Summary of Design 2

Brief 1: Smart cities and Speculative critical design

The first brief of this semester is Smart cities and speculative critical design. The brief was divided into two, we were asked to use speculative critical design to envision the near future of smart city technologies and potential.

5C model was applied as the framework of design process in this project. The first part of the brief was to collect and comprehend the information of Beacon by data wall and Zine. The second part of the brief was to create a storyboard and design fiction to illustrate a possible scenairo of the usage of Beacon in the near future.

We created a Data Wall as a team to have a briefly understanding on Beacon, and organized the content into a Zine individually. Later on, the workshop with Kin Design provided a deeper understanding on smart cities and speculative design. We were taught to generate and share idea by collage and visual experiences.

On week 20(Sunday Journal -week 20), we got a chance to visit 2 of the exhibitions held in the Design Museum, London. Among all the works I have seen, I found a projects, Phonvert shared some similarity with Beacon technologies.


(photo via video of Phonvert)


Phonvert suggested that old phone can be converted into anti-burglary and baby alert, making life more convenience and at a same time giving new role to smart phone, in some way tracking things happen around home and alert you by sending notification to your mobile, the principle is similar to Beacon. Therefore, in the task of creating a story that explores everyday concerns or consequences emerging from the Smart City and life, I chose home as the experimental environment.

My idea of storyboard has not been chosen to be filmed, we discussed in tutorial and decided to film Yi Sha’s idea, as her story was simple, bold and irony. “Unexpected services” provided an experimental environment that we can use beacon as key card in the future.

I am experienced in taking control of camera, as my major in my bachelor studies was Journalism and Communication, and have a variety of experiences on producing a micro-film, therefore, I chose to take the role of directing and filming. As a director of the film, I planned the camera movement and the framing of each shot beforehand, ensuring the filming process would go smoothly.

In this project, I found visual experience is a good tool to be used in group project to brainstorm and share ideas around. I am happy to work with the team and we ended up produced the best film among the class. The whole filming process went smoothly, however, I think 7 peoples are a large group, this work can actually be finished in groups of 4. However, it provided me a good experience to work along with a large group of peoples.

In relation to the course, visual experience is useful for collaboration thinking as a group to share ideas around while collage helps us to ideation in an interesting way, both of these methods will be used to develop my final major project.

Speaking of future profession, though speculative design is more challenging and interesting than affirmative design, I think I perform better on providing a solution than suggesting problem. However, the skill I learnt from the practice, including filming and making Zine will be applied to use in my future profession.

Brief 2 – Data Visualization

The second brief was handed out right away on the week we finished the first brief.

The brief provides an opportunity to engage in data and demonstrate how visualization can facilitate understanding for others. This design seeks to change behavior, influence decision-making, facilitate discovery and educate. The field of practice explores how visualizing data can help people to see the data and feel the data at the same time.

The design process was divided into four stages, including formulating the brief, working with the data, editorial thinking and developing design solution, which is suggested by Andy Krik. We were asked to collect data, analyze and find the most interesting story, then visualizing the data which will be placed in an exhibition following the workflow.

By site visiting, we were able to feel and experience the problem in person.

The problem I wanted explore was paper coffee cups wastage. I found the phenomenon that most of the customers tended to ask for a paper coffee cup even they were not taking away, making me interested to investigate the wastage problem of coffee paper cups. Here were some data I have planned to collect:

  • How many people eat in
  • How many people ordered take away coffee
  • How many people ordered take away coffee and sit in the cafe
  • How many cups went to recycle in the cafe
  • How many people bring with reusable cup

After discussing in the tutorial, our group divided into two teams focusing on two different topics, tracking staffs and customers route and movement in Costa and coffee paper cups wastage in Starbucks, and we collected data respectively. Then we started to analyze the date we collect and define the story we want to tell. From primary and secondary research, I made an assumption that approximately 7 million of paper coffee cups binned in UK everyday.

To develop a design solution, we started with identifying our purpose, which is raising awareness of people on paper cup wastage problem, and encourage people to use reusable cup. We decided to visualize data by creating two giant coffee cups. The cups compares the waste produced by paper cups and reusable cups, in order to bring out the message that waste can be reduced by using reusable cup. The exhibit involves the participation of audiences, it allows audiences to choose their preference of coffee container and to visualize the data by filling up the giant cups with coffee grounds and paper cups.

Then we were given only a week to develop a professional exhibition. We started to search around in art shop and Poundland for the materials we needed and seek help from technicians. Besides making the cups, we filmed a video to illustrate our concept, designed a Zine to examine deeper understandings on our projects.

The task also tested our ability to present our work in an exhibition venue. We painted the wall and cleaned up the exhibition venue, so as borrowing equipment including Ipad and lockable case from media store. Also how we made used of introduction sticker to communicate our works with public audiences.

However, I think it was a failure on choosing a venue to exhibit. We had to share the space with fashion and textile, they took the corridor and the ground floor of west side building, which is a better venue that everyone came across would see their work. While our exhibition venue was placed on the first floor outside Lecture A. So as lacking of promotion, our works could barely reach the audiences.


In the future, I will pay attention to the venue we choose for exhibition, whether the location and the condition in the room is a good place to exhibit. So as developing a fully digital marketing strategy to promote the event, attracting more audiences to join the exhibition.
In this project, we were supposed to work as a group of 7, however, as there were lots of potential topics suggested in our group and the difference of interest, we divided into two teams. We should never have divided into two teams but rather sharing data and discussing how those data can be linked together.
However, I am satisfied with the final outcome.

The first two projects happened in just 6 weeks, which were extraordinary challenging and tight schedule.

Brief 3 – Pecha Kucha

The brief leads us to the first stage of our Final major project. The task is to collect a variety of research material relevant to our Final project topic and identify areas of interest and potential problems that possibly to turn into design challenges, and presenting all the materials collected in an informative and inspirational 15 x15 Pecha Kucha.

My final major project is based on Digital Cities. In the Easter break, I used two research methods which is Data Wall and Interview in context to develop a deeper understand for my chosen topic and help me to define potential problems which can be formed a design challenge.

I set up my Pecha Kucha by including,

  • Brief introduction to my presentation
  • What is digital cities
  • What excites you about digital cities?
  • Example – RoBoHon
  • Research method – Data Wall
  • Insight from data wall
  • Research location
  • Target audiences
  • Research method – Interview in context
  • Insight
  • Exploring problems and issues
  • Exploring problems and issues
  • Introduction of tube map
  • Company or organization that might be included in my projects
  • Potential design challenges

I chose imageswhich can present my contents online, then I started to write the scripts and added the contents in details, and tried to rehearsal, ensuring I could present the ideas in 15 seconds for each slide.

Pecha Kucha style presentation is quite new to me as I haven’t heard of that before. It is quite challenging to present our idea in 15 x15 format of presentation, we have to sort out the most important ideas and insight and presenting them clearly in 15 seconds in a normal speaking speed. The task also tested our ability on choosing the correct and appealing visual to express our idea which I might continuous to use in my future profession.

It was a good practice but I would look for other playful research method then conducting a presentation. However, I will take this as a good experience and keep using Pecha Kucha style in my future profession.

Brief 4 – Research Magazine

The final brief of this semester is also the second stage of my final major project – comprehend, we were asked to deepen the Final Project research and develop a magazine showing how I have organized, analyzed and reflected on the material I collected in last brief  (Pecha Kucha).

Before submitting the first draft of magazine, we have a 10 days break between due to bank holiday. I made use of that week to undergo more research method in order to find out new insights for my final project. I went back to London and tried to collect more insights by observation.




The insights are as follows:

  • Network is covered in some stations over Circle Line (from Sloane square to Barbican)
  • Most of the passengers read news and books rather than using mobile
  • Tourists would bring along with a travel book or screen cap for important traveling information on their mobile in case there is no network.

Then I drew a visual experience on what problems tourist might have before or during traveling.


In my personal experience, as an organizing and cautious person, I always prepare a complete itinerary before traveling in case there is any unexpected issue. However, we usually have spent lots of time on searching and sorting out useful traveling information, then planning an itinerary that can fulfill the expectation of my travel partners and me.

Then, I redefined my design challenges as How might we simplify the process for a traveller organizing an itinerary by digital cities?

Speaking of readability and layout design. I have added some elements, including big title and made use of colour and image to increase the readability, making sure that the magazine communicates well.

Before starting to design the magazine on computer, it is important to draw a layout of the magazine, ensuring the order of contents is organizing and clear. Therefore, I made a page plan on my sketchbook.


I decided to classify my finding by research method and place the contents in the order according to my research journey, which is desk research, data wall, interview in context, Pecha Kucha, Observation, Visual experience and fact & inspiration.

In each method, below contents will be included:

  • Cover page with explanation of why I used this method
  • Research material with my notes on it
  • Personal Insight

The contents order repeated and a big title for each set of contents used, so that the audiences can catch up with what they are looking at easily.

I also have written an introduction for my design challenge that my readers would have a deeper understand on what’s going on.


Choice of colour and typographic are vital to make the magazine looks organized. I chose three colours including blue, black and white the make the whole magazine looks united.  I used only one font family to keep the design clean and easy to read. I used 9.5 as the font size to ensure that reader can read the word and at the same time look good with the layout.

For reading, like relevant articles, I tried to highlight those interesting insight, and putting a QR code at last, providing an effective and direct way for reader to access to the website.


The magazine is a good practice on graphic design and booklet design, testing my ability on designing layout, choice of colour and typography. As a part time designer, I have worked with my fellow colleague to design brochures, but not very much experiences designing alone, so far, it is a good experience.

As a person who likes to write down all my personal thinking in sketchbook and a fan of schedule book, I found creating a research magazine is meaningful and useful to me, as it is well organized so that I can look back to my research material easily. The magazine will carry on in my final major project filling up with contents, it also provided me a direction of my next process:

  • Undergoing more researches
  • Thinking possible projects in broad details
  • Undergoing more case studies and indicating gaps

Besides helping to develop my final project, it is also a great work to be included in my portfolio to show how far my research skill have developed when studying in master course, at the same time a good piece of work showing my organizing and layout design skill.

Overall, I am confident with all of the outcomes of this semester. Even though the schedules are tight, I found it was a substantial and meaningful semester comparing to design 1.