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DESIGN METHODS AND RESEARCH Daniel Stewart Hood S3156077

Lecturer: Scott Mayson



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THE PROJECT PROPOSAL The Investigation of the Importance of Affordances in Everyday Objects Key Words: Furniture Design, Consumerism, Inclusive Design, Economic, Social and Political Influences, Non-Intentional Design. Abstract: This paper will research into and answer questions such as, “Why does the design industry continue to flood the market with unsubstantial consumer goods?” “What are the major sources for this depreciation in the quality of design objects in today’s society?” “How should the design industry correct these issues in order to ensure success in the future?” These issues will be researched through substantial analysis of existing texts and field study. In order to answer the third research question it will be essential to study future aspirations of the design industry. There will be three major design methods/movements that I will analyze with relation to all the issues and questions I have asked above. Firstly I will consider Inclusive design as an effective design method. Secondly I will research into a newly labeled design movement, which is “Non-Intentional Design”(Uta Brandes 2009). Finally I will mention the importance of a traditional design methodology, form and function study through user performance testing. With motivation to become a furniture designer myself it will be crucial to understand why there are so many issues within the industry. It will also become necessary to follow specific design rules and theories for my own practice; therefore mention to these design methods will be made through out my research piece and an understanding of them will be developed. Body Text: The societies of the world which are known as ‘Western Society’ could be considered somewhat superficial, it is not hard to notice the constant materialistic rat race which in someway we contribute to or take part in. It seems that the human race has begun to give up on relying on family, love, friendship and nature to provide them with happiness. There is a hunger within a high percentage of modern society, “a craving for the most current, the most expensive and the most advanced of whichever phase is taking control of the consumer goods market on that day.” ((Pile 1979)pg3) These materialistic attitudes towards everyday life have begun to form social groups and hierarchies on such a vast number of levels. Examples of these attitudes are evident in the introduction to “Design: Purpose Form and Meaning” by John Pile. “We measure individual success largely in terms of things owned – houses, cars, television sets and similar consumer goods.”((Pile 1979)pg1) “The concept of progress in human affairs is, if we are realistic, almost entirely concerned with materialistic, that is to say, technological progress.”((Pile 1979)pg1) Within everyday design, these attitudes have been noticed, making it easy to distinguish target markets and therefore design for certain social groups. There are several ways of dividing these social groups; the most significant in current times being financial barriers.


The design industry has had to adapt to this separation and formation of these social groups due to the fact that there is such a high demand for vast collection of consumer goods. What is affordable for individuals becomes a major influence on the industries design brief. This then creates room within the market place for both high end and low end products. This in turn is flooding the market with endless amounts of the same product from different manufacturers. This is where the issue for the design industry begins to take shape as the market has developed a grey area, a series of products which are average in price, quality, functionality and aesthetics. This is where research into the concept of Inclusive Design and the implementation of this method could well become a solution to eliminating this flooding of kitsch consumer products into the market. There are several ways in which Inclusive design could aid or solve the issues mentioned previously. Firstly designers can begin focusing their work on solving issues with current products and making these products adaptable for a wider range of users. Secondly, by implementing this research based and thoughtful process, design becomes a more ethical practice and can prevent the social segregation through commercial goods from occurring. Finally, as mentioned in ‘Countering design Exclusion’, “Inclusive design is not an option. It will soon become a business requirement. More and more countries are introducing legislation to ensure that no-one is discriminated against on the grounds of age or physical capability.”((Simeon Keates 2004)pg3) The recent discovery of “Non-Intentional Design”(Uta Brandes 2009) through researching societies ways of interacting with products, and the levels of appreciation they do have for design, has proven intriguing and influential to my work both on a research and practical level. As mentioned in ‘Design By Use’ “From the Stone Age onwards, if not earlier, humans have used materials found in nature for the improvement of survival strategies.”((Uta Brandes 2009)pg10) What this concept gets at is that, humans have an unintentional habit of adapting and using materials, both natural and manufactured, to fit certain situations, even if that material was not designed for that use, hence the title, ‘Non-Intentional Design.’ This concept is young, however it is a natural occurrence in everyday life and that is why I have interest in adapting it to aid my personal design style and practice. The paper will look at how all of these issues, solutions and methods related to furniture design, the current, present and future markets. With all of the texts and case studies explaining and giving reason to these arguments and theories, the outcome should provide a guideline of what to look for and how to adapt to a career in design furniture. Especially for such a complex and what many people believe to be a complete marketplace of products. By combining such intense levels of research into design methodologies and practices, society’s demands and needs, the past present and future design. With my interests and projects focused around furniture design, and studying and adapting my work to include the concept of Non-Intentional Design in ways that have not yet been thought of or taught about. I believe that I will construct with in this essay a better understanding of who I am and what I am about as a designer, and where I will lead on to next. References: Pile, J. F. (1979). Design: Purpose, Form and Meaning. Simeon Keates, J. C. (2004). Countering Design Exclusion, An Introduction to Inclusive Design, Springer. Uta Brandes, S. S., Miriam Wender (2009). Design by Use, The Everyday Metamorphosis of Things, Birkhauser.




Brainstorming -Discovering a market, a need, and possible solutions to these needs. -Pin pointing a specific client, or group of clients. -Justification of the above. -Development of a detailed Design Brief -Begin discussions with client about the proposed brief.

Re-Conceptualizing -Redeveloping the concepts, improving the initial concept sketches. -Possibly developing some more detailed sketches. Eg. Color schemes, materials via the use of hand renderings. Second Mockups -Once again representing these changes to the concept but on a three dimensional scale.

Research Who – The human demands and needs for the product or service. Considering the methodology of ‘Inclusive Design’ and making sure that all users are considered and ensuring that the product is being designed to a Universal standard. What – Really identifying what the client is asking for and through a series of meetings and discussions which will constantly develop and alter the design brief, through out the first half of the project. Why – Justifying every aspect of the project is essential. Making sure that attention to detail is impeccable, and that the research gathered is as flawless as possible. Literary referencing- referring to as many existing sources of knowledge and examples of similar products as possible, constantly adopting new design methods and employing them as part of my personal design strategy. Conceptualizing -Rough thumbnail sketches, mood boards, referring to research.

User Testing/Feedback/Analysis -Demanding a second round of feedback of the concept. -Taking in the reactions and criticism to the changes made and whether they are satisfactory. -Analyzing and adapting any minor changes that were suggested. CAD -Developing a detailed CAD model of the final concept. -Final renders of the concept which can be shown to and discussed with the client. -Creating a full drawing set including precise measurements, manufacturing techniques and materials to industry standards. Functional Prototyping -Creating a full scale functional prototype of the product. -Not in real material, but to a standard which can be tested to the highest level for best possible feedback.

Basic Mockups -Rough three dimensional miniatures of what has been developed in the initial concept phase. The first stages of providing tangibility to the project. User Testing/Feedback/Analysis -Using the functional prototype, testing and discussing the quality of the final concept. Peer and Client Feedback/Analysis -Noting down any minor manufacturing improvements which could be made. -Discussions not only with the clients, however searching for third party opinions in order to develop better understanding into how the concept can be improved. Final Production Phase -Analyzing this feedback and going back to the research phase in order to solve the issues highlight -Producing the final product, to a level which is considered complete in the sense that it would be able in the discussions and feedback sessions. to be put on the market. -Exhibiting the final piece, and presenting it to the respective client(s) -Collection and Formatting of all documentation through out the entire process of the project.


METHODS & PRACTICES GLOSSARY Asymmetrical: A description of the positioning of two or more elements being off center to one another. Examples are evident in many natural creatures and forms, which in turn have influenced endless architectural structures. Often consisting of one half of the form being relatively linear and the other being slightly irregular in comparison. Automation: This manufacturing technique is very prominent in the 21st century. It uses single or multiple controlling interfaces for the input of numerical or logical data or instructions. This then controls a series of CAD, CAM and other industrial robotic systems which in turn can complete both simple and advanced manufacturing processes. These systems are often employed into the automotive and electronics industries, where a high volume of labor intensive parts are created and assembled, however are required at a low cost. This form of manufacturing is not to be confused with mechanization, as automation reduces the need for any intensive physical interaction by humans. In most cases human intervention is required only for reprogramming or in case of an error in the system. Industrial Revolution: Initiating in the crossover between the 18th and 19th centuries in Great Britain, the Industrial Revolution labels an era of technological advancement in several fields such as; agriculture, mining and transport. The greatest change was in Manufacturing, the capabilities of production (materials, quantity, lead time, etc.) were constantly improving. With the introduction of the steam engine followed by the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation the way forward was clearly marked. This inevitably spread world wide marking a major turning point socially, politically, economically and even culturally, making the manufacturing world what it is today. Lead Time: Lead time measures the time it takes from beginning the manufacturing process of a product to the time that item is completed and ready to be sold. For example, if a car dealership requires a certain model of car in a certain color, the time it takes for that order to be processed the car to be manufactured and delivered to the dealership is considered the ‘Lead Time’. The reduction of this time is highly important to cutting costs along all stages of production and distribution. It also lies hand in hand with the (Just in Time) method, optimizing the efficiency of companies manufacturing processes. Materialistic: For an individual or a group to be described as materialistic, they must have certain attitudes towards owning material goods. Individual success and happiness is often based upon the quantity and quality of consumer goods one owns. For example; houses, cars, electronic goods and so on. As a consequence of this, social barriers on both a local and global scale have developed. Less Economically Developed and More Economically Developed social groups and even countries are defined by this materialistic attitude toward ownership of consumer goods. Within the design industry, products can be design specifically with these groups in mind, subsequently separating the gap between the ‘have’ and the ‘have not’ even further. Non-Intentional Design A basic ability that humans develop both consciously and sub-consciously to adapt a material or product both natural and man manufactured, to suit a specific scenario. The rules around the intended use of the material or product are broken and are re-designed to fulfill another purpose. Non-Intentional Design has always existed however not until recently has research, performed by BIRD (Board of International Research in Design) been documented. An accurate example of this concept is, using a lighter to open a bottle, when a bottle opener is not available. Adapting the surrounding materials to fit the present scenario.


T.P.S (Toyota Production System) This system, created by the Japanese automotive giant Toyota is an improvement on the companies original J.I.T (just in time) system created by Sakichi Toyoda in the late 1940’s. T.P.S deals with three major aspects. -Muri: Overburdening, dealing with creating a manufacturing system which is flexible and can deal with a vast array of issues and errors which may occur. -Mura: Inconsistency, making sure that this system runs as smoothly as possible, and constantly re assessing and designing out any issues with the current state of that system. -Muda: Eliminating Waste, constantly employing the above two will create a reduction of waste output at multiple stages in a production system. The implementation of the above has proven to be highly successful for the Toyota Co. and has also been employed by several other major companies, as an assessment system for their manufacturing efficiency. It is looked up to as a highly important system in a world concerned with the sustainability of everything created. Tangibility: Tangibility measures whether an object is either tangible or intangible. A tangible object within the design field is physically viable in some form. As long as the object can be detected by the senses it is considered tangible. E.g. A model, a sound, a video or a sketch. Intangible objects refer to that which is has not yet been physicalized. Thoughts and knowledge that someone may have. However an intangible object can be a physical thing that our senses are not refined enough to detect. E.g. Air patterns or human movement patterns. Transgenerational Design: A design method or consideration which takes into account a wider range of ages and capabilities when designing a product or service. Unlike universal design, transgenerational design is less concerned with physical limitations of users and is more involved with market demands and the technological capabilities of a wide portion of the applicable market for the specific product or service. This concept developed by James Pirkl at the University of Syracuse. This concept has become frequency used design method in the electronics design industry where a broad range of the population, all ages, have begun to become more technologically accepting. Z.P.I Zaps Per Inch, a term similar to DPI used mainly in the description of digital documents. ZPI is the translation of this onto a three dimensional form. A Laser Cutter can be used not only to cut through surfaces but also to etch onto a surface. The most common form of etching is vector etching, a series of lines and breaks in order to produce an image onto a surface. This is a simple two dimensional form of etching. However raster etching uses translates the pixels in an images and translates that onto a surface three dimensionally. The closer to black the pixel is, the deeper the laser will cut, the closer to white, and the cut will be shallower. The resolution, or quality of the outcome, can be measured in what is known as ZPI (zaps per inch).


LITERATURE REVIEW & ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY Introduction: The research will be conducted in order to discover existing and developing studies and theories in my area of interest. I will consult various texts including books, journals and post graduate papers to gather further knowledge into the required fields and develop the ability to accurately analyze several key themes. I will focus initially on the modern design industries, limiting my references and case studies to post 1960’s through to the most current examples. The areas of interest will include, Inclusive Design, Non-Intentional Design and finally, the study of Form vs. Function. As there will be many fields relating to or similar to these design methods and practices, I will be as thorough as possible through out my analysis. In order to narrow down the collected research, ‘Furniture and Household Product Design’ will be the general target topic for the case studies section. With a concern that too many products are being thrown into the consumer market without any care or consideration to important aspects of the design and manufacturing process. This in turn is creating an excess of very average quality products which are produced purely for profit, an error which needs to be analysed and corrected. Therefore the research into the above methodologies will aid the discovery of what is being done to prevent the product market from becoming flooded or even saturated as a result of poor quality design. Frameworks: Inclusive Design has become a popular design methodology specifically over the last decade, with many companies participating in all fields of design from furniture, automotive and service. There are many goals of inclusive design, and many approaches by which companies may include this methodology to their design process, affected also by the type of product or service the particular company is creating. ‘Countering Design Exclusion’(Simeon Keates 2004) briefly describes the major issue with the design in today’s society. “In a rapidly ageing world it no longer makes commercial or social sense to design, develop or attempt to market products and services whose usability is unnecessarily challenging people, whether they be young or old, able bodied or less able.”(Simeon Keates 2004) The solution to a more sustainable design industry, is therefore one which is involving inclusive design. As mentioned previously there are many issues with the market becoming flooded with too many low end products. Inclusive Design can aid the elimination of these issues by proposing one simple solution through a multitude of Inclusive Design processes. Rather than design a broad range of products with limited and sometimes complicated usability for a broad range of different consumers. Take the more sustainable and innovative approach and create a single “Inclusive Product or Service”(Simeon Keates 2004) which satisfies the needs of every consumer, regardless of their age or capabilities (physical or mental). There are several Inclusive Design models or guides for design businesses and individuals which act as aids to implementing the inclusive design process. The waterfall model is the basic diagram, depicting the process of inclusive design. Surrounding this model there are eight inputs which support and expand the process making the results more exact and the end product or service the best possible. The most important inputs are as follows; Needs Analysis: Where are the needs coming from and what to do the user groups truly want from this product or service? User Involvement: By including a group of end users, it will be possible to constantly test and question the designs that arise in the concept phase. Evaluation: This should occur after the completion of every meeting and development over the design process to ensure no gap has been glanced over, with the intent of creating an entirely Inclusive Design. Fig.1


Non-Intentional Design is in fact more of a human adaption and thorough thought process and analysis of a certain scenario than it is specifically a design methodology. The process of Non-Intentional Design is “a term not yet to be found in the general language, but has recently debuted in an academic context and which describes the everyday re-design of the designed world.” (Brandes 2009) However this does not have to be on a professional or industrial scale, in fact the majority of occurrences of non-intentional design are on a small scale where “an individual come across a scenario where he or she must adapt the use of the surrounding materials to perform a function for which it was not initially design to perform.”(Brandes 2009) Non-Intentional Design has occurred since man existed; it is a basic survival instinct, such as the use of stone or wood to create weaponry or tools. In the current age the ability to analyse scenarios, the availability of technology and the access to materials and products have contributed in a surge of products going under the process of Non-Intentional Design. The examination of Form vs. Function and User Analysis (Performance Testing) is a age old design methodology which involves a more practical approach to the testing of products both before they are put permanently on the market. The value of physical examination and testing on a three dimensional scale has been recognised for years. “If you wish to learn from the theoretical physicist anything about the methods he uses… don’t listen to his words, examine his achievements.” (Einstein, 1933) By translating this opinion into the design field, what is being said is that design “is best experienced at first hand in its physical ‘completeness’; written sources – observations, descriptions, explanations, criticisms – can only be used to expand our knowledge” (Benton 1975) of the designs manufacturing processes and intended use. Therefore simply examining the two dimensional description is obviously a somewhat limiting level of interaction between a user or designer and the actual product. Arguably this method is one of the most important processes within the design process, and will continue to become more prominent, advanced and exact way of testing products or services during the design process, yet before they are released on to the market. With faster, material true prototyping methods becoming more affordable to both individuals and companies, the analysis of a products form and functionality through user oriented performance testing is a method which is exact and efficient and has the potential to save money, time and resources. Having researched several important methodologies and the way in which they operate, it is important to discover if anyone actually practices them, and how they operate within that individuals or cooperation’s design process. Without limiting the research I wish to conduct through this paper, the next step in analysing these methods is relating them to real life instances of which I have particular personal interest in. Precedents: So where does Inclusive design sit currently in the design industry? Well more and more companies are showing signs of the inclusive thought process in some of their major products. A great example of this in the home electronics market would of course be Apple. A major priority in the design of their products is creating an end result which covers as many needs from the broadest range of users as possible. Their end goal being to control the majority of the market, however the inclusive design process they have employed is one which is considerate and shows great commitment to their consumer base, and ultimately the reason why they are so successful. By bring a technical product down to a level which almost everyone can use, and providing very simplistic user interface systems and phenomenal customer service, Apple has become a company that many people in the design industry aspire to be like. Arguably this is partially a result of Inclusive Design as part of the companies’ professional practice. Non-Intentional design is yet to have a major influence on the design industry however the literature and examples of such works have begun to be published. This method of design is however evident in the majority of households and is constantly occurring in the student environment. The main reason for many people ‘Non-Intentionally designing’ an object is from the inability to be able to afford multiple products; however having the knowledge to transform or adapt a different product or material. This can occur by the user either recycling a obsolete or irreparable product to perform another use, or adapting a fully functional product to have one or more functions or purposes which it was not originally design to perform. ‘Design by Use’ provides us with one of the first literary references of this methodology, containing several of the most prominent and innovative examples, most of which are simple adaption’s of products to perform new uses. (Uta Brandes 2009)


Cigarette lighter transformed into a bottle opener. Derived from the scenario of people not having a bottle opener whilst drinking and smoking, therefore the repurposing of an object is required in order to suit the situation. Fig.2

Glasses and Jars used to store kitchen utensils or toiletries. Rather than buying a purposely designed holder for such items, people use an extra glass they may have in their cupboard or even recycling a jam jar. Once again a simple redesign of use and adding another purpose or possibly extending the existing products lifespan. Fig.3 Fig.4

Form and Function has been at the heart of many major design companies for years. The search for equilibrium between the two has been a controversial and some what challenging task for many products entering the market. With in furniture design for example there are many chairs which are examples of aesthetic genius, however the functionality of the object is often lacking in some way either ergonomically, or even practically. With a large percentage of consumer society living in confined apartments, the size of products has had to adapt accordingly. This also works the other way, you often come across product in a store which are label as the best in their field, but aesthetically do nothing for the consumer, which is sadly often the most important aspect in this “largely superficial and materialistic world.” (Pile 1979) This is where user testing, and market performance tests is crucial to new products, as part of the concept process. With infinitely improving three dimensional prototyping, there is no reason for companies to not invest in market research, not just previous the design of a new product, but during every step of conceptualising and producing the product and on a three dimensional scale. “However valuable writings by architects, artists and designers are in indicating their methods, works and modes of thinking. First hand interaction with the consumer is far superior to the success of a building, painting, or product.” (Tim Benton 1975)


Review Overall the design industry is starting to introduce sustainable methods of designing products, not only this, consumers seem to be beginning to realise their needs and designing for any issues they might recognize by themselves. Over the previous decade there has been a tremendous realisation of the need for a more rigorous design process, possibly companies will begin to employ both the old fashioned techniques such as, user testing and market performance testing, along side newer design methods such as Inclusive Design. With the documentation of process of thought such as Non-Intentional Design it is inevitable that designers will attempt to redesign and repurpose products with the intention of releases on to the consumer market. This should hopefully spur a wave of Ingenuity and Innovation within the design industry. Conclusion The personal intentions of this research were to discover more about these methods and how they are used in real life practice, for the purpose of ensuring that my personal design and thought process is inline with the requirements of not only today’s society, but where the future of design is heading. A method which I have always been aware of and has naturally become a part of my design practice is future forecasting. With intentions of become a designer entering a already well established field such as furniture and home product design, it will be crucial as part of my professional practice to maintain aware of the methods researched but also the social and technological changes and requirements at present and in the future. Annotated Bibliography Images Fig.1 Fig.2 Fig.3 Fig.4


Literary References: Pile, J. F. (1979). Design: Purpose, Form and Meaning. Piles text, although being thirty years old, describes many social patterns and behaviors in relation to the design industry which are still current and true to todays society. Progressing through the book, i gradually established more complex ideas as to what my areas of interest were and found many points of reference to support my main topics of discussion. Regardless of whether the text leans towards a more Piles strong architechtural interest there are many arguements which can be directly translated and applied onto an Industrial Design platform. Simeon Keates, J. C. (2004). Countering Design Exclusion, An Introduction to Inclusive Design, Springer. The topic of design exclusion has become one of great interest to me since initiating the research for design methods. Being a more current text dealing with recently created arguements, it is much easier to pick out and relate the main topics of the text to current situations and occurances within the design industry. The book is written assuming that the reader has no knowledge of “Design Exclusion” and begins to describe the main theories behind ‘Inclusive Design’ with both factual and theoretical examples of how this methodology may be applied within the design field. Not only did this text expand my knowledge in a new field, however it influenced me to incorporate this relatively new technique into my current and future projects. Tim Benton, C. B., Dennis Sharp (1975). Form and Function: A source Book for the History of Architecture and Design, Granada Publishing Limited. Once again a strong architechtural background to the text, however a great reference to the always important discussion of “Form and Function.” The text describes the importance of both features within the design field, giving examples and theories behind them. This text became more of a reminder of how important the balance between these two design aspects is, and describes several basic or ‘Old School’ design methodologies such as performance testing and aesthetic analysis. Methods which in the days of the Bauhaus movement, were so important they built the whole structure of their program around it. Overall the text took me back to the very basics and gave me reference to the first theories and methodologies of Industrial Design. Uta Brandes, S. S., Miriam Wender (2009). Design by Use, The Everyday Metamorphosis of Things, Birkhauser. Possibly the most interesting and influential of all the texts. Although not strictly discussing a design methodology, the concept of Non-Intentional Design is one which provokes many ideas for future projects. Having always existed however never labelled as a methodology, this strips design back to the very basics once again. It pin points the natural ability for humans to design, or re-design in order to adapt to specific scenarios. A general methodology which applies to everyone, not only designers, and plays a key role in the everyday evolution of the human race.


Project Scope Document  
Project Scope Document  

A formatted collection of all the work assigned throughout the semester for Design Methods