Professional Practice V – Smart Textiles

This session was about smart textiles. We watched a 46 minutes video, that I’ve already seen years ago but not fully understood. I found myself in this session looking at a totally new video. The two years and a half spent in this university has given me multiple elements to understand the language and the mindset used to approach this thematic and I really hope I will find myself in a position to materially work with these kind of materials.

Part of the research I started in Pinterest:

IG Design Group Feedback on Final Collection

Final Collection Show:Final Collection Show.jpg

Details:

I didn’t expect to enjoy stationery as much as I did. In terms of researching the target market and client, the process of creating the mood boards seemed to be the same as for other categories. There are some aspects to consider more in detail such as scale and thickness of paper. To imagine how a certain motif would sit on a gift wrap, a tag or printed on a note book. And also consider the substrate the design is going to be printed on, in my case a good quality paper for a high end market, but still flexible enough to perfectly wrap a gift. Because of my chosen market I also considered my gift paper to be double side printed for additional value. As an unexpected effect I coated my paper clips with a fluorescent paint to glow in the dark. I am very happy about my collection and mostly because of the positive feedback received from the IG Design Group.

Final Collection:Collection A4.jpg

Feedback from IG Design Group. Positive Considerations:

  • Well considered Collection that fits into my theme and reflects my target market;
  • They liked the idea of the dual purpose of my Gift Tag used also as Book Mark;
  • Elegant and high end Cards, they appreciated the laser cut and velvet touch;
  • Interesting combination of ceramic and origami as bow;
  • Professionally presented collection
  • They liked my USP of the fluorescent paper clips
  • Original Theme that is also part of my USP

To improve and consider further:

  • The way I attach the ceramic bow to the ribbon. (I explained I considered to either attach it directly to a gift box/bag or to the ribbon through a couple of holes in the ceramic bow. In this case the customer can easily change the ribbon provided with another one of its preference);
  • Generally it is enough to have 6 designs for a collection. (I had 9 and even more experimental ones that ended up in the technical file. I was a little surprised because not everybody had this consideration even though they had more designs than me);
  • When using Fonts, in this case on the greeting card, consider highlighting some words by increasing the scale or use a different font. (Very good point);
  • All my designs are quite complex, I could consider simplifying a couple of my coordinates in order for the main ones to stand out even more.

This live brief, that involved IG Design Group Company as external to the University, made me also realise how different the approach towards our designs have been from people working in the industry and the academic staff.  For example I coloured some of my terracotta ceramic stars while leaving some others in their natural colour to highlight the process and the earthy/organic feel that is a minor part of my theme. It was really interesting to see that while this is appreciated by the academic staff, the industry feedback was to colour them all. An important experience that made me realise this distinction and how the application of the designs are different depending on who evaluates them. This had been a journey I definitely enjoyed a lot.

Talk – ‘Laugh’

The Laugh Project is a project based on Compassionate Design – designing for people living with advanced dementia with Prof. Cathy Treadaway.

Compassionate Design is a new approach in designing for people suffering from advanced form of dementia. The purpose is about creating an artefact that can bring some joy and comfort to the patients. They don’t like to call them toys but playful object. The word play implies a goal to that action, when handling for example a ball there is much more involved with it, there is a process going on in relation to the object, but not a goal. The playful object has an arduino device integrated capable of sound and much more that leaves space to personalization, which is crucial since every patient is different and with different needs. Indeed, dementia has 100 different forms and it is very difficult to deal with someone affected by it. Very often the patients are not capable to communicate. In this case it is important to bring together and involve the family, friends, or when they are not available, the carers, to provide some information about those things that could improve the life of the patient.

The launched the project with an article in the Journal of DementiaCare. Their first patient was Thelma, 93 years, going through a difficult moment in her life, not talking or eating much. The carers of the care home didn’t think there was much left to do for her but prof Cathy and her team decided that she would make a perfect candidate for the same reasons. They made a puppet of the size of an one year old child, with long arms and legs able to surround her in a Hug and integrated a device that would play her favourite music. It would also feature a ‘heart’, a small device that would act like a little vibrator that gives the sensation of a beating heart, very calming. Back then she wasn’t opening her eyes or talking anymore but she responded positively to the puppet by nested her head in its cosy fabric. Sometimes it is difficult to understand what people with dementia actually feel or think. With Thelma though they saw a strong reaction when they tried to take the puppet away, she just started crying. The next week she opened her eyes and talked 2 words. The next week she started eating more and in 4 months she was more able to use her hands. Thelma lived 9 months after meeting ‘Hug’ the puppet. The carers were amazed by the improvement of the quality of her life and admitted that Thelma had become a different person than what they knew. Her experience made the Laugh Project Team confident that they could improve other patient’s quality of life too so they went on with it finding other patients to work with and they also received funding for further research. People with the disease tend to stop socialising, and this puppet proved to be valuable.

They worked afterwords with 7 patients, selected after consulting with the carers of a care home, that would be in a more difficult situation such as being alone, without family or friends to go find them. Memory, prof. Cathy explains, is retained even during the disease so the connections with the outside world is still present. Things like crafting, games and having fun, being playful are very helpful and proved to improve patient’s quality of life, both physically and mentally. The Team also run workshops asking people affected by dementia what it is for them having fun or have importance to them and they came up with 6 important things finding a patient to put each one in practice:

  1. Nurturing – It is caring for something or someone, look after them and also being looked after. A research gave some pot plants to some patients but not  to others. The ones given a pot lived longer;
  2. Movement – If you can not move, finding small ones is important. They worked on this problem on a patient that used to enjoy cars very much but now was in a wheelchair. The Team created a wheel shaped object and integrated some interactive features as a small vibrator and it would also play the music he liked. The carers never saw David so interactive;
  3. Security – This lady loved jewellery so the Team made some jewellery that she could interact with. Among other things, it had some shells on it and the lady started speaking ‘I used to love going to the beach’, after many days she wouldn’t say a word;
  4. They did an old style telephone spoke Spanish and they put Spanish music on it to play too. In a short period of time the other patients got enthusiastic and since the majority was welsh they decided to put welsh music as well;
  5. Attention (started as distraction but it was too negative). They did little balls representing smiley faces that when you shake make the laughter of children. The response to them. Some people found them scary. The carers found them amazing and saw the positive aspect of it. This showed how an item it is important of being personalised. The design has to be appropriate for the patient
  6. Purposeful For a person with dementia is enough small things. Gordon was a sailor, so they made a wood product but nothing made him happy. After some failed attempts they created Luma, an interactive cylindrical design with an inner ring across it that by moving it on the right and left from the centre would sing birds voices and the laser cut birds on it would change colour.

Laugh project

And also won an Award for it:Laugh project 2They work closely with a neurologist to see what happens in the brain of the patient during an MRI before and after their interaction with the playful object designed for them. They also started a collaboration with Men’s Shed from Brigent and Squirrel’s Nest, experts capable to contribute in the manufacture of the artefacts. A productive collaboration that they hope not only to continue but also to expand by bringing other people around the table.

The project was initially and still is based around care homes but they are looking into   expanding in the private area as well in the future.  The challenge and their aim for the next 2 years is to make affordable products. She concludes affirming that the NHS would save money if patients affected by dementia would improve the quality of their lives. Patients would be more in control, fall less and would make save money on the insurance. There is a big problem called dementia and a need for carers to be educated. A need to train them, to help them understand the project and the playful objects otherwise having an object like this put on a table or a shelve by itself would just stay there unused. In society we value work but we should do the same with playfulness because this is what keeps us healthy.

The seminar was informative and very touching. I discovered dementia to be a problem that it is affecting many families and I wasn’t aware about. Not at this level anyway. I knew about Alzheimer but I was surprised about it to be just one of the forms of dementia. I think that what affected me the most was learning that there are many old people in care homes without a family, left alone to deal with such a difficult disease that takes away the joy of living. One of the main reasons, I suppose, the research came to life in the first place. I am always surprised by all the initiatives people have in helping others and the University that is open to share them, creating awareness among students about so many topics.

Pattern Collection Research with Sian

Sian’t talk about how we put together a collection was very useful . I actually wish we had it as part of our first year modules, I feel it could have benefited me and improved my practice. In fact it was the first time I came across the terminology of ‘Hero Design’ for the main design, Secondary design and ‘Blender Design’ for the coordinates.

  • Hero Design – is the main design that incorporates all or most of the elements and motifs of our collection
  • Secondary Pattern – is a less elaborated pattern than the hero. Normally it is composed by some elements of the hero design rearranged in a new layout
  • Blender Design – is the simplest design of the collection. It is normally composed by one or two simple motifs, (or part of them) of the secondary or main design

To create a successful collection there are some important consideration to be made such as:

  •  balance
  • negative space
  • direction
  • scale
  • layout
  • variety of motifs

While most  characteristics can be nowadays applied to each area in the same way, there are some things to consider when specifically designing for a certain subject area, such as stationery, fashion or interior. An important example concerns the direction of the motifs on the surface we design on. A rigid-like unidirectional pattern would be mostly considered for wallpaper or stationery while it would be more difficult to deal with in the fashion industry where everybody involved in manipulating the fabric would always have to pay extra attention to the exact direction of the pattern when creating the garment.

An important aspect to consider when designing is having a wide range of motifs to chose from. This will help chose the most appropriate ones to create the ‘more visible’ part of our collection. There are times when only these motifs are enough to create a successful design with just a flat background chosen from the colour palette. More often it is important to add that extra texture or motifs that can give the background more interest and the whole design dept. This can be created with motifs or mark making, or a combination of both. Mark making it is also key in developing a personal and distinguishable style. As it can be a certain way of designing the motifs or a certain choice of colour palette.

The first and fundamental step in developing a successful collection remains the Research. Given one or more of the elements, it is what defines the rest of the Theme, Client, Colour Palette, Market and Competitors. All of which can then be easily assembled into one or multiple Moodboards that will help us stick to our chosen path every step of the way in developing our collection.

We received a task to research into various collections and so I did, finding many inspiring designs and useful information:

Work In Progress and Workshops and Techniques for Stationery Project

After finalising the Moodboards and experimenting with some initial sketches I programmed some workshops to widen my skills. I kind of started a little bit backwards but I felt the needed to expand my skills set and be inspired by new techniques that I could use in my collection.

  • I did a Paper Making workshop which was interesting and I loved getting my hands dirty during the process. We used off cuts of paper thrown away by students around the school in the paper bins. I loved the idea of up-cycling scraps of paper to make new sheets, just by adding some PVC glue and water. Somebody during the workshop also decided to add smashed cookies so we ended up having scented paper. I also started thinking of all possible things to add such as dried leaves, paint, essential oils etc.paper making work in progr.jpg

I then went back to my Moodboards, especially the Mood board and Client board and considered the hand made paper not to be in line with feel I wanted to give to my collection. I realised I wanted it to have a more neat and professional look so I decided not to integrate it.

  • For my cards I started thinking about Embossed Paper. In line with the look of m collection I wanted to give a 3D effect and really liked the final results. I embossed on a 200gsm cotton Fabriano paper that gives better results for this technique. I then decided to highlight the embossed part with some metallic embossing but this has cancelled the embossed effect of the paper. I realised that the proper process would have been to first print my design and then emboss the paper, adding maybe just some metallic highlight here and there. However the time left wasn’t much so I decided to just add the samples to my technical file instead.embossed work ip.jpg
  • For the paper embossing I had to create Laser Cut stencils but after analysing them I also ended up using them for my final cards. It gave the 3D effect I was aiming for leaving me the flexibility to work on the stencil even after it has been cut.

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  • I did a couple of Ceramic workshops by the end of the last year and I thought it would go well with my high end market to have some ceramic hand made details, since my theme is all about connection. Connecting my organic shapes (woodland references and the berries that represent the atoms of every element) with the structure of the universe (interpreted in a geometrical way taking inspiration from the sacred geometry). I imagined it as an integral part of the bow and as ornament for paper clips.ceramic work ip.jpg
  • The Design Group suggested in their previous visit to play with Origami shapes, in line with my geometrical and 3D effect visual and so I did. I found some very interesting tutorials and decided to personalise them by using my own designs printed on both sides of the paper. In line with my Cosmos inspired theme I decided for the star shaped ones:
  • Through my research I tried to analysed in dept every aspect of the visual and tactile feel I wanted to embody in my designs and I definitely didn’t want to have only digital prints. In line with both the WGSN materials trend and my personal preferences and style I opted for Embossed Metallic details and Flock for a velvet, high end touch. The use of both in the same design also conveyed the interplay of light where one would absorb it while the other would reflect it, in line with the characteristics of my theme. I achieved the first effect with the embossing powder using a heat gun. I opted for this instead of foiling because of its embossed feel to the touch which is not present in foiling. I used flock for the same reason.foil embossing wip

Dr Who Costume Designer Lecture

To be totally honest I am not a fan of Doctor Who but when I found out it was about the costume design point of view I got very interested. Even though it might not apparently be of my direct interest I try to attend as many lectures and seminars I can because there are always important elements to take for own practice, strategies or just knowledge.

Ray Holman after designing for other TV programs such as Silk, Law and Order and other BBC dramas, is now Head Costume designer for Dr Who. He started talking about the series of events that led him where he is now, an important approach for those that are at the beginning of choosing a potential career. He went to College for a foundation year in the Welsh College of Drama. He then went to work in insurance that he hated, being a creative. He then realised he wanted to continue studying acting but his participation in various projects brought him to understand his strength laying in the costume and set design. After graduation he went to Birmingham to start a training, and laughing he was remembering that he would spend days learning even how to professionally iron a shirt. First as Assistant Designer, he started building step by step his path to costume designer for the TV industry. In his late 20, the BBC production couldn’t find a Costume Designer for a 30 part series drama so they assigned him the role. Without feeling ready for the job, his job was a success and finally started the career he wanted. He also talked about some important considerations:

  • He was never a very confident person, this led him to do a lot of research every step of the way in all his projects or in what he was interested in. For example for the creatures he researches about existing ones, the environment  it lives in, the influences, the era etc. and all have to match to the script. The same applies for a costume, even though here you also have to make the actor like it. You never stop learning and researching for new effects and techniques;
  • He never thought he would be able to do creatures and now, together with his assistant Simon, they are leading it. Take opportunities that come, and with research and some skills, yours or the group you work with, it will lead you to the end result. Creativity is important but researching it is even more.

It is a hardly competitive sector, for example for 1 trainee position they have around 400 applications. But it is also important to consider, and not everybody knows, that there are many other positions to apply for. Many series such as Dr Who or Game of Thrones work with different roles and skills. Craft in TV:

  • Sawing/Pattern cutting – Ray and Simon have the knowledge and the language to it but they don’t have the time to do it, they have to delegate;
  • Fabric Sampling – They, or more often a designated person, has to go everywhere to find fabric samples to use for the garments or set. Sometimes they find the perfect one but maybe they don’t have enough meters or might rise some other problems. Therefore they need somebody that can be 100% solving the issues;
  • Tailoring – It is a big part of Dr Who, for example. They work with the Savile Row for a more traditional work and with Soho for a more Modern approach while keeping the Savile Row standards. In Savile Row you can find companies that have their own patterns and are not willing to change them, not even in details. There is also a lot of specialisation such as somebody that only does button holes etc.
  • Millinery – They often work with the same company but when they are overloaded with work and cannot deliver in time for them they go to other companies that have worked already in the TV industry;
  • Shoe Making – Very important for the actors and their commodity while being aesthetically right for the the set;
  • Jewellery – important accessory that in some occasions need to be made to measure because of some characteristics needed;
  • Embellishment – Embroidery etc. ;
  • Dye – They have a lab but not all do
  • Breaking Down – Ageing textiles or products, make them seem old or consumed. A very researched skill especially because there a not many people doing it;
  • Fabric painting/printing – For example they took samples of fabrics from India of late 40s and they digitalised and printed. Issues are: different tones and look depending on fabric;
  • Knitting and Crochet
  • Shopping – As strange it might sound, it is a role and not a particularly easy one. The shopper has to find the right things needed and sometimes they are difficult to find.
  • Belt Making – They outsource it because often there is a need for a laser cutter they don’t have;
  •  Photography
  • Psychology
  • Accounting
  • People Managing
  • Costume Hire
  • Digital Printing/ 3D printing
  • Others

For example for the nature based costumes they looked into the environment described in the script using the elements present such as rocks, shaved alpacas, leaves (fake), twisted leather etc.

Professional Practice IV – Writing a CV – Part two

In the Career e-modules there is a section to look at for more information regarding how to write a Creative CV with examples and useful links: CV & Cover letters

We begun the session by starting to discuss about the different important points covered in the previous lecture about writing a CV:

  1. Visual Style – Important for a creative person but also important not to abuse it
  2. Cover Letter – No more than one side of an A4. Is an introduction of yourself that tells why do you want to work in that specific company. Why they should take you and how can you benefit them;
  3. The creative CV can reflect a mix of styles such as chronological, skill based and creative, but the most successful are the all in one;
  4. Length and content: it is good if the CV is 1 page but if it is not enough to give all the information, write no more than 2 pages;
  5. Straight to the point and clear, put bullet points for the reader. In average people look at a CV for a couple of seconds before deciding to take the next or read more;
  6. Education – it is important to describe what you gained from the Uni experience, #(summery of that)

We divided in bigger groups. Each group had to discuss on a potential CV preparation depending on the sector of interest to work for such as:

  • Work for a design Company while Freelancing (my group) I would be interested in gaining experience of the design sector by working for somebody either part time or full time. In the meantime I would love to test the market with my own style and designs as a freelancer.
  • Teaching
  • Working in the Movie/Theatre industry
  • Others

Work for a design Company while Freelancing, key elements of discussion:

  1. Search for potential Companies to work for and select the interested ones
  2. Write a Creative CV and cover letter to reflect that company: different design, typo, more accent to some motifs than others depending on the specific Company etc.
  3. Be on LinkedIn either for employment or as a Freelancer – build connections
  4. As a Freelancer it is important to have a Website/Blog that showcase your designs, description of who you are etc.
  5. Be active and constant on social media in general: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter etc.
  6. At least in the beginning I think it is important to contact some Agents that can represent you. It is a good way to get to know the market in a more secure way even though this means, at least in the beginning, less money due to the fee of the intermediate.

Fashion/Custom making:

  •  Talk about specific fashion related skills

Creative Cv:

  • Cad visual interior for your designs

Education:

  • Important to communicate skills in writing rather than visually
  • Important to highlight experience in this sector rather than other

Identity/Branding:

  • Important to have own font

People look for enthusiasm and skills but key is team work, look how you can highlight this

While the groups were brainstorming we also had the chance to discuss for some minute with Es about our own CV, for those who started it already. I was pleased to have a positive feedback for my initial draft, and I am planning on finishing it in the next weeks for a more in dept feedback from her.