Lecture 19/11/10

This lecture was about visual communication. We looked at war posters from different countries with different messages. It turned out that posters from Russia and Germany were more artistic while British ones were very simple and less sophisticated but more effective which is the most important thing when we talk about posters. Because British army was voluntary these posters advertised war many different ways. They used symbols to make their messages stronger and more effective. The interesting thing about symbols is that they don’t work in any context. Visual language is the same as spoken language, it isn’t universal. Symbols mean different things in different countries. One of the British war posters used a famous, powerful man to advertise war, but the face of that man wouldn’t mean anything for people in other counties.

Nowadays posters are more international I think but obviously not all of them. The message to sell a BMW can be universal but when it comes to M&S it is totally different. I remember a TV advert which was about how many things M&S did for British women, like invented ready meals. In my country it would sound hilarious. Why would you buy your food in a plastic box, put it into a microwave and eat it on your own or serve it to your family. First of all for me food has energy which comes from the fresh ingredients, from the people who made it and I wouldn’t put my food into a microwave because it ruins everything in it ( I think the last one is just me). Of course if the aim is to fill the hole it’s a perfect solution. But then why are we sleeping in a bed and not on the floor? Because that’s very uncomfortable such as fast food for our body. Of course we can’t feel it immediately but after a decade or two. There are other easy options for today’s busy housewives like get a take away, order a pizza or go to a restaurant. It’s all about time saving, isn’t it?

I used to study mass media during high school and I remember my teacher told us something about today’s adverts. She said men made up the image of the perfect female body to avenge on women because they wanted to be equal. And if you think about it I’m really not sure women’s life get any better since the suffrage. It’s totally different though. On posters and from telly we know we have to be perfect looking. I went home (Hungary) for two weeks in the summer and we went for a canoe tour for a couple days with my friends. We spent the nights beside the river tenting and I met with two countryside girls. One of them was wearing a short and she had hairy legs. I realised that I haven’t seen such a thing in the capital for ages ago. Nobody would wear a skirt or a short with hairy legs. I actually have nightmares about me going to the beach and my legs are hairy. And I know I’m not the only one. We just not allowed to do that even if it’s 35 °C which is normal in Hungary during the summer. If you go to Budapest everybody has perfect legs like on the posters. Maybe not the old ladies but everybody else. But that’s just a very basic thing. Because women on those posters are really perfect it makes you feel very bad about yourself and you will end up having plastic surgery. Well, that’s a bit extreme but definitely exits. Females spend too much time and money on their appearance and if they can’t reach their aim they feel bad about themselves.

The other thing is that we have the right to work since we are equal. So we have no time to cook and be with our family which means we have to buy ready meals, hire a cleaner and let our family fall apart. Because I think that also would be a woman’s role to keep the family together. There are families in these modern days which never sit down for a tea at the end of the day or even every week but maybe at Christmas. So thanks for M&S we can be free. But we are losing the pleasure to serve healthy food for our family, spend quality time with our kids and enjoy the peace and love surrounded by our relatives.

Although it probably seems like I want to spend my life in the kitchen under the direction of my husband but that’s not the thing. I am very happy being equal and free I just feel sorry for females who think they are free but they are actually brainwashed. Who do you dress up for and spend ages in the bathroom doing your hair and makeup? For men! For what do you spend a part of the money you earn with hard work? For buy cloth, beauty products and a lot of chocolate to keep you happy because you have no time for real happiness. I mentioned this before but I still think that wealth is not equal with contentment. Just have a think about your life and don’t let adverts tell you what to do. 

Assignment 3

I was trying to look at resources about interactive/visual research techniques mainly used for research customers’ taste in terms of aesthetics or design.

Ben-Amos, P 1989, ‘African Visual Arts from a Social Perspective’, African Studies Review, Vol. 32, No. 2 pp. 1-53

This article seems interesting because it concentrates on the meaning of art, the relationships between art, society and culture and how they affect each other. It contains two essays both research people’s visual preferences about sculptures. They try to find out more about the society and the culture by analyzing the answers. Although it isn’t a recent article it shows two different ways of thinking and analyzing. It could be interesting.

Zukin, S, Smith Maguire, J 2004, ‘Consumers and Consumption’, Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 30 pp. 173-197

This article also seems interesting but it’s more about consuming which doesn’t relate that much to my subject. It tries to understand how and why people learn to consume in the 21 century and researches the different types of shoppers. Why they become addicted to shopping and what their aims are during shopping.

Cauter, T 1952, ‘"Organization of a Statistical Department": Some Details of a Market Research Agency’, The Incorporated Statistician, Vol. 3, No. 3 pp. 37-54

This article is about the different ways of market research but it’s from the 50’s and it analyses the traditional ways of market research. I’m more interested in new ways so I keep looking.

Fine, G A 1992, ‘The Culture of Production: Aesthetic Choices and Constraints in Culinary Work’, The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 97, No. 5 pp. 1268-1294

The title of this article seemed interesting but it’s more about the role of workers in a management than about aesthetic choices of the customers.

Bogart, L 1957, ‘Opinion Research and Marketing’, The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 1, Anniversary Issue Devoted to Twenty Years of Public Opinion Research pp. 129-140

Another article from the 50’s but this one seems interesting enough to have a closer look at it. It’ about market and opinion research by using the tools of social sciences and other ‘new’ techniques.

Gimlin, D 1996, ‘Pamela's Place: Power and Negotiation in the Hair Salon’, Gender and Society, Vol. 10, No. 5 pp. 505-526

Although this article isn’t a recent one it looks very interesting because it’s about the personal relationship between hairdressers/stylists and their customers. It also analyses female’s idea about beauty and what has an effect on that.

Poggenpohl, Helmer, S 2002, ‘Cultivating an interest in design research’, Visible Language, vol. 36, pt. 3,  pp. 246-53

This article is recent enough and analyses a topic what finally really relates to my topic. It’s about the importance of design research and the main factors which help to develop new research techniques.

 My favorite websites:

A link to the tutorial of web research.

Search for makers by name, technique, material, object, etc.

Free online books.

Everything about colour and composition.

Design History research.

An interesting magazine website either for research or just be informed, inspired.

Fresh, innovative works from design graduates. Originally an annual exhibition.

Artists’ blogs and articles.



Design collections.

Nice collections.

My favorite design site for inspiration.


Lecture 12/11/10

This week lecture’s topic was Craft & Forms of Capital held by Hamid van Katen lecturer and researcher at University of Dundee. We had a lecture with him last year about sustainable design and I found his work very interesting. This lecture was more about the differences between art and craft and the role of craft people in nowadays’ society.
His first thought summarised the biggest difference between art and craft. Art projects something for the outside world which wasn’t there before by using imagination. Craft emphasises on functionality and using a set of skills to create. But it’s really hard to set up boundaries between the two things. You can have a set of skills it doesn’t mean you can’t use your imagination to create something new. And artists usually use their skills to express their imagination. They learnt how to paint or draw. Obviously they can be artist without those skills but you can’t knit a jumper without having the skills to do that. Probably the only reason we need to figure out under which category are we belong to is business cards and our website or blog. We have to write down our profession a couple times. I don’t think this is very important if we do that on a professional level.
But what about designers? Contemporary designers usually design which is an artistic method and then make the product which is craft. So you really can’t separate these things. As we found out from this lecture the first person who industrialised a craft was Josiah Wedgwood. He was a son of a potter but after he lost his right leg he couldn’t do pottery any longer. He started to research and invented new glazes and techniques. Then he built a factory and introduced what later became known as "division of labour". He subdivided all the skills of the potter (mixing, shaping, firing and glazing) and allocated each job to a specialist worker. This system devalued craft people to workers. He employed designers to do the creative part of the job and he made craft people do the rest of it. In factories it’s still the same but today’s designers or contemporary craft people resist against mass production. It makes their product more personal and unique but also more expensive. It has to be a lot of effort to sell their products until they become well known. Mass production is much more popular nowadays because it makes consuming quicker and easier.
“Humans are tool making animals”
The other part of the lecture was about the function of craft in people life. We always aim to make things more beautiful and special around us. We also want to make ourselves prettier and unique. There are jewellery artefacts from 70 000 BC so people always been the same, we try to express our personality to other people and make a statement. But craft used to have other functions too. For example Zuni pots from southwest America were maintaining their culture through pictures. Zuni pottery tells stories about their everyday life and they also could be prayers for damp earth, plenty crops, etc.
There was another very important function of craft which was associated with trade. During the early times people made jewelleries out of shells, pottery or anything hand crafted and then they exchanged them to something else. At first time it wasn’t even necessarily an equal exchange. It was more about building up a social network. It was similar then we use Facebook nowadays. They had a face to face regular contact with each other during making their goods together and then exchange them. People were more equal. Even their houses were very similar only the decoration made the chief’s look more expensive. But if we have a look at today’s China and their huge factories we instantly recognise the difference. People there are very rich or very poor. In a factory everything is about money, very small amount for the workers and a huge amount for the owners.
Factories devalued craft but they give us cheap products. We also buy services so things had been done for us. We don’t have to cook, grow fruits and vegetables or even walk if we don’t want to. So who cares about what’s the price of it. We pay with our planet and our own health. We are totally spoilt.
Our lecturer made another good point what I was always wondering about. Poorest countries with their proper social network, face to face relationships and being accordance with nature are much happier societies. I’ve done some research and it’s not clean-cut to be honest but the richest countries are definitely not the happiest ones. I also read a  forum about this and it seems to be that poorest countries has much stronger relationships and instead of go window shopping or to the Mc Donald’s they are chatting with each other a lot, they have love and peace. Meanwhile we are working hard for money what we don’t actually need a lot of.
Relationships are very important in a society and in trade as well. Shopping centres ruin everything. I believe that we need more small shops and face to face contact between makers and buyers. If you want to make someone happy you have to make a product personally for him/her. So you have to know something about the customer to satisfy his/her demands. Just like when you give a hand-made present for your relative and it means much more. Christmas should be about presents like this. But we are too busy to make or find the small perfect gifts for our loved ones because we spend our time to work for money. So we will end up buying presents for £100 each for Christmas to show our love. This is probably the best way to make Christmas meaningless. But companies work hard to wash our brain it’s just a shame that we let it happen.


Assignment 2


Because nobody else has chosen the same chapter as I have I had to join in to an other brainstorming group. So I did Law of the few - Connectors.


It spread out so quickly so an A/2 sheet wasn't enough. I separated it into three parts to make it more understandable.


Lecture 05/11/10

Today’s lecture was delivered by Hazel White director of the Master of Design Programme and a jewellery researcher. She focuses on the meaning and function of jewellery. Most of her research concentrates on wearable technology. She made a very good point at the beginning of the lecture about the difference between analogue and digital object. She has shown a picture of a pray counter and it was obvious how to use it even we never used it before. The knot means we done a whole circle. On the next picture there was a digital pray counter. Two little plastic objects one with a couple of buttons on it. We probably couldn’t use it unless we spent some time reading the directions for use. So basically something’s lost in terms of meaning with the digital one.
She was working on several different projects how to use digital technology in the field of jewellery. To be honest I didn’t find them wearable and useful but they were very interesting and I could totally imagine any of them in a museum. Maybe it’s just me afraid being too dependent on computers but for me there’s no need to have a projection of my ring on a computer screen. But later on during the lecture she showed us one of her latest projects and I realised how important it is in design to do the journey to get somewhere. It was a nicely made old fashion wooden box with little knitted pincushions in it and with a wee screen inside. I found it a perfect design because it was the latest technology displayed in a way which was homey and it made it easy to use for anybody. Her original idea was to make a jewellery to remember a Shetland home. She is originally from Shetland Island but obviously she couldn’t work there. So she has to live far away from her home and her family. And she’s not the only one who had to leave because of lack of jobs. So she went back and started her research. Shetland is a particular community mainly lived by older people. They really enjoy knitting because it creates a social space where they can talk to each other freely. They usually use two colours to make the pattern which is almost like a computer code. She also went to care homes and realized although people have the latest technology around them they don’t know how to use it so they don’t use it.  She put all these information together and came up with a brilliant idea.
Her wooden box has an iPhone inside but you can see only the screen of it. Each pincushion has different pattern and they belong to different people. When you put a cushion into the box it starts displaying the person’s latest photographs from the internet. So even if you give it to a child or a granny they obviously can use it. So it solved the problem of the lost information between analogue and digital technology.
I found this lecture particularly interesting because it wasn’t about how to get rich quickly but about how to help other people with your knowledge. Or if you don’t have the skill to do something you came up with you can always ask for other people’s help. She mentioned a couple other projects she’s working on with her master students. I found them very inspirational. For example to design a software for mute people and they can design their unique voice. Previously they all had the same voice in the classroom. If someone designing the smell of Starbucks’s it would be obvious to design different voices for mute people but nobody else did. So I learnt a lot how to use our skills and the latest technologies to help people, improve their environment and their quality of life.