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One of my more popular posts…

My biking passion….

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Weekly theme – Skills of the Modern Designer

I thought i’d have a go at focusing the mind and create a series of weekly blog posts on the modern designer.

New technologies have changed the role of the designer over the years but the principles do remain the same. Hopefully this series will explain the how different skills and methodologies set design professionals apart, whilst highlighting the core skills and competencies that all designers have.

First post will be next week.

Happy reading,

Design Got Small

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UK Housing is Not Doomed.

The building industry cannot be described as revolutionary, well not in the UK anyway. The majority of houses currently being built certainly lack character, charm and quality. With 70% of houses being built by the private sector, 70% of houses are built with economics in mind, not to improve the lives of the people who live in them. Innovation from this majority is seen as a marketing front, not genuine attempt to improve the quality of the homes in the UK and this is the most worrying sign of all.

So the Government have decided to step in and stop them getting away with house building murder. The Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH) demands improvement in quality of new build houses by reducing – and eventually eliminating – the energy demand. It seems the only way to drive social improvement is to hit the commanding forces where it hurts – Their wallets. A sad but true statement.

As of 2016, new houses will have to be carbon neutral in the UK, produced as much energy as they consume. The days of leaky, fuel thirsty homes will be a thing of the past (hopefully) and the opportunities for product innovation within the building industry are huge but challenging, given the time scale. When the CfSH was announced, it was swept under the carpet by everyone in the industry, but it hasn’t gone away. Now the big players are worried and are actively seeks solutions to problems. Both process and product improvements require significant attention and this direction is an industrial designers dream.

Forced innovation may be sad but without it, the future of the UK home was doomed.

We might even see some charcter return to the UK’s housing stock!

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Bike Design with Purpose

Trying to think of a final year design project is not easy but it does provide me with an opportunity to design something within an area that I love. There in lies the problem; the bicycle frame is just too good!

Their is a reason why frame shapes have changed little in the last 50-60 years, with materials and manufacturing developments the greatest area of advancement.

Recycled frames, 3D printed customisable frames, sustainable manufacturing methods, new commuter friend pedals… who knows?

All I know is I want it to be a worthwhile and meaningful project with potiential to be a real product/service. Not so easy but I love a challenge.

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There are a number of key topics designers are faced with when starting a speculative project. These topics define a projects direction and purpose.

Sustainability. Transport. Housing. Obesity. Healthcare. Megacities. These stand out amonst the plethora of issues the modern world faces and are all valid areas of direction.

But it is the topic of ‘designing for developing countries’ that really does not make sense to me. First of all is the term itself. Who is to say what a developing country is? What makes a society developed… Mass consumerism?

The second gripe I have with this term is how such projects come about a play out. These projects, traditionally, are western designers thinking that they are doing their bit for the world. Design problems can only be solved in local context, with deep understanding of culture, language and socitey. These remote projects rely on a technology-centred approach, applying developed technologies to the ‘developing world’, not developing new technologies in context with who will be using it – Human centered. The short term nature of these projects, not taking into account for sustainability, local capacity, expertise, etc. means any product design is irrelevant for improving these areas of the world.

I’m all for applying design to the people who may need it. We just need to understand what they want/need, why they need it and how it is going to be sustained. The only way is to hand the design process over to the people who understand that.

Solar Grills for Developing Countries, need I say more?