Friday, November 20, 2009


1. Henry Ford Community College is horribly designed. Upon visiting the college, you would most definitely notice this...IF and you are able to enter the campus at all. The entryway, road-wise, is not concealed at all, yet no clear way is marked within the twisting and intersecting roads, making you feel like you're driving the wrong way down a one way street.
Assuming, however, that you've made it onto campus, good luck finding the building that you want to. Most of the buildings look the same on the outer edge of campus, and none are clearly marked. Within the campus are many confusing pathways that even go through some buildings. The buildings themselves have confusing layouts. Many of the stairways are impossible to find. Some buildings do not even have restrooms...or if they do, a patron unfamiliar with the college will not be able to find them. It may be too costly and too late to solve these problems architecturally. I would suggest signs, and tons of them, to help visitors get where they need to be.
2. There are two buildings on campus that I consider to have architectural flaws. One is the Fine Arts Building, and one is Hicks Center. Both are easy to use...once you get used to them.
For the most part, the Fine Arts Building seems well-designed. However, if you don't know exactly where you're going, the individual practice rooms would be extremely difficult to find. Taking the side entrance into the FAB, you must walk down a staircase and head right. You are then faced with two identical hallways. If you go down the first one, you won't find any practice rooms. Since the other hallway looks the same, you might then reasonably assume that the practice rooms aren't located there either.
When I was first touring Kalamazoo College, I remember being extremely confused by the layout of Hicks Center. The staircases in particular confused me. It was difficult to remember which side of which level contained the staircases. It appeared that the main concern was fitting in all the different rooms with different purposes, without regard to how easy it would be to navigate between them.
3. The flaw in the current design process is the lack of a feedback phase, and a lack of the presence of the building user. The lack of a feedback phase is shown not only in awards processes but also in AIA building contracts. Data on building use is often nonexistent or not utilized. Architecture today is too focused on zoning and building codes, and not enough on their social impact and use. This leads to buildings contradicting the very purpose for which they were created, as in the example of the rehabilitation center that was not wheelchair friendly.
The codes and "rules of thumb" that architects design around do not have behavioral considerations, even though they will inevitably affect the behavior of the building's users. This leads to buildings dictating how they are used, when it should be the other way around. The fact that users are not part of the design process plays a large part in today's architectural flaws.

Advertising in American Society

1. "Messaris offers as an example of these "response tendencies' the use in magazine ads, and other kinds of advertising, of having someone-spokespersons in television commercials and models in magazine advertisements-look directly at the viewer or reader. In real life, we have a natural tendency to look back at someone when they look at us, and advertising agencies can exploit this in attracting our attention to their advertisements and generating emotional responses to them."

This passage interested me because it relates closely to some of the basics of design we discussed earlier in the quarter. It reminded me of how well-designed products work with people's natural approaches to that product. For example, if you look at a bottle of water, your natural instinct is to twist the cap counter-clockwise. A cap designed to twist the other way might be considered poorly designed. As far as advertising is concerned, research into these "response tendencies" would prove extremely useful. Information on what prompts (or manipulates) people to go out and buy the products advertised (or at least pay better attention to the ad) can only lead to more profit.

2. -Advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry and major part of our social and cultural lives
-It is difficult to tell what advertisements are effective and which aren't.
-Commercials can be works of art.
-Commercials often utilize the following concepts: heroes and heroines, sexuality, humor, success, and reward.
-Culture is shaped by television.

3. Without some level of psychological understanding, an advertisement will not work. It has to be in tune with the culture and norms of current society and how people respond to them. It must understand the psychology of the viewer in order to prompt the viewer to respond to the advertisement as the agency wants them to.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thesis Statement

So here's my thesis-in-progress:

A well-designed product performs its job well with no extraneous features to confuse or distract the consumer from that job.

Bang, Bang, You're Dead! Wikipedia Entry

Well, it's looking like my Wikipedia entry is there to stay... it's been up for a while and no one's messed with it too much. So here's the new wikipedia entry for one of the greatest one act plays you'll ever read: Bang, Bang, You're Dead! by William Mastrosimone

Fashion Design

1. The immense variety in the fashion world has made fashion the reflective outlet that it is today. What you wear can express one or many different things about you: your religion, the climate in which you live, your occupation, your age, your sexual orientation, your socio-economic status, etc. What you wear can send endless messages about your personality or your lifestyle. By wearing sportswear or activewear, you may communicate (intentionally or unintentionally) that exercise and healthy living is a main priority for you. If you constantly wear sweats and hoodies, you may communicate that comfort and casualness is most important in what you wear. On the other hand, if you wear nice tailored pants and a blazer, you may be wishing to send out the more professional vibe. What you wear is going to communicate something about you. Therefore, it makes sense to customize your style to reflect something about yourself. After all, your options are limitless.

2. Fashion is heavily dependent on time and events pertaining to that time. Economic shifts are definite influences on fashions. Jones states that during an economic downturn, bright colors and expensive trimmings may temporarily disappear for the market. Designers and producers may look for cheaper materials during tough times, and therefore may have to accommodate their limited means in their designs. In addition to economic shifts, political shifts can also reach the fashion world. Jones uses the example of World War II on fashion. Since most communication to Paris was suspended, designers had to rely more on their own ideas and creativity, and therefore, new, independent, unique styles were forged during this time.

3. The most important thing when designing a garment is to know your audience and the timeyou are designing for:
-Purpose (comfortable casual or professional)
-Season (are you designing for hot or cool temperatures?)
-Trends (do your research - what is in vogue at the moment? or are you trying to make a new statement?)
-Personality (what type of personalities are you trying to reach? this will influence the fit, color, material, etc. of your garment.)

To Find A Thesis...

1. Thesis: Yes, we want simplicity, but we don't want to give up any of those cool features. Simplicity is highly overrated.

2. 3 supporting points:
-"...this washer had even more controls and buttons than the non-automatic one. ''Why even more controls, when you could make this machines with only one or two?''
"Are you one of those people who wants to give up control, who thinks less is better? ... Don't you want to be in control?"

(Here, Norman asserts that more controls there are, the more control the consumer has over a product. And since Norman argues that people naturally want as much control as possible, they are more 'comfortable' with a product that has more controls, even if it is more complex. )

-"Make it simple and people won't buy. Given a choice, they will take the item that does more. Features win over simplicity, even when people realize that it is accompanied by more complexity.

-"So, what do people mean when they ask for simplicity? One-button operation, of course, but with all their favorite features.

3. An opposing thesis: A perfectly designed product does its job well with no extraneous features to confuse or distract the consumer from that job.


1. While Whyte and Gibbs both aim to provide suggestions to improve urban areas, cities, or towns, I found Whyte's approach much more convincing. Gibbs seemed to want to make everything perfect and have cities and towns be basically made into malls. In Gibbs' ideal world, imperfection seemed discouraged. However, Whyte looked at an existing, successful, thriving urban area, Lexington Avenue, and showed how its imperfect features made it that way.
2. Uniqueness and imperfection in a city or downtown area is attractive to me. This may be why I liked Whyte's approach better than Gibbs'. I have personally been to Lexington Avenue, and the atmosphere created by all the clashing sights, sounds, and smells is a sort of upbeat mood that says "New York" to me. The world Gibbs' wants to promote reminds me of an outlet mall my family visits in Florida whenever we go:

The area is clean, and perfect, and over designed, and not appealing. Everything looks the same, to the point where it is easy to become lost if you do not know which specific outlet store is where.

Ben and I spent around an hour to an hour and a half designing and building the egg. We used a small to medium sized cardboard box as the basic package. We put a sort of air packaging inside as the egg's main protection. We had a couple problems to fix. We needed to slow the package down as it fell, keep it falling straight, and make sure the egg would not slip and move around inside the package. We used another cardboard box top for air resistance, a plastic bag to slow it down and keep it falling straight, and a dixie cup taped to the air packaging to make sure the egg didn't slide.
Our package successfully protected the egg from the two and three story drops :D.
Here is Ben's blog.