Archive for the ‘ Industry. ’ Category

Heart of Campus Restaurant is here!

Heart of Campus Restaurant

Heart of Campus Restaurant

It has been a labour of love and has taken two years so far but we are finally starting to see the Heart of Campus emerge at Glasgow Caledonian University.   The 400+ seat restaurant opened this week and we have had fantastic feedback from students and staff so far.  There are still a number of exciting additions including lace mesh screens and some rather fabulous furniture but it is coming along nicely.  There is still a long way to go with the study club opening in October, the new Student Service Mall opening at Christmas our work in the new Pavilion building and in the Hamish Wood set for completion in Spring next year- However we will be taking full advantage of our time on campus and will most definitely be popping in for lunch as soon as we can.  In addition to the more tradition servery offering there will be stalls selling street food and we know that they have been experimenting and testing recipes all summer so should be great! We will post more updates on the Heart of Campus as they happen over the next few weeks/months

University of West London

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UWL Future Campus Project 2014

We are delighted to be able to confirm that we have been commissioned as specialist consultants to University of West London’s Library.

The University is currently undertaking a major transformation of their St Mary’s Road Campus in Ealing. The project, titled Future Campus, is a mixture of new build projects alongside comprehensive refurbishments.  The Future Campus project is well underway and the Student Union, along and the London College of Music’s performance centre, was launched in Autumn 2013.

The Library lies at the heart of this new development and the University wanted to engage specialist design services to help them to create a modern, friendly and comfortable academic environment for students that is also flexible and adaptable to meet the ever-changing needs of the sector.

We were appointed at the end of March following a competitive tender and Val and Scott attended their first meeting with the team last week.  It’s an exciting project with a relatively short time frame so we are looking forward to getting started right away.

The project is due for completion in early 2015, so keep an eye on our blog for updates soon! Or if you would like to learn more about the project click here:
http://www.uwl.ac.uk/futurecampus/welcome

Sexy Research

We have been practicing People Centred Design for nearly a decade now.  When we started out the concept was not widely known and the majority of people felt that we were either mildly eccentric or had come up with a crafty sales gimmick. Nearly a decade on and people centred design methods and approaches have suddenly gained popularity and everyone from the local QS to Glasgow City Council is pushing the people agenda.

people make glasgow

People Make Glasgow campaign

This is of course great news for us as we have now established ourselves a decent reputation in this area.  However, using people centred methods for interior design is not as simple as most people would think and the sudden popularity of the practice has resulted in some slightly worrying trends.  As far as we know PCD originated in the world of product design where it has been used to great effect for decades and many of our methods have been borrowed from this field.  However, as we are dealing with the complexities of space we have been forced to look beyond this and equally as many of our methods have been borrowed from other sources such as architectural psychology, anthropology and even urban planning.  To complicate matters further each new space comes with its own questions and culture so we rarely use the same grouping of methods twice.

Recently we have been excited to see people centred approaches featuring in the portfolios of graduates Sadly though, while many of the methods students are using are effective in a product design scenario they are fairly useless for interior situations. The worst culprit amongst these methods is the cultural probe. A cultural probe is a package containing a number of items such as diaries, cameras, maps etc which are designed to prompt users to record their everyday interactions with the world.  The contents of the probe are tailored to the needs of that participant group and/or the subject of the research.  The design of contents, questions and prompts is critical in ensuring that the information returned is of sufficient quantity, as is the recruitment of participants as a successful probe relies on the user investing a number of hours to fill them out. Most importantly it takes an experienced team to analyse the contents.   We have and do use Cultural Probes.  However they are usually only used to back up other methods on a large projects and only if we have a captive audience that is certain to participate.   Despite the lack of success of the cultural probe for use in interior design we continue to see them pop up with frightening regularity.  Recently we started to push this question with students and those that have ventured down this route happily admitted to us that their reason for selecting this method is that they look damn sexy in a portfolio.

Probe at Fraserburgh Hospital

Probe at Fraserburgh Hospital

University of Liverpool Probe

University of Liverpool Probe

 The other issue we see with regularity is an enthusiasm to embrace user centred methods but a lack of confidence in the research itself to be engaging and sexy.  This often leads to a confusing fusion between research and performance/ installation art and it is obvious that a good opportunity to gain real insights has been lost. .Research led or user centred design has become so popular it is even attracting a bit of healthy ridicule.  One of our team found this web-link the other day, which is jolly funny and not entirely without foundation (although we do suspect that someone got beaten in a tender by research led team – click on image for link)

Poopoo Strategy

Poopoo Strategy

The point is that there is plenty of folk out who clearly either are or want to be seen as offering a research led/people centred design service, particularly the sexier more visual types. The new headache for clients is working out who really can.

A Sense of Physical & Mental Well-Being

Stobhill Hospital Main Foyer

Stobhill Hospital Main Foyer

Over the last year and for a number of dull reasons (including a dramatic broken pinkie) some of our team have been forced to visit a number of Glasgow’s hospitals.  Needless to say that in each case the medical teams and service staff have been marvellous and many of the hospitals are clearly doing their best to improve the experience of patients by making the best of their facilities.  It therefore feels a teensy bit mean to be critical in any way.  However, as well as being patients we are designers and designers obsessed with people centred design.  So as we sat about in waiting rooms we have each been wondering about some of the design choices that are made for hospital spaces.

In most cases the design philosophy seems to have been selected to reinforce two key themes, cleanliness and technology.  As a result many new hospital foyers have a futuristic ‘Gattaca’ type theme with hard surfaces, cold colours, bright lighting, murals featuring architecture or the city and many plasma screens.  Once past the main foyer treatment spaces can be awash with lavender blues and minty pastel greens when not simply painted white and reception desks are bright white laminate or occasionally corian.

While the majority of these spaces do look clean and contemporary they can lack the human touch and therefore be difficult to connect to.  Some new hospitals are addressing this.  The new building at Stobhill  by Riach and Hall architects includes some wonderful touches including a large quantity of timber which brings colour, warmth and a real connection to nature.  The New Victoria Hospital by HLM Architects also incorporates natural finishes and a central courtyard garden. Our own installation at Rutland surgery includes natural finishes and a timber bench with an inset alpine garden in the waiting area.  In addition it features a number of public artworks which are directly inspired by the community that the surgery serves.

Rutland Surgery Waiting Room

Rutland Surgery Waiting Room

Public Art by Calum Stirling at the New Victoria Hospital

Public Art by Calum Stirling at the New Victoria Hospital

Public art is popular in new hospitals and we have been commissioned to create a number of installations in the past.  The inclusion of natural materials or public art is of course expensive and money is an issue within the NHS. However there are some design features we noticed that could be resolved without costing the earth.   For example, how much better would it be (while waiting or being treated) to stare at a deep forest green wall or indeed a large-scale graphic of a forest in place of a washed out minty green wall with an IKEA clock or an old calendar.

We are fond of referencing architectural author Grant Hildebrant who expands on psychologist Robert Ulrichs idea   “We are biologically predisposed to liking scenes with prominent natural elements.’ We are willing to make some effort to provide ourselves with substitutes. Satisfying this affinity can have a measurable effect on mental and physical well being”

Large scale graphic artwork in St Barts and the London

Large scale graphic artwork in St Barts and the London

We have always felt that our methodology and practice would work well for healthcare and be a solid business move.  After this year’s more personal encounters, we would now say that our interest has moved beyond a mere business objective and has become a genuine and passionately held belief that we can add real value through our people centric approach to these spaces.

Back at The Braes

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Way back when we started the company The Braes High School in Falkirk gave us our first official paying job working with their students to re-design their library.  The Braes was one of a handful of schools in Scotland which were part of the Schools of Ambition program and Head teacher Helen McCulloch and her staff have done an amazing job building a school where students are proud to wear the uniform.  Design has always been a big part of this, especially design which involves the pupils and amongst other things they created their own badge and motto, “Build respect and earn success”.  Since that time we have been happy to donate our services to this inspirational school.  It has been a couple of years since we were last involved with the school so we were delighted when they got in touch to ask us to refresh the library and generate designs for the 5th and 6th year common room.  Alex, a GSA student who has been doing an internship with us all summer will be working on the project alongside our senior designers.  If you would like to know more about The Braes click here, http://www.braes.falkirk.sch.uk/

Glasgow Revisited

Gibson Street union:stevenson

Since the completion of the Fraser Building several years ago we have worked on and off with University of Glasgow on a number of smaller scale projects.  Many of these included graphic artwork influenced by the original ‘walls of intrigue’ concept produced in the FB.  The University is now planning an extension to the Stevenson building and a refurbishment of the Student Union and have commission our team to produce identities and graphic artwork for the scheme including, a new cafe, the club, two bars and also exciting concepts for the facade facing onto Gibson street as well as the temporary hoarding for the site.  It’s early days but we know the University is looking for concepts that will match the depth of the original walls of intrigue so it looks like we might be raiding the archives again!

Pin it, tweet it, like it, +1 it

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We’ve been re-examining the social media landscape for 2013 in the studio. We have always found a useful role for social media, adopting twitter in the early days when tweets were still only a sound found in the early morning. Our research in internet traffic, user statistics and industry analysis shows that most of the major social media platforms are only on the rise. Some curious facts include:
– Nearly one third of Facebook posts are now done via a mobile device.
– One third of internet users now use twitter.
– Linked In now has 161 million members with 2 new ones every second.
– The Google+ ‘+1’ button gets 5 billion hits a day (on average).
– Websites with a +1 button get x 3.5 more visits than those without.
– In a survey, 80% of brands prefer Facebook over any other media to reach their audience.
– 26% of retweets are incited by request in the tweet.
– The largest stated occupation of Google+ users is ‘student’.
– The average stay of a Tumblr user is 16 minutes
– 5 million images are upload to Instagram every day.
– 57% of pins on Pinterest are food related.
– Only 19% of Twitter users have 51+ followers.
– 80% of Pinterest users are female, as are 57 % on Facebook, 60% on Tumblr and 53% on Twitter. Google+ have 68% male users with Linked In at 57% male.
Despite whatever personal pros and cons people have about social media, it is important to note that it is many different things to different people. Last year we conducted several research projects utilising social media in the forms of blogs and Twitter accounts, drawing on invaluable insight from various users. This year looks set for a rise in more visual means of communication, and hopefully more dialogue in general, in place of one-way communication.
As the various social media platforms develop, we aim to make use of the appropriate parts we like, without exposing you to funny cat videos or fail compilations. Although statistically speaking, you may want that.