Grey Matter

It is now the end of the second term and I figured it was time for a review.

The first term was reviewed here, however, to put it into a few words: it was stressful, busy and hectic, but it did have a shining light that was in the form of Constellation.  It allowed me to enter the darkness of my own mind and explore.

So how is the exploration going?  Treacherous.  I keep stumbling over issues of my own making, retracing my steps and sometimes encountering locked doors.  Allow me to expand.

From the beginning of this term we were straight into Field and took the scenic route to The Future.  I simply don’t have the capacity to explain how eye opening this project was for my personal growth.  We were given freedom.  Day one, the chains were removed and the doors open from the asylum.  Go nuts.  Do what you want, explore what you wish and deliver what you feel is appropriate.  Say what now?  Where’s the rub?  It has to be backed up by reasoned arguments.  It can’t just be a random response because you like the colour blue and decided to dunk a live chicken into a tin paint.  If you let that inky chicken walk over a canvas and explain that it is a representation of the world from the perspective of a chicken, then that makes sense.  This freedom signalled death.  Or should I say, the topic of death.  Myself and a few others were enjoying the process so much that we formed a splinter group and explored what death meant and if we could create the afterlife.  A second life.  It became, strangely, a case of art imitating life.  I was given a second stab at creativity.  After the formal restrictions of the BBC brief, it was a true pleasure to be creative and let yourself follow your thoughts as far you wanted to.  Swim deep into the grey matter and see what’s in there.

Field done it was back to Subject.

I set myself a promise, after returning from the future, that I would respond to any new brief with a freedom and creativity that had been set alight in the previous weeks.

What’s that?  Design the shell of a glue gun using the existing components to sell more glue guns.


A wolf in sheep’s clothing

Putting a new case on a existing product and calling it new is what’s killing product design and destroying the place we call home: Earth.  Seriously, are we so vain and stupid that we are fooled into buying something because we are told it is ‘new’?  Yes.  Yes we are.

Right, I’m not having this!  Give me a brief which tells me that the reality of what product design does is put lipstick on a deep sheep and sell it and I am going to rip into it to prove a point.  So I did.  I took on the big boys: Apple.  Bastards.  They call something new and remove all functionality so you have to throw out everything you have and buy new versions, or pay Apple to supply you with a bag full of dongles just to make things work.  Progress that is.  Thanks.

From a seemingly dead brief – I guess there is a thematic link to the Field project – there was fun and creativity.  Would I have had the skills or confidence to try this route without Field?  Probably not.  Would I have had the philosophical weight to back up my response without Constellation.  Nope.  Problem is, it wasn’t necessary.  I needed to produce extremely detailed CAD images, and an accurate model, but did I need to justify my response?  You guessed it.  Nope.  Shame.  That was the whole point to the project for me.  There were glue guns presented that were ripped straight from Pintrest or Behance that did well, but had no justification for the design.  Just another glue gun.  Just what we need.  Well done.  Pat on the head.  Here’s a biscuit.

This is not what product design needs.  Things need to be justified.  Criticise my design for not have a strong philosophical backing – i.e. linking my Subject matter to Constellation –  or saying the aesthetics or garbage.  Fair enough.  Surely the equivalent needs to be done for BSc?  Criticise why the edges weren’t chamfered or why it wasn’t built with a draft angle or the poor placement of internal strengthening structures, you know, the type of stuff taught in the Constellation equivalent – Engineering Science.  We have to show that we can jump through certain hoops to satisfy the marking structure, but why are they the same hoops?

Oh well, the glue gun concept was liked but the delivery was knobbled by a printer malfunction – I did kick it in retribution – but it was time to dust myself off and await the new brief.  The one that counts for SEVENTY PERCENT of our ENTIRE SUBJECT MARK.

This is going to be a good……oh……a drill.


Considering the BBC project was such a behemoth and asked us to use different skills then the drill project, why isn’t the final subject mark 50% BBC, 50% Drill?  Answers on a postcard.  Usual address.

Right, this counts.  Do I slip on my straight jacket, head back into the asylum and make a drill – like anything you can see for sale on the shelf in B&Q – or do I flick the lights off and just explore the ‘ol brain?

Option B.

Here is my problem.  Due to Constellation and Field Futures, I have more in my brain than every before.  Which is great……except it is a mess.  Most of the stuff in there, I don’t really understand or know how to find it.  My mind is a mess.  Perhaps I do belong in the asylum after all?

I do, but not one that comes with a standard issue PD straight jacket.  Mine is hand stitched and custom fitted to me.  In fact, I made it myself.  I have an issue with being lost in my own mind.  I know what I’m thinking, and can see it clear as day, but it is inside.  I can’t get it out.  When I try it becomes overly complicated; a garbled mess.  So I go back in try again.  I grab a flashlight and try to find that perfect response, that nugget of gold that is in there somewhere, but is too tarnished to see with the naked eye.  I need to pick up all the ideas and sift.

This brings stress.  Sometimes I just can’t find that gold.  I think I do but it turns out to be fools gold.  A fake.  Each time I’m convinced this is the best response but it is just an over complicated lump of coal.  So I step back into my straight jacket and go crazy for a while.  It does nothing for the wrinkles on my face, but I think it is worth it.  Sometimes, you work so hard and can turn coal into a diamond or sift a bit old gold from a pile of dirt.

The more I do this type of work, the longer it seems to take to get to the good stuff.  The gold.  But it is self inflicted.  I desire to learn more, but with further knowledge comes extra avenues to follow.


In a previous ramblings post, I decided that I would forge my own path.  To jump off a cliff and see how high I can soar in the sky, only deciding to come into land when I see my landing spot.

I have been presented with a few potential landing spots this term.

Be a conformist and take the brief at face value.

Flying straight past it.  Not interested.

Become a BSc and not bother with the reason behind a design, just do it.

Don’t see the point.

Nope, for now, I am still happy to fly.  More than keen to put my own straight jacket on and go slightly insane, wandering around the dusty, dark corridors of my own personal grey matter.  You never know, it might start to make sense soon.

I’m not a conformist and never will be.



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