LIVE PROJECT ; THE PARSNIPSHIIP

I was very much excited to kick start the year with a live project which consisted of a very new and alternative brief to anything that we’ve explored before. The brief asked that we worked in mixed groups to develop a new and quirky ‘on the go’ packaging design for a local sustainable, vegan and vegetarian food company – The Parsnipship. It was lovely that the staff from the company presented the initial introduction and brief so that we could get a real feel for who they were, what they were about and what it was they wanted of us. It was also great to see and taste the products that we were designing packaging for for similar reasons – I really appreciated and found this hugely beneficial in kick starting the project despite both themes of packaging and food/vegan food design being very new to me.

I started the project conducting huge amounts of both primary and secondary research into the various elements of the brief for example, existing food packaging examples, the company themselves, sustainability, visiting shops such as Pughs garden centre to research and gain inspiration as well as conducting a survey which focused on all consumers including vegan and vegetarians in order to gain a better understanding for the consumer and the existing market. This also helped me better understand the brief and get a feel for the way I might start designing. This research also helped me underpin what was lacking in current areas of this market as well as what could be improved on.

I thoroughly enjoyed the ideation stage of this project – I tried not to limit my ideas and be as creative as possible continuously looking back to my research for guidence and information as well as gaining feedback from my group which consisted of 2 male, BSC students and 2 female BA students. One thing I would say is that there was a fairly clear divide in the group which became more apparent as the project progressed which made communication and decision making a little difficult at times. Some team members were a lot less open to exploration and chose a final design far too early on in the process I’d say. I definitely think that we could have better explored and taken forward some of my organic shapes from the beginning and perhaps I should have pushed for this even more at the time – this element was certainly a learning curve in terms of group work and occasions when it sometimes isn’t quite as successful. I really enjoyed and appreciated the teaching styles and different inputs during this project, I felt like it was really beneficial in taking the project through the stages from research and ideation through to manufacture and final presentation. Despite designing a food packaging sounding like quite a fun and straight forward process, there were many elements that we had to consider for example, ergonomics, the display of adequate information, how the product would be accessed, how the internal product might be seen, the manufacture, build and adhesive of the product and so on… I certainly feel like we could have better clearly allocated each other roles during the project in order to ensure that all of these elements and the rest were covered and done to our best abilities rather than lying in the uncertain a lot of the time due to different members having different understandings and ideas.

Taking our decided design through to more developed stages of modelling, prototyping and testing was really exciting and far more advanced than what we had done previous. We bought one of the Parsnipship’s food products in order to test in our prototypes which was really useful as well as taking our prototypes to relevant shops such as Bean Freaks in order to test them on the shelves there and gain some feedback from the staff and customers. We also had the privilege of using PEL for the first time as a means of user testing and research which was an incredible tool to get to see and be hands on with experimenting with. We used our own images from our research to place into PEL to analyse and visualise what our product as a food packaging would look like on the shelves next to its competitors and whether consumers would be drawn to it or not (determining its potential success). This means of virtual product testing was extremely insightful and useful and certainly a big thing I have taken from this particular project.

We further experimented our designs external print and aesthetics by using various colour waves, fonts, sizes and print until we were happy with the aesthetic from a commercial, cost, sustainability and aesthetic perspective. This also gave us variation to demonstrate and pitch in our final presentation to the Parsnipship having chosen to use screen printing and die cutting as manufacturing methods with a home made sustainable PLA as an adhesive. Preparing to present back to The Parsnipship after all our development and hard work was rather daunting and felt extremely professional. We worked hard to perfect our presentation techniques, design booklet and prototypes in aim of being best organised and prepared as possible. I actually really enjoyed preparing and presenting in this way, I felt like we worked well in executing the final presentation and that it was a brilliant opportunity to practice for future opportunities.

All in all, I felt like this project was an enjoyable and interesting experience packed with lots of new information and opportunity to kick start the second year despite some of the problems previously discussed. Looking back, the project is even more appealing to me now than it was initially and I’d really like to revisit something similar in the near future in order to produce a really high quality, successful outcome. Despite this, I am pleased with mine and the groups general workload/presentation despite there being things that I would certainly revisit, improve on, work better collaboratively and change if the opportunity arose again. 

 

 

 

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ROBOT PROJECT UPDATE

Although I feel as if I’ve been extremely reflective in terms of my work, tutorials and group work with Adam during this project, I felt like I’ve lost sight of my blog due to the workload and having multiple different things ongoing.

However, I feel like through my design booklet, final portfolio and final presentation(s) these reflections and the journey I’ve taken within my work will become clearer.

Since my last blog post for this project, we have come a rather long way. We stuck with the toilet seat shutting mechanism and have been through multiple iterations, conversations, tutorials and bumps in the road since. Having initially simplified our idea to a fairly basic mechanism (we both knew it was very basic and were unsure of how we felt with it but were rather confused in the electronics of complicating it), we made a last minute decision after all of our successful and unsuccessful developments/experimentation to add electronics into our design. This has meant that we have had an even higher workload during the last couple of weeks of the project to complete this and that we have had to compromise some things to get this done. However, in terms of meeting the brief from a mechanism perspective, we have worked to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and develop something more complex. If we had more time following this, I’d certainly have liked to work on creating a better outer aesthetic for the products casing. I’d also have pushed myself to try and better understand and be involved with some of Adams aspects of the project.

I have been rather unwell for a large majority of this project meaning that my design booklet isn’t quite as dense as I’d have liked it to have been. Despite this, I am both pleased and proud that I’ve pushed to complete and submit all work on time. However, despite this, I am  generally pleased with my efforts during this project in pushing into a rather gimmicky, comic style of design also considering design for manufacture and mechanisms. I am aware that my work may not present as beautifully as usual or as much in terms of workload however, I feel like I have benefitted from this project in a much different way – it has been a huge learning curve and eye opener from a BA to a BSC perspective with consideration of electronics, mechanisms and design for manufacture. I have learned so much that I will take forward into consideration for future projects which will be extremely useful moving forward to my third years projects. Despite not enjoying this project as much, and feeling like the project was more BSC orientated I have enjoyed the process, the mixture of teaching methods and the chance to work in mixed pairs.

Thursday 28th March

Morning; Paul’s Legal lecture

Afternoon; Theo’s humour in design

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Tutorial with Claire – feedback and notes;

  • Nothing wrong with the simplicity of our mechanism/product – we just need to design well for manufacture
  • Build a story around the frustration behind the toilet seat being left up, play on it and the fact that the toilet gets shut unpredictably should be a lesson taught to the user for leaving it open 24/7
  • (BA)Bulk out folder with some research, theory – have fun with it and play around with ideas. Accept it being gimmicky and not the beautiful designer we’re used to
  • (BSC) Bulk out folder with mechanism experimentation
  • Don’t worry too much about Friday’s deadline, just submit some experimental CAD folders for CNC to demonstrate skill and experimenting, you can then justify why you didn’t choose this method for your final design.

FRIDAY 8TH MARCH – TOILET SEAT RESEARCH

Today I went to B&Q to do some further research into different types of toilet seat and to purchase a toilet seat for us to begin designing around and testing with.

I soon realised that the range of toilet seats on the market is a lot broader than anticipated and this is a huge factor that we will have to bear in mind when designing our product as this could have a big affect on the form of the product itself. For example, all of the seat fittings were different shapes and had slightly different measurements. Some were soft shutting (of different speeds) and some slammed shut (again differing depending on size, weight and material). Some of the seats had a gap between the layers whereas others laid on top of each other. Depending on the brand, materials and aesthetics, they varied hugely in price and quality and this was easy to tell from looking at and interacting with the products. We need to decide whether our product is to be designed for a specific toilet seat type, or, whether it’ll be universal to different toilet seats (better but, maybe more difficult to design and create for.) Interestingly, toilets were also placed in different locations in the demonstrative bathrooms – some had space to the sides, front and behind, whereas other were restricted in some areas. I took some videos of opening and shutting some of the different kinds while I was in the shop in case the force and speed affects what we’re doing, we can look back to these.i

I also began looking into and considering locations in which our product might be sold/displayed – I photographed some of these locations for us to consider further on in the project for example when we’re packaging or marketing designing for example. We could even have one or two of our products as display testers on some of the toilet seat displays. Having recently learned the importance of copyright and using photos off Google for creating presentation boards, inset images etc, I think we should aim to take our own high quality photographs for this purpose in particularly if we can’t find any that we’re completely happy with in the free online library.

THURSDAY 7TH MARCH

I preferred todays design for manufacture lecture as it related back to some of my interests including sustainable design/recyclable design.

Moving on to our CAD workshop, due to being unable to follow along on my own laptop, I made sure to take plenty of notes and photographs (I prefer doing it this way anyway as I have something to refer back to and follow) so in my own time, will spend some time in the MAC suite putting these skills to practice so that I’m able to apply them in my own designs and work.

 

In the afternoon, Adam and I sat down together to brainstorm some of our ideas and start thinking about how they might work if we were to make them for real – I think the key here is to next week, start creating and prototyping some of these very simply in order to develop a better understanding for how they function. We’re both rather confused in this field so we watched some youtube videos and had a couple of discussions along with mapping out on paper how some things might work. We also narrowed down our focus for our robots task to complete, how it might be done, and what might be needed to do so. Although rather short and fast, our tutorial with Claire helped narrow this focus and create a more realistic idea.

Both feeling a little confused/lost with the project and our idea, we created to do list for the next couple of days so that hopefully, we can come back to it next week with a clearer mind, a better understanding and a narrowed focus so that we are able to get on with development, planning and prototyping/testing. We decided that for now, it best to focus on the actual mechanics and workings of the product rather than getting caught up in its aesthetics as we’ll have plenty of time to focus on this after.