Revisited Stationery Collection after last feedback from the IG Design Group

The feedback received from the IG Design Group was invaluable. Having an industry related approach in the critique of our work was really important to me to move from a purely experimental and artistic academic approach to a more marketable collection. I considered every point discussed both with them and the tutors and made my evaluations every step of the way through a balanced approach between the market, the brief and remaining true to my style.

  • The first important point to consider was the number of my designs. While this wasn’t a problem for other students, I understood it was for me because of the complexity of my designs. Having 9 complex designs gave a feel of dispersion. While analysing them with my tutor, I realised that some of them might even create a separate collection on their own.  So I cut the collection down to 6. I gave up on one of my main designs, the one I found to be less original and skilful. I kept all three of my secondary designs and I cut 2 of my Blenders. It was more difficult to let these two go since I personally liked them but having analysed the why I just saw them not belonging in the collection anymore. The result of this choice gave the unity I was looking for and it gave to each design more consideration than before:

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  •  In the process I realised I haven’t made my own ribbons even though I used an effective one for the collection. I found this to be a another good opportunity to experiment with various techniques. Since I was laser cutting various other things I asked myself why not laser cut a ribbon as well and so I did. I actually loved it after painting it. I then found myself among beads and payette in look for inspiration and started to hand embroider my second ribbon. I was a bit sceptic about whether it would also be appropriate for a male customer as well but the combination of copper beads with the black ribbon gave the balance between a more feminine technique and a more masculine/neutral colour. The angular designs of the constellations I represented did its job, while the transparency of the ribbon gave that elegant and sophisticated touch I was looking for. As for my laser cut ribbon, I wanted my embroidered ribbon to be double faced. In fact I worked on both sides  with the exception of the copper thread that connects the beads once on one side and once on the other for a more interesting effect. I found it more appealing to a high end market both as ribbon to wrap gifts or as handles for the gift bag. I combined copper and blue/violet colour for my third ribbon.Untitled-3I decided to use the ribbons on some of the gifts and also as handle of a gift bag but I also wanted to display them as a distinctive item so I laser cut some transparent plexi glass for the display, designing it based on my gift tags shape;
  • Another point was to slightly change the contrast of my secondary mustard berries design and eventually the blender berries to give more space to the main designs to show. This consideration though changed radically after refining the collection, interchanging the designs and making some colour balance considerations so I decided to leave them as they were. All the collection has come together harmonically and each design gave just that right amount of colour needed for the whole to be balanced;
  • I considered my bows and how they would be attached to the ribbon. Regarding to my ceramic star bows I decided to attache a handle underneath so a ribbon can easily pass through. This way the ceramic artefact can be reused as bow or as ornament. To my origami bows I attached a foam pad so it can be easily attached to a gift;

I wasn’t totally happy with my gift tags so I ended up with loads of experiments till I found the one that would satisfy me in dimension (not to big or too small considering that was also going to be used as book mark), in thickness of paper and details. Too much detail would create an imbalanced value and too less would not be considered for a high end market. I also opted mainly for the mustard secondary designs for the majority of my tags to create a pleasant effect with the quantity of this colour used in the hole collection. I also considered the back of the tag and rounded the corners.

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6. Since I did some laser cutting for my messages for the greeting cards, and had some spare ones, I decided (following a suggestion) to use them on their own as an added value to the collection. Customers would be able to purchase and apply them on their gifts, to give that little attention and sophistication more thus keeping in simple, just hand written words with a delicate copper metallic finish. I also considered the packaging which I laser cut on thick card after printing the background of my blender pattern on it. For the words I used 3mm mdf, light and strong enough to serve the purpose.

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USP – As by my presentation and feedback from the Design Group, I have multiple Usp points which makes the Collection unique:

  • such as my Fluoresent (glow in the dark) paper clips
  • my Theme which is an original interpretation of the earth and the cosmos through connections that are related to human connections as well as human and nature through organic and structured elements.
  • A dual purpose gift tag that can be used also as book mark
  • Ceramic bow that can be reused as bow or as ornament. The purpose, as well as for the gift tags and wrapping papers is to purchase something precious that can be kept or reused.
  • Not only a visual but also tactile  feel. For this I used embossing and flocking in my stationery collection, that reflects and absorbs light in line with my theme that involves Light.

To these I added:

  • Wood Greeting elements that can be purchased separately and attached to whatever gifts. It is for an all year round collection so considering the actual Christmas Holidays I decided to make some greeting tags for this occasion. This can be extended to Birthdays, San Valentines day and all other holidays through greetings that can give clients the opportunity to express their wishes to their loved ones.

Professional Practice VI – Fashion Marketing

The lecture with Jemma was about Branding. We partially discussed about it as did in the previous lecture with Sian, but this time we went more in depth regarding its creative features and more specifically, the ones of the fashion industry.

She started with the definition of branding, which is:

“A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark” (The American Marketing Association)

A Brand is much more than a just a LOGO, it is more than a NAME or the PRODUCT itself. It is actually all these together plus a substantial element, the emotional association that goes with it when we see the logo, the name or the product of that brand. Sometimes it is an irrational or intangible feel that goes with it because of the social environment, the political environment that was born or that led to its foundation. And this or other important factors can lead that brand to take on a symbolic meaning that goes beyond the product or service delivered.


Branding is important for multiple reasons:

  • It helps customers differentiate between the various offerings in a market.
  • It enables customers to make associations with certain attributes or feelings with a particular brand.
  • If this differentiation can be achieved and sustained, then a brand has a competitive advantage.
  • Successful brands create strong, positive and lasting impressions through their communications and associated psychological feelings and emotions, not just their functionality through use.

For further reference see Baines, P., Fill, C. and Page, K. (2011)

At the question ‘What do you think are the world’s most valuable brands?’, most of us wrote down almost the same names like Apple (first on the list, it’s worth 184.154 $m), Google, Coca Cola, Amazon etc. This list is updated on an yearly basis including mainly technology related (part of the market that has more revenue and is constantly growing – to consider when setting up a business)

A successful Brand should be:

  • Compelling
  • Appealing
  • Relevant
  • and have a lifetime potential

The Concept in its ideation reflects through:

  • Name
  • Country of origin
  • History
  • Story
  • Visual image
  • Logo
  • Colours
  • Shapes
  • Language

As all lectures, I found this one very interesting. You can always get something useful from each. It is also very helpful when going over the same subject from different points of view. Hearing the same elements from different people helps me distinguish the most important characteristics from the less relevant information out there so I can make a better choice of how to prioritise when creating my own brand. Because branding is a process.

Ideas for Fabric Collection

I considered many combination for my chosen two designs for the Fabric Collection. After designing for interior and stationery, I now decided to design for Fashion to widen my understanding of the marketplace and experiment with all categories. I plan on print my designs digitally and apply further print/stitch/laser cut techniques. Ideally I will be collaborating with a Fashion Design Student to help interpret my designs from a fashion point of view. I plan to deliver, besides the two fabric samples required, also an A3 sketch of a model wearing the garment I imagined for my fabrics. Time permitting, both mine and of my fashion design colleague’s, I would love to make the final garment in real size or on the mini mannequins from the Fashion Design Course.

The first option is one of my two Main with a secondary. I would print them both digitally.

  • I would hand embroider on the main one on the veins connecting the berries, and here and there inside the single berries. I would then add french knots on the background and on some berries with a metallic thread. In addition or as an alternative I would use flocking on the black berries;
  • I would use the Devore Technique on my secondary patterns by applying it to the white berries or in alternative to laser cut the white berries, placing behind them an organza fabric.


The Second Option sees together one of my secondary patterns and a coordinate. I would digitally print them

  • I would then work on my main by hand stitching black leatherette strips along the lines of me sacred geometry pattern;
  • I would use red hand stitching along the red triangles and adding some red, consumed effect foiling spots.


The Third Option as well starts with digitally printed designs. I would combine either my main with my red coordinate or with the purple secondary design

  • I would use foiling on my triangular background grid and leatherette stripes on part of the dark squares;
  • I would use red hand stitching along the red triangles and adding some red, consumed effect foiling spots;
  • I would then work on my main by hand stitching black leatherette strips along the lines of me sacred geometry pattern.


My Final Choice is the combination of my main berries and the red coordinate:

  • I imagine my berries printed digitally in large scale where the biggest berry is as large as the palm of a hand. I would hand embroider on the main one on the veins connecting the berries, and here and there inside the single berries. I would then add french knots on the background and on some berries with a metallic thread. In addition or as an alternative I would use flocking on the black berries;
  • I will digitally print my coordinate and probably leave it this way without additional work so it can fit properly with my more sophisticated main design.4.jpg




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


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: