Category Archives: General Research

Sample Typography


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Film Research


The best way I could think of showing distractions visually was to to use POV. Eyes shifting focus and objects in the peripheral could be shown creatively this way, though keeping the shots simple and smooth to avoid too much shakey-cam would be necessary.

The first reference I thought of for this kind of film-making is the comedy series Peep Show, which is film POV style through the eyes of its two leads.

To achieve the effect of watching the lives of Mark and Jeremy through their own eyes, Peep Show‘s producers utilised new filming technology. Much of the filming in the first series and part of the second series was carried out with the actors wearing head cameras (like the one pictured). The viewers did not see this apparatus because the actors obviously do not wear their head gear whilst they were in front of camera. This process made for a time consuming production schedule and the quality of the filmed footage was poor (not HD quality), so in the later series the head cameras have been used less – instead the actors talk directly into a normal camera (as, according to Webb, this produces the same effect but is easier to do, and the picture quality is better)

I love the creativity shown by the directors in using characters and props such as mirrors to create as many different angles to cut to as possible given the tight constraint of seeing the whole show through someones eyes. The planning required to set all these angles in place and place the characters is also quite impressive.

A few films also came to mind when I started thinking about ways to visualize distractions for the camera to focus onto. As my idea is fairly simple with one persons perspective, I need something to make the film more interesting.

The opening titles to the film Stranger than Fiction, designed by Kansas City based MK12, in particular stuck in my memory. This style could potentially be used in my film, showing the fleeting thoughts in someones mind.

Editorial Design


For our next brief, the class was challenged to design an editorial spread to illustrate an interview in a creative way.

It took me a long time to narrow down my ideas for someone to interview – I considered interviewing my partner about his unease living with my pet snake, which could use layered snakeskin to spice up the page, but I decided against it. He just didn’t feel strongly enough about the snake, and I felt the whole idea fell flat.

The Sense of Smell

In the end, I settled on interviewing a friend who was born with no sense of smell because I felt that this topic could be strongly illustrative. While interviewing him, he touched on some subjects that I never thought about before, such as how he wondered whether his sense of smell affected his short-term memory without the extra sense that we use without realizing it.

Being born with no sense of smell he never realized he was missing it, and only began to suspect that other people could sense things that he could not around age 14. One event in particular that got him wondering was when a crowd of friends would freak out about someone having farted, and he could not understand what they were talking about. It was at this point he started to realize that something was missing.

It’s not that I breathe in and smell no smells, I breathe in and and smell absolutely nothing

Another interesting point that he made was that, much like a blind person trying to understand sight, he has no frame of reference for understand what a smell is or what having the sense is like. This sense also relating to taste means that smells can’t even be described to him in terms of taste – such as a bitter smell or a ‘fresh’ smell – he simply just does not understand.

In terms of taste, that too is an interesting subject. Because can’t taste individual flavours texture is far more important to him when it come t which foods he likes, but much like an elderly person who has the taste buds dulled he can sense the strong flavour, favouring spicy or sweet foods for that reason.


Based on my interview with him (who does not want to be named), I got the impression that while he cannot miss the sense of smell as he has never had one, he does feel slightly disconnected from people around him, as they have access to a world that he can’t even imagine. He is a laid back guy and doesn’t worry too much about it, but sometimes paranoia creeps in, and leads to a slight case of OCD, where he is fussy about the cleanliness of his room or himself so as not to offend others.

I wanted to capture this disconnect in my illustrative spread – in particular I love the stark black and white designs, which spotlight the subject and display their isolation from the world. I think this could work well with my interview

Irelands 1st Department Store



As the object design and theme of memories was proposed by the Austins Department Store to celebrate its long historical ties to Derry, I visited the store to get some inspiration

The Department Store has a fascinating history. Its opened back in 1830 as a drapery store owned by Thomas Austin, and designed by an architect who when on to design the Guild Hall. The store is famous for its unique design inside and out, defining features include a large old wooden staircase and original lift.

It is a remarkable design, untypical of restrained Edwardian buildings, and makes the most of its wonderful corner site. Inside, the main feature was an open stair well running through the floors, topped with a fine glass atrium.

However, many of the objects for sale are wildly varied and unorganized – there is little meaning to them in the context of the historical importance of the store. One reason for this may be that having stood for more then 100 years, the store has become a mish-mash or varying styles from all different time periods.

I took reference photos of the most interesting and memorable parts of the store for me, and while some of the objects for sale are interesting, it was the textures of the staircase and wallpaper that sparked my interest

Down the years Austins has also had a large ‘family’ of loyal staff. In the 1930s, staff and apprentices lived in a dormitory above McKinlays in the Diamond, which was owned by Austins

The possibilities for memorial objects are particularly varied, as the store has stood through many important Irish events such as the famine and the Troubles, and I also found interesting details about how people lived and the technology they used that could be re-imagined to link the store to its history

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Capturing Memories


For our second 3D brief, we were tasked with creating an item to be sold in Austins department store in Derry that evokes memories in the buyer.

Many items already in the store contain nostalgic elements, large old-style clocks and ornaments of past technologies such as typewriters that may have been sold when the store first opened. While many of these may trigger memories for many different people, such as old clocks or technology and the effects of nostalgia, for my object I wanted to focus on more personal memories, not simply nostalgia for a time period but for a subconscious feeling instead.

Long after we’ve left childhood, we all can be deeply affected by this relaxing rocking motion. Think of the peaceful glide of a porch swing, sleeping on a boat or the calming sway of a hammock nap

My first thoughts when it came to memory inducing sensations is the instinctive memories that we all have from childhood. The fact that sensations felt while in the womb can have a relaxing effect on people is already well known – common ‘womb’ situations are used by many people every day without them even realizing why it is relaxing-

  • Rocking (such as when rocking a baby to sleep)
  • Darkness
  • The sound of a heartbeat
  • Water beds
  • The fetal position (the most common sleep position into adulthood)

It is these deep subconscious connections that I am interesting in exploring in object form, as they are universal to anyone that was in a womb during development, and so capable of emotionally effecting a larger audience. Even animals show traits learned during pregnancy when comforting themselves.

I like the idea of designing an object that could mimic this, perhaps a chair or recliner in the shape of cradling arms, or a cushion that hugs you back. Something that taps into this part of our subconscious could perhaps also fit with my research into the health of the elderly, a chair than mimics a comforting embrace could possibly help with depression or loneliness caused by the loss of a partner, or by helping with insomnia

The Importance of Touch

Harlow’s first observation was that monkeys who had a choice of mothers spent far more time clinging to the terry cloth surrogates, even when their physical nourishment came from bottles mounted on the bare wire mothers

wire motherSomething that also came to mind was psychologist Harry Harlow, who spent much time in the 1950’s experimenting with maternal deprivation in Rhesus monkeys. In one experiment – the ‘wire mother’ isolated infant monkey were given the choice of two ‘mothers’ – a mock ‘mother’ made from wire with a feeding bottle attached, and a soft cloth covered ‘mother’ with no bottle

Monkeys in these experiments showed just how importance comfort and touch. In a similar experiment, monkeys who only had access to the soft ‘mother’ behaved normally when scared – holding the soft cloth and calming down from a sudden fright. Monkeys with the wire ‘mother’ behaved strikingly differently – screaming and rocking themselves much the same as autistic children when scared

While the experiments of Harry Harlow mostly concern the vital importance of nurture for emotional development, the importance of texture when it comes to emotion and relaxation stays with us as we grow, and is central to the connection with infant memories that I am considering in my design.

I also found an interesting essay specifically about the relationship between touch and memory.

Student Essay

In it, the author talks about his research into the subject, and the theory that hand-made or natural textures trigger or hold memories for us far better than synthetic materials or p[plastic. This could link back to the monkey experiment – warm, rough, natural textures hold strong emotional memories from infancy, as they link back to the touch of the ‘mother’

Because of this, the author suggested that natural materials such as wood, sand, grass or wool could be used in common meeting places to help form future memories and associations, such as cafe decor, flooring or accessories that are most often touched during a visit.

there are several applications of this idea that I would also be interested in looking into

  • A Memory Box – in the shape of- or made from natural materials such as wood or stone
  • Alzheimer’s Assistance – a memory box of some kind, being made from memorable materials and containing key trinkets could help with recollection for Alzheimer’s sufferers
  • Dolls or Collectablespatchwork materials, such as in a patchwork quilt, could even be designed to be written on, or signed
  • The Family Tree – an item that works as a family tree could have far more impact or nostalgia if made from old or meaningful materials – could also have a customisable way of adding new branches (ie. charm bracelet)


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Notecard Ideas


When I found the jokes written by members of the public about getting older, I thought it would be a nice thing to have on a note card, an inspirational or funny message for someone to take home and look at when they’re feeling low.

While I like the idea of a large poster as my main project, I can’t imagine it being any use in an Elderly persons home. A large poster is impractical for several reasons –

  1. finding the wall space, which is often rare in elderly homes – available space is often covered with family pictures
  2. Putting up a poster could be difficult or dangerous – the recipient could be alone or frail, making it difficult to even put up a large poster with health risks
  3. All of the grandparents I have known rarely mount posers that come in the post – often they end up in piles or thrown out to avoid clutter
  4. Reminding people constantly of their health in their homes could be stressful – better to have a small easily stored booklet they can refer to when needed

It is for these reasons that I decided a large info-graphic poster would be best suited to a waiting room in a doctors office, small note-cards and booklets containing more detailed information about various point in the diagram could be available to take home for personal reference. Inspirational note-cards are cheap enough to be distributed, and they could even be an item for collecting.

One that I found particularly interesting was an appointment card template on Vistaprint. I thought this could be a really nice idea, little cards to take home that have a fun message on the front and spaces on the back for any return appointments or important medical information that needs remembering. They could even be used to take down everyday information, such as people calling or important dates.

appointment card