of knowledge which I think I was previously missing. I will carry on using this approach but in a a far more conscious manner as I believe it will contribute to me producing work with a far deeper personal meaning.
Monday, 22 March 2010
Thursday, 11 March 2010
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Friday, 5 March 2010
I just saw these on the news and thought they were great. The brand new Dobbies in Aberdeen features unusual men’s urinals in the shape of flowers, designed by San Francisco-based artist Clark Sorensen, and called Nature’s Call. Male customers can choose between an orchid, an arum lily or a pitcher plant.
Friday, 19 February 2010
- A baby goat (kid) was found in the Empire State Building by a police dog. The police dog wrapped the kid up in a sock to keep it warm.
- Charity makes handmade socks to sell to business people in the Empire State Building to raise money for poor abandoned animals.
- Evil corporation, based in the Empire State Building, kidnap (geddit?!) goats to use their wool to produce luxury socks (101 Dalmatians style). Local hero, Boxer dog Sam, saves the goats.
- Evil duo, Cecil the goat and Salvester the Boxer dog, break into the Empire State Building in the dead of night to steal floor tiles to sell to some Croatian bandits. They use socks as balaclavas!
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
To look into this idea of consumption and identity I obtained some photographs of a relative's kitchen. They were specifically told not to tidy up and for their kitchen to "act natural"! Even though I obviously knew this person I tried to look at the photos as if they were of a complete strangers kitchen. Surprisingly I found this easy to do and feel that I probably know a lot more about the person just by taking a little time to really take in the details of their tastes and habits.
This is the messiest part of the kitchen! I'm sensing an obsessively tidy person.
In speaking to others about their experiences of tackling this task I can understand why some people felt the need to be a little restrained and perhaps politer than they really wanted to be. Jumping to conclusions about a stranger's life, however educated your guesses are is a scary prospect. I feel like I can have a bit more of a free reign to say whatever I like as we're related, they have to forgive me eventually!
Even from this tiny snap-shot various things are clear. This is a woman's kitchen, it's clean and there's no sign of take-away containers or Super Noodle pots. Already a colour theme is emerging, patches of a sort of duck-egg blue are lurking. Everything looks shiny and new but not too showy, suggesting the person is reasonably well-off and takes care of things.
Again, very clean and neat and tidy. If I was in any doubt I'm now certain this is a woman's kitchen with fresh herbs and a recently used iron. I think this person also likes to bake judging by the cake-stand and the loaf-tins in the earlier photo.
This shows a more playful side. This person is also an animal lover. Although the magnets are colourful and perhaps slightly childish they are still obsessively placed which just screams "perfectionist!".
Overall, this kitchen looks very modern and sophisticated, however, there are lots of hints to the owners true personality in the form of splashes of colour and comical items. I think this person might like to come across as very grown-up and refined when in-fact they might actually have a silly sense of humour and be quietly fun-loving.
This photo suggests that the person has a creative side and is interested in crafts, hand-made things. They possibly enjoy travelling judging by the small Spanish looking town-scape. Again, animals, colour and playful objects feature heavily. The lack of clutter and modern, minimalist backs up my previous points.