Sunday, 28 November 2010

Tiffany & Co.

Not surprisingly, I am often accused of not being particularly feminine in my priorities and interests. However, every so often something comes along and reminds me exactly why every woman in the first world will mentally turn into their very own version of Audrey Hepburn and feel compelled to promise forever to any man that presents them with that petite, egg-shell blue box that symbolises all things lovingly luxurious, but superbly subtle.

Tiffany & Co have been creating beautiful jewellery and gifts since 1837. They pride themselves of being classy and traditional, but always aspire to design innovative pieces and promote new designers. They define themselves as groundbreaking and glamorous. For me this is an exquisite product design in an area that many people overlook when considering 'good design'.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Vintage Breakfast

I am often impressed by new, unique and kitsch homeware products. The idea that design is in ever tiny part of our day really inspires me. However I sometimes think that I overlook the things I use everyday mealtime, everytime I make a cup of tea and everytime I boil an egg. We often design and buy 'vintage inspired' or 'retro' pieces of homeware (particularly kitchenware), but what about the genuine articles?

When I moved away from home to live at uni my Gran went into overdrive. Plates, side plates, saucers, mugs, glasses, pans, cutlery and even a teapot and an egg-cup. This is a woman to be admired. She is the queen of the auction room and the car boot expert. Therefore, I have an interest collection of vintage kitchenware. These are two of my favourites. The Sandringham egg-cup and the 'Fresh Milk' mug. No-one else I know has them, and they brighten up my day.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

New Minimalist

To reduce is a key feature in many design principles, particularly in the contemporary market. The aim is to reduce negative impacts on cost, the environment, the consumer, the manufacturing processes, the material sourcing, the transportation and the disposal of the products involved.

By doing this designers are not only increasing their social awareness and conscience in design terms, but are also making their products more appealing to the current consumer. Advertising and the media tells us that we can be 'better people' by using products and adopting new habits that reduce negative effects on the world we live in both environmentally and economically.

One method of marketing products recently has been to make one product that has the features of a multide of different products, therefore meaning a consumer only needs one piece of technology/one material product rather than two, three, four or even more. Therefore, less materials, manufacturing processes, advertising, transportation and disposal is needed.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

BoConcept Rock Chair

The Rock Chair from the 2011 BoConcept collection is a re-release that is a fun and attractive combination of aesthetics, humour and function. The buttons in the cushion are placed to look like eyes and the curve of the seat (based on ergonomics) is reminiscent of a smile which turns the piece of furniture into a face. The bright colour and fun nature of the design means that this product will be popular to a wide audience.

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Great Exhibition

The Great Exhibition took place from May 1st to October 15th 1851 in Hyde Park, London. It was one of the World's Fairs that displayed thousands of examples of art, design and engineering from the countries in which they were created. These were popular 19th century features.

It was organised by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, the spouse of the ruler at the time, Queen Victoria. It was attended my six milion people (a third of the population at the time in Great Britain) and made £186 000 (£16 190 000 in 2010) profit which was used to found The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Science Museum, The Natural History Museum and The Imperial Institute.

Karl Marx claimed that the exhibition was an emblem of the capitalist fetishism of commodities. It was also attended by famous people from history such as Charlotte Bronte, Charles Darwin, Lewis Carroll and George Eliott.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Origami Clutch

This Origami Clutch by Itay Laniado looks and feels like paper but it’s made out of Tyvek®, so it’s strong like plastic or fabric with a zipper is sewn inside. It is available for purchase on Etsy. I think this an extremely interesting piece of design as it very successfully demonstrates how material replacement and alternative material technology can be used even in the circumstances of textiles and fashion.

If further colours and perhaps other alternative materials were explored in the design of this type of product then it would promote the eco-friendly and cost-efficient properties of using a variety of materials to replace less eco-friendly ones which leads the way for other manufacturers to improve their product's efficiency and costs.

Monday, 4 October 2010


These modular 'ZipZip' cushions by Pling collection are a new take on the minimalist theme has been popular for the past twenty years. They can be zipped on all sides and positioned on the floor against walls, between other pieces of furniture and are not only comfortable, but an aesthetically original and interest space saving product. As they are not like ordinary sofas and chairs that have legs and a base and then cushions as well, they are very lightweight, easy to transport and also cheaper to manufacture.

Furthermore, this type of zip together cushion furniture is clearly popular and appreciated by consumers and designers alike as I have seen a similar kind of design theme and idea that is sold by IKEA and probably other similar homeware stores.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Viral Advertising-Infectious or Affliction

My flatmate studies Fashion Marketing and Branding and was commenting on how she is getting irritated by the increasing trend for viral advertising campaigns that involve short films featuring expensive clothing, extravagant settings and influencial models, actors and actresses, thus, I began considering how effective and cost-efficient viral advertising campaigns can be for designers and manufacturers.

From the perspective of brands that are identified using celebrity names and linear symbols and features, viral campaigns spread the links between products and marketing features that allow them to be easily and automatically identified by consumers when they go to shops or are purchasing products online. This also allows marketing departments to effectively create association with certain qualities such as expense, luxury, quality, beauty, class, functionability for their products without having to repeatedly spell it out in every form of advertising. This can be done using music, photography, iconography and endorsement.

Considering viral advertising campaigns past and present I would lean towards arguing that they are very effective in marketing a product and will most-likely increase sales, however they are very expensive, require a lot of very accurate direction so as to portray exactly what they are attempting to promote and as they become more popular and increase in number, the effect of them becomes more diluted and less cost-effective. Therefore, I feel it is time for an entirely new and unique form of advertising and marketing to be brought forward and exploited.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Peg Pencil

I came across this 'Peg Pencil' on the Gizmodo design website. I feel the retractable pencil design by Yuta Watanabe is so simple but really catches the eye. As obvious and as unoriginally novel it may be, it has actually not been marketed before and is technically original. Furthermore, cleverly, the design allows for the user to extend the lead rather than sharpen it and even replace the lead rather than replace the pencil. This will be popular for the eco-freaks and novelty driven consumers alike!

Anonymous Design

'Many product designers that we take for granted in our daily lives have evolved anonymously over decades or even centuries, through a process of natural selection that is driven by practical need rather than aesthetic concern.'- 'Design Handbook' by Charlotte and Peter Fiell.

I feel this statement really sums up the way that there are people who maybe only ten people in a billion were even aware of at the time influenced the 'tools' and products we use in daily home, office and luxury life today. So this post is to recognise all the designers who are left unrecognised for their life altering products.

One of the most famous and commonly used examples of anonymous designs (particularly in England) is the 'Brown Betty' teapot which was manufactured brown so that it does not get stained by tea; no other teapot can boast this as an original feature.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Lamp Love

If there is one weakness in my shopping habits (and I think there are several flaws in my technique) it is the need to repeat purchase lamp after lamp only interrupted by the odd lamp-shade and lightbulb. I could criticise myself for this need to buy every lamp in the consumer market right now, but when I consider the choices and joy of novelty designs and eye-catching patterns and colour matching everything with my bedroom, kitchen and (quite possibly at some point) my underwear I just can't help myself!

However sad this may be, I now have a large selection of lamps in every colour, pattern, style, base and shade design. I love being able to find a different style and bulb type for whatever kind of lighting and atmosphere I would like in particular spaces.

Furthermore, with the current popularity of eco-friendly, environmentally conscious and sustainably sourced materials and products there is an interesting range of lamps and shades manufactured using recycled and re-used materials and utilising used products for various parts of the lamps. These can be both striking and aesthetically pleasing and are often used as a focal point in a room, restaurant, shop or even an exhibition.

Monday, 16 August 2010

What's The Difference?

As I sit in my kitchen tapping away at my laptop all I can hear is my Dad arguing (apparently with himself) as to why two seemingly identical tin openers are completely different. By different I mean that one works, and one just does not. This is an ongoing dilemma and spreads far beyond the 'why don't two identical products work the same?' question, to the 'why do none of these f*****g tin openers work?' and the curious fact that seemingly however much money you spend on a rotary version of this type of product, they all fundamentally fail to impress.

It would appear, that as designers have created more 'user friendly', 'easy-grip' and complex versions of the original tin opener that manufacturers have lost the ability to successfully reproduce an accurate rendition of the original product that actually did, at some point in the last thirty years, work perfectly well!

Some may argue 'why would you even need a standard tin opener when you can buy an automatic or electric or magnetic version?' Well in all honesty some (such as those influenced by my family's technophobe genetics) prefer something that won't fail in a power-cut, doesn't threaten to take out the entire surrounding county's power when used by the wrong person and doesn't require you to read the instructions. Furthermore, if companies are going to continue to manufacture and sell the tradtional styles of tin opener, they should at least ensure that they work and are fit for purpose. This is basic quality management and product testing that even I understand!

As said by my parents, 'this country is so fat they need the exercise of a manual tin opener!' and, 'if we have satellites in space how are we still struggling with the concept of a simple tin opener that even the Victorians had a working version of?'

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

NHS Hospital Beds

So we're constantly hearing about the lack of them and fights for them and the need for more, but has anyone looked at the design of the hospital bed recently? Having just spent a very long week in Bath RUH having suffered a ruptured appendix I can only begin to express how much improvement the hospital bed needs.

Firstly, as a temporary bed and purely a place to sleep the current design very much serves its purpose, and yes I am recovering at home now in the comfort of my own bed. However, as a healing aid and place to regain strength the bed I slept in did the job but could have done it much faster and with less patient discomfort.

My main issue when recovering was the loss of all core strength due to the surgeon cutting through my abdominal muscles. I was confined to my bed for five days straight and did not have the strength to sit up on my own. Obviously, the bed does move and the position adjusts, but the height of the bed and number of wires and tubes that attached my body to the bed did not encourage me to physically make the effort to aid my own muscular development. The discomfort caused from sleeping on the uncomfortable mattresses and with an absurd number of tubes attached to the patient does not encourage them to mobilise and speed up recovery time.

Once you are mobile and alert you are allowed to go home and recover in your own comfortable environment, thus, freeing up another hospital bed space for a patient who needs it. Therefore, by addressing the ergonomic issues and investing in the redevolpment of the NHS provided bed, the comfort and speed of recovery of patients would be increased and crucial waiting times in medical situations would be significantly reduced.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Cath Kidston

Cath Kidston is recognised as a key designer of fabrics, clothes, bags and accessories. But in a modern economic climate and gadget obssessed society, expanding her products from purely textile to gadget and electronics accessories was an intelligent business decision.

She has now created a range of iPhone and iPod Touch hard cases, as well as cases and 'pockets' for other popular items such as Blackberry's and Nintendo DSi consoles. This explosion of new products from Cath Kidston is a good way for her infilitrate the electronics and gadget market without straying from her decorative and textile roots too far.

In a business sense, diversifying the range of products that she produces increases the recognisability of her products as the brand identity is in the patterns and (usually floral) designs she sells. Therefore, not only is she expanding the areas of the market that she reaches out to, ut she is also increasing cnsumer awareness of her brand.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


This example of novelty product design is salt and pepper shakers fitted in an embrace. The designer recognised on the article on is Scott Henderson who names it 'Hug'. It is selling for $29 at 'Generate'. However, whilst visiting relatives in the south west of France I first saw this product for 3 euros in a small town market. This was five years ago. Furthermore, two years ago I found the same product in Urban Outfitters for £8. Thus, this raises the question; Are products priced for certain markets in an extortionate manner due to where they are sold and who they are sold to? Is this right or fair? Is this ethical design?

Levi - 'Care to Air' Design Challenge

In partnership with the Myoo Create community, Levi Strauss & Co. is running a competition for designers everywhere to respond to the challenge of how to design the world’s most innovative, covetable and sustainable air-drying solution for clothing. They’re offering prize money for the most effective solutions, as well as an audience with experienced designers and eco-innovators.

I feel this is an important and well briefed competition as every-day energy consumption is one of the most easily improved forms of energy use. Thus, I am attempting to design my own form of clothes air-drying and enter the competition. Personally, I believe that designing with a conscience is not only important, but also unavoidable, however much some critics claim to find 'eco-design' boring and over-played. These articles demonstrate the importance of this kind of innovative project:

'Clothes lines boom as we wash our hands of tumble dryers'- Mail Online, 19th Aug 2009.
'As a Seventies must-have mod con they helped banish another element of those wash day blues.
But the tumble dryer has never been a perfect solution. Aside from occasionally shrinking your favourite jumper, they were never particularly cheap to run - nor eco-friendly.
Which, in these straitened times, might explain why so many of us are turning back to the peg and clothes line. There has been a 20 per cent rise in sales of outside airers and humble washing pegs as families realise that ditching the tumble dryer is not only green, but bank balance-friendly too. According to the Energy Savings Trust an average of £60 can be saved on electricity bills every year by simply turning off the tumble dryer. If everyone in the UK who uses one - 60 per cent of households do - that would make a total saving of £720million. It would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to taking 960,000 cars off the roads. But it seems it's not that easy for us to step back in time. Separate research found that one in five of us would be too embarrassed about hanging out our ' Bridget Jones' pants or control underwear in front of the neighbours. Over two fifths admit to having hidden underwear behind larger items when hanging it outside and many more women than men do this. The survey, carried out by Opinion Matters this year, also found that one in ten are too embarrassed to hang underwear outside at all. That said there are always show-offs. It seems there are 11 per cent who like to put their lingerie where it is most visible so that they can show off. Nicola Wood, buyer for outdoor drying at B&Q said: 'Investing in a washing line is one simple step we can all make for a greener life. 'We have seen increasing sales on washing lines and pegs, but it seems that letting it all hang out turns some cheeks red.' B&Q sells over 5,000 outdoor rotary airers, the modern day equivalent of the washing line, and 15,000 pegs a week.'

'Tread lightly: Switch off your tumble dryer'-, 2nd May 2008.
'According to National Statistics, almost 60% of households now own a tumble dryer. That means more than 14m households are using electricity to dry clothes, when they could save that energy by hanging them outside. An average drying-machine cycle uses just over 4kWh of energy and produces around 1.8kg CO2. If all households with a tumble dryer dried one load of washing outside each week, instead of by machine, they would save over a million tonnes of CO2 in a year.
There are three types of tumble dryer on the market in the UK: electric venting, electric condensing and gas. Venting ones release hot, damp air outside, while condensing ones transfer surplus water to a storage tank in the machine and release heat indoors. The latter type uses the most energy, but contributes heat to the house. Gas tumble dryers are the most energy-efficient of all, producing around half of the CO2 emissions of an electric equivalent. However, only one company produces front-loading gas models in the UK and less than 0.5% of UK tumble dryers currently run on gas.
Whereas it is now easy to find fridges with an A or A+ rating for energy efficiency, tumble dryers are still mostly languishing in the C rating band or lower. The Energy Saving Trust endorses only three products, and only one of those has an A rating. The other two have a C rating but are recommended because they have an auto-sensor that stops them working once the clothes reach a specified level of dryness. Comparing the energy uses of different household appliances over the course of a year shows just how energy-hungry even the most efficient tumble dryers are. According to Carbon Footprint, an A+ fridge-freezer used 24 hours a day will produce 116kg CO2; an A-rated washing machine used 187 times will generate 51kg CO2; and a dishwasher used 135 times at 65°C will create 84kg CO2. The A-rated tumble drier recommended by the Energy Saving Trust, used 3 times a week, will generate over 160kg CO2 per year. Eco Washing Lines has a wide range of products for drying clothes indoors and out. If you can't dry clothes outside, invest in an airer to use inside your house. Ceiling ones work best because warm air rises. But if you don't have a suitable lofty location, try a floor-standing or wall-mounted one. Most home heating systems run on gas, so it is still better to dry your clothes inside the house in winter than to dry them by machine. You'll not only save energy and money by ditching the dryer but your clothes will last longer too.'

'Watch3' by Steven Götz

Götz latest design, the 'Watch3' is a limited edition product and only one hundred have been manufactured for sale. Although the price and target market is for those who luxurious and frivolous are marketed to, this watch has been designed to improve the readability of the face. Therefore, the hours are printed on the underside of the crystal in white and are only visible when the black hour hand passes under them. To add readability in the dark, the entire white surface of the dial is covered in Luminova, a non-radioactive, nontoxic, phosphorescent paint based on the luminescence of deepsea fish allowing it to glow in the dark, whilst still being 'eco-friendly'.

Aesthetically, the design of this watch is perfect for me as I love the black and white colour scheme and contrast of materials and colours often features in my own work. However, I tend not to be able to purchase items of this value! Alternatively, the main focus of this, for me, is the way that Götz has cleverly, but very simply, improved the ease and accuracy with which the user can read the time. Only having one of the twelve numbers visible is an innovative idea that I have never seen in a watch with an analogue face before, and as well as being fully functional and useful, I feel it also adds to the originality of the aesthetics of the product.

Happy Pills

When reading through the Design Milk website, which features many articles on new and old designers and fresh design around the globe, I discovered an article from 2007 about a new design group called 'Studio M' who's first major project had been a sweet shop in Barcelona called 'Happy Pills' The concept of the shop and branding is slightly risky in relation to political correctness and sensitivity in some critics eyes, however I love it and really enjoy how kitsch and quirky the designer's take on society and the realtionships between food and happiness and medication .

Firstly, the designers clearly recognise that we, as humans (often particularly females) relate sweet foods and indulgence to happiness. Therefore they are mocking our seeimg need to medicate 'unhappiness' with (what many people refer to as happy pills) anti-depressants when we often claim to gain uplifted spirits and happiness from food and drink. Also, this example of post-modern irony has been frowned upon by some critics, I however find the idea and innovative concept very interesting and aesthetically eye-catching. If this aspect of the branding is not going to draw consumers in, I can't think what would.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Art Deco

Art Deco was a popular international art design movement from 1925 until the 1940s, affecting the decorative arts such as architecture, interior design and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as fashion, painting, the graphic arts and film. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, glamorous, functional and modern.

For me Art Deco architecture represents pure glamour and elegance. The Luxurious buildings in New York and Miami make me want to re-live the era in which it was created. The geometric patterns and shapes influence my own designs as I tend to design products that are heavily angular and constructed with striking shapes such as circles, squares, triangles etc.

Memphis Design

The Memphis-Milano Movement was an Italian design and architecture group started by Ettore Sottsass that designed Post Modern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass and metal objects from 1981-1987. Although they are the polar opposite, in relation to design ethics and principles, to the Bauhaus, they are also one of my favourite design movements.

The group was founded by Ettore Sottsass led on 16 December 1980, and resolved to meet again with their designs in February 1981. The result was a highly-acclaimed debut at the 1981 Salone del Mobile of Milan, the world's most prestigious furniture NEWY fair. The group, which eventually counted among its members Alessandro Mendini, Martine Bedin, Andrea Branzi, Aldo Cibic, Michele de Lucchi, Nathalie du Pasquier, Michael Graves, Hans Hollein, Arata Isozaki, Shiro Kuromata, Matteo Thun, Javier Mariscal, George Sowden, Marco Zanini, and the journalist Barbara Radice, Sottsass left the group in 1985 and it disbanded in 1988 after the last 1987 collection.

The members of the Memphis group believed in the priniciple of kitsch and faddish products. They designed and produced expensive, extravagant, often pointlessly garish and bright products that were entirely based on aesthetic appeal, rather than the function. This opposes the Bauhaus argument that form should follow function. Sottsass and his fellow designers believed that design should be fun and frivolous.
Many people do not like Memphis design as it is not particularly well thought out and does not promote accessibility to design for the masses. However, the bright, colourful and schocking pieces designed in Sottsass self proclaimed, 'New Interantional Style' appeal to many art and design critics and are recognised as influencial in the design world.

Personally, although I believe that design should have purpose and function, I also feel that each designer should express their personality through the products they create and that souless design is boring. Therefore, I have professional respect for the Memphis design group and see them as a heavy influence in my own design ethics.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Bauhaus

As my biggest design influence, the Bauhaus design school and its related work has affected many aspects of how I view products and how I design. Furthermore, as a BSc Product Design student in the 'School of Architecture, Design and The Built Environment' at Nottingham Trent University seeing how other generation were taught art and design is interesting and eye-opening.

To ignore the influences of this design movement is almost impossible for any product designer, photographer, artist, sculptor, industrial designer, architect or graphic designer.

Most importantly, for me personally, are the design ethics and principles of the Bauhaus:

'Form follows function.'

'Design should be accessible by the masses.'

These principles are refelected in my own designs.

Marianne Brandt is one of my favourite female designers. Here is an ashtray she design whilst at the Bauhaus in 1924. It was designed to be manufactured in both cheaper and more luxurious materials so that, in monetary terms, it was available to the masses of Germany.