Cultural Immersion - Tsubame-Sanjo

 

As part of the Global Innovation Design course, whilst studying abroad we are able to experience the local culture through a “cultural immersion” run by the Royal College of Art. This year, the Japanese cultural immersion was run in Tsubame-Sanjo; an area in the northern Japanese prefecture of Niigata. Known for the precision and skill of the craftspeople from its numerous small metalworking factories and workshops, it produces a huge variety of products including the majority of Japan’s cutlery.

Not only were we able to experience the traditional craftsmanship and heritage of the region but as so many factories are now open for public tours, we were able to see inside the manufacturing processes of the metal works. It was incredible to see not only the manufacturing itself, but as we visited over five factories, we were also able to compare the different approaches each factory takes to the industry, their craftsman and customers.

 

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) Workshop with Japanese UNESCO School

 

The past two days I’ve been participating in the GiFT Global Citizenship Camp Workshop for 300 freshman at Higashi High School in Yokohama (Public, Registered as UNESCO School in 2018).

They have started a new curriculum for first year students. The workshop is part of their new curriculum, encouraging students to gain more interest and motivation to learn the SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals). The programme aimed to foster the Global Citizenship mindset so that the young freshman can connect to the world based on their interests and curiosities. I was there as a guest speaker to aid the programme along with other international students all with diverse backgrounds of nationality and cultures.

GiFT fosters youth with Global Citizenship minds, where they can act proactively, accept various cultures and values, and co-create with people with diversity to produce a positive participation to the society as a global citizen. To find out more about GiFT, click here.

 

A Note and a Quote

 

Amidst the pressures of writing my dissertation I found this rather delightful quote. I question though; do our sense organs limit our senses?


This power is sense, which from abroad doth bring

The colour, the taste, and touch, and scent, and sound,

The quantity and shape of everything

Within Earth’s centre, or Heaven’s circle found.

And tho’ things sensible be numberless,

But only five the senses’ organs be,

And in those five, all things their forms express,

Which we can touch, taste, feel, or hear or see

These are the windows thro’ the which she views

The light of knowledge which is life’s loadstar. 

— Sir John Davies. The Origin, Nature and Immortality of the Soul (1697)

Photo taken on a walk in the Lake District, 2018

 

Dyson Makeathon

 

The past few days I spent participating in the Dyson Makeathon, run at the Advanced Hackspace in Imperial’s new White City campus.  

Following the announcement of a £2bn commitment by Dyson to build a radical and different electric car, as participants we were challenged to imagine the Future of Mobility over 2 days. The event brought together a diverse set of students from across the Dyson School of Design Engineering and Imperial College in 12 teams giving an exciting weekend of ideas, hands-on making and prototyping.

 

IDEO CoLab - Circular Economy Makeathon

 

What a whirlwind of a day. As a shortlisted candidate for IDEO CoLab Fellowship I spent Saturday ideating, concepting and prototyping in IDEO’s London HQ as part of the Circular Economy one day makeathon.

I lucked out in having a team equally as driven, passionate and imaginative. Our conception “Soul Sense” was selected by Arianne Orillac from IDEO as one of the highlight projects of the day.

Soul Sense is the “Netflix” of perfume; a white-label refillable fragrance tablet technology and subscription service that provides personalised fragrances from sustainable sources.

Soul Sense is comprised of a new type of spray bottle that holds a refillable liquid fragrance base paired with concentrated fragrance tabs that insert into the spray bottle nozzle, allowing the user to swap scents without having to buy multiple full bottles of perfume that often expire before they are finished. Users also have access to an app that allows them to personalise their orders and receive advice on how to combine and use fragrances throughout the day to improve their mood and wellbeing.

Read more here.


It’s a fast-paced and extremely fun process, and even though our Makeathoners are only with us for a day — and they’re building with people they just met — we’re always inspired by the unusual and creative solutions they’re able to come up with. Here are three provocative prototypes they built that use circular principles and give us a glimpse of how a more sustainable future might look.
— Arianne Orillac, Circular Business Design Lead at IDEO London and co-lead of IDEO CoLab’s Circular Economy Portfolio
 

Participatory City & Every One Every Day Designathon

 

Everyone Everyday is an initiative by Participatory City, they had their first Design-A-Thon was last weekend, 27-28th October at Coventry University. They aim to build the first large scale, fully inclusive, practical participation ecosystem. In collaboration with the Council of Barking and Dagenham, Every One Every Day works with residents to co-design every project and co-produce every outcome. Taken together, these small practical projects form the types of hands-on, practical, and sustainable local communities people want to live in and want to help create.

Design-A-Thon
As one of 30 designers, I volunteered to participate in the Design-A-Thon to help take people’s product ideas and turn them into beautiful designs for contemporary homewares, soft furnishings, and gifts. It was an opportunity to work with real clients who will batch manufacture what we designed with them in the initiative's Pop Up Micro Factory.

To find out more about Participatory City, click here.

To find out more about Every One Every Day, click here.

 

Still Life Drawing Workshop in Stoke-on-Trent

 

A wonderful friend of mine Katrina Wilde ran her first still-life drawing workshop last weekend in Stoke-on-Trent. Not only is she an incredible artist herself, but she appreciates the value that art and design can bring to a community, and I am in ore of her effortless ability to use the process of art and design to do so within her local neighbourhood.

How can we use design to facilitate social change amongst communities?

 
 
 

Nock Art Gallery Exhibition

 

I am thrilled to announce that the Mediocre Exhibition will be on show at Nock Art Gallery in Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong from March 28th - April 27th. I have been invited by the Art Foundation “This is NOT A Gallery” to participate alongside an array of talent in the exhibition which challenges - what elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary?


What are the signifiers of mediocrity? Culture, race, class, and experiential differences define the very nature of the term. A thing labelled ‘mediocre’ is only less exceptional than the other thing to which it is compared – a ‘mediocre’ experience does not match up with the experience of value or ‘specialness.’ 

But the experience – and following, the judgment – of art’s worthiness is hardly original. That which is termed ‘mediocre’ fails to match something that has already been labelled as exceptional, but the individual art-user seldom has autonomy to evaluate, label, and describe the exceptional for themselves. Remarkable art is elevated; mediocre art is overlooked – but only after undergoing another, more powerful agent’s litmus test of aesthetic, skill and value. 

 ‘Mediocre’ is not an objective judgment, but rather a layered and complex comparison in the viewer’s mental Rolodex of previous experiences. The inquiry of ‘Mediocre’ is, therefore: If this is ‘mediocre,’ it is ‘mediocre’ compared to what? And where, how and by who is that ‘what’ defined?

If we remove the overly elevated criteria and hand-me-down concept of ‘exceptional,’ then the label ‘mediocre’ becomes arbitrary; it exists only as an impression of the viewer’s frame of reference. 

Is it possible to view a thing for what it is, without holding it up against a preconceived notion of what it should  – or even could – be?

To find out more about This is NOT A Gallery, click here.

To find out more about the exhibition, click here.

 

Bizzie Bee Volunteering - Craft Kits

 

I have recently spoken of the Lizzie Bee Foundation which I have been volunteering. One aspect of their foundation is the Bizzie Bee Craft Kits for children; commercially available and are a means to support the Lizzie Bee Foundation. The aim is to encourage kids to understand how the objects and toys around them are made - creating an appreciation for the materials we use and inspire kids to be creative.

It has been a joy to help them develop some of their craft kits, working on graphics, prototyping and designs for their shops, as well as volunteering at some of their workshops. Workshops are run at a variety of locations including childrens hospitals, and Bizzie Bee recently re-located permanently to PMQ (a well known creative hub in Hong Kong) where it houses its first physical retail store and hosts workshops.



Our kits are educational, creative and fun. They are designed to help children develop their imagination, creativity, and fine motor skills while having the creative freedom to express their individuality.
— Bizzie Bee
 

The Night of Ideas at Asia Society

 

The first time the “Night of Ideas” has been held in Hong Kong. An evening of debates and exchanges with both local and international figures from a breadth of fields enabled an investigation, speculation and consideration for thoughts and reflections around the theme of Artificial Intelligence.

My takeaway?

If in speculation of the “traditional” industries of accounting, finance and law are already seeing an alteration in young career development within the landscape and introduction of AI, which industries will thrive within such a landscape? What is so innate to us as humans that can’t be replaced? Creativity. The recurring theme of the evening, which repeatedly cropped up from the variety of panels accumulated, was that language and creativity are the two features which are innately human. Thus, the industries which will thrive within an ever growing automated landscape.

 

Lizzie Bee Volunteering

 

For the past six months I have been volunteering one day every other week for a wonderful charity called The Lizzie Bee Foundation. They run arts projects which use creativity to bring together and empower the disadvantaged in the community, improving their well-being and enhancing their lives.


We believe in creating a world where art can bring people together, enable social impact and enrich families and communities. We believe that art should be accessible to all; regardless of socio-economic or educational background.
— Lizzie Bee Foundation

One project I have been involved in is called Lost & Found, where once a week they travel to a small village outside Fanling in New Territories in Hong Kong. In this remote area, a lot of elderly are living a rather isolated life and unfortunately there isn’t a lot for them to do, even though many in the community are still full of life. The Lost & Found project provides an opportunity for the elderly residents of the community to come together and participate in a variety of arts activities.

I have been mesmerised by the incredible spirit of the residents in the community. Many of them are over 80 years old and live over a thirty minute walk away from the community centre. For many, it is the only opportunity to get out of their flats where they live alone and without air conditioning; making the half-hour walk in thirty degree humid heat worthwhile.

Although the residents don’t speak English and my Cantonese has not progressed much beyond taxi language I am fascinated by how we are still able to communicate and feel as though we were getting to know one another through body language, facial expressions and laughter. How much does language really play into our communication devices as humans? What other possibilities are there for cross-cultural learning, beyond everyday tourism?

To find out more about the Lizzie Bee Foundation, click here.

 

GK Gallery Solo Exhibition

 

I am delighted to announce my first solo exhibition is now open at GK Gallery in Manchester. It will be displayed for the next two months until the end of March. It is an honour to have been invited to showcase my textiles sculptures and the exhibition has enabled a new imagining of my work. Thrilled to work with such supportive people within the industry and thank you to all who came for the opening night.

GK Gallery is a family run venture aimed at supporting upcoming artists from the North West region. Find out more about their wonderful work here.

 

Business of Design Week

 

I had the great pleasure of visiting Business of Design Week (BODW) in Hong Kong last week. A wonderful opportunity to hear the latest thoughts and ideas buzzing within the design industry. The weeks programme was filled with many heavyweight design heroes of mine. Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO, being one of them.

My favourite talk however was delivered by French Botanist, Patrick Blanc.

Patrick Blanc is the inventor of the Vertical Garden and has designed vertical gardens for an incredible variety of locations worldwide. His passion for vertical gardens stems from his desire to bring nature to otherwise unused spaces of cities. Blanc’s incredible designs are thanks to his own patented technology (the Mur Végétal), enabling plants to be grown without any earth. Unlike the plants themselves, the “soil” in which they grow is neither natural nor biodegradable. Blanc uses a combination of PVC and polyamide felt, which are capable of supporting many plants’ root structures easily. Whereas soil would erode or simply fall off – damaging the building on which it sits – Blanc’s device should last for hundreds of years.


Everybody in the world is doing vertical gardens. Of course, 20-25 years ago, I was the only one. But I am happy because with this idea I created a new vision of the interaction between human beings, the town and plants.
— Patrick Blanc, French Botanist
 

Ted x WanChai 2016

 

My brain is marvelling in the splendour that was this weekend. I had the incredible pleasure of being one of many volunteers at this years Ted X WanChai here in Hong Kong.

A definite standout through; Amy Robinson Sterling discussing “Design for Science”. Neuroscience has long intrigued me and it was awe inspiring to hear so coherently how design can play a part in its future development.

Watch here if this tickles your fancy as much as it did mine.

Researchers around the world make exciting, impactful new discoveries every day, yet you won’t find a designer in most labs. Initiatives like Eyewire, a game to map the brain, are changing that. Pairing designers with neuroscience challenges results in more than just clever collaboration tools; it provides the opportunity to showcase neuroscientific discoveries like never before, immersing the curious in the wonderful, exotic world of the brain.
 

New Designers Exhibition

 

I am greatly honoured that my graduate textile collection was selected to be exhibited in London last week as part of New Designers 2016 which took place in the Business Design Centre in London. An opportunity to see the somewhat incredible talent cultivating from creative British Universities. I’ve been inspired by the work I was able to exhibit alongside. However, for me the most delighting of experiences came from the people I met who are behind the work being exhibited. A few days to talk all things design, practice and possible futures; worthy of all the work put in as preparation for graduating.

Photo credit: InHouse Films

 

Design Academy

 

What an honour it has been to be part of the Design Council’s first “Design Academy” programme run in partnership with Manchester School of Art. As a selected participant of the programme it has been a privilege to understand and appreciate how design can be used to tackle major social and economic challenges relating to healthcare. The Design Academy’s first brief “Design for Care” is part of their new initiative aiming to create a care system that is “more personalised, more connected and more preventative”.

The six week programme allowed us to work in disciplinary teams to ideate design solutions to different challenges of the current care system. The Academy culminated in us presenting our final projects at the Design Council’s HQ in London to leading practitioners in both the digital and public sectors from Hyper Island, IBM and the Cabinet Office.


Strategic design capability is a fundamental requirement for business and innovation leaders today and in the future, as the needs of business and the public sector become increasingly complex and the challenges they are tackling require a more integrated response from design.
— Design Academy, Design Council