Part 3 Reflections


         Important Information

         Turning-point Information

Wednesday February 8, 2017

Today we had to attend a Unit 7 Introductory Lecture, where we would be introduced the first part of our project. I hadn't been in school for a while, so it was refreshing to see everyone's faces. Prior to coming in, I looked online at the requirements and steps for unit 7, and I was quite honestly quite overwhelmed. 

I thought about what I wanted my theme to be, and two major questions arose. Did I want to concentrate on a theme pertaining to my daily activities like cooking, cleaning, eating ect.? Or, did I want to choose a theme that I was deeply passionate about, but I never got the chance to do? So I was thinking about that during the lecture, and I was slowly but surely freaking out. Kathleen also said to think solely of the theme, not of ideas of products to create because that would block your creativity and everything. 

For tomorrow, we have to come up with two themes and write 250 words about them, which I am doing now. I thought about it really hard on the way home, and I spoke to my mother as well when we were skyping. I decided to take the passion route because I honestly think it will yield more results. In the long run of my Design career, I want to work on projects that are more than just creating a new tool for the kitchen. I loved working on our projects in the past that had to do with bigger issues than dirty dishes (Although I do understand how those help people as well). For the two themes, I chose "Relax!" and "A Need For Nature". I will put a picture below of what I wrote for those. I am honestly not very happy with them being separated, so tomorrow I want to think of a way to combine them. I honestly would love to work with both of them.

Thursday February 9, 2017

Today was our first day of class. I attended the lecture yesterday, which was very useful because I needed to understand the parameters of this very, very open project. I think at first, I was kind of overwhelmed with the amount of options we could choose from. I wanted to pick a theme that was both different from what other people have done in the past years, and are going to do this year, and that would keep me interested for 10 weeks. I came into class with my two themes, being unsure of what to do, and I stepped out of class with a confident theme to continue working on and exploring, so we can say today was very successful. 

Here's the backstory to my design thinking. I moved to Dubai when I was 12, and I have hated it ever since the first day. Moving to Dubai, I felt like I was stripped of everything, including my rights, my childhood, and most important of all, nature. I want to focus on Nature. I would go back to France every single summer, and be able to enjoy again the wild nature we find there. My family and I were always very adventurous and we would be constantly doing things. As a city rat today, I want to bring some sort of adventure back into people's lives, and get them moving. That's my theme: adventure.

Personally, I don't have the time or money to go out and about and explore nature here in London (or the little nature that we have). I think it also goes the same way for a lot of people here. I want to give them some kind of incentive that would get them going. This Adventure theme brings both my original ideas together, into one open (but not too open) theme. I know this reflection is all over the place, but I am going to make it more precise as I write the brief tonight.

Sunday February 12, 2017

Today, I worked on my proposal's bibliography at the library. Sondos and I spent the whole morning there looking at stuff online and in books. I realised that there is a huge psychological component that I really need to focus on in my project. Since I am looking at pushing people to go on adventures and explore, I need to understand in a little bit more depth why we do the things we do. Why do we crave a sense of adventure, but why do we also sit on our butts all day watching cat videos? 

There is also this issue of being able to afford all the travel costs. If you're barely getting by financially, going on an adventure is the lest of your worries. Fending for yourself and your family comes first. So this idea of social status and adventure raises the question of who am I designing for? Am I trying to make adventure more feasible for people who can't afford it right now? Am I making something for people who already can afford to go on adventures? Who is my target audience?

Monday February 13, 2017

Today I went to the library again with Sondos to finish looking at some books. I found a bunch of exerts that would be great for people to understand the concept behind my proposal. I finished writing it today actually, but I still have to edit everything and make it more concise. I wrote in my last reflection that I wasn't sure who I wanted to design for, and I think I have narrowed it down. Since I want to focus on bringing back adventure into people's everyday lives, I will focus on a niche group of people that have that little extra time but don't know where to start off to explore where they live. I obviously need more research and data to back that up, since it's mostly presumption for the moment but that would be a good route to follow. 

I also mention in my brief (I will put it in my primary and secondary research pages) that I want to focus on technology in my project. I know that we haven't touched on futuristic Design, or designing things that people don't know they need and want, but I think it would be a really innovative area to look into. It will be very tricky however, to make people understand how my product works, since I would be inventing a system or a gadget that won't actually exist. In terms of making, I would make the outer shell of the tech, for example the apple watch in foam, so people could try it on and everything, but they would have to really imagine how it would look like. That will be hard to explain, but we'll see!

February 20 - 26, 2017

This week was, to say the least, eventful. I hadn’t been able to ski for about five years, because of multiple knee injuries, and I really wanted to visit my grandparents that I hadn’t seen forever. So Sondos, Samantha and I decided to go for a week-long trip to my grandparent’s house in Briançon, a small town in the Southern Alps. When we booked the tickets, I didn’t even know what my project was going to be about, but I was just planning on doing some primary research there somehow. The more I developed my project, the more I figured that going to France was the most perfect idea ever. I would follow for a week, all kinds of different people, coming from different backgrounds, on different adventures (including me).

So we took planes, trains, and automobiles and finally arrived to our destination. All the photos I took of our trip are on the primary research page. When we got there, I noticed that i was always up early and I always wanted to do things. We went skiing four days out of the seven from 9 am to 2-3 pm at least. Samantha and I had been skiing since we were walking, but it was Sondos’s first time seeing the snow so it was a huge feat to get her on the slopes by the end of the week, which was our mutual goal. This is the reason why I dropped my “futuristic Design” idea. I originally was thinking of making a gadget that would help people come out of the their comfort zones. But after what Sondos went through, and after seeing her in distressed situation, I calculated that that was not what I wanted to focus on. I realised that not everyone wants to go out and explore, and that my original presumptions were wrong. Even though I kept wanted to push Sondos while we were skiing, the more she would push back and that was the turning point. Instead of making people do things they don’t want to do, I will make adventure more appealing and more easily accessible so they can themselves decide to explore, and not be pushed to explore.

Apart from skiing, we visited the old town and drove a few hours to my home town where we shopped and had lunch. We also went to the top of the Bastille and overlooked the whole valley, which I think everyone really enjoyed. It was exploring none the less, but without all the stress of learning a new sport and skidding down the side of a mountain, which i did not realise was such a huge accomplishment for Sondos until the end of the trip. We also dedicated a morning of relaxation at the Bains de Monetiers, where we were in really warm water with our heads outside in the cold. It was great. This also made me understand that there are ups and downs to adventure. It’s kind of like a roller coaster of activities. Some might be highly adventurous and physical, while others might be more relaxed. For example, going to the spa right after a week full of knee and leg aches from skiing. Or stopping for a pizza and a bit of shopping. 

Apart from realising that my project should be focused on making adventure more accessible, not forcing people to do things they don’t want to do, I got some really cool pictures that I am excited to print out and stick in my sketchbook as my primary research. Honestly, this trip was the best decision I’ve made so far. I got to ski, eat good food, see my family, spend quality time with my friends and have fun, which are all related to my project!

Monday February 27, 2017

Today, Kathleen was our tutor and we did an activity the whole morning, and part of the afternoon. Unfortunately I couldn't be here for the workshop in the late afternoon, but i spent the day reflecting on my project. Basically we had to come from this previous research week with a double page spread of our theme and show it to the class. She was not in a great mood at the beginning since people hadn't done much over research week, but then she got nicer when people started showing some work. When I went up to present, I showed my sketchbook pages and explained that I combined the two things I was fascinated with, which were mountains and relaxing, and combined them into adventure, which is ultimately my most highly regarded passion. I talked about how I originally wanted to focus on technology but I figured I wanted to show off my making skills, so I steered away from that. She gave me some feedback about my theme, and we discussed a little bit the ins and outs, and she gave me a green light so I assume there isn't much that she wasn't happy with. This gave me a little bit more confidence that I made the right choice to give up on the technology aspect. 

The rest of the day was pretty much the same. Everyone else presented their ideas, so I got to see kind of where I stood amongst others projects. Honestly all the themes were interesting. I didn't see one that I thought was overdone or anything so I am quite excited to see what people are going to make. I think people really pull through at the end, and even if it seems like they don't care or anything, they secretly do. 

Tuesday February 28, 2017

Today we had Tom as our tutor, and it was relaxed but productive. We did an activity in the morning where we had OFSTEAD come and look at what we were doing. We basically did the same activity that we did for the utility project. At least I think it was utility... Anyways we looked at arranging our research in groups at first. Then we looked at making an axis on some paper and arranging them with a little bit more nuanced. I think that this helped us more to for Design in general than for this particular project. I really, honestly don't think that I would do this by myself at home, but I see how it would help others that might not have a concrete idea of what they want to focus on. When I do my secondary research, I usually have an idea of what I'm looking for, and for me to then print out a bunch of images and cut them out and play around with them seems a little far-fetched. I think I also organise my research in my head while I'm doing it. But, for the purpose of today's exercise, it was fun talking to others about their ideas and their projects. 

Thursday March 2, 2017

Today we had class with Kathleen and Georgia, and it honestly was one of the most useful days ever. We had an hour talk in the morning about what other people's workflows looked like and what we were expected to have in there. I do understand a little better now, but it's just hard to keep up every day so I will make more time to reflect. Then we had independent time until the end of the day where we came together as a group and looked at what we had produced. We had to take the abstract drawings we did before class and make them into a 3D model. I chose to focus on the word Natural because it made the most sense for me to explore that since I am working on human needs and wants outdoors. I went ahead and found a scratch piece of wood in the bins and used that as my base. I sanded an ergonomic and soft triangles with the two bottom corners chopped off. It felt really nice in your hand and the varnish I put over gave it a little bit more kick. I then found a chisel and used that to make one side really rough, kind of like nature. So on one side you have a really smooth and clean looking triangle, and on the other you can get splinters. I found the contrast between these two textures fascinating and I think it reflects really well what nature means to me.

I also talked to Georgia today about my proposal and honestly I feel a lot more confident in the direction I am taking. I was a little scared after my week in France because I dropped this whole "futuristic approach" that I wanted to focus on in the first place. There were so many choices and routes for me to take in the adventure market. We basically sat down and went through the brief. We outlined and simplified what I was trying to say and made a sort of thesis that I could follow. I'll post a picture of our notes. We agreed that I was going to look into the kind of "glamping" aspect of adventure, so I'm not pushing people to go on adventures anymore but I am facilitating the access to it by creating a high-quality and functional object. I will read through my brief against and edit it to reflect what we spoke about in our meeting. I'm excited!

Monday March 6, 2017

Today was one of the most productive days so far. We were allocated in groups that were sorted by our theme ideas and honestly that was a great idea. Thank you Kathleen! So our group name is Health and Well Being, which is exactly what I'm leaning towards since my project is about people going on adventures and being able to explore the world they live in. We also made a nice little chart to map out the next two weeks before spring break where we would plan our exhibitions and deadlines. Everyone was really helpful in the group and we get along really well so that's nice.

Today we did some idea development and some sketch models. Obviously everyone works at different paces and differently as well so I did more of a brainstorm and left the sketch models for tomorrow since I'll have a better idea of what direction I want to go in. I made four nice mind maps that I'll add at the bottom of this reflection. I basically picked four outdoors adventure that are the most popular and that my family does as well so I would have a personal input in the matter. Some people say that you should design for others, not for yourself but I think that's stupid. You need to have a personal connection to your work otherwise it'll show through and you will appropriate culture or it'll come off as offensive even. Anyways so I chose skiing, hiking, biking and water sports like canoeing. I looked online and read for a while about what were the most annoying things that people found in each sport. A lot of them had to do with carrying all the equipment needed to do each sport, so people we tired of packing for a few days straight. I also noticed people were embarrassed about going to the toilet in nature, and I can say for experience that I would not go for a good week if I was in nature! There is also a problem with putting trash away. When people are in nature they don't want to litter but they also don't want to carry a plastic bag around with all their gross trash so maybe I can address that.

Anyways at the end we went over each other's projects and explained what we had discovered or done today, which was very useful, and it didn't feel forced at all. I think we had good feedback for everyone! 

Tuesday March 7, 2017

Today was another independent day with the group. I really think that this "group system" works really well because we are still working independently and at our own pace but we have people to talk to that have a similar interest theme-wise. I also think that it is better than working completely by ourselves because we would be demotivated and lazy. So I am really grateful for having been put in a group that cares about each other's success and are willing to help one another. 

Our group allocated the morning to continue idea development. Some people had made quite a lot of models, but that's not how I work so i continued refining my ideas. I like to make mind maps of simple ideas, and then pick a few and refine them, and then make a model. My models aren't necessarily very detailed but I usually pick the most complicated or challenging part of my idea and make it into a model to try to solve it. For example, today I came up with an idea of a backpack that doubles as a storage unit when you're not on a trip. Ill put a picture of it under here. Anyways I wanted the backpack to go from a storage box in your garage, to a diamond shaped backpack when you put it on your back. The diamond shape is best because it would be the most ergonomic shape. Instead of feeling like a heavy turtle the weight would distribute evenly. 

Anyways, to figure out how it goes from a square to a diamond shape when you put the straps on, I made a first little model where I sowed some squares together but it would slide into a diamond shape. It would just stay as a box. To fix that I made some slits on the two squares of the cube on each side, but figured that it had to do with the right angle of those sides. So, I got rid of them entirely and just had a hollow cube and then knitted some stretchy string to make it into a backpack. That made it possible for it to go from a sturdy box into a diamond shape. I talked it over with my group mates and they thought it was cool so that was a productive day I guess.

Thursday March 9, 2017

Today we had class with Kathleen. We were back into our group and I was really happy about that but then we go separated into pairs to start the workshop that was supposed to last all day. Sadly I couldn't attend this afternoon's class because I had to go into work, but I spent my morning trying to understand and deconstruct someone else's work. 

Here is the thing... I wasn't mad about this workshop at all, and I do think it helped my project in a way because I had to explain it over and over again to the other person. It made me realise that even though I had a concrete theme, and a concrete direction, I still had a lot of lee-way on the possibilities for the making part. I have so many ideas running through my head like backpacks and water bottles and ski-racks, that I m confusing myself even more. I need to either pick a sport and get going, or go on the "universal" route. I am more leaning towards picking a sport and really focusing on that because it would make this process a lot simpler (not easier though!). Anyways I really did not enjoy this morning, but like every other class, there are the ups and downs. This weekend, my aim is to do a lot more idea development and pick the product that I will be making. Starting Monday, I will go into the workshops and make some technical models that will put me on the right path. 

Saturday March 11, 2017

Today was very exciting. I had been wanting to go to to the National Portrait Gallery for a while. None of my friends were interested and I didn't want to force them so I decided I would go by myself this weekend since they were abroad. I woke up around 8 for some reason, even though I wanted to sleep in. I worked in my sketchbook for a while, and then around 2pm I decided to walk to the Gallery. It was around a 2 hour walk, so I decided to just go for it and discover. In those two hours, I walked 13 kilometers and went through Finsbury Park, Holloway, Angel, Holborn, Leister Square and Covent garden, which was insane. I then arrived 2 hours later and stayed at the gallery for about an hour and a half until it closed at 5. 

I know you might think that going to the National Portrait Gallery would not be beneficial for my project, but I kindly disagree. As a Designer, you need to understand the needs of the people, whether past or present. I read books and watch documentaries all the time about the reasons why people did what they did and do what they do. Why are there a concentration of African Americans in Chicago, New York and Atlanta? Why are we biased against one another even though we share 99.99999% DNA? Why are we treating the planet the exact same way we did 20 years ago, even though we know the damages we're making? I find answers to all these questions by going to exhibits, reading book, talking to people and so forth. By going to look at portraits of kings from the 1800s, and random servants from the colonial period, I find answers to my questions. It also gives me the opportunity to think about my project, while admiring the incredible detail in people's eyes, or the perfectly painted folds on a woman's dress. I absolutely loved going to that gallery, and I will definitely drag my friends to it very soon. 

I also watched a documentary today on sharks, and another series with Steven Fry on conservation of species. Sounds a little random but there are a lot of issues concerning the extinction of all these animals, that are primarily caused by pollution and mass-poaching. I think that I may want to address that issue in my project, and maybe turn it a little in that direction. I think as designers we need to do something that will help the state of our planets. However, I do believe it does not have to be direct. For example, by creating a smart trash mechanism, you can insinuate people to dispose properly of their wrappers and takeaway boxes, without asking them for loose change for a cause. Maybe I'll do something with that, I don't know, but I'm excited!

March 13 - 15, 2017

I am bunching up this week's reflection into one because I think that I thought about my project 24 h a day, and it's easier to think back on it as a whole. We had progress tutorials this week, and mine was on tuesday with Kathleen. She really helped me with being assertive with my work and the fact that she liked my idea was really helpful in terms of my own perspective on my project. I made a plan to look at the next two weeks and mapped out what I needed to do, and how I could achieve the highest grade, even though that's not really my primary focus. I'm not saying that i don't want a high grade, but just like in high school, I just work as hard as I can and the grade follow. If you stress out about getting a pass, merit or distinction, that's all you are thinking about, and your motivation does not come intrinsically. My friend Sondos actually taught me that. So instead of looking for a reward (in this case the grade), I am looking at doing the work for myself, and the grade will follow. I also think this way it will feel a lot more genuine, and I am not doing this project to please someone, I first want to please myself. 

The rest of the week, I worked in my sketchbook, printed and pasted three gazillion photos and did a lot more secondary research on bags. I think that my original secondary research was much more focused on technology, and after my talk with Georgia last week and Kathleen this week, I want to make it technology-free. I feel like a backpack is the perfect opportunity to make something of high quality, and that will be cross-seasonal. So I did an enormous amount of research and annotated it and everything to look at sports backpacks. I think that helped me develop my idea a lot more and made me a little bit more confident in the path that I chose. 

I also went and looked at materials in Soho, which are exorbitant by the way! £39 for a meter of fabric! What?! So I am looking into buying my fabric in Japan later on during spring break, and if that doesn't work I guess ill find something in a second hand store. I also need to look into how I could make it environmentally friendly. Is it how I make it? What material I make it out of? Don't know yet, I'm thinking about it now.

Thursday March 16, 2017

Today we were in King's Cross and we had the "Work In Progress" show. We had to make an A2 sheet with our research on it, and I ended up making 3 for primary research. I really didn't like them so I'm going to have to think of new ones. We also had to make little 3D models to show our idea. I showed the box I had woven in class last week, and a new acrylic shell of the bag to show what shape I wanted it to be. I also made a cute little backpack with calico and card, which I think was adorable and really put my idea into 3D. I plan on making it full scale later next week. 

Anyways everyone set up in the morning and then we looked around all three curriculum areas (PDC, ASD and JFFA) in the afternoon. I was very, very impressed by everyone's work and thought that PDC was a little bit of a let down work-wise. JFFA and ASD had done so much work, so many A2 sheets and had absolutely stunning sketchbook. Coming home after that, I had a chat with my friends about our curriculum and it kind of answered all the questions I had been having during the day, and the doubts about the amount of work I had done. We came to the conclusion that each pathway looks very different because of the sheer difference in ideology. For example, my friend Sam came up to me and told me that she didn't understand our projects. Keep in mind she is in JFFA so the way we looked at this open brief was very, very different. They were focused on emotion and choosing something often controversial to make a jewellery piece on the body. We were asked to find a problem in the world and solve it. ASD on the other hand is a combination of those two things. They get to be very expressive but also have to be quite down to earth. So the reason our sketchbooks close properly (not like the ones in JFFA that look like old manuscripts) and the reason ours aren't so colourful and expressive is down to the fact that we are problem solvers, and we look a the world simply differently than the overly expressive JFFA students. I am not slamming anyone here, I am just stating the differences I observed during our "Work In Progress" show. Honestly, I think that Product Designers don't get a lot of recognition, and they should. If you think of what their duty is to the people is to create such a seamless and stress-less environment that their work goes un-noticed. If you find a flaw in the design, they have not done their job properly. Anyways that's what I thought of during this afternoon. 

This "Work In Progress" show definitely gave me motivation to add to my sketchbook, and also be a little be more colourful and creative through my work, so that the JFFA students can finally understand how important what we do is ;)

Monday March 20, 2017

Today our tutor was Kathleen, and we were scheduled to do the "Hats" workshop with her. Honestly, one of the best workshops I've ever had. Prior to today, I was confident and excited about my idea but I was really struggling with materialising it into a 3D model. I had made a little tiny version but I didn't know if it would work full scale. I also thought that my idea was a little bit too simple and I was scared that people might think I hadn't put any effort into the design development. I have also been working very hard on my sketchbook. 

Anyways we did the "Hats" workshop today, and I'll attach some images under, but it was great. Basically we had to draw eight squares on a double spread and fill each in with a different "hat", or point of view. For example, if the hat was "emotional", you had to write about what scared you. or if it was "creative", you had to come up with new solution for your design. I think this was good because it made me think of different ways of looking at my project, even negatively. I usually kind of keep my feelings of doubt inside and this helped me express it in a way. I don't think any designer particularly likes to look at all the things that are going wrong in their project, and that really helped me do exactly that. 

The outcome of the workshop was some brand new ideas that I will definitely turn into a 3D full-size model tomorrow, and a new positive and exciting outlook on my project. All the doubts in the world and gone now, and I can go full-throttle into my project. I also marked all the pages in my sketchbook where I need to annotate and draw, so I'll do that tonight. I found a way to make me fill in the pages by putting little post-it notes where theres something missing. The fact that I can take it off when I am done is a good incentive and I'll definitely do this in the future. 

Tuesday March 21, 2017

Today Georgia was our Tutor. This was our last taught day before Spring Break so everyone made sure to stay focused. I think this was one of the most productive days we've had as a class in the workshop. Everyone was kind of scared because we had several lectures in the past few days that stressed us out so much. It was all about timing and the fact that we are behind and everything which I thought was aggravating but helpful.

I am leaving to Japan and Korea on Thursday afternoon so I made myself a list of things I want to accomplish over the next two days. I will put a picture below. Apart from cleaning up my workflow and adding progress photos, I also want to add to my idea development and and create a 3D model, which I did today and which I am very, very proud of. I will also add a picture below to show you. 

Anyways I really liked the fact that Georgia didn't baby us today. She literally just told us to read the brief from the "Make It In A Day" workshop and get to it. I did exactly that I set off to poundland to get some extra materials I didn't have. I had bought two meters of calico that I had used to make the mini bag, so I wanted to use that and card, but I still needed the sponges to make the padding so I got some cheap thin sponges that turned out to be great! I started off by making the shell of my bag. Again I'll attach some photos to demonstrate. I basically make a stencil on some card and cut out four different shapes. Three were attached to make the bag moveable, and the lid of the bag I had to sow on. I punched some holes and then weaved a dark organic looking string through it. That literally took me an hour because I had to create a sort of needle because it was too weak the push through the hole. After that was done I took my lunch break and then started again with the calico. Since I want the bag to be as fluid as possible, and really move with the body, I decided to have the frame of the bag be out of a rigid material and the sides out of a stretchy fabric. I know calico isn't stretchy but the way it was glued on made it possible to move the bag back and forth. 

I had made the back of the bag curved with simply putting another piece of card that was cut in a curve perpendicular to the back of the bag. This sounds confusing so I'll put a picture under. I also wanted the straps to have padding so I took the sponges, cut them in half so they were two inches wide and then wrapped them in calico to make the straps. After glueing them on, I made the back padding the same way. I didn't cut the sponges though so they were four inches wide running all down the back. The sponges were also multicoloured and you could see it faintly through the calico which looked awesome!! I'll put some pictures under this.

Honestly I didn't think I was going to achieve this much in one day and it really made me feel confident about my product. I would however change the shape a little bit to make it look more dynamic because I want the sports feeling to come across a lot more. 

Wednesday March 22, 2017

Today was a very productive day. I couldn't sleep last night so I thought of my project (obviously!). I realised that I wanted to add a really cool touch to my bags with the materials. I've figured out how I am going to make them, what they are going to look like and what features are going to be added to it, thanks to the workshop we did yesterday, but I didn't think of what I wanted it to look like - do I want to make a statement with it? 

Let me explain this more clearly: I have the opportunity to reach quite a bit of people in the world with my designs. Do I want this particular backpack and project to stand for something? Do I want to highlight a cause that is important to me? The answer is yes. I want to tell people that in 60 years we will not be able to ski anymore. That's not reversible. I also don't want to be like those tree-huggers that tell people how to live. I just want to highlight something and let people make their own decisions. That being said, I am thinking of ways to push that across and make it environmentally friendly to add an edge to my backpack. I am thinking of have a triptych (that's three) of backpacks. One that stand for each issue that I support, like animal conservation, nature conservation and how we can help them out (or something like that).

I have watched countless, countless, countless documentaries about this and I'm interested in a lot of issues all over the world but I think this is a dilemma that literally is pertinent to every single person in the entire world. And very few people realise that. So why not use the little window of fame to show some people how to help out? I can show that through my A2 sheets, sketchbook and through my techniques used to make the bag. 

Saturday March 25, 2017

Since Japan is a whole day's travel away, and the jet lag is as harsh as can be, I was awake at off hours of the night. Consequently, I have thought a lot about my project, since the end of the programme is very near, and our final exhibition is creeping up on us. I have decided a lot of things about my project that will take it to its max. 

First of all, I would like it to stand for something. I have seen countless of various Designs here that could be used for much better things. I mean, who needs a croissant coin purse? Sounds cute, but there are bigger things to worry about, and things like that make it quite hard to reverse the damages that have been inflicted upon the earth and our generation's health. So, I have decided to make a trilogy, or a trifecta, or a triptych or whatever 3 words you can think of, and make each one of my bags stand for an issue that is most pressing. I am not shoving it down people's throats I am just highlighting it and I my goal is to make people aware of the problems we face as a society. Secondly, I want the sides of the backpack to be flashy and colourful (I am thinking Japanese inspired designs), that give the bags a fun and unique edge, but not a kitch one. I have seen, during my research and at the airport funnily enough, such hideous colours, and the same gross Quechua bags over and over again. They all look exactly the same, and I really wonder why no one has tried to change the shape of these sports bags. I don't know if adventurous people want to not be fashionable or something, but they sure come across that way. I swear there must be a middle-ground of some sorts for that!

Sunday March 26, 2017

Today we rode around Fukuoka on our bikes. About literally five minutes in our day-long ride, I spotted a fabric and sewing shop and made my whole family suddenly stop to go in it because I was so curious. We looked around and the fabric was so expensive it was ridiculous. However, I have never seen nicer patterns ever! I was so beautiful! Then, I found a section where they had these 24 x 40 cm rectangles of very traditional looking fabrics. I couldn't resist and thought it was absolutely unique and perfect for my project. I got about nine and will cut them into 6 x 6 in squares and sow them together to make them big enough for the sides of the backpack. We are going to be in Korea soon, which is the fashion central, so I'll look out for some more fabric for my two other bags I am planning to make. As for the rigid parts of my design, I think I am going to stick to calico and foam because I quite like its colour and it will make the patterns on the sides stand out and speak for themselves. I think also the Japanese graphics adds to the "Adventure" idea of my project. If people are going to use these bags in the forest and the snow, the deep colours and sheer geometry of the bags will contrast with nature, which is great for safety.

Tuesday March 28, 2017

Today we went on the most beautiful four hour hike of my life. We are currently on this remote island called Yakushima in the South of Japan. It looks like a mix between the King King island, and Jurassic Park. It is literally a freezing jungle (0 - 5 degrees Celsius). We went to the very top where a rock overlooks the valley and it was breath-taking! We picnicked up there too and it was delicious. I think this was great for myself and my project because I have loads of great pictures of nature I can use to show awareness about the damages we are causing to the planet. This island is actually protected by several governments and there are many things you cannot do since it will endanger it. I want to show that, if we protected other places like they have done here, the planet could breath again. I am not trying to change people's actions drastically per say, just their perception a little bit by making them more aware. Most people have a moral compass and by just educating themselves a little more, they can come to their own conclusions about what they should and shouldn't do. Also, people don't like to be told what to do, and I think that has a lot to do with the current low contributions. I have been thinking more and more about how I can show that I have been considering a "nature conservation" twist on my project since the beginning because I am scared people might think it doesn't come from a profound and genuine place (because it does). It's something that bothers me, and makes me feel quite helpless because there is not much physically that I can do. It seems so impossible to a lot of people, and to others (like my friend once told me) "is not their problem". How could that not be your problem?! I will add all the documentaries I watched (like Steven Fry's endangered species and "Chasing Ice") to my bibliography so it's more apparent.

Tuesday April 4, 2017

I haven't done many reflections in the past days and that's because I have travelled so much! We went to Yakushima Island, which is a Japanese Hawaii, or a cold rainforest. At least that's how I would describe it. We spent two days hiking throughout the moderate rainforest. The vegetation resembles Canada (conifer trees ect.). Anyways, none of us had seen anything like it, and it was grandiose to say the least. Seeing this marvellous vegetation and being submerges in it for a few days made me quite certain I wanted to make my bag stand for something. However! I originally wanted to make three and have a triptych of  environmentally conscious bags, but I honestly don't think I have the time to make three high-quality backpacks in two weeks when I come back. I have already found my materials, at least for the sides. I bought some little traditional Japanese inspired squares that I will sow together to make a quilt-like (for lack of better words) fabric for the sides of my bag. It will be flashy and colourful and fun and will be a beautiful contrast against nature which is an additional safety feature. The bag itself (the rigid parts) will be made out of foam, like the hiking backpack I am using right now and the ones you find in those ergonomic shaped pillows to maximise comfort. The foam will be coated in medium calico, because it will bring the price o the bag down (to make it more affordable if you think about the business side of it) and it is environmentally friendly and strong. The curve of the back will be made out of recycled card or plywood so I am not buying additional materials that could simply be someone else's reject. To make it even more environmentally conscious and friendly, I will minimise the electricity I use, so everything will be done by hand. I actually have thought about the future company that could potentially be built around this product, just for fun. I thought that it could be customisable, so people can go online and pick the colour of the bag, and the details of it on the side so it could be more unique and user-focused. 

I am not on a train to Seoul, from Busan in South Korea, and I am so excited! to see what we are going to do! I will try to find some more material, if I find the time to make a second bag, but I highly doubt it. Also, I've been documenting this whole trip with photos and videos so I will link those below or something if anyone is interested. Oh and we are going to North Korea soon.... how.... cool!

Monday April 10, 2017

I came back from Korea on saturday, on a twelve hour flight and almost a whole day's worth of travel. I am absolutely exhausted today from the 9 hour jetlag and on top of that I am very sick. How great! Anyways, I am sucking it up (which I have realised I am pretty good at) and I worked really hard all of today. I cut out the fabric for the sides and sowed them together. Yesterday was such a pretty day so I went to Oxford Circus around 1:30 pm and bought myself some work out gear, but also looked for hours for some thread. I originally wanted the thread connecting the 6 x 6 in fabric squares to be gold and apparent, but I kind of steered away from that because it would have looked too much like a DIY patch-work kind of thing. I finally found some thick pale orange string at Liberty's, which is posh (I know) but turns out has some really, really decently priced materials. I bought two bundles of the string and also some hooks for my bag. I have figured out a way to make the bag adjustable to its components. If someone only has a pair of glasses and a water bottle, they can make the bag fit that size. I realised that the reason why people haven't invented a bag that holds its shape is simply to fit the customer's needs. When there's not much in the bag, it should take up more space. So by placing hooks along the front and the lid, the user can adjust the size of the bag easily. This was kind of a breakthrough for me!

Anyways, today I sowed the squares together, which took be all day but that was the longest thing to do I think. I also acquired some foam and talked with a classmate about how I could make the back of the backpack. I finally agreed that there should be a metal piece that creates the curve, but that could also be removed. So in the end, the user could take out the metal pieces and have a regular backpack back. Sorry that's a little confusing. I will buy calico tomorrow since I have my tutorial in KX. I will also see if I need more foam, but I doubt it I think I have enough. Also this foam is literally leftover from a previous person's project, so I haven't bought any!

Thursday April 13, 2017

Today I had my tutorial with Georgia, and lord behold... it was a shock. I have been sick since I came back from Korea but that is no excuse because she looked at the work I have previously done. Not only did she say it looked like a high-school project, but she asked me "what happened, you were a good designer?". I can't agree more. Honestly I was happy she gave me all these really, really harsh remarks because it kind of waked me up. I had set some goals obviously for what I had to do over spring break, and I hadn't really achieved those. I think it was such a long project that I was on cruise control: I was doing things step by step but I wasn't really tying them together explicitly in my research and in my sketchbook. I wasn't showing how I got from point A to point B, I was just kind of checking things off my list (which I love to do but isn't appropriate in this context). Honestly, I wasn't mad at all that she raised these issues because I knew about them all along deep down and no one had told me anything about it. This whole project, I was told everything looked good and I should go ahead but I hadn't really been criticised harshly. I understand now why everyone loves Helmert!

Anyways I started the day by sewing one side of the backpack with white thread to re-enforce it, and then I had my meeting with Georgia. Then I panicked and looked for tracing paper all over Archway while thinking about my project and then came back and worked on workflow to upload some more research. I then went home and spent another three hours stitching the bag to finish the interior (which looks awesome by the way). Honestly, I was very very happy that I had that tutorial with Georgia because it kind of kicked me in the ass but also inspired me to finish strong. Oh and she said that my work was a pass for sure but nothing higher, while Kathleen told me it was a merit about a month ago. That shows how being harshly criticised is the best option for me.

Friday April 14, 2017

Today is Good Friday, but since I am not religious at all, and I can't afford to take a day off, I worked all day in my room. My main goals were to make workflow spot on, with all my annotation, all me research and all my reflections on point. I do my reflections every single day without fault, but I wanted to add pictures and everything, and make everything nicely organised so that the next three days could be used to continue working on my final piece. As for my research, after my talk with Georgia, I had to add some missing pieces. Originally I only had backpacks, and expert rucksacks in my sketchbook and on workflow and some sport-specific products too. However, she strongly advised that I research more on the city-life bags that are out there, since we set straight that I am making an intermediary backpack from the "Urban Explorer". Oh! I think I found the name for my bag by the way! It's going to be either: "City Dweller" or "Urban Explorer", or a mix of these two. I am SO EXCITED!! 

After my talk with Georgia, I took my lunch break and walked around archway to find some A3 tracing paper sheets to make my sketchbook annotations better. During that time, I really thought about my project as a whole and why she said what she said. I think that the reason why I lacked reasearch and a bit of other things as well is that I was trying to please everyone. Originally, when I first ran the idea past her a couple of months ago, we were both excited about it and we talked about making it for people who like to spend on the outdoors. But then, I watched all these documentaries about conservation and about society issues and everything and I got carried away with trying to fit too many things in this backpack. I said I wanted it to be environmentally conscious, low in cost, high-quality, for people in the city but also for extreme sports, and I think that's what tipped me over the edge and made me focus on things that I shouldn't have. She called my project / research "high-school ish" and I totally agree. I am being too nice and I really need to pick a niche market and stick to it! This comment definitely put me back on track and I now know exactly what direction I want to go in. I need to me more fierce with my annotations, my drawings and my designs in general and need to really show people why I chose to make what I made! I'm scared but excited!

Saturday April 15, 2017

Today was a very productive day. I worked really hard on workflow and updated a lot of things. I think that I have slowly gotten used to how workflow works. I didn't use to like it that much because I didn't understand how it would benefit us in the long run, but now I get how it contributes to the whole cycle that we are being thought here. You've got the intellectual part of the project, which shows through research and observing your surroundings that is being recorded with workflow and the sketchbook. Then you have the really creative part where you draw up ideas and problem-solve which is recorded on the sketchbook. Then you have the actual execution, or making part, which uses skills but also problem-solving and creativity to fix any arising issues. Finally, you have the reflection process that goes along the whole project, which is continuously recorded on workflow like what I am doing right now. I think this system is quite strategic but also logical, and a lot of people do it instinctively and subconsciously without even knowing it. 

Anyways, today I almost finished putting up the sides of my bag. One done, one to go. It takes a very, very, very long time to sew them on, but I don't regret it at all because I want to show that patient side that I have, but don't normally show every day. I think it's hard for me to sit there for hours and do one task, but weirdly, it has become quite enjoyable. I have become a lot better at it and I think the comments that I have gotten from my tutors about what the patchwork looks like, and my project looking like it belongs in highschool has made me so dedicated. I want to prove them wrong because I am not an idiot, and I want to show them I have learnt a lot from this year. Honestly I am not worried about grades, I just want to feel like I have done a good job, and part of that is from within. If at the end of the project I feel like I've done my best, then that is good for me. Obviously I highly regard the tutor's opinions and feedback, and I am looking forward to hearing what they have to say. 

Monday April 17, 2017

Today was Bank Holiday, but I still had to work through that. Honestly it was a pretty straight forward stitching day. I started with stitching the side of the back of the bag, if that makes any sense. Since I want to have a completely smooth back, I was thinking of covering it with a piece of Calico, when everything else it sown into it. Before I could do that though, I had to make sure that the straps of my bag were made and sown in and that I had that little arch handle thing at the top and that the padding was added and the back structure was solid. So I started working on the padding. I did some research about the back and I looked at my personal hiking backpack to see how it was made, and found that the best shape actually looked like a night pad you use when on your period. I know it's a weird reference but it's ridiculously accurate. The top part had to be a little bit wider because it followed the shape of the shoulder blade since it that is where the pressure will be. The pressure of the weight will also be partly where the bag ends so that bit had to be reenforced too. I tried it on, and it was quite comfortable. I glued both of the pads on each side of the back of the backpack in a mirrored position and then moved onto the next part. I made the straps with some foam the whole way inside because I didn't know how long they would be. They were about a meter long, or something like that. I will cut them when I see sam tomorrow to measure them to her exact chest size.

I also had a really good idea for a new way of making the straps go from city to sport really quickly. Imagine that at the bottom of the bag, where the straps meet the main part of the backpack, there were hooks that you could strap them to. The straps of the backpack would look normal when in city mode, and as soon as you wanted to turn them into sport mode, you would unclip them and cross them over your chest, and then re-clip them at the bottom. This would get rid of the two straps I was thinking of adding perpendicular to the large straps on your chest and on your belly. I thought it was a cool technique that could distinguish my bag from the other ones. I will run it by Georgia and see what she says tomorrow. If I can't make it in time, I will just make regular straps, and then draw out and show what it would look like in the future.

Tuesday April 18, 2017

Today was really, really exciting... and I worked from 10:30 am to 12 am. The least I could say is that it was intense. I started off the day by asking Tamzin if she had any advice on how to cut up the leather I had previously bought. She told me that it was really thin and consequently, not the right material for the additional details on my bag. I told her I understood and she gave me some scraps to choose from that she had. I picked out one that was easy to sow and that had a nice colour so it didn't look weird on my bag. I was really really excited to work with leather, because i literally have never held pure leather in my hands. I made a few test pieces to see what it would look like and how it behaved, which was practical since I had no idea where to start from. Once that was done, I made a little handle to hold the backpack and I cut the backpack straps to the length of Samantha's back. I added an additional piece of leather at the bottom to that it would reenforce it and it would tie the whole leather additional pieces together. I think that the contrast between the Japanese vibrant colours, and the simplicity and softness of the rest of the bag makes it a lot more intricate. After sowing the little leather piece at the top, cutting the straps and adding the leather to reenforce them at the bottom, I sowed them onto the bottom. I had previously kept an extra piece of cloth to cover the whole back of the bag so that it stays as simple as possible, and so that you would't be able to see what was on the inside. I also cut out a piece of recycled wood to the shape of the back piece that curves the card. That worked out really well and I sanded it so it would be  a perfect fit. It's actually a lot stronger than expected to I'm happy about that.

On my way home, I stopped by the second-hand shop to buy a belt so I could use the metal part of it for the front strap. I found EXACTLY what I was looking for and bought an extra, wider one, just incase something went wrong. I really like that second hand shop because there is literally anything you are looking for. I think it's also great because it's for a cause. Anyways I walked home to finish my bag from there. I spend the next five hours making the actual buckle at the front, stitching and glueing the back and adding details like the shoelaces to make the sides smaller etc.

I was really happy with the final outcome, but could always improve it. For example, I would have loved to have access to the real, waterproof materials that I was looking forward to using. It was too expensive, and not really feasible for this project. Also, I think I could be a little more precise with my stitching. It really brings it up a level when its well-crafted. I also accidentally put a pen mark in the front of the bag, which is very visible, so I have to find a way to get rid of that. No idea for the moment. As for the photoshoot tomorrow, since that is the only thing that needs fixing (knock on wood), I will just edit it out of the photo. 

Tomorrow I am going to regent's park with Samantha and her friend to shoot their projects. I will at the same time use Sam as a model for my bag and take some outdoors photos. I talked with Georgia and she suggested the Kyoto Gardens near the Design Museum which is so smart?! I've been there a couple times but I never thought of it for this project. It's a great little subtle hint to the Japanese inspired tied into my project. I don't want to make it all about Japan and stuff because I am scared of cultural appropriation, but I think that having a slight influence is absolutely fine.

Thursday April 20, 2017

Today was photography day, and I was so nervous for some reason. I walk to KX when we have class there (which is 50 minutes) and I usually talk to my mother on the phone about everything and anything. For some reason today, we talked about my project, but I just got so scared and I started freaking out. There is no reason though, because my bag is completely done, and I am on track to finish everything on time. I think it was the nerves of photographing my final piece. I think I got scared that someone would make a comment about my bag, and I wouldn't be able to change it on the spot. Turns out, Georgia, Kathleen and the photographer were really calming and understanding and I think that that helped me calm down myself. Good thing I went in the morning because I don't think they would have had so much patient with me at the end of the day.

Anyways, there was a pen mark on the front of my bag right where your eye goes when it looks at it. I showed it to Georgia right when I came in to take pictures, and then she and I brainstormed on what we could use to cover it up. Should it be just plain photoshop, or should we create some kind of logo that makes it more of a branded-looking bag? We ended up on agreeing on a little circle of Japanese fabric on the bottom left corner of the front part of my bag. I think it looks absolutely wonderful and I am very excited about the way it turned out. After that was fixed, I was super happy and full of energy running around helping people and stuff. We had lunch, and after that I went home to edit the pictures I had. In the end, I have one professional "hero shot" photo shoot, one city outdoors photo shoot, one Kyoto gardens photoshoot and a bunch of progress photos I could use. It's going to be hard to choose but I'll figure it out. I stayed up late to edit them and I wrote my banner text as well. Now I just have to add to my sketchbook, do my A2 sheets and clean up my workflow. I am very excited!!

Saturday April 22, 2017

Today I worked so, so, so hard; rom 10 in the morning to 2 in the morning, including lunch, dinner and gym break. I was so exhausted but it's alright because I am actually kind of having fun. I completed about 10 A2 sheets, planned the rest, printed and cut pictures, added pages to my sketchbook and cleaned everything up. I have a lot to do still and I have a lot to think about but it's very good for my personal time management. I think that I put a lot of emphasis on my bag's quality, and kind of left the A2 sheets and the finishing touches until the end, but I don't really regret it. At least I know my bag is high-quality! 

Anyways I can't really reflect in depth right now because I have to keep on working on my A2 sheets, but I will update soon. Tomorrow I have to finish writing my evaluation, completely wrap up my A2 sheets and finalise my sketchbook. We'll see if I can achieve that in a day!


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