Saturday, 27 February 2010



My experiences of design

From an early age I was introduced to art and an appreciation for design. I was taken to museums all round the world and was regularly taken to the most stylish country of the time (Italy) on holiday for a number of years. During these times and ever since I have slowly formed ideas and beliefs about what design is for me and what it should fundamentally answer. The things I have realised have come to a head in the last decade through my experiences designing and making furniture for exhibitions in London through to co-creating Hoffi which produces brands for a wide variety of clients.

I am going to try and break down my understanding of design and how it has evolved in a very simple bulletpoint list.

• design was to make something look good
• design should answer a need (but a general commercial (western) one)
• design should be eco (yet feel separated from design)
• introduced to service design and universal design principles (didn't quite get it)
• design should incorporate eco and design together (following simple reduce, reuse recycle principle)
• design should aim to create products that are responsible (have a life cycle journey, cradle to cradle)
• eco design and so as a whole design seem to be irrelevant if we can't change people's ways of using/living etc
• social design is a broad name but seems to be the true design of the future

While a world wind tour of my thoughts I feel it sums most things up for me currently, and there are many reasons for this. The eco design sector and the growth of accreditation in this area firstly disrupts my thought process as there are so many different ways to be eco, so many perspectives so many avenues to cover. I always remember my first experience of being asked about my furniture at an exhibition about how environmentally friendly it was, where the screws had come from etc. Back then I was a bit naive and was struggling to come up with any answers. It was only until a few days later that I had the answers in my head that I felt would correct. The truth was I personally hand crafted my furniture with my father. I bought the wood from a local timber merchants. Granted the screws were not sourced in an eco way but then I look again at the product and it's quality. I believe it is made to last and will age well.

On the other hand do I as a small designer maker ever have the true ability to create products that are eco? What I mean by this, is can I control every aspect of this being such a small company? Equally within Hoffi as a small design agency how can we be sure that we can cause change and be sure the change we are making is the right type?

In short the answer is 'social' sometimes being a mixture of design thinking, service design, eco design. Social design allows an overarching look at how things work and function. It is not a new discipline but I believe it is something that you come to as you develop as a designer. It seems to be the logical progression due in part to frustration through the lack of control of projects and indeed how things work. Films like 'An Inconvenient Truth' have helped to raise awareness on environmental issues and the principle of AL Gore traveling city by city person by person to spread the word is a fantastic goal. Social design works in a similar way but from a different angle allowing for discussion and conversation to create changes that will be sustainable within the community in question.

Friday, 19 February 2010

The critical mass or 'tipping point' of a vibrant Cardiff.

Save for three years in university and a stint travelling I have called Cardiff my home. It is only in the last two years or so that I feel like I have found out about Cardiff.

Initially this may seem a bit odd maybe I was just lazy, so I will delve deeper. For a few years now Cardiff has nurtured and seemed to encourage small enterprising businesses to set up shop in the heart and/or outskirts of Cardiff. Companies such as beatbox bars who have opened buffalo bar, 10 feet tall and more recently mr smiths. Or the group that for many years has been responsible for secret carnival, milgi and the newly opened Cardiff Arts Institute. All follow from an older tradition based in the canton area called CHAPTER. This is where my thinking begins. With a question of now the newly developed CHAPTER has become newly refurbished with more space and perhaps a perceived establishment?

While this could be seen as a negative I feel it could be the next stage in the development of Cardiff and it's ability to develop genuine authentic and new creative hubs and works that are no longer in the shadow of other larger cities. With the recent launch of National Theatre Wales the city has gained another asset that can only add to this mass.

I therefore am wondering whether the generation that are now in their mid twenties through to mid thirties are becoming Doers? sick of 'waiting' for funding or things to move on, instead they are actually doing things themselves. This is a personal account of things and something I am hopefully going to flesh out in the next year or so.

Change on the bus

OK this may be a well known fact, but having lived in Cardiff for many years I was shocked by the latest bit of knowledge I gained a few weeks ago. As most visitors or infrequent public transport users have experienced. Cardiff Bus seems to be one of the only transport companies that doesn't give change. So if the fare is £1.50 and you have £2 then you lose the 50p. That is until now? well not really sure when it happened. Around two weeks ago I was getting onto a number 6 Bay bus consigned to losing a pound as I had two £2 coins and wanted a day to go. Head down already late I pop the coins into the slot when the driver asks me a question. I don't really hear him at first, then after a Pardon? he repeats these words: Do you want a change voucher for that?

I immediately react with yes please slightly quicker than you would normally answer as the excitement is too much. I am informed that I have to take the voucher to Wood Street to get my money back. A very happy smile on my face...

change at last

change at last

Thursday, 4 February 2010

DBA - the edge