I took my final tools to Wellington Potters Association, to speak with Konny who was on my glazing workshop and who makes sourdough. She said:
I practiced my end of year presentation with Charlie and Zoe. It was 14:40 long. Some notes:
I combined my research/concept and finalised design presentations and timed the whole presentation. It finished at 11 min without the video or technical specs. I took some notes as I was presenting on things that I could think about:
I spoke with Emma about the details about my project. It feels like I'm getting close to the end, but there's still a bit to do.
I need to try vacuum bag the polystyrene 'mycelium' to try emulate the compressed look of mycelium.
I should explore the makers mark as an approach to branding. Maybe the mark could be on the screw heads, and it gets worn off as the user uses the tool and makes it their own. I don't have to use real materials for every piece of the tool, and in some cases (like the fasteners) I might have to 3D print my own.
Emma suggested I incorporated more form language from my lame into my scraper, which would tie the tools together as a family better. I could also incorporate more form language from my bowl into my scraper, and consider how the tools would fit together into the packaging.
I told Tom about how I was considering how the products would be packaged/shown in-store. He suggested combining the sawdust from CNCing the dough scraper and the lame with fungi to create a mycelium packaging. This would be in keeping with my project because it's considering the whole life-cycle of the products and encouraging sustainable processes.
I talked to Eleanor about branding my products. I thought maybe I could embroider a logo onto the linen bowl cover, stamp a logo into the bottom of the bowl and engrave the logo into the stainless steel of the dough scraper. Eleanor thought that branding would go against the whole ethos of the project, because when people get attached to brands they're more consumeristic. Brands are synonymous with trends and people who are following trends tend to be more consumeristic.
I mentioned that part of my design criteria was ensuring the designer/manufacturer was transparent, so the user knew who to come to if the product broke or if they wanted to have more information. Perhaps this could be achieved with a stamp on the bottom of the bowl, or in a card that is included in the packaging, but without dominating the products with branding.
Spoke with Lyn. We talked about the story of the products, from display in shop to packaging, materials and end of life. The story of the product is important because it conveys the 'wearing in' and 'wearing out' of the tools to the user. Maybe the bowl cover could function as packaging.
I am struggling with designing the dough scraper. Could the dough scraper make use of 3D contouring on the handle? Using traditional knife making techniques with contemporary CNC technology. Use clay for tests.
The lame could fit together with the dough scraper for storage/packaging. This would contrast the starter bowl which is in constant use and doesn't need to be put into storage.
I talked with Emma about my project and about the suggestions that Uli had for it. Emma thought that if the stacking function hindered the customisation of the lid, then perhaps it was not suitable for my project. I.e. the lip and/or groove of the bowl will have further affordance as it allows the user to use a cloth, towel, plate etc. to cover the bowl, and if the stacking function doesn't allow for this further affordance, it might lessen the attachment the user develops towards the product.
Emma wants me to test using a second part in the mould, to support the lip as it drys. This will hopefully stop the walls of the bowl from buckling.
Emma agreed with Uli's suggestion of using the same forms of the bowl for the dough scraper and lame, because it's a good way to unify the tools as a family. I need to move on to designing and making the scraper and lame as soon as possible, and I'd ideally like to have some models of each in time for the 'state of play' exhibition on Friday (1 week away).
Uli helped me vac form my new mould, and I discussed my project with him. I told him I was using 'noble' materials (dense, warm materials like wood, ceramic, brass, steel) and he had some good ideas about uniting the tools as a family.
I could use the materials to unite the family. Why not use ceramic for the handles/blades etc as well as the bowl. Or if I have a silicone lid, it would make sense to have a silicone spatula. Because bakers often keep multiple starters, maybe I need to make the sourdough starter container stackable. This would mean the lid would have to be a harder material like ceramic, wood, glass. The lid could have a slight groove that the base of the next container fits into. How would the user remove the lid?
Uli talked about a big brother container for mixing the bread, or one for proofing. The containers could all use the same basic profile, i.e. extend the side profile in one direction to make a bigger container with the same aesthetic. This would unite them as a family through their form. I could use imagery in my presentation to The same form could also be incorporated into the other tools. maybe the side profile of the dough scraper matches that of the starter container.
I spoke with Emma about my project. We talked about the slip cast bowl for containing sourdough. I wanted to know how to cut the groove into the edge of the bowl that holds the edge of the cloth cover. Emma suggested I still try to incorporate the groove into the bowl, which would cut down on manufacturing time. To do the groove, I could cut it into the MDF and add holes all the way around the rim to allow air to be sucked out when I vac form it. Hopefully the plastic will be flexible enough to allow the MDF master to come out.
The groove detail is very important, because it creates a relationship between the bowl and the lid that might not appear obvious at first, but which the user will discover and use over time.
The slip cast is too thick at the moment. I left the clay in for 25 minutes, next time I will try 15 min. Emma said that with a dry mould, she leaves her slip in for 6 min.
Emma thought maybe the bowl was too small, but I think it's important that it limits the amount of starter that the user can store, because in my research I found that people tend to keep too much starter, which results in them not feeding it enough. Maybe it could be a little larger though.
I mentioned that I looked into how the three products might nest together, and how I felt that it wasn't going in the right direction and Emma agreed. The bowl is in constant use so it doesn't make sense for it to nest with the other tools, but perhaps the dough scraper and lame could be 'nested' in the way they are stored in a drawer, or are 'unified' in their aesthetic, form or material qualities.
I spoke with Emma about slip casting because I know she uses the technique in her own practice. I had slip cast a small bowl for a test, and had some questions about the process.
One of the problems with my test was that after demoulding the bowl, the edges of the bowl tended to sag and the bottom that it was resting on flattened out. Emma suggested that I leave the clay to dry inside the plaster mould. I will need to do a test with a dryer plaster mould, because my first one was very wet and I don't imagine the clay would have dried very fast inside it. Another way to stop it deforming is to use a two part mould, where the second part is a ring that covers the top edges of the bowl. This creates a supportive structure that can be trimmed off when the clay is dry.
Emma suggested a different technique for making the plaster mould. For my test, I made a square mould in a wooden box. To use less plaster and have a lighter mould that is quicker to dry, I should make a round mould. Emma uses a laser cut acrylic circle as a base, wraps a PP strip around it to make a wall for the plaster, uses packing tape to secure the PP to itself, and hot glues the outside of the PP where it meets the table, ensuring there is no leakage.
I asked Emma for suggestions on how I could make a groove in the surface of the bowl around its circumference. The groove would hold the edge of an elasticated cover. She said I could make it in the mould, or cut it after (which would probably be easier). There are two ways to make it in the mould: 3D print the form, cast it in flexible urethane, cast silicone into the urethan mould, and then use the silicone form to build the plaster mould (silicone is stretchy so it can be manoeuvred out of the plaster mould once dry); or CAD the mould, 3D print it and cast into that with silicone.
Emma also suggested I look up jiggering and jollying techniques for ceramics.
Talked to Mike about CNCing a plaster mould"
Lyn and Yueyun's comments from my 8 minute presentation:
Talked with Emma about my concepts. The concept I will go with is the family of slow-designed sourdough tools. While that concept seems quite obvious, the key part for my project will be the hidden details, development of expertise, wearing-in and wearing-out of the tools. For example, a lame that is held differently for beginner and more expert sourdough bakers, that changes as the baker gets better at making sourdough. Emma wants me to include a time frame of developing these products in my report: which is most important; how much time each will take. It will be important to get each product to the same finished standard, and the final product should be usable (it will have to be tested throughout the development phase, so this is a given). The family of products should not be a kit: they should not replace existing items that the user might already own. Rather, the products should be for specific parts of the sourdough process, i.e. a lame for scoring, dough scraper for scraping, banneton for proofing and container for storing the right amount of starter.
I decided to focus my semantic differential on grain mills. I will provide participants with several images of different mills, and ask them to say whether on a continuum the products sit. Potential word pairs are: trendy-dated; fun-dull; stressful-relaxing; unsatisfying-satisfying; difficult-easy; dependable-unreliable; efficient-inefficient; high-quality-low-quality; meaningful-meaningless.
Rik completed my differential with one image, and pointed out that some of the word pairs were more experience-based, and would be easier to answer had he actually used the product in the image. These word pairs were efficient-inefficient, high-quality-low-quality, and meaningful-meaningless. Maybe I could replace these pairs with other words to get better results.
1 on 1 session with Emma before report part one is due on Friday. We talked mainly about primary research methods because I wasn't too worried about the report. I should:
I tested the 'hashtag' part of my cultural probe on 7 classmates. The probe asked participants "what are the 5 hashtags that define 'conscious living'?" Right off the bat Hannah asked whether she could look at Instagram to find relevant hashtags. I said that was fine, because in the real probe I wouldn't be there to tell people what not to do. But I suppose I could introduce limitations to the probe when I first give it to participants. However, I want the probe to be quite open to allow people to contemplate the questions in any way they feel fit.
Two of the 7 participants only had 4 hashtags. I don't know whether this is a problem, because again I want the participant to be able to respond to the probe in their own time and space. I'll need to talk with Emma about this. I wasn't able to read some of the responses. I think if I know two or three of the responses I should be able to work out what the others say with some forensic linguistic analysis.
Rik edited the instructions to the probe, removing the 'the' that comes before '5 hashtags'. He said that the 'the' made him feel like there could be wrong answers. I also noticed that some of the answers were quite design-related, highlighting the fact that I need a wider sample to include a better variation of people, cultures, lifestyles etc. I should also talk with Emma about going about finding that sample and reaching out to potential participants.
In our group session with Emma we talked about the six week hand-in of the report. The report is essentially everything we've done so far, in 2000 words.
This week I read about downshifting in regards to meaning of life, and regaining the essence of leisure. I spoke about the readings with my parents, who talked about the protestant work ethic, a term I hadn't heard before. The protestant work ethic is the view that a person's duty and responsibility is to achieve success through hard work. This is different from how, say, the French and Spanish work. They work fewer hours, and spend more time socialising (e.g. over longer dinner times). Perhaps it would be worthwhile if I looked for texts on leisure by Spanish and French authors to see how their views compare with the views of the authors of the texts I've been reading. Mum also talked about the arts and crafts movement which focused on economic and social reform and was opposed to industrial manufacturing. This would be worth investigating.
1-on-1 session with Emma. We talked about the secondary research I've been doing and discussed some ideas for my daily diary cultural probe. I told Emma about the case study of applying the Slow Design principles into the design of a mass produced consumer product in Slow Design for Meaningful Interactions (Grosse-Hering et al.). She suggested I try find more case studies. In terms of the principles themselves, Emma said that ritual was probably very important in my project, and I could investigate the rituals of daily life - getting ready, making coffee, tea. I could therefore say my product area is, for example, 'drinking', and link it to the particular activity of making tea. It might be worthwhile to investigate cultural traditions. I am designing an experience for the user, and the product is a catalyst for that experience.
For my daily diary, Emma suggested that I delineate the day in some way (e.g. splitting it into 5 boxes) because the participant is more inclined to fill in boxes rather than an empty page. Delineating the day with times might not be the best, but mid-morning, noon, early-afternoon, late-afternoon, evening etc. could be better. Looking at a particular activity rather than a place would help for looking into people's rituals. I'd be looking for preparation and experience. I could ask the participant to do the diary 2 or 3 times: 1 weekday and 2 weekend days would allow me to contrast weekday rituals to weekend-day rituals.
One of my ideas for the cultural probe is a day-in-your-life diary that allows participants to convey details about their daily life. Participants may be requested to document each time they engage in a particular behaviour, encounter a product or situation, or have a specific type of interaction. I showed some of my test diaries to Daniel to get some feedback. He preferred the one that was split into 3-hourly blocks to the one that had no designated time allocation. He said that with 3-hourly blocks he could fill in the activities in bulk after three hours, rather than remembering to fill in each activity straight after it happened. He also pointed out that asking uni students, for example, to test the diary might not work because they lead quite different lives to my target users.
This morning I spoke with Nic about the cultural probe. He's also interested in using a cultural probe. His topic is looking at designing a particular style of bike, and doesn't have a specific user in mind. One of his ideas for getting participants is to hang around at motorbike parks at 5pm when work finishes, and hand out a business card to riders. I've been wondering how I'll get participants and maybe I could do something similar...
We also talked about the different materials contained within the cultural probe. He might use a disposable camera, cards with specific imagery that the user can comment on. I do not want to use a disposable camera because my project is about avoiding waste, so I will need to find a way to get the user to use their phone or own camera...
Today I talked individually with Emma about my brief and design criteria, and we had a helpful discussion about research methods. I'm interested in the cultural probe. It would be a kit of postcards, maps, journals, cameras, recording devices, text and imagery etc. which is sent to participants and designed to inspire the participant to consider personal context and circumstance, and respond to the design team in ways facilitated by the materials. This qualitative method will generate insights into key patterns and themes that might emerge from the participant group.
Emma talked about a previous student who had used a cultural probe and gotten some valuable, insightful information from it. This particular student asked participants to name 5 hashtags that they thought were relevant to a particular topic, which the student could then search for on instagram, twitter etc. to find even more information. This would be useful for my project. She also suggested that because my project is interested in slow design and encouraging people to be contemplative, I shouldn't overload participants with information, and so should restrict their space to write, the number of activities included in the kit etc.
As tutorial group we discussed research methods and design criteria. Emma pointed out that we can use the tools in Universal Methods of Design to analyse our secondary (contextual) research, not just our primary research. It will be helpful to have some of the research methods in my mind as I read through my secondary research.
The design criteria should be separated into functional and experiential aspects, and Emma suggested placing the design criteria into categories based on what the design 'must do'; 'should do'; and would be 'nice to do'.