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discover phase discover context behind brief visually communicate define focus focused research produce refined gather user data prototype deliver phase testing and feedback

define phase pull out insights


define personal brief develop range of concepts

explore develop phase

This book is a process journal. In the accompanying exhibition you can view the outcome of this project. This journal describes the process taken over a period of five months. The above diagram is used as a tool in this journal both to illustrate my overall process as well as to communicate to the reader where I am in the process throughout the journal.



The project began with the following brief. Liquid Living asks you to explore the way of life and to respond through the design of new artefacts, services, interactions or experiences based around the relationship between people, the city of Glasgow and water in all its guises and manifestations. The task of the designer is to imagine the future requirements of individuals and groups, and to explore new behaviours and experiences.


We began the group research phase by identifying and mapping all the ways that water interacts with the city and the residents of Glasgow. We then grouped topics and divided ourselves into teams. The team I worked with tackled the topic of how the health and wealth of the city affects its relationship with water. Our research

discover context behind brief

approach involved three angles; gaining an overall understanding of the topics through desktop research and interviews, acquiring an overview of expert/ key stakeholder opinions through interviews, and finally obtaining a perspective of the city’s opinion by addressing the general public.




a water contamination


mass poisoning

d water fluoridation

hment through agriculture


potential events to affect health


e through washing rising sea water



ion disease


Our initial research involved analysing the relationship between the health and wealth of the city and its waters. We mapped this relationship and divided it chronologically into past, current, and potential happenings in the future.


water fortification

Image speculates about the potential outcomes of water privatisation

When exploring the topic of wealth, the standard practice and we can expect people current trend of water commodification to begin treating a leaky tap the same way one arose. In Scotland water itself has always would consider an appliance left on standby. been free, however, presently the related processes of purification and transportation are paid for through council tax. However, globally the use of water meters is becoming

“Developers pay very little attention to the river, they don’t even realise it’s tidal.”

We identified key stakeholders in Glasgow who interact with its many waters. George is head life guard at The Humane Society. He is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and has saved over 1500 people from the waters of Glasgow. George knows the waterways of Glasgow better than anyone else. Through interviewing George we gained a wealth of knowledge about the role of the River Clyde

and about how its changing faces are affecting Glaswegians on a daily basis. Another set of stakeholders interviewed were the lead engineer, architect, and senior curator of the new Riverside Museum. It was important to talk to this broad range of stakeholders as we noticed key differences in their perceptions of the role the Clyde plays in the city and how it is used by people.

“It’s gonna be full of toxic waste, it’s filthy.” Image shows myself fishing water out of the Clyde.

In order to gain an understanding of Glaswegian’s perception of the cleanliness of the city’s waters we posed the question “would you like to taste the Clyde?” Rather not surprisingly, we found that the answer was no. However, this question provided us with a platform from which to have informal discussions with the Glaswegian public about health perceptions of their water.

These discussions revealed that despite the fact that the nature of the Clyde makes it a relatively clean river, Glaswegians are of the impression that its water is extremely unclean. However, they were quick to jump to the defence of their public water supply which historically has been a source of pride for Glaswegians.


Our research presentation took place on The Tall Ship moored on the River Clyde. Formerly The Clyde has been the heart of the city, allowing it to thrive economically and grow to the city that exists today. This presentation was an opportunity for each research group to share their findings and insights. In doing so we created a large pool of research which was then accessible using an online blog platform.


The broad nature of the brief meant at this point I had a large pool of research covering different topics, locations, and users. It was essential to focus before conducting further research so I looked at what had most interested me in the initial research phase; the potential impact of the commodification of water. As a developed, water abundant city we have a strong reliance on the water supply.

develop focus

There is a great disengagement between the natural water reserves existing in the city in the form of rivers and lakes, and the public water supply, delivered through a mysterious and complex system that the general public know very little about. I was interested in exploring the possibility of how people’s behaviour would change if this reliance were threatened.


“2011, and we’re standing here with lemonade and milk bottles, to get drinking water, absolutely scandalous.”

In order to gain an understanding of element of my research involved exploring how people respond when this reliance the psychological impact of living through is threatened I looked to other countries periods of rationing and shortages. and areas that experience water shortages, and looked at how water shortages affect inhabitants. Looking closer to home I looked at the water shortages of 2010 in Northern Ireland, and interviewed some residents about their experiences. Another

focused research

Through earlier research I had identified shifts that are and are expected to affect our relationship with water. I now endeavoured to further define and validate these shifts.


In recent years many have speculated about our reaching peak water. There are too many people in places with too little water. We can see the effects of this today through global water shortages which are already causing migration. Closer to home the SE of England is expected to experience water shortages as soon as 2040. Watching these changes from afar, Glaswegians will have a newfound respect for its climate and abundant rainfall.


People are more and more aware of the planet’s limited resources. Irresponsible use of these resources will increasingly be seen as taboo. We can imagine that this shift will have a great impact on the marketability of some “throw-away products” such as bottled water.


More and more water companies are introducing water meters to homes, this will soon become compulsory and water prices will rise. We will also experience further water privatisation, potentially including that of Scottish water. Water is expected to be commodified in the same way that gas and electricity are today. Its new fluctuating value will make the public far more aware of their water consumption and their water budget.

These three shifts became the basis for my scenario. As they start to play stronger roles in the way we live, the concepts designed in response to them will become more and more relevant.


I found myself exploring the way that these shifts impacting our relationship with water could change our behaviour. Talking to people who already perceive water as a valuable resource could be a useful starting point. I begun by exploring the rain water harvesting sites that currently exist in the city. Seeing the methods by which people are essentially commodifying water was very

insightful. Through my research thus far I had come to understand that rain water harvesting could well become a part of daily life in Glasgow, yet the methods and facilities used by current rain water harvesters did not seem cohesive with either modern or urban life.

gather user data

My next step in user research involved asking three people to record their activities and interactions with water over a 24 hour period. There were two intentions behind this. Firstly, having looked at a niche set of water users in Glasgow , I now wanted to consider how a broad range of people residing in the

city interact with water on a daily basis. My other intention was driven by the way I had seen today’s rainwater harvester’s operate. I was interested in identifying rainwater harvesting opportunities in people’s everyday interactions with the city.

Name: Tess Job: Jeweller Location: East End

Name: Abdi Job: Bouncer Location: Clydebank

Name: Kara Job: Waitress Location: West End

The data that I gathered highlighted the landscape. It’s size and composition dictates disparity between different city dweller’s its use and define it as city for walking, rain routines. The uniting factor between the or shine. activities of these three people was the time that they each spent outside moving from A to B. This is a reflection of Glasgow as an urban These people became invested in my project during the research phase and became a consistent input into the feedback process through consultations.


The insights from my research focused around the impact of water commodification, site specific interaction with Glasgow as an urban landscape, and the way that water collection is currently manifested.

draw insights


From these insights emerged my personal brief: In a post water-commodification scenario explore how the Glaswegians of 2050 will be able to integrate rainwater harvesting into their daily movements through the urban environment.

define personal brief

USER SCENARIO This is Eva, she lives in Glasgow in 2050 and this is her standing in her eco apartment which is near the university.

In order to illustrate Eva’s lifestyle and interests I wondered what would Eva have in her handbag?

Eva tries to have a healthy lifestyle, she goes to the gym each morning before work.

Eva works as a New Science Ethicist down at Quayside E on The Clyde.





Eva always carries a bottle of water around with her. Especially since her work started charging employees for public water usage.

Eva’s loves her ibook. At the moment she’s reading an old tourist guide book for San Francisco. She’d love to visit it but she doesn’t agree with long distance travel, a common stance of those who lived through the oil blackout of 2035

Eva’s quite concerned about the impact of the hole in the ozone layer, she wears high SPF sun protection and sun glasses every day

The rain has been so heavy these last few years. Most people use it as an excuse to stay indoors but Eva loves walking in the rain, but she wouldn’t be caught without her rain coat nowadays!

Although I had a good understanding of what changes would impact Glasgow by 2050 it was difficult to relate this to daily life and how the way people live will change. This user scenario brought the users and the context together, enabling me to gain a focus around which to centre my ideation.


develop range of concepts

My initial concepts centred around ways that people could harvest water from the urban landscape, either using rainwater or tapping into grey water deposits. Concepts concerning rainwater harvesting focused around collecting water on one’s person, or attaching vessels to the urban environment such as street furniture.


Image depicts the increased commodification of water in 2050

In response to the shifts identified and sources of future forecasting a context was framed: A time when water has been transformed from one of earth’s plentiful resources to an expensive commodity that is no longer freely handed out. People

respect water as a valuable reserve. They are far more aware of the importance of adequate hydration, and in a world where most people are forced to drink desalinated sea water, here in Glasgow people seek to find the purest, most natural water.


Design a wearable garment that will allow urban dwellers to harvest rainwater as they move through Glasgow. Through the ideation process I sought to design a tool for rainwater harvesting that was very different from the current system in place in as I wanted it to fit easily into urban life, and into the lifestyles and routines of my users. In this vein, designing clothing, something that is and will be part

of every Glaswegian’s daily routine was very appropriate. It was also clear that although future forecasting is a delicate art, I can rely on the fact that in 35 years Glaswegians will still be wearing clothes.

MATERIAL INVESTIGATION I was very interested in the idea of utilising absorbent fabrics in order to hold and transport rainwater. My initial exploration focused around identifying, acquiring and testing these fabrics.


Absorbeez pad before and after saturation Absorbeez This fabric is a super absorbent polymer encased in a thin mesh fabric which is used as flood defence. I tested the fabric by applying a steady flow of water to the surface until it reached saturation. The pad expanded and retained the water. The company specified that this pad was capable of absorbing 8 Litres of water. This fabric was very efficient in absorbing water. However, the water could only be retrieved by applying high pressure, and the consumption of the water was dubious.



Bamboo fabric This fabric is made out of the natural and sustainable fibre; bamboo. Bamboo fabric is primarily used for towelling and nappies due to its high absorbency qualities. In order to gain a perspective of the level of absorbency I ordered a variety of bamboo fabrics, and allowed each piece to saturate. I then squeezed the water out of each piece and compared the volume absorbed. I found that the fabric intended for luxurious towelling was the most absorbent. I also tested other non bamboo fabrics and found that in general, bamboo was far more absorbent than regular fabrics.


Crystal Soil This material is a super absorbent polymer which is sold in a form similar to a packet of seeds. When water is added, the crystals increase 100 times in size as they absorb the surrounding water. Their intended use is as an additive to or alternative to soil. I was particularly interested in the aesthetic transformation of the beads as they increased in size. As with the Absorbeez, the process of removing the water is somewhat complicated. I tested the use of heat or pressure in aiding the process but found that the water only came out slowly after a period of a few weeks.

I also considered the potential for water to be collected directly from clothing. In order to do so, I explored how water collects and drains off fabrics.


Channelling water I experimented with different fabrics and types of channels by measuring the volume of water collected. Through testing I established that multiple channels with low walls spread across a piece of fabric were the most effective at collecting water.

Image depicts the process of saturation illustrated by malformation of Absorbeez pads Exploring the channelling of water highlighted the importance in understanding the way that water flows and how it interacts with the human body. In order to further comprehend this I conducted an experiment in which I recorded the paths that water naturally assumes around the body. The nature of the Absorbeez fabric allowed me

to weigh the pads to confirm where the water had fallen. This showed me that water falls predominantly on the head and shoulders and flows down a person’s back. This conclusion led me to the assumption that the garment would work most effectively if based around a the shoulders and back.


Initial prototypes were paper-based and explored methods of collecting water around a person’s back.



I produced a series of fabric prototypes which investigated methods of channelling water, and storing it using absorbent fabrics.


I assessed these initial prototypes by using the criteria of appealability, functionality, and usability. The appealability of the concept was key and it was through consultations realised through further contact with my original three users that I gained insights into this aspect.

testing and feedback


In order to assess the appealability of the concepts I extrapolated the user’s feedback. I also used my own knowledge gained through research in order to assess which prototype had the greatest potential in terms of

usability and functionality. Although aspects of each concept were taken forward it was the water channelling hood that emerged as the strongest concept.



I looked to the fashion world for inspiration concerning the aesthetic outcome and styling as well as researching into AMY CONGDON current and emerging textile technologies.







Prototype round two Water-channelling hood

The aim of this prototype was to model and better understand how water could be channelled down the hood and the shoulders. I adapted an existing jacket in order to understand the potential of adapting prefabricated garments, however, making changes to the form of the jacket prove to be rather difficult and this led to the decision to design not only a hood but an entire jacket.


I tested the functionality of the structure for channelling water. It was important to consider the limitations of the model such as the permeability of the jacket fabric. However, my testing clearly showed the efficiency of

testing and feedback

the structure’s ability to channel water to a point. Tests prove that by increasing the angle of the channels, the water was more likely to follow the correct path so this change would be incorporated.


“It almost looks too much like a normal jacket.” “I’m not really sure how I would get the water out.”

“I would love to be able to see the water flowing in.”

Returning to the original set of users I acquired feedback in order to gauge the appealability of the prototype. The users provided some interesting comments on the styling of the jacket, however the key insights emerged from the ambiguity over the water gathering and accessibility. At this point the water was gathered in a concealed pouch on the inside of the jacket.


Standard rain gauge Catchment area: 0.2m ² Rainfall depth: 62 mm Rainwater volume: 0.062m ³ = 62 L per month = 2 L per day

Rain jacket Catchment area: 1m ² Rainfall depth: 310mm (62 x 5) Rainwater volume: 0.31m ³ = 310 L per month = 10.3L per day


I interpreted data from the average rainfall level of 62mm per month in order to calculate whether the jacket’s surface area could genuinely collect a considerable volume of water. The resulting figure of 10.3 L relies on the user always being outside when it is raining. This would never be the case, however someone spending a few hours outside would be able to collect a day’s worth of drinking water. Another important factor is that rainfall levels are expected to change in Glasgow over the coming 50 years, in particular much heavier rainfall in winter is anticipated. Considering these changes we can assume that in 2050 a day’s drinking water could be collected in an hour.

WATER STORAGE INVESTIGATION How does water collection affect the form of the jacket? I identified materials and fabrics which held the qualities that I was looking to re-create.


I tested out the way that different vessels could be used and accessed. I decided to appropriate the bags intended to hold water to make ice cubes. This was mainly due to the ease of inputting water through the funnel shaped access space at the top. Another influence was the aesthetic quality of the bag as it filled. This worked in accordance with the intention of making the water collection a feature of the jacket.

testing and feedback

I tested the use of the ice bags as part of the whole storage and filtration system. The model showed me that the bags could be sewn directly on to the fabric, and that the water could be input from one point, and then accessed at the base using three siphoning taps.


An aspect of the jacket’s use that I was yet to address was how drinkable the water would be. This was something that many people had questioned. I begun by identifying and mapping current filtration devices and systems. I also considered what kind of filter would be desired in Glasgow. I decided to appropriate the “Bobble” filter depicted above due to its ease of use. It is manufactured to work in conjunction with a

water bottle, allowing the water to be filtered as it’s leaving the vessel. I initially intended to attach the bobble directly to the ice bags, however, the large size of the bobble necessitated that I design a separate object to house it. This would be a separate filtration device which the user would attach to the water storage.



Prototypes testing use of Sugru, Milliput, and heat bonding in order to water seal the form

I made a series of prototypes with the goal of producing a water-tight object through which the water flowed correctly. In order to achieve this the key complication was finding a sealant which was adequately flexible and would adhere to plastic.


The analysis of each prototype involved testing how water flows through it, identifying issues, and finding ways to address them in the following model.


Image shows user’s response to question: could you show me how you think this object is meant to be held?

What do you think this is? user a: I reckon it’s for water, like a new kind of bottle. Or maybe it’s a filter. user b: Is it a water cooler? Like something that you’d put in a lunch box for kids. Excerpt from user testing

i. All users understood that water would enter through one end and come out at the other, however they were unsure which way around to hold the object. ii. As illustrated above one user commented on whether the object was intended for children. This was perhaps influenced by the use of bright colours and fabrics that one can imagine finding in children’s Tupperware. The fabrics and colours intended for the final model were more subdued and ‘grown-up.’

The form of the filter had been developed with aspects of functionality rather than usability in mind. In order to achieve a more balanced design I returned to my users to gauge how intuitive the design of the object was. Having not yet discussed the filtration element of the jacket with these users I took this as an opportunity to let them speculate as to its use. I also asked them how they would hold the object if they were using it and how they thought it would work. This raised some interesting points which were resolved as tweaks in my final filtration model.

testing and feedback


My intention for the final model was to design a formal rain jacket which would be appropriate for everyday work wear. The loose fitting shape of the jacket is designed in response to the normalisation of androgyny


in fashion design. The outer fabric is a black PVC with a stretch nylon base whilst the lining is a vibrant blue quilted fabric providing the jacket with a more solid weight to it.


The development of the pattern involved working from a commercial pattern and adapting it the form and fit that was required. This was carried out by making changes and testing them using practice material until the suitable pattern was achieved.


jacket pattern being tested in calico fabric

develop refined prototypes

I looked into the smaller details of the daily use of the jacket and designed a care label describing how to maintain the jacket, as well as a label attached to the inner filter pocket to describe the use and maintenance of the filtration device.


These images depict the labels in their final form attached to the jacket.


The final prototyping of the concept had three distinct areas; the jacket itself, the water storage, and the water filtration device. The following photos illustrate these three key areas.


When she arrives at work she gets the filter out She turns the tap to allow the water to flow of her jacket pocket and attaches it onto the through into the filter. water storage.



Eva drinks her glass of water and marvels at At lunch Eva drinks from her Rainwater jacket. the fact that she collected it from the clouds only this morning.

I produced a series of illustrations in order to communicate the experience of the using the jacket. A selection of these appaears on the opposite page. It was essential that I communicated the broad experience of using the jacket rather than simply the daily use. In this vein the user experience describes the process by which the user would choose the filter and ends with the reminder that this is a continuous cycle as the user will purchase replacement filters or perhaps buy multiple filters in order to have the option of different water compositions.

visually communicate

RETROSPECTIVE discover: The beginning of the discovery phase was most challenging due to the broad nature of the brief. Although this phase was divided between nearly twenty of us it still felt as if we were skimming topics rather than reaching a detailed level. Upon defining my focus I acknowledged the fact that I was a) designing a response to the way we relate to water b) designing for a future context. These two aspects meant that choosing users was somewhat difficult, I came to the conclusion that in some respects everybody was a potential user because everyone is a water user. The users that I resolved to use ultimately became a rich resource through their continual involvement in the process, and this was certainly one of the strengths of my discovery phase. define: The initial part of the define phase involved pulling out insights. In this project the insights came very directly from my interaction with the users and fed directly into the brief. This was fairly straightforward which was fortunate as I didn’t have a great deal of time but it does make me wonder had I spent more time with the users early on if additional insights would have emerged. Having defined my personal brief I produced a series of concepts. At this point I was really enjoying and benefiting from the freedoms of sketching but as soon as I started prototyping I stopped sketching creatively and simply used it as a planning and communicative tool. In my future projects I will seek to have more of an integrated use of sketching, sketch models and early prototyping as I imagine this will allow me to retain the experimentalism of my initial ideation.

retrospective h

develop: I was aware of the necessity to begin working with more tangible concepts so I moved quickly through the ideation process. However, with the hindsight of looking at my entire process, I think it would have been interesting to prototype a few of the other concepts to a level from which I could gain feedback. The step I took from having a pool of concepts to choosing a small group of them was done solely on the knowledge gained from my research rather than through consultations with users and this is now not cohesive with the rest of my design process. However , upon progressing into the prototyping stage I enjoyed having a genuine iterative process and being able to return to my users on a regular basis to receive feedback on new developments and prototypes.

deliver: I am happy with the resolution of the final model in that I feel it is capable of communicating my concept and allows me to communicate the intended experience. It was only in producing the final model that I truly got a sense of how the concept would come together in reality, and as expected during the fabrication a lot of changes were made to the pattern simply in response to seeing it visualise. If this project were extended there are certainly aspects of the model that I would change. One such example is that I didn’t anticipate the “biker aesthetic“ that would emerge from having such a structured, waterproof jacket. This wasn’t my intended outcome and I would work to change the fit and the fabric in order to move towards a subtler aesthetic. Although I intended to make a feature of the water channelling and collection I imagine the next iteration would involve making the whole design subtler and perhaps more understated. Another aspect of this phase was the visual communication of the jacket, my own vision for this was stylized on high-end fashion advertising in which the entire context of the garment is communicated in a single shot, I am not confident that I achieved this as the final images do not depict the jacket in its natural setting of a rainy Glaswegian day. However this did ensure that I learnt the important lesson that you can never rely on the weather.

the end

Rain Coat  

A process journal accompanying the project Rain Coat. A project exploring the imminent scarcity of potable water and how an urban dweller ma...

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