The Festival of Design and Technology Bournemouth University 2016


WHAT THIS ENTRY AIMS TO ACHIEVE


I am writing this blog with the objective of giving some much deserved credit to the emerging creative talent of Bournemouth University as well as shedding some light on the burning questions, uncertainties and apprehensions of a placement student facing the imminent adversity (okay it isn’t that bad) of final year. Based on recommendations from both myself and other sources it will hopefully give guidance to those who need it most in preparation for what is likely to be an intense year.

The Festival of Design hosted annually by Bournemouth University in conjunction with its creative faculties is a great platform for sharing a diverse range of ideas. It is evident at first glance that each individual exhibiting here had drawn from their unique skill set acquired during their integrated year out in industry, this fundamental structure makes for a commendable display of professionalism and confidence on the day and I’d recommend visiting if you haven’t already.

 


THE APPROACH


Arguably one of the most important considerations for final year is your approach to both the course work set out by modular assessment and the accompanying study for examinations. The overall consensus seems to be emphasised as treating the course as a 9 to 5 job (or midnight to 8 for the nocturnal among us). To summarise, resilience, perseverance and pro-activity make up the majority of qualities you will need to adopt in order to succeed.

Some of the main points raised in the supplementary lecture held on project day outlined to be instrumental in your success throughout the year were to choose something that you aren’t too familiar with but balance this with an engaging project too when deciding which route to take with your design.

Ultimately this will encourage you to seek answers and ask questions outside of your comfort zone in order to establish some familiarity with your chosen topic without making pre-prejudiced assumptions based on personal experiences. Assumptions are to be avoided like the plague in design and subsequently an appropriate level of research should be carried out to evidence all major design decisions with facts, statistics and reasoning.

Following on from this, design is in the finer details so put them under scrutiny, be thorough and allocate time to identify which attributes will optimise your design solution based on its chosen application, environment and user. Give thought to all anticipated opportunity for potential misuse and design them out where possible in order to suppress design flaws in the early stages and create something that is intuitive to use.

This is where being ruthlessly critical of your idea with an emotionally detached and objective mind set will dramatically help you, seek out constructive criticism from others as this will likely highlight any overlooked weaknesses in the concept which could jeopardise its effectiveness in tackling the problem that you aim to solve.


THE OUTLOOK


Consider yourselves professional designers, after all this is the end goal and it is this year that will likely govern your future in the creative industry. Make sure to utilise all of the skills that you have acquired through years of learning to make the most of this opportunity.

Converse and share knowledge as you will likely find that everybody has developed a unique expertise mainly moulded by their time outside of university i.e. what you may struggle with somebody else might excel in and vice versa.

Finally ensure you keep an organised/time stamped logbook of your work throughout the year keeping it current as you go and chunk difficult larger tasks down into manageable segments making sure to plan your time wisely. Just start somewhere and you’ll be surprised at how quickly that huge pile of assignments can disperse from your desk. In essence keeping on top of things will make the experience easier for yourselves and less of a stressful burden.

 


HOW TO GENERATE IDEAS


This is a difficult one to answer as the effectiveness of the tools and resources available to ease the generation of ideas depends a lot on the individual’s learning style and preference. Luckily though there are an abundance of techniques out there to use as recommended by a host of renowned designers from varying backgrounds. Remember that all solutions start with a problem and finding the right problem can be compared to an answer, you have to start by asking the right questions before the correct answer becomes apparent.

 

  •  Use biomimicry to emulate some of nature’s time tested design and engineering as            observing nature can often be the little bit of inspiration you need and the key to  moving forward.

 

  •  Learn from your mistakes, we all make them but they only become lessons when you are  willing to learn from them. Try to keep previous mistakes in mind when creating new    ideas.

 

  •  Keep a book of thoughts on you at all times (a diary can be effective in retaining valuable  thoughts that may get dismissed throughout a busy day).

 

  • Photograph the problems that you encounter as this is a fast and effective way to document the potential beginnings of an idea.

 

  • ASANA instagantt – this is a web application that allows its users to create gantt charts which help with quick project planning and scheduling by quantifying tasks in order of importance and displaying them in a concise format in relation to the time scale assigned to each segment.

 

  • Consider something that you’ll enjoy working on as you are sticking with this for a year so choosing something that intrigues and motivates you is imperative.

 

  • Endeavour to design for manufacture i.e. think about how this idea is to become a tangible reality in the real world and the actions you need to take to bring this idea to life.

 

  • Have the courage to challenge convention if you feel that there is a better way to achieve the same outcome, go out there and produce it.

     
  • People have 5 senses, explore all of them to provide an open minded solution. An example of this could be if your demographic has a visual impairment you could explore all of the other senses to create an interface tailored specifically to their needs.
     

In conclusion, start thinking of problems not solutions as you will find that concept proposals are likely to be shot down with immediate effect if you have narrowed your approach too early. So when submitting potential ideas for the consideration of the programme leaders only include a detailed outline of the problem before later exploring all of the possible solutions i.e. what the issue is and who is experiencing it. The problem should be backed by ample research into your chosen market and demographic to gauge the demand for a solution after all you cannot sell a product that doesn’t fulfil the wants and needs of the prospective user as they simply won’t perceive any value in it.

 


TO Do? OR NOT TO DO?, THAT IS THE QUESTION


  • Although it can be a mundane task, employing ‘value engineering’ throughout your design process is often key in instigating future cost savings during the production of components although this can be further refined over time, the practice of condensing several parts into one or designing out redundant parts that aren’t integral to the overall end product is pretty common and rightfully so. To do this right you will need to have at least some appreciation of the limitations associated with certain materials and processes but doing your homework is certainly encouraged on this one to make for a commercially successful product.
     
  • Complementing the previous point is the avoidance of ‘over engineering’. Sometimes unnecessary added costs are warranted provided they are being paid for in the end product but without a valid demand driven justification those extra attributes should be dropped. An example of this could be if a designer requiring a strong material chooses titanium on a whim without first carrying out the calculations to see if other cheaper options would be adequate for the application in normal use. Similarly, certain methods of processing are considerably cheaper than others so take the time to do the research and find both the right material and the correct way to process it weighing up the pros and cons before making a carefully selected informed decision.
     
  • When approaching tooling and manufacturing companies for speculative quotations never disclose the fact that you are a student as they may not be keen to provide you with a price for work that they know you aren’t realistically going to be in a position to pay for.
     
  • Avoid choosing an idea that is too simplistic, take this opportunity to challenge yourselves. On the contrary be aware of the time constraints imposed during final year and don’t be over ambitious try to find a happy medium here being honest with yourself about what you’re likely to achieve and striving to do your best with what time and resources you have.

 


THE FINANCIAL BITS


For those that foresee financial difficulties during their final year with funding their final majors (particularly during the prototyping phase). I can only urge you to plan ahead setting aside as much of the money as possible during placement, the budget being recommended as between £600-£1000 to cover specialist material costs.

An alternative method for raising the funds required could be crowd funding through a charitable event such as a skydive or a sponsored run another option is researching the vast amount of bursaries available such as the James Dyson Award that have been kindly set aside for the right candidates.

 


THE LEGAL BITS


  • It is advisable to protect your intellectual property by placing imagery featuring the copyright bug '©'  overlaid upon your work in the public domain, register the design rights, trade mark your logos and branding and then get your product into the market as quickly as possible.
     
  • The likelihood is that you won’t have 1 million pounds in the bank to fund a lawsuit with a corporate company at this stage so applying for a registered design (what they call a design patent in the US) is the most useful form of free legal protection and although it is inferior to a patent, patents are inherently difficult to obtain and prohibitively expensive to upkeep due to the subscription basis under which they are issued requiring a periodic costly renewal. Many bigger companies also patent watch so that they are ready to take over ownership of your patent upon an expiration, you can find your design falling victim to this if you don’t remain vigilant.
     
  • It is important to note that although a registered design is the most useful protection for a product besides a patent, it is limited to the style in which the product is created i.e. if you don't want others copying the overall aesthetics of your design then this is sufficient but with that said it will not cover the functional design elements such as novel clips, hinges, uses etc.
     
  • Always send out a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to manufacturers in initial correspondence when seeking quotations before exporting any CAD or other sensitive data exposing the principles behind an idea. Send a bilateral (mutual) type where both parties are required to sign the disclosure as this doesn’t need a witness like the unilateral (one-way) counterpart, doing this will further protect your design from a legal perspective.

     
  • When conducting research reliant on questionnaire data don’t forget to carry out the correct ethics procedure signing the relevant documentation in compliance with the universities legal obligations.

 


THE PROJECTS FROM THE DAY


JR RYAN – SqueezeBox™

SqueezeBox is a high quality storage kit for vegan and vegetarian bulk cooks, designed to portion, preserve, carry and reheat vegetable based meals in convenient single servings.

JR hopes that by addressing the technological issues around the preservation of vegetable based dishes, reducing the steps involved in preparing bulk cooked meals and making the usability of a multi-function device as easy and intuitive as possible, vegans and vegetarians will finally have a portable bulk storage container that not only simplifies the process of cooking mass portions, while also preserving the quality of vegetable dishes in an ethical, healthy and sustainable way, but also make a life of veganism easier to achieve and therefore more popular in general.


MATTHEW ORMSBY - Sonigo™

Matt and myself have been friends now for quite some time so it was great to finally catch up at the exhibition to discuss his final major project a little bit and learn the process behind what it intends to solve.

It was clear to me that he has taken a focused objective approach to his project ‘Sonigo’ which in my opinion is the epitome of a brilliantly executed design based around thorough consideration and technical knowledge.

The design itself has been created with the intention of addressing the humanistic challenge that parents living with visual impairment face in daily life, this being difficulty with independent mobility when with their young children.

Sonigo is the assistive technological solution that incorporates multi-sensory design and ultrasonic technology to provide haptic feedback indicating any oncoming obstacles while the user is commuting with a push chair in public thus reducing the risk of injury and promoting good posture throughout use when compared to the traditional methods out there.

Matthew Ormsby Sonigo

Matthew Hyland - Touch Hydration

MATTHEW HYLAND –
Touch Hydration™

Matthew’s design ‘Touch Hydration’ is based around the problem with substandard hydration levels having a detrimental effect on a competitive cyclist’s optimum performance and endurance. The extensive research he has collated suggests that when an individual is dehydrated by as little as 2% of their overall body weight or over hydrated by just 1% they could be substantially predisposed to related health issues while participating in the sport.

This product allows cyclists to take a proactive approach to monitoring their hydration levels while riding, prompting them to take quick responsive action to the clear and concise visual information relayed via coloured light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Matthew stepped up to a real challenge on this one and took on a lot of additional learning for the electronics behind this concept so I admire him for that.


MICHAEL VAN MIERT – TOTESIX™

Michael has worked hard this year and subsequently achieved a phenomenal finish on his prototype turning his concept ‘ToteSix’ into a tangible reality.

His vision is based around the need for a robust yet stylish system that aims to safely transport fine wine within the hold compartment of an aircraft as checked luggage. This design combines a perfect blend of aesthetically pleasing accents that highlight the luxury of the product with comprehensively thought out functionality that anyone would be proud of. 

Unfortunately for legal reasons I was unable to include an accompanying photograph in this section but I hope this has provided an adequate insight as well as giving due credit to Michael for his efforts.


Owen Addicott - SwimPod

OWEN ADDICOTT –
SwimPod™

SwimPod is a tow float that aims to provide open water swimmers with increased visibility and buoyancy when attached to their waist via its neoprene belt. SwimPods compact design easily fits inside a backpack when fully retracted making the product highly portable.

Capable of providing 77N of buoyancy to the swimmer, SwimPod far exceeds the support provided by existing tow floats currently on the market.

Owen has really drawn from his hands on ability in the creation of this prototype and I look forward to seeing SwimPod proudly displayed at the prestigious New Designers exhibition in a couple of weeks.


LUCY EDWARDS – Minimal™

Lucy’s project ‘minimal’ is a modern solution to the age old problem encountered by pianists everywhere, how to turn a page while playing without unnecessarily distracting the musician.

By using minimal, a pianist no longer relies on current improvised page turning methods, nor the employment of someone to sit and turn the pages for them during play. Minimal uses a pedal (activated with the left foot) to trigger the page turn thereby eliminating the need to remove a hand from the keys whilst playing. 

Lucy Edwards - minimal

A SPECIAL THANKS

Thank you to all of the talented designers that were willing to talk to me on the day I hope to keep in touch throughout the future and wish you prosperity in the beginnings of your new career. To my readers I hope that this entry has provided a glimmer of solace in the approach to a challenging year and that it clears up some of the uncertainties that you may have had prior to reading this.

Karl