GDE740: Week 5 – Indecisive

Hello, Brief 2. In the second part of our module, we’re given the choice between 4 design briefs, each one varying in details and outcome possibilities. Our aim is to carefully choose one, but not before exploring possibilities of the other 4, just to make sure we’re confident in our selection. So let’s take a brief look at what these briefs entail, starting in the order displayed on Canvas:

Creative Conscience

After reading this brief, the only thing that was clear was how vague it really is. It’s not so much of a brief as it is a competition synopsis. There are speaking points and questions that can help direct the designer to think in a particular way, but the possibilities truly are endless considering that they mention it’s either for health or wellness, both vastly varying fields and industries.

In recent years, my professional work contacts have been in the health and medicine industry, particularly in relation to drug access, prevention, and palliative care. That puts me at an advantage in this brief because a lot of the frequent conversations I have with my clients pertain to utilizing tech and design to solve pressing issues in this field. Digitization has been a huge topic as of late, from how it can be introduced to daily work tasks in intra-organizational settings, to transformative innovations on the ground or in practical applications. However, the tricky part of selecting this brief as a basis for this module’s project is getting stuck in an outcome-focused direction, which may not be practical for the given time frame or lack of technical know-how. Having said that, I’m strongly leaning towards this brief.

D&AD New Bloods Awards – Adidas

Adidas is looking to address youth in major cities, in an impactful way. I won’t delve into this much, as I already have brand fatigue having worked in FMCG for so long. The idea that a brand can make a profound impact only feels like a farce, and as a designer at this point in my career, I don’t wish to participate in the mindset that consumer brands are genuinely interested in bringing about positive change to any community. As designers, we’re conditioned to believe that we might be able to make an impact on consumers if we position its brand and messaging strategically, but the reality is people don’t care about brands, and in many cases, they might be put off knowing that a social initiative has a major brand behind it. A Havas Group report on Meaningful Brands in 2019 showed that consumers said that they wouldn’t care if 77% of every brand disappeared. (Armstrong, 2021) I’m happy to have this choice, and my choice is to not engage in a consumer brand project.

Live Collaboration

For this brief, we’re asked to collaborate with an existing contact, client, etc, and see how we can push the boundaries of the existing work we do into a field we haven’t yet explored. For my own work, this can be strongly tied back into brief 1, as the field I’m exploring requires me to work alongside one or two clients. An advantage of taking this route is to also explore different ways I can work with my clients rather than stick to our regular contractual obligations. I can use my design education and expertise to benefit them further and push the boundaries of how design thinking can be implemented to produce extraordinary results.

Science Museum

The Science Museum brief presented the most concrete issue of the 4: only a small percentage of the items in their possession are actually seen by their audience. Even though the digitization of these items, the issue is amplified by the restraints of search engine optimization and discoverability. The question from their brief essentially is: how do you make it engage the curiosity of young adults to search and discover things with relatively low interest in their archive? The first thing that comes to mind here is the manipulation of target audience behaviors and algorithmic approaches to search engine optimization. The narrow constraints of this brief really allow for deep creative design thinking that can be melded with technical explorations or collaborations. If I think back to previous experience that could lend to this project, my time at Amman Design Week helped shape the way I viewed communications to a large audience, how archival can be evergreen, and how to incorporate an accidental educational aspect to it. Essentially, this brief is fun, and for me, it’s a tie between this and the first.

If anyone is reading this, I want you to know that I’ve been going between weeks 5, 6, and 7 in no particular order. I find the entire process given to us to be quite arbitrary anyway, and if I try to adjust my practice based on those recommendations, I’d probably just burn out right away.

Now that I’m preparing a blog post for Week 5, it’s amusing to see what I’ve written about the Science Museum knowing what I know now about their digital archive. Anyway, I won’t spoil it for you, so here are some of the case studies I found quite apt in terms of the approach I’m taking for this project:

Ghosts by Dima Srouji

“This ghostly collection is formed of replicas of displaced archaeological glass artifacts from the Levant landscape currently stored and displayed in western institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Penn Museum, and The Royal Ontario Museum. The chosen vessels are seen as critical forms in the construct of the global south’s imaginary but have been uprooted and stuck in a specific time and space without being able to tell their stories in a contemporary light.”

The concept of this installation is strong for a multitude of reasons. Much of our history as Palestinians is lost to colonial violence. In this case, Srouji addresses this disappearance in two ways: the loss of the tangible object, that is currently in possession of Western institutions. And the loss of industry, craft, and heritage, namely glass blowing in this case. Srouji offers repatriation without its legal complications, while also making it accessible to a relevant audience.

South London Black Music Archive

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“Barby Asante celebrates, preserves and investigates south Londoners’ personal relationships with moments in Black music history. Asante transformed the gallery into an ‘open archive’, mapping objects resonant to the history of Black music’s influence and evolution in south London.

Visitors and members of the public contributed objects of meaning from their own Black music memorabilia, including books, magazines, concert tickets, posters, stories, records, and CDs. These personal possessions and their stories were gathered and displayed with the reverence of museum pieces. Asante also selected objects to highlight seminal moments in Black music history.”

The collective memory is utilized in this project to allow for an accurate representation of this community and by them as well. I’ll touch more on why this is important in Week 6, but for now, this project is an excellent case.

Palestinian Journeys

“Palestinian Journeys is an online portal into the multiple facets of the Palestinian experience, filled with fact-based historical accounts, biographies, events, and undiscovered stories. Together, they seek to craft an ever-growing comprehensive narrative that highlights the active role of the Palestinian people in crafting their own history. Presently absent from the global Palestinian narrative are stories of resistance, persistence, and hope, which Palestinian Journeys strive to bring forward.”

Although technically a digital archive, Palestinian Journeys does a really good job at contextualizing photographs and records. It offers viewers a richly layered interactive tool. However, I do feel that its interface can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking at, or where to look first.

Reference list

Armstrong, M. (2021). Sorry, Marketers — People Don’t Care About Brands. [online] Mindful Entrepreneurship. Available at: https://medium.com/build-something-cool/sorry-marketers-people-dont-care-about-brands-5a3f72b03298 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2021].

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