Recently I traveled to Wangaratta in Victoria, and in the process passed through Melbourne. As most of our family lives in Victoria this was not the first time I had used Melbourne as a stop over to other destinations; it was however the first time I had decided to stay there for a few days and explore.
Before the trip I researched the what to do and where to go. My particular interests are in design, art and culture, and according to the internet Melbourne is a hot spot for all of the aforementioned. We only had two days total to spend sightseeing so I wanted to visit at least one gallery and one garden. Luckily for tourists Melbourne is also home to the largest urban tramway network in the world, with one specific line completely free and stopping at all of the major inner city spots. So utilising my gathered recommendations and the free tram system we spent two full days exploring (only some as we found out) of what Melbourne has to offer.
Over the course of the two days we visited shopping centres, the Melbourne Museum, Federation Square, the Fitzroy Gardens and its conservatory and the RMIT art gallery. My favourite places were the Conservatory and the RMIT art gallery (along with a few delicious restaurants). The Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory was a wonderful place to sit and look at the spectacular floral displays. The time of our visit in May meant the Conservatory was showing its Tropical/Poinsettia display and it was beautiful to see and photograph. I was able to bring out sharp contrasting colours and then soft macro focused frames, whilst also creating a few abstract images as well.
The RMIT gallery was an unplanned venture as I had intended to visit the Centre for Contemporary Photography only to find out it was closed for both of the days I had to see it. So thanks to Google Maps I was able to find a gallery near me that was open and it happened to be the RMIT University gallery. Inside were three floors of exhibition artwork, Chaos and Order, 120 years of collecting at RMIT. It was as their website puts it "A riot of painting, sculpture, photography, sound and new media". It was exactly what I had hoped to find, and I was able to discover many works that I loved and many more that surprised me. A favourite was Southern Cross – To Bear and Behold, 2009, by Jill Orr.
It was during the first day that we stumbled on an alley covered in graffiti, filled with people and lined with shops and restaurants happily co-existing together. It turns out that this was one of the many public art streets scattered around Melbourne, in particular ours was Hosier Lane, arguably the central point of the city's street art scene. It was a great show of the city recognising street art and providing a safe spot for artists to express their work and have it be seen, and at the same time providing a tourist attraction for the area and shops.
By the end of the second day, our last to explore Melbourne, we thought we had done a good job of visiting the popular attractions. However after we found another section of the city with unique clothing stores and interesting restaurants, all off the main streets, we realised there was even more to look at. Unfortunately we ran out of time to walk through the newly discovered area, which leaves me thinking that Melbourne is definitely a place I could visit again. Considering I only saw one gallery and one garden and was impressed with both, the many remaining possibilities should prove to be just as lovely when I hopefully visit again!
For a look at more photos from the trip, visit my Behance!
I graduated high school in 2013, and though only four years have passed since then I have already forgotten most of what I learned. This is not due to lack of participation or effort, but more likely lack of interest in retaining certain subjects. Something I regret is that my seventeen year old self did not yet realise that art actually overlaps with nearly everything I had learned. One subject, however, that I do remember more clearly is mathematics. I remember bringing in at least five different coloured pens and doodling large scenes throughout my notebook; scattered between these drawings, were the actual equations.
I also remember my teacher constantly catching me doodling and exclaiming that if I put the same enthusiasm into maths as I did art, then I would be achieving an even higher grade than I was. His logic was most likely accurate, however, as I was already achieving in the highest bracket of grading, he often begrudgingly let me continue as I was. I remember that mathematics was my second favourite subject (after art of course), I think that was due partly to an interest in the way maths always works, and the other part was an enjoyment of the actual classes. I had a teacher who I enjoyed learning from and who understood that just because I spent half of a lesson doodling, it did not mean I was not learning or listening.
I went on from high school to spend three years in university during which I found that I prefer to have multiple projects happening and swap and change between them, than I do one single project to solely work on. This way of working came back to me when I recently went through my old high school notebooks and turned through pages of doodles and colour. It also made me think of a recent study and article I read about, that found the process of making art stimulates the area of the brain that is related to rewards.
The study took twenty-six participants, some artists, some not, who's blood flow to the brain was monitored in three doodling scenarios. Colouring a geometric pattern, doodling on a piece of paper marked with a circle, and drawing whatever they desired. The results found that when the participants were creating art, there was an increase of blood flow to the area of the brain related to feelings of reward. In particular, doodling caused the highest increase in blood flow, with the lead study member hypothesising that the increased blood flow is due to an inherent pleasure in making art. The study also found that the participants felt more creative afterwards, believing they had more good ideas and could solve problems more easily.
As someone who is involved in art I can think to many occasions in which this studies results corroborate with my own experiences, my constant high school doodling included. Throughout my university course I was always involved in art and design, having multiple projects occurring at once allowed me to work between different fields and ideas and so I was always encouraging creativity and problem solving. However in the year that has passed since graduating university, I have found myself lacking inspiration, or needing another project to skip between and not having one. I haven't doodled in a long time and after reading this article and thinking back to my younger years, I might just start up again and see if the increased blood flow produces any new creativity or inspiration.
A few months ago I wrote a blog piece about the terms space and place, and how I had found myself contemplating them, in that of creating my own space for art and work. Since then I have continued to work and create in many different spaces and places, discovering how certain elements of both can assist in the creative process. I was recently brought back to space and place after reading a post about a basketball court in Paris that had been outfitted in divided sections of block colours back in 2015 and then redone with colourful gradients in 2017.
Initially done up by French fashion brand Pigalle and Nike in 2009, then redone in 2015 by Ill-Studio and Pigalle and now again in 2017 by the same duo. Each time the court was transformed from more than an average basketball court to a place that combined sport, art and culture.
"Through this new court, we wish to explore the relationship between sport, art and culture and its emergence as a powerful socio-cultural indicator of a period in time," said the team.
As you can see from the photos the newly renovated space has combined vibrant colours into gradients, with bright yellows, pinks and blues. Slight order is created with the use of white lines to outline a basic court, yet the punch of colour in the surrounding walls and ground make for an invigorating and exciting space that encourages activity and creativity.
I personally prefer this latest colour scheme of the basketball court, the combination of gradients into blocks of colour allows for more of a smooth meeting between basketball and design in my opinion. In the previous layout, the hard blocks of red, white, yellow and blue almost lost the actual court in my eyes. This latest scheme however still combines bright, exciting colours with blocks and shapes, yet somewhat limiting it to the walls and thus letting the layout of the court be more easily distinguishable.
Reminiscent of the colour palette of a setting sun, the inspiration for the hues came from Ill-Studio 'to correspond to the collection’s ’90s basketball-inspired aesthetic, where an almost iridescent air sweeps thorough the highly-saturated space.' I think this is a wonderful way to make a statement piece for a community area, by brining added life and colour to a well-loved and used basketball court, this makeover has enabled for a collaboration between artists and the local community. It has attracted publicity to both the local court and to the launch of the latest clothing collection of Pigalle's, created in collaboration with NIKElab. It is a good combination of designing for community collaboration and engagement as well as the promotion of Pigalle's line.
I would like to see more of this design for public spaces and community engagement in the future, as I think it is a great way to collaborate between artists and locals to create publicity and activity within local spaces and places; with the added benefit of it having continuing positive effects for both parties.
Wearable technology is a topic that I have been aware of for many years now, yet has only recently drawn my attention with some interesting new developments. Previously most of the wearable technology that I had known or seen were the smart watches, Fitbits, and as seen in movies, hand-phones. However some recent articles I was reading through brought up interesting uses for wearable technology beyond communication, in particular many were looking into ways for improving and aiding the health and wellbeing of people.
For wearable technology to assist with health is an impressive idea, however only if used for the right health issues. I remember once hearing about necklaces for the elderly that had motion detectors in them and would sent an alert to let people know if they had fallen, however there were a lot of issues with the motion detector giving off false readings and alerting people when nothing was wrong. Instead one of the recent articles I was reading was a wearable technology that was experimenting with colour changing tattoos that could monitor certain levels in your body's chemistry. Examples were given that a diabetic patient could monitor their glucose levels by the tattoo's changing colour or that the tattoo could provide assistance for doctors with quick diagnoses. This seems like a perfect combination of wearability and technology to me, as a tattoo could be small, permanent and unobtrusive and if it were able to quickly aid people and doctors in monitoring patient's health then I can imagine it becoming a staple in the future.
Another wearable tech that I had read about was exploring a different vein of use involving temporary tattoos. These tattoos used gold leaf to create circuits with the capabilities of your body becoming a touch pad, personal radio ID, or even having glowing LED displays. The DuoSkin tattoo can allow you to swipe and tap around your phone’s music and unlock doors or turnstiles protected by NFC. Again this type of wearable technology is aesthetically pleasing as well as having multiple possibilities for communication, interfaces and health benefits. With the NFC technology the wearable could provide your ID and contacts at hospitals or in emergencies, or in less life threatening situations, could connect you to other people; a simple way of communication and connection over a long distance.
In all of these cases the technology is a long way from perfect and then further again from being readily available and affordable to the public, however they are promising signs for future developments in the area and I look forward to the day when health and communication can be as easy as looking at our hand or arm.
Something I think every person struggles with during their life is learning how to cope with rejection and failure. I take negative reviews very personally and can become quite upset, even though I know after years of university that criticism and feedback, no matter positive or negative, will always provide opportunity for your work to develop into something greater. Yet just because I know this, it does not mean I have mastered the tough skin needed to receive negative feedback and absorb it with acceptance and consideration.
Along with the desire for this tougher mentality, I must also remind myself that not everything is for everyone. As such I should remember that different people will have vastly different opinions of my work, especially when dealing with such an interpretational field as art and design. It is a considered approach when receiving various criticisms to balance between how I view my work and how others view my work; a balance that I have yet to perfect. Sometimes I must recognise the truth and constructive elements of feedback and take them on, and others I can understand the criticism yet recognise that what I am doing is the right thing, at least for me. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, I have had both successes and failures and I have learnt many things from both.
I was brought to this line of thought after reading an article about the Museum of Failure. A title that initially had me discouraged as I try to treat failures as future possibilities that are important to developing and improving; and to create a mocking museum of failures would leave people with the wrong idea of how to respond to an unsuccessful endeavour in their life. However I was happy to find that when I read further into the article that was not the case at all, in fact the creator of the museum had the same opinions on failure as I did.
“I just got sick and tired of all these success stories,” says the museum’s founder. “We glorify success so much, but at the expense of demonizing failure.”
The aim of the museum is not to continue to demonize failure but to learn to accept it, as people who are able to handle the emotional content of failure are able to learn from it. As written in a section of the article, 'To be comfortable with failure means not being afraid to take risks.' This meant a lot to me as I read it, and it is something I hope that I can achieve one day with my own work and processes, to be fearless in creation and my work no matter the failures it may produce.
A few weeks ago I booked tickets to Japan after a special came through for plane flights. It was both an impulse purchase and a long time in coming. In particular, a friend of mine and I had been interested in travelling to Japan for many years now but the timing was never right, and now, luckily, we're going to make it work.
And so now begins the planning, everything from hotels to rail passes, travel insurance and passports. It was during this research and inquiry that I came across an unofficial competition being held to redesign the UK passport after Brexit. The idea was to present a positive vision of the post-Brexit UK to the world, and that represents all its citizens. This was an interesting thought to me as I had not considered the full reach of the Brexit on common items within the UK and to redesign the passport as a way of showing the change but in a positive way. The competition is still open and I am looking forward to seeing the passport designs people interpret and create based on the new UK.
Along this vein of thought I then looked back at my Australian passport and it's design, the simple cover and colourful interior. Traditional Australian animals and images are quite standard amongst any Australian documents, officially released Government designs etc and the passport is no exception. The cover is a simple block of colour with the Australian coat of arms in gold and inside are pages with various illustrations of Australian animals and flora, when compared to other nations passports ours is quite illustrative on in inside, others that I've seen will have illustrations but often simple and of only a few colours.
I then started looking into new passport designs and interesting features being developed for passports. I first found the Finnish passport which has a quirky twist that provides additional entertainment to travelers; it features an illustration of an elk that appears to walk when its pages are flicked like a flip book.
The Japanese passport was another country redesigning, it revealed its new design set to be released in 2019, inside it will be filled with famous artwork, especially the masterpiece landscape series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji by ukiyo-e woodblock artist Katsushika Hokusai. This is a wonderful inclusion of culture and art within a document that represents where a person comes from. Instead of passports being just official requirements they are becoming cultural representations through the combination of design and nationality.
As I have only travelled overseas once before, a passports design was never something I had really explored or thought about, particularly as a way of representing a country to other people. With this design competition to invite change to the UK's passport, I have begun to see how important a passport is even further than its official requirement to gain access and cross the country’s borders.
I recently graduated University in December 2016, and throughout my three year course I studied various design units across a broad range of topics. Many of them were design forms that I had already heard of and already had an idea of whether I would like them or not, however in my final year I was introduced to Visual Information Design. This introduction was both exciting and disappointing; I had finally found a design form that combined data with graphics to help solve issues and enable a spread of information able to be understood by all. Yet at the same time I was disappointed, as I had only found this Data Visualisation in my last year of learning and I wished I had been able to explore with it earlier. Nevertheless, I was able to work with data and graphics throughout my entire last year, even producing my graduation exhibition piece with a Data Visualisation project.
As Data Visualisation and Information Design were both unknown design topics to me, I only have only just begun to scratch the surface of understanding and exploring what they are and how I can create with them. As I am still learning, the below are what I have thus far come to understand.
Both are very similar descriptions and I am yet to know if they are the same design form or just very similar, with slightly different outcomes or processes. Either way, both are interesting to me as I was always quite good at mathematics in my early learning years however design and art called to me more and so I gravitated that way instead. And now I have found a process combining both data and design and I am excited to discover any possibilities for new learning that this might bring.
An example of Information Design is the below Infographic 'Poppy Field' by Valentina D'Efilippo - A rough guide to conflict. It shows the deaths of soldiers throughout wars combined with the length of the war and location to provide a chilling message beneath a beautiful bouquet.
Already I have nearly finished a book called Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefani Posavec. Within this book are the results of a project they began in which they collected weekly data on the same topic and produced a data visualisation on a postcard, sending it to each other across the world. By collecting data of their own lives, each week, under the same topic, it allowed them to not only see patterns and anomalies in their personal findings, but also compare parts of their lives with each other. This really intrigued me, as the weekly topics could often be what I would originally assume as mundane information, yet at the end, when the data was put together it could make you think twice about how you live your life and spend your time. For example, data they collected included how often they looked at the time, how often they said thank you and how many times they walked through doors. Each of these are relatively simple and inoffensive topics and yet to me can open up a world of further questions and exploration. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it has shown me that Data Visualisation and Information Design don't have to capture Big data or complex topics to create an interesting conversation or discovery.
This is only the beginning for my learning journey through Data Visualisation and Information Design. I would eventually like to create my own small Data Visualisation, possibly using one of the weekly topics from Dear Data to see how my own life looks like when analysed on paper. And as this is only the beginning I hope to continue to create and grow my abilities in this design form through many further explorations of data and design.
After recently graduating University, I moved my home office into a larger, separate room to create a space entirely for my design work and allow me to have a place where I can reach out and have all my creative material directly at my fingertips.
This move, and resulting creative space, has produced a really open environment for me to do work in. Both in the sense of physical area and also within my mind, as I now have a place dedicated to my design and continued learning. I have a lot of room left for additions to be made and am looking forward to filling some spaces with new possibilities and products.
As a part of one of my university assessments, I once wrote a piece on the importance of designing for a sense of place. It began as a topic I had not largely encountered before, and ended with four thousand words and the expansion of my understanding on the significance of the role space and place play within all aspects of life. A particularly fascinating element of the piece was learning about the origin of the words space and place, and the longstanding debate around the both of them. This article inspired my interest in the topic and it has been only recently as I have been creating my own space, that I realised that I had been referring to it as both a space and a place. As such, I was putting emotional importance in both of the terms, likening myself to the thought that neither space nor place can exist without the other.
Place … is a part of the terrestrial surface that is not equivalent to any other, that cannot be exchanged with any other without everything changing. Instead with space [place as location] each part can be substituted for another without anything being altered, precisely how when two things that have the same weight are moved from one side of a scale to another without compromising the balance.
(“Space and Place” 2016)
While I initially thought I disagreed with this statement, being that my space could not be altered otherwise it would lose its connection to me, I have now realised that it is the objects placed within the space that connect it to me so. In a Leibnizian view, it is the powers of events and objects taking place that make space appear “active”. The space exists because of relations between sites at which events and objects are located. This I feel, I relate to, in which I have created a space for design and creativity by placing certain events and objects within it. I can move the space to another place and it will travel and fit again, so long as the object and events placed within the space can make it feel "active" to me.
I have enjoyed this learning in the process of moving my office into a new space. When I remembered this topic that I had written about not so long ago, I was able to rethink my perspective on it due to the sudden reconnection I had with space and place.
I read an article the other day about exciting new materials for designers to keep a watch on and some of them were very interesting to learn about. Not only in relation to my own practices but to the global possibilities that could arise from them in the near future.
Graphene Nanocoating is one of these promising materials. A lightweight, nearly transparent substance, one hundred times stronger than steel and capable of efficient heat and electrical conductivity. Some possible uses for this in the design world include Graphene nanocoating of other materials, one example given could be adding it to the list of experimental phone materials. However it also has applications in solar power, electronics, biomedicine, and more. Particularly hopeful in my view, is a team from the Ocean University of China (Qingdao) and Yunnan Normal University (Kunming, China) who are working on developing an all-weather solar cell triggered by both sunlight and raindrops. By coating a highly efficient dye-sensitized solar cell with a thin film of graphene it can conduct electricity created by the point of contact between the raindrop and the graphene.
Another exciting development is Karta-Pack, a 100% post-consumer material with the feel of cotton yet the solidity of plastic. An all-pulp-and-paper recycled product that contains no plastics and can be discarded into compost or recycling bins. It can reduce the content of toxic landfills as well as the harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) released by landfills and has practical uses in packaging, furniture design and more.
RE>CRETE is a simple yet effective solution to recycling and reusing old materials. In competition to concrete, it is a composite containing shredded newspaper and junk mail, ground up packing Styrofoam, home electronics wire, credit cards and CDs, salvaged house paint, dryer lint, Portland cement, and fly ash. All this bonded together with cement as an effective and applicable form of recycling that can use old waste to make new building material.
And taking to my personal love of paper and ink, Paptic is a new material replacing paper and plastic. It is recyclable, consisting mainly of renewable materials, 70% biodegradable and twice as durable yet 50% lighter than paper. It is easy to print on, recycle, and perfect for packaging.
Hopefully with the continuation of learning, experimenting and innovating, we can see materials such as these lead to great possibilities for sustainability and design in the world.
Hi and welcome to my blog, here I'll be posting content about design in general with possible topics branching to other areas of connecting interest (I enjoy learning about sustainability, social change and astronomy). I hope that by talking about new things I find, you can find topics of interest as well.