A design blog about my journey to finding creative thinking.


Throughout this process of my growth as a designer over the past few months I have learnt to see myself through a different light. I am able to look back and reflect further on where I want to go as a designer. If I were to plot my highs and lows of the past 11 weeks of developing as a designer, it would look like the following.


During a studio session with one of my design colleagues we reflected with each other on our growth as designers. We repeated those questions I first asked myself in my first blog post. What is design? What is a designer?

I found that my definition of design had changed. For me at the beginning, I had only thought of design in a visual sense, in layouts of magazines and posters. But now it is broader.

“Everything is Design. Everything!”

– Paul Rand

(2016, under “Paul Rand > Quotes > Quotable Quotes” ).

Yes. I can see design in every thing; I can understand that everything needs to be processed first, in order to be created.

Thus design is just that; A process.


(Nigel Sussman 2016)

It is a process of creative creation.  However, simply because everything already has a designed process to come about, it doesn’t mean that design as a profession is obsolete. Design in the professional sense further requires a more in-depth and conscious knowledge of the decisions being made throughout the design process (Ilstedt Hjelm 2005).

A point my colleague made is true, the process requires so much more than just coming up with an idea. The process of ideation was much more in-depth and practical than I had realized at first. Not only was it possible to mind map out ideas, but also there is a plethora of ways to ideate. For example, heuristic ideation technique (HIT) matrices where you compare two unrelated topics (e.g. design issues and design products) to develop crazy new ideas (BMGI n.d.).

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 5.19.17 PM

Table 1. Note: Adapted from BMGI, n.d.

You may remember this technique from my fifth blog. Depending on how your brain is wired you can find a technique as a designer to spark ideas.


(Clive 1931)

Returning to my initial idea of design as mainly a visual outcome. I must mention that of course, I had already subconsciously known that design wasn’t just creating pretty posters. But I wasn’t consciously aware of interactive design.; or the fact that I could foster a relationship between people and what I created (2015, under “Complete Beginner’s Guide to Interaction Design”). These few months I realized and appreciated more the perspective of creating an experience and not an object. If I want to be an effective designer that can continue to grow, I need to find the purpose of my designs. This is integral, as it is easy to get lost in aimless ideas.

Also, I realized I was already naturally one step closer to being a designer from the beginning. To become a designer observation is key. We saw this in my Thoughtlessly Thoughtful blog post. To first create something that is needed you need to observe what is missing. I already observe people around me and weird or normal things that I pass by; it’s a pastime of mine.


(Giphy n.d.)

This gave me a sense of hope that I am on the path that I want to walk on. Even though I feel I am not even close to being a fully fledged designer, I am growing into one. What sort of designer, I am not sure just yet; but I now know that I don’t have to only focus on graphic design or interactive design. I can design anything I have an idea for. I can go in any direction I feel is the most appropriate at the time for my vision. As long as I have a clear idea on what I am trying to achieve as a designer. Philippe Starck’s Ted talk: Design and Destiny (2007) made me further reflect on this:

What I grasped in his talk was that designers must continue evolving and musn’t get caught up in what has previously been considered design. Humans are mutations that have evolved from a single cell, and in the same way so must design evolve. Turn the page and don’t aim to fit into a pre-existing category, aim to evolve and always create something new.

To mirror my first blog, if I as a designer were something tangible, such as a tattoo, I would be a stencil tattoo of a rose. Though it is at first visually simple and seemingly common, it has the potential to be so much more.


“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”

– Juliet Capulet

(2016, under “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose – Shakespeare Quotes”)

In that vein of thought, there exist many more designers in this world, who could create something as brilliant as I would. However, it is up to me to find out what sort of designer I am, and what differentiates me from them.

Ultimately, from the conversation with my colleague, I found that my definition of design is now broader but as a designer I have refined my idea of how to go about it.

I am not boxing myself in, but I am more focused.

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We were given a design brief last week and had to team up into groups of 4/5 to devise and present a design solution in 2 weeks for a design charrette. The brief was to come up with a design solution to enrich and improve the first year experience in the Creative Industry Faculty (Choi, 2016).

My group’s main idea was a companion app. Students could choose a pet to accompany them on their first year. The companion would encourage them, remind them of important dates and serve as comic relief.


(Giphy n.d.)

We presented Alice, our tutor, this idea for feedback. At times presenting an idea to a client can feel like Russian Roulette, you’re either gonna win or get shot down. Nonetheless, it’s a necessary step in the design process to verify if you’re on the right track. Also, it’s not always as dramatic as Russian Roulette, in fact it’s more of a win-win scenario.

After presenting our idea to Alice she suggested going for a more experience based app rather than informational. To help us, she introduced us to the Miitomo app, where you personalise your avatar and earn points by answering questions. From this feedback session we all decided to go home and play the game and return with ideas for the new concept.

In my opinion we all took the feedback we were given on board, and used it as another stepping point to improve our app.

“Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous.”

Ralph Caplan

(2012, under “Ralph Caplan”)

Moreover, the importance of our tutor’s feedback was integral to our design process for our design solution. She could go in with a fresh set of eyes and see elements that we had missed. Furthermore, as she has more experience with addressing these sorts of design problems she can see where we could be straying from an effective solution. With this feedback we are able to see where we may be going wrong and also teaches us by drawing attention to certain areas of weakness (2014, under “Five reasons why feedback may be the most important skill”).

Steven Johnson talks about this in his video, “Where good ideas come from” (2010). He outlines what I previously mentioned, saying that most times hunches turn into real breakthroughs as a result of someone else’s hunch; or in this case feedback.


The new direction from the feedback was a considerable shift in our way of thinking. However, it provided an avenue of ideation that produced more creative ideas. Furthermore, it made us consider the user’s behaviour more than we were before. We had to find ways to capture their attention and maintain it.


(Akalin 2012)

Though changing the idea may seem to devalue the work and ideation already done, it is actually strengthening the original concept. The reason for this is because it is not a new idea, it is the evolution of the already existing idea. You have more information than you did at the beginning and you’re able to refine your design solution to better fit your objectives (McDaniel 2011).

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The mini charrette took place this week. It is a practice run of the design charrette that will take place in a month.

If you haven’t heard of the word charrette before, the Oxford dictionary defines a charrette as either a “workshop devoted to a concerted effort to solve a problem or plan the design of something”; or 

“A period of intense work, typically undertaken in order to meet a deadline.”

(Oxford University Press 2016)

The brief given was to transform a mostly inactive period of time for first year creative industry faculty (CIF) students, into a meaningfully engaging time. This period if time is the moment between a student accepting their course offer, and the student arriving to the university for orientation. The designers needed to think of an innovative concept for engagement, and plan a campaign to promote it (Choi 2016).

Unfortunately, I was absent for this practice run through. However, I read through the entire brief and I have my own design solution that I would have suggested to my group.

Design Solution

My idea is a light up accomplishments wristband similar to a FitBit. It lights up as you accomplish tasks. In week one you will be able to redeem the tasks you have accomplished at the student services desk.


The wristband will have seven lights that need to be turned on. The wristband will work through Bluetooth with your smart phone. To turn the lights on you either need the code (for the online components) to enter on your phone; or to be on campus determine location services with your smart phone.

Information on how to accomplish tasks will be available through the app. However, the first instructions will arrive with the wristband in the acceptance letter.

The online tasks are

  • Download the wristband app, and set up
  • Register for either orientations sessions or a library workshop

The on-campus tasks are

  • Visit the student services office
  • Visit the main faculty buildings
  • Visit the QUT printing services
  • Attend the registered event
  • Use the shuttle bus

When you redeem the wristband the amount of lights you have turned on determine the value of the reward you receive.

Truly understanding your customer means understanding their values and sense of worth.

(Kolowich 2005)

Examples of the reward received when you redeem the wristband are:

  • Food court voucher for participating vendors (one to two lights)
  • Bookshop voucher $20 – $70 (up to three lights turned on)
  • Half price printing for a total of 15 to 20 pages (up to five lights turned on)
  • 25%- 35% off Toga Party tickets (6-7 lights turned on)

The terms for the wristband are that the tasks need to be completed before week 2 of university. Also if the wristband is not redeemed before week 2, it must be returned to student services by the census date, thereafter incurring a fine.

Of course this design solution needs additional refining. Furthermore, suggestions from other designers could further improve this idea and or evolve to better target the objectives of the brief.


(Le SPN 2015)


Studio reflection and feedback

This week’s studio session focused on looking back on the presentations that took place and the gained experience.

From the other design students I gathered that the aspects of the charrette that troubled them were:

  • The time frame
  • The delegation of tasks
  • Prioritizing tasks

The time frame for the practice charrette was considerably shorter than the actual charrette. However, for both there is not a lot of time to waste. To accomplish as much of the design solution as possible an organised schedule could help in assuring all tasks are accomplished (Entrepeneur 2016)

A checklist of all that needs to be accomplished can be useful as well. This is my suggestion from the feedback from many students mentioning that they forgot about the video and left it too late.


(King 2015)


Delegating tasks may seem simple enough, but it can mean more than just randomly assigning tasks. The right tasks need to go to the right people; as certain people can have certain skills that other team members may not (Brian Tracy International 2012).

Consequently, delegating tasks to the wrong people could be an ineffective use of time. Nevertheless, tasks need to be evenly spread out across the team to distribute the work load fairly.

Finally, throughout the design process each task needs to be prioritized. As do, the ideas that are suggested by all team members. Certain ideas may not be as viable or relevant and so need to be let go (Sussex 2014)

Thus for the approach of the actual design charrette, I will have to keep these points in mind. Doing this will make me a better asset to my group for the charrette; which will in turn create a more efficient and smooth running design process.

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We were tasked to come up with a design solution after revising the design issue brought up in my blog post The First Year Inexperience.
For this brainstorming session we decided to use a Heuristic Impact Technique (HIT) Matrix (http://bmgi.org/tools-templates/heuristic-ideation-technique-hit-matrix ) instead of a mind-map. This was decided so that we could explore different ways to ideate which may or may not suits us better individually and as a group.

We set out our HIT matrix as a table with the interesting observations in the rows, and design issues in the columns. Then combine the two to come up with possibly ridiculous and sometimes genius solutions. Put interesting observations were from our Thoughtless acts experience (which you may remember from the Thoughtlessly Thoughtful blog post) and the issues were, as mentioned, first year experience related.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 7.41.24 PM

We focused on the issue of unused spaces more so than the other issues; and combined it with short-term gathering areas. The reason this issue appealed to us the most was because there are large spaces around the campus that remain unoccupied the majority of the semester.


Our idea was to create a “world’s largest mad hatter tea party” that was held on a day during week 1 or 2. Our aim was to allow a fun space where we could get students feeling at ease at university. Also, we wanted to create an environment where students would be more inclined to make friends. Students would be able to play with the interactive pamphlets by folding them up into shapes, for example chatterboxes (with pre-filled chatterbox layout on the backside of the pamphlet).

IMG_4142 (1)

These would be handed out during orientation week, and would be in computer lab spaces and services areas. On the day we would put up arrows that pointed towards the tea party location to enticing people to follow the signs. On the way to the tea party there would be funny mirrors placed at stop points. This way even if people didn’t get all the way to the tea party they would still take away a positive experience to introduce them to their first university semester.


We used play dough to prototype our idea. The value of prototyping our idea meant it was easier to comprehend and explain. We could show the step by step process and edit elements that needed fixing and that could have been missing (Kelley 2016).

Not only does it clarify an idea, it immerses your audience to interact with your concept. This actively engages them and helps sell an idea better (http://designinstruct.com/web-design/prototyping-is-essential/ ). What’s more it also engrossed us, the designers, more into the ideation process. We were more willing to input ideas, actively participate and generate new ideas to go further into detail than we would have otherwise.

If people can interact with your ideas, then they’re better able to understand them

(Cao 2015)

This was only a quick ten minute brainstorm on the design issue and could be further elaborated. However, it was beneficial to see how the prototype enhanced the idea and design process (Gube 2013). This experience allowed me to better understand how a tangible manifestation of a concept augmented the design solution. Like adding sugar to your tea, it doesn’t change the notion, it just sweetens the deal.

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Humans are always acting and reacting to the environment that surrounds them. Whether it’s walking around a puddle to stay dry, or leaving an empty cup behind. The things we do naturally by and by go largely unnoticed. However, once you start actively observing the actions we as humans take, it’s easy to see how strange yet instinctive our behaviours can be.

This is what Jane Fulton-Suri’s book “Thoughtless Acts? Observations on Intuitive Design” delves into. She provides a look into the subtle and curious ways people interact with their environment.

“You can go and look at the world and think about a human design problem […] that starts to make new kinds of connections”

(Turri 2011)

I find this idea quite interesting. Once you start observing people you notice obvious behaviour that is instinctive. The behaviour you come across can be surprising at first but after a while you notice patterns.It’s easy to miss this behaviours when you’re not paying attention,  because all everyone does it thus making it commonplace.

Jane Fulton-Suri categorises this behaviour under six labels

  1. Reacting
  2. Responding
  3. Co-opting
  4. Adapting
  5. Conforming
  6. Signalling

To demonstrate this concept, I went in to my local shopping centre and photographed some humans in their natural state.


The rule for this behaviour is that “people interact automatically with objects and spaces that they encounter”.

As you can see in the pictures below, the first group of people are all avoiding the food on the ground. If they had not been reacting, the cue would have gone straight through. In the second photo a man is using the space between the walk way and the railing. This area is not meant to be a walkway, but the man has used it as a shortcut.


This behaviour is triggered by “some qualities and features that prompt people to behave in a particular way”.

Here there are various situations where people have responded to an object or environment. This subconsciously betters the situation for the person at hand. E.g using the coffee  as a teaspoon holder.


“People make use of opportunities present in their immediate surroundings”, which is co-opting.
As we can see people make different use of different objects and areas. In one picture a woman uses the corner or the store as a private space to take a call.


The defining factor of adapting is that “people alter the purpose and context of things to meet their objectives”.

Adapting is similar to co-opting, though the difference is that adapting is to meet a certain objective. For example, the space between the art supplies and the staff door has been changed to a storage location.


Living in society and being intuitive creatures, “people learn patterns of behaviour from their social -cultural group”.

In one of the pictures you can see two girls waiting to get picked up. This is not uncommon at this location, however what is interesting is that this is not a drop off zone. Moreover, there’s even a no loitering sign to encourage shoppers to keep the area clear. The other two photos are of shopping trolleys. These always have a habit of popping up in all sorts of locations.


Finally, “people convey messages and prompts to ourselves and other people”

Though I couldn’t find completely accurate cases of signalling, there is still a degree of enterprise signalling to it’s clients. For example the balloons in one of the pictures  is signalling to customers to enter the newly opened.

The purpose of labelling these actions is that it becomes easier to organise field notes and observations. Furthermore, it makes explaining actions simpler, but also processing the observations and ideating simpler. For example, you could outline that you observed people responding to holes in fences peculiarly, thus inspiring your design.

I also took notes (both short hand and in detail), as well as drew out a few sketches of what I observed. I prefer to write down quick notes as I can continue observing with minimal disruption. However, I do like sketching out what I see as I am then able to recall in more detail later on.


I find that trying all sorts of ways of taking notes of your observations is effective, as you are able to get a more holistic memory of what you were experiencing at the time. What’s more certain situations can be hindered by certain documenting methods. For example, I can’t always carry around my sketch pad with me. Overall, learning about Jane Fulton’- Suri’s work inspired me to continue to observe. Moreover, her categories gave depth and structure to my observations which I enjoyed. I was able to actively look at the world around me with purpose, and engage my creativity both actively and subconsciously.

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Imagery is integral in our everyday life, whether it’s mental imagery or an advertisement on the TV. It determines how we understand the world around us and is influential in how we receive the information we are given (Irvine 2011).
A strong link in design to our everyday imagery is branding. Branding can determine who pays attention to your good or service, who uses it and how your good and service is perceived. Having the correct branding can determine the success of your good or service because it influences the willingness of you target audience to use your good or service (Strategy 2013).

This was the focus of our studio session this week. We were given a brief to rebrand “The Edge”, a modern library space with the goal of “creating creatives”. As a modern library resources it gives the community free access to work spaces and computer software; as well as providing talks and workshops (The Edge 2016).

However, the catch was that we had to use inspiration from a renown designer. The style we used had to be reminiscent of her work, and could be linked and explained in term of the designer. My group chose Rei Kawakubo.

Who is Rei Kawakubo?

new yorker.jpg

(Thurman 2005)

Rei Kawakubo is a fashion designer who started as a graphic designer and meddled in advertising. An avant-garde designer, who likes to question the norm and chooses to see through a different perspective to create he designs. You may have heard of her label, Comme des Garçons  (Slowey and Hyzagi 2016).

Our task was to create a new logo for The Edge, and create a national campaign to accompany the rebranding. Thinking of Rei in our design process, we decided that, we would keep the colours to a monochrome with pops of key colours. Our persuasive material needed to be quirky, and the event to promote the edge needed to be fashion related.



Thus, our logo was geometrical and mainly black and white with red as a key colour. The campaign material was a poster with a superhero looking out from a tall edge, in a style similar to sin city. However, an issue we picked up on was that the message “Leap of the edge” could be given negative connotations , which is not in line with the image of The Edge. If we were to brainstorm this idea further, we would need to review our copywriting and find more effective solutions.

The event to debut the rebranding and use for the national campaign was a giant knitting event. This would invite everyone in the community to join in and be part of the local service representing Queensland.


(Event Finda 2016)

A wheat and Rei sandwich

Now for the yummy part.
The task before me is to present to you what Rei Kawakubo would be like if she were a sandwich.

First of all thee slices wheat and rye bread are encased in a puffy wrapping around the sandwich. This is representative of her oversized and “ugly” styling. Rei likes to play with predetermined beauty standards by going against them (Bawa, 2005).

Secondly, there are two cheeses in the sandwich. Sliced and shredded. The two  different textures depict Rei’s mashup of textures and how she has a collage style of visual design.

Next, to represent Rei’s interest in the design field are a dress and printed colour paper. The dress is, of course, an allusion to her highly successful career as a fashion designer. The paper alludes to her graphic design work, which is both graphic and bold (Bawa 2005).

Finally, the sandwich contains the basic BLT sandwich fillings, representing a sturdy sandwich that will sustain you for the long haul.

Now, place the sandwich on a simple plat, so that it remains the focus; and play some Björk to get you in the mood for a quirky sandwich.


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First year of uni is always hard to get accustomed to and can sometimes feel lonely. This could also be a reason that some students decide to drop out.

This was the problem presented to us by Ruth Bridgstock. Being in the administration of the creative industries she looks into the ‘First Year Experience’ (FYE) of students. What she has observed and taken data has shown that there is high attrition (or drop outs) in certain cohorts, especially in design.

She came to us with this problem and presented us with varying issues. From these issues I decided to brainstorm some of the issues she presented in the following mind map.


The issues that interest me the most are a combination of the “sense of community” and campus design. I feel that the two are linked as an austere environment may lead to an obstacle for students to engage with the university in a physical aspect.

According to Price (2003), in his journal “The impact of facilities on student choice of university”, Physical facilities play an important role in students’ perceptions of an institute and can be a large factor in their selection process as a prospective student.

This doesn’t necessarily entail a permanent change in the environment. However, a closer inspection into unused space can be interesting. Furthermore, creating an event in these unused communal spaces similar to orientation week could be effective. The best time to do this could be during week 4, as there are higher rates of student attrition after week 3.

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