PhD Design Research Forums
One focus of this community is the PhD Design Research Forums open to all UAL Research Degrees and postgraduate students in design. The forum is sponsored by i.e. and RNUAL, and provides an opportunity for students and invited guests to share in their research experiences. These lunchtime seminars are also intended to develop a better understanding of design thinking and methods. Recent guests have included: Professor John Wood, Dr Yoko Akama, Gene Badwen, Ranulph Glanville, Professor Martin Woolley, and Giles Lane.
Gene Badwen, Monash University, explores the meanings behind the interiors of the Australian 'Front Room.'
Dr Yoko Akama, RMIT University, Australia, presents her current research on working with local communities and warning systems for Australian bush fires.
'The use of communication design methods in framing the Lebanese social structure and disseminating it to the new generation.'
The proposed research area is Communication Design: "Conceiving, programming, projecting, and realizing visual communications that are‰¥Ï aimed at broadcasting specific messages to specific sectors of the public. This is done with a view toward having an impact on the public's knowledge, attitudes, or behavior in an intended direction." Frascara, J. (2004) Communication Design: Principles, Methods, and Practice, New York: Allworth Press, p.4.
My research will focus on the use of communication design methods in informing audiences from different ethnographic groups about their social structure and providing a platform/medium for the interaction and engagement of members from different social groups.The research will take the Lebanese social structure as a case study while generating a transferable set of guidelines for any similar environment where social interaction is restricted by sectarian, political,or demographic partitions. The research
framework will be based on design ethnography, which is a constructivist methodology that relies mainly on qualitative discourse analysis. Ethnographic studies will provide the empirical data to inform the design process. Alongside a documentation of the set of guidelines, the proposed outcome of the research is a documentary film to be screened in different venues around Lebanon. The documentary will consist of a series of interviewed testimonials (from quantitatively selected categories representative of the Lebanese social structure) such that each member of the audience is able to identify him/herself in a testimonial, and get familiarised with the different social groups in other testimonials. An online communication platform will run parallel to the research for feedback, pilot testing, and future development.
'Built Information: Visual Communication in Digitally Augmented Public Space.'
Research Objective: Development of cross-disciplinary design methods to create information spaces going beyond the surface as an electronic screen paradigm.
Subject Area: Organisation and design of spatial structures are typical subjects in architectural disciplines. However, with the advent of digital technology such as real-time feedback networks or mediated faÌ¤ades, the communicative potentials of architecture need to be recapitulated not only as an additional surface layer, but a new level of defining and creating space. In recent years, design related literature in the field has mainly been documenting interactive or mediated architecture by descriptions of built
outcomes. However, what is missing is a discussion of possible transdisciplinary methodologies and practices to approach communication design problems in such augmented spaces.
Aims and Objectives: This PhD will focus on the new communicative paradigms emerging from mediated architectural space. The aim is to identify a theoretical framework and methodology reflecting the hybrid nature of virtual/real information spaces. This will serve as a base for developing suitable communicative design concepts in such environments. Key questions: How do we åÇreadåÈ mediated public environments? What are the possible methodological consequences for design practice in such spaces. Writings by Robert Venturi, W.J. Mitchell and Manuel Castells will be initially framing a theoretical context.
'The Bones of the Book: Schematic Structure and Meanings Made from Books.'
From the first codices, to recent experiments involving the exploration of digital paper, the development and refinement of the "book" is a cultural project spanning centuries. Rather than approaching the book as a neutral, inert, format which transparently contains and re-presents information, this study will investigate an alternative understanding of the book; one in which the material qualities of the book participate in the process of making meaning. According to this view the book's physical properties are utilised by readers as a means to recall, construct, and fix conceptual structure. Such artefacts, which provide prompts for meaning-making activity to take place in cognition, are referred to within conceptual blending theory as material anchors. In the case of the book, schematic structures will be sought that can be "filled-in" or instantiated in various ways by text/s contained within books, and by the ways that users interact with them. These processes being approached as a form of
conceptual integration involving metaphorical association. The theoretical framework proposed is largely derived from the cognitive linguistic enterprise. The aim of the study is to explore ways in which the schematic structure evoked by the material qualities of books participate in processes of meaning making. This includes both propositional and non- propositional forms of meaning/knowing. A practice-based approach is advocated seeking ways of highlighting and visualising schematic structure and types of conceptual integration relevant to book-metaphors (such as, for example, thinking of books as a set of sequential slices of time and space).
'An Approach to the Use of Graphic Resources in the Understanding of the Environment, Useful to Understand the Environmental Displacement.'
The subject of my doctoral research critically examines the graphic resources available such as the typology of visual and conceptual codes (e.g. geometrical, pictographic, numeric, alphabetic, rules of combinations) used by government bodies in understanding public space and the movement of people. In particular, this research engages with space and the users of public transport systems in every country. Clearly the main examples of these kinds of projects are the visual systems used by the metropolitan railway systems and, in particular, the underground
systems. These typologies of projects are called Planimetric Projects. This research work has a particular interest in the determination and analysis of the use of settled visual/graphic codes and the projection that these elements could represent intercultural codes that consequently people of different cultures could understand them in a clear and general way. Questions which may be asked include: In a globalized society, do we have graphic understandable and universal codes? Is the schematic language used in Planimetric Projects one of these universal codes? The results of this investigation could provide data that may help to define and resolve problems of visual and social understanding related with the intercultural characteristic of our globalized society.
'Realising the Geo/Graphic Landscape of the Everyday.'
Graphic design and typography give visual form to communication. For geographers this is the oft-ignored liminal space between landscape and its description, author and reader. For designers it is a crucial part of the communication process. This practice-led inquiry proposes that by developing a cross-disciplinary geo/graphic design process thus establishing the visualisation of space as a process itself, and not by the product of scientific investigation, designers will engage with place in a more proactive and productive way in terms of community, content and communication. Chosen for its complexity and its contrasting juxtapositions, the London Borough of Hackney will be used as the research and testing ground for the enquiry. Contrasting definitions of place will be used to underpin the project. Massey's notion of place as process and Tuan's vision of place as pause will frame the study in such a way as to recognise place as a
postmodern site of spontaneity and chance, but one that is shaped and known by events both past and present. An ethnographic methodology will be used to gather and analyse content. Methods of collection will include cultural probes, participant observation and interviews. This content will then be used to develop a series of print based design projects that will explore the problem of representation in a postmodern context, and lead to the articulation and testing of a geo/graphic design process.
"Re-Challenger: Re-tracing the voyage and photographs of HMS Challenger with Social Networking Sites."
HMS Challenger voyaged around the world between 1872 and 1876 for the purpose of recording the depths of the oceans whilst collecting specimens of the world's seas. However, as this was a rare opportunity to collect together information on many societies at the one time, the ship was also given a photographic objective that "Every opportunity should be taken of obtaining photographs of native races to one scale" (Brunton, 2004). In Victorian Britain, England was the hub of the world and each time that the ship docked along on its voyage, a pocket of interest and interaction was created in the local communities surroundings its arduous objectives. As well as the anthropological importance, its collection of photographs symbolizes the extent of the empire's reach. This study will re-trace and recreate the pockets of interest as begun by the Challenger using a contemporary form of networking: social networking sites (SNSs) in which to seek out the locations of the Challenger photographs and re-document them. These SNSs represent a large number of potential helpers who could conduct research of the locations in the photographs within their respective "off-line" communities, thereby empowering their online entities as potential participants on what will become a truly glocal research project. Through collaboratively researching the locations in the Challenger's photographs, re-documenting them and retracing the ship's
voyage, this study will also address the effectiveness of SNSs on the potential for conducting research study remotely.
Born in Portsmouth in 1979, I graduated from Wimbledon School of Art in 2001 before receiving my MA in Digital Arts in 2008 from Camberwell College of Art; for which I was awarded an Arts & Humanities Research Council grant for my research of HMS Challenger's visit to Japan in 1875. Having been in Japan since 2003, I have spent much of my time collecting pieces of digital visual information, which were then catalogued and exhibited in various forms. This act of collection is central to my practice, and is Victorian in essence, yet it is never entirely objective as my works can be traced back to my perspective and nomadic cultural position, which I recognize as being both a "window and a "mirror."
'Designing Typography for Screen ‰¥ã A Critical Examination and Exploration of Design Principles in Relationship to Contemporary Practice.'
This practice-led PhD sets out to critically examine and practically explore what are the current and emergent design principles governing the practice of typography for the screen environment. A problematic situation was identified within the field of typography namely that screen typography, which is a relatively new but rapidly expanding area within the broader field, is scarcely addressed by contemporary literature and that current theory and scholarship about typographic practice continues to reference a historically derived print-based model that is inadequate for practice on screen. Findings from the literature review confirmed these problematics and, at the same time, highlighted the dominance of the modernist Swiss approach to typography in the latter half of the twentieth century. Further contextual evaluations from a comprehensive review of contemporary practice identified unique typographic properties for screen typography, that are distinct from print properties, and which are not addressed by traditional methods of practice. This enquiry argues that traditional design principles
while still relevant, albeit in a modified capacity, do not address these additional properties, which are unique to screen typography and that new modes of practice are needed for screen typography. The primary research outcome of this pragmatic investigation is the development of a methodological model for screen typography practice that includes new design principles specific to screen as well as updated and appropriately modified traditional principles. This proposed practice model and alternative set of design principles for screen is being tested and applied in the generation of a series of systematic and experimental practical works, which are published as live research in an online resource. The theoretical underpinnings upon which the practice model is derived should ensure that it operates at a critical conceptual level independent of specific technologies associated with the changing nature of the contemporary screen environment and will therefore make a sustainable contribution to the field.