Tag Archive | inspiration

Things I’ve been looking at.


Border Crossed (almost)

This is it. Semester 2 of my first year at DJCAD is nearly over. I almost can’t believe it.

The first half of this Border Crossings project asked us to pick an aspect of our identities and use it as inspiration. I had a bit of trouble with this, but eventually settled on traditional crafts, mainly knitting and origami. These are things that I find very therapeutic – I like the repetitive nature of these crafts and I really enjoy that you can follow a set of instructions and come away with one defined outcome. The second part of the project asked us to research an aspect of Slovenian culture to take inspiration from. Živa, a Slovenian student I was grouped with, pointed me in the direction of  Idrija lace, which is native to the Idrija region of Slovenia and dates back to the 16th century. The lace is really beautiful, and often full of traditional motifs.
I have found this project very challenging, but nevertheless here’s a wee look at my final presentation boards.

Project 1 and 2:

Project 3:

Feel free to click the images to see them bigger, and please let me know what you think!

Border Crossings sketchbook…

…or “I don’t like slide shows so I hope your scrollin’ hand isn’t tired.”

I’ve had a bit of a difficult time with this new module. It’s based around the concept of identity – personal identity, cultural identity, our identities as designers within our specialisms. This is a lot to think about!

I struggled to think of things relating to my identity that I could actually draw. I mind-mapped things like my family relationships and my personality traits, but those things aren’t exactly drawable. Now, I love me some traditional crafts – knitting, crochet, origami, sewing, bookbinding (not something I do a lot, but I took a 6 week class at the DCA once – very recommended!). I find these things quite therapeutic – the repetition and the thought of following steps to reach a desired outcome is very reassuring to me, somehow. So I decided to focus on that.

Also, in relation to my cultural identity, I’m Dundonian through and through, so I looked initially at maps of Dundee and the surrounding area, our railway bridge history (oh hay William McGonagall), and our textile heritage (jute everywhere!). I’d also like to bring more aspects of “Scottishness” into my sketchbook, although I have found myself falling into the trap of Scotland being all tartan all the time.


Cube houses. Image from all-that-is-interesting.com

Source: all-that-is-interesting.com

Although they’ve been around since the 1970s, I’ve only just recently learned of the existence of these cube houses, designed by Piet Blom. They’re very beautiful to look at, and I’d love to step inside one and have a look around, but can we really call it good design if a quarter of the building’s 100mspace is unusable?

Design thinking.

I really enjoyed hearing from Dougie Kinnear (a recent DJCAD jewellery and metalwork graduate who is currently in the Masters programme) on Friday, in our Change by Design lecture. I saw Dougie’s work at DJCAD’s last degree show, and it was great to actually hear him talk about it, and about himself. I really appreciated what he said about being very blinkered in his approach to his course – he was very focussed on jewellery, and making, so much so that he felt his design studies lectures were a bit pointless, or at least he found it difficult to apply them to his specialism and way of working. He said he felt like the lectures were designed to turn him into a product designer, which I suppose is understandable.

I have really enjoyed Change by Design so far, and I have enjoyed having the opportunity to step away from sketchbooks and textiles, and to think differently. I sometimes do find it a bit difficult, though, to relate these “think big” lectures to myself  – when you spend the majority of your week with your nose in a sketchbook, concentrating on just drawing or making things that look pretty, sometimes that message can get lost. I think so, anyway!

I really enjoyed Mike Press’s lecture, I think, because of this. He spoke about Josiah Wedgwood who, it turns out, was an incredibly influential man, not just when it comes to pottery, but also in terms of mass production, industrialisation, transport innovation, and the abolition of slavery! “He just wanted to make cups and saucers,” Mike told us, but rather than just “being a potter”, Wedgwood worked to change many areas of society. In order to just make cups and saucers, he had to create a way to mass produce them efficiently, introducing “division of labour” into his factories, and building a village for his workers. He had to find an efficient way to transport his raw materials and finished goods, so he became influential in the building of the Trent & Mersey canal. I think it’s safe to say that Josiah Wedgwood had his “design thinking” hat on!

Words to live by: Stay hungry, stay foolish; don’t be a horse, be a sponge; put the “ing” in “thing”!

Euthanasia Coaster

I read this article, “Suicide by roller coaster”, the other day and I really can’t stop thinking about it. It’s such an odd and interesting idea – a euthanasia roller coaster – and I wonder what led the designer, Julijonas Urbonas, to invent such a thing.

In response to a comment on his video, Urbonas says:

Please note that this macabre insight was made in and for the context of the exhibition “Human+” which speculated upon the future of humans. In that case the coaster is a sci-fi black humour. Originally this dystopian insight was inspired by a few sci-fi stories such as Kurt Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House” where euthanasia is a citizen’s patriotic duty, and the movies like “Soylent Green,” “Children of Men.” Thus the coaster could be also seen as a tangible design interpretation or equivalent to the literary versions of the euthanasia machines found in these stories.

I’m actually finding it quite difficult to convey what I think about this – I love dystopian stories and novels like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Fahrenheit 451, and films like Soylent Green and Logan’s Run (I must find a copy of the novel some day), so maybe that’s why this idea has captivated me so strongly!