OFFF Barcelona

From the 15th-18th of May was the OFFF Design Festival in Barcelona and I had the privilege to attend. lt was an eventful conference filled with a programme full of experienced industry professionals established in their chosen field. The event was very insightful and inspiring, it really made me think of what I needed to do when I eventually returned back to the UK. It has me consider what my career path may be in the future and what it would require of me to get there. Seeing all the spectacular portfolios of work, showed me a glimpse into the future and that it would require my hard work and determination if I am to achieve those result and more.

A couple of speakers that really stood out for me were

Seb Lester

Robert l Peters

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I know the list is not at all long but these two speakers are the ones that really impacted me and who have influenced me so much so that I remember much of what they said and I feel urged to take action. They have both effected me in different ways and have evoked different feelings and thoughts in me.

Seb Lester really impressed with his calligraphy and how his passion shone through as he spoke about his craft. He has invested time into calligraphy to be the best that he can be at his craft, this has really inspired me to do the same. There is something unique and personal about creating something with your own hands that is in the physical and that you can feel and touch. Seeing Seb Lesters had made me want to work with pen and paper more and be more experimental in the way I present my work. Thank you Seb Lester.

Before I came to the OFFF festival one of the speakers that I was encouraged to listen to by tutor was infact Robert L Peters, so my expectations were high as I came to listen to him. He indeed was my favourite speaker of the event, I think it was because of his genuine message to bring change to society and make the world a better place. I could identify with something he did say ‘ even if your voice shakes, still speak out. Say what you need to say’. This reassured me, it made me understand that I am not alone in my thoughts or feelings and also encouraged me to stand for what I believe in because my opinions are valued. Thank you Robert L Peters, it was a pleasure meeting you.

You can never know enough, OFFF was a great opportunity to learn something new and be inspired. I would definitely love to experience an event like this again in the future.

Feedback session

On Friday 14/3/14 I gave my presentation on the progress I have made so far in terms of research for my final major project. The main topic that rose was that my initial proposal to create a fashion brand to solve the self objectification and sexualization of women did not correlate with the main focus of my current research. I had recently watched a documentary titled ‘Miss Representation’ which was produced by the organization which focuses mainly on the misrepresentation of women in the media. The research that I showed was taken mainly from the film that I had watched and led my research off on a tangent that I guess failed to support my project objectives.

The aim of my fashion brand is really to bring empowerment to female individuals while celebrating individuality and breaking the boundaries of conformity. I think with the idea of creating a fashion brand I need to be careful not to create new stereotypes or place boundaries on women telling them what they should and shouldn’t wear. Fashion is very much about trend and encouraging people to follow it, I will be careful in the way I deliver the brand, for it to be an option available to people and not a rule I wish for them to follow.

A quote that stood out for me from the Miss Interpretation documentary was:

‘You can’t be what you can’t see’    – Marian Wright Edelmen

I may not be able to eradicate the objectification of women and self objectification but I can contribute to trying to tackle the issue through being an example. Women and young girls are not seeing enough role models for them to aspire to be like. There is not enough in the media or in our daily lives to inspire each and every women to be empowered by there purpose. If young women and girls can see alternatives to the sexualisation and objectification of women, then progress can be made in the way women and girls see themselves and their futures.

I think presentations and sharing ideas with others is essential for a successful project outcome. The feedback I received was helpful and helped me to see my project from the correct view point. I came to understand that the angle that I was approaching female empowerment from was miles away from my initial proposal. I received so many suggestions in what possible areas I could explore next.

My next steps in my research will be to explore brands that celebrate women and encourage women to embrace there individuality. I will also look at fashion brands that accentuate the female figure in an elegant and non sexual way, and brands that design free fitting garments that are also feminine. I will explore positive female role models that inspire women now and who did in the past, I will study how they portrayed themselves through their style and uniqueness.

I will also look at the positioning of my brand in the current market and who I will be designing for, my target market.

Beauty is….

Beauty is….
There are so many ideas of what beauty is or can be and I want to share my definition of what I think beauty is. Watch the video below and I’ll explain what true beauty is in my understanding!

There is a beauty in realising what true beauty! For starters its not fake it’s not superficial, it is quite the opposite. Beauty is not conformity, it’s not changing your self for others to accept you, its very much the opposite.

Watching this woman, I realised that to me she is the definition of what I understand beauty to be.
Although she is physically beautiful it wasn’t that aspect of beauty that I saw in her. Her beauty is captivating and not from a visual perspective but from an emotional point of view. The woman is beautiful because through ACCEPTANCE OF SELF she has gained CONFIDENCE and lives a life of purpose. She has defied all odds and refused to conform to society’s distorted definition of what beauty is. Because of her confidence within, this confidence has transferred to her outward appearance. Beauty is about being unique, and it can only happen when we become comfortable with being an individual and EMBRACING OUR DIFFERENCES. I think the real essence of beauty could be experienced within society firstly through SELF ACCEPTANCE and secondly the ACCEPTANCE OF OTHERS.

We design to solve problems

We do not design for decoration, we design to solve a problem, which is what I keep reminding myself. I had the idea to start a fashion brand even before considering it for my major project, it is a personal project I had been wanting to pursue. In the last week I had to think about why I wanted to start a fashion label and what problem I plan to solve by doing so. Purpose is what will give my brand meaning and life, it is what will distinguish my brand from the many other competitors.

Yesterday I took a few steps back from my idea and towards the drawing board. I started to brainstorm ideas of problems that I see around me and then wrote down where my brand comes in as a solution. This task helped me to consider the different problem areas that my brand could tackle, now the brand has become more meaningful and given it depth. As a designer I really want to be involved in projects that bring change and make a difference in peoples lives.

My brand

The problems
•Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful (up from 2% in 2004)
•Only 11% of girls globally are comfortable using the word beautiful to describe themselves
•72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful
•80% of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful but do not see their own beauty
•More than half (54%) of women globally agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic
SOURCE: Dove Research: The real truth about beauty: Revisted
From these statistics alone we can see that beauty and self acceptance is an issue among females everywhere.

The solution
My fashion brand will be more than just an item of clothing, it will be a feeling/emotion and an experience. The brand will form a movement/ organisation that encourages women to be part of a community that accepts them and celebrates their beauty from the inside out. The brand is about women realising their potential and releasing it from within and then expressing it outwardly through their appearance. The brand places priority on the inward being first and foremost and the outward appearance secondly. This is just a brief insight to my proposed solution, more to follow so stay tuned.

D&AD workshop-Unilever brief

On Monday (10/2/14) I was given the opportunity to attend a D&AD workshop in relation to the Unilever brief that I have chosen to tackle for the professional practice module.
The workshop started with a brief talk given by Paul Nevitt, VP from Unilever. He shared 3 objectives that Unilever want our projects to have which are:
1. To change the perspective we have on how we can contribute to changing the world for the better. We may not be able to change the whole world but we can contribute to changing a smaller part of the worlds problems. Small changes added together create a big change, there is the ripple effect, so who knows how effective our contribution can be.
2. Connecting with people, Unilever is very much interested in community and building relationships. It is very important to unilever that our projects lead us to empathise with the our target markets.
3. After understanding the market we are targeting and figure out the problem we are hoping to solve. We will then need to give the people the tools to enable change to happen! We as the designers have to make the prospect of change and solution to their problems easy to access. People dislike disruption of routine or change in general, so if we are going to try to change consumer behaviour it has to be done with ease. This ease of change must be communicated to the consumer.

Also during the workshop we were split into smaller groups to participate in some group challenges. They were really helpful to uncover ways of approaching different areas of the brief such as identifying your target market and a problem, understanding the brand identity of the product and how we could deliver an idea in the style of the brand, how one small change can be a vital ingredient towards creating a bigger change.

Lastly we had the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session, one that arose was ‘why is unilever setting the brief, how do they benefit?’ Two representatives from Ogilvy work for Unilever expressed their views. They said that Unilever is a company that aim to good, they are company that strive on sustainability. ‘70% of the carbon footprint comes from product usage’ so its the use of the product by the consumer and the end life of the product that is having a bigger effect on society.
They have pretty much done all they possibly can to move their business model towards sustainability. All they can do is try to tackle consumer behaviour, by encouraging change.
From attending the event I now feel better equipped to approach the brief, I am even considering working in a team because I realise how valuable it is to have input and insight from other team members who are able to see what I may miss.

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Men are from Mars, Woman are from Venus

As I shared a few weeks ago as part of my reading list, I have been reading a book titled ‘Inside her pretty little head’ by Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts. It is a book about marketing towards the female target market and what methods we can employ as marketeers to make this a success. At first I only intended to read excerpts from the book and use what I thought was of relevance to me in my literature review but after reading the introduction and some book reviews I was sold and have decided to read the book from cover to cover. So far I have read the first 4 chapters which cover the topics of scientific theory of the different ways male and females have been programmed to think from birth. The different ways in which men and women approach life, the current marketing strategy being used now that caters to men but is used for women too and one of the four feminine codes which is altruism which is a suggested approach for successfully targeting female audiences. So far the book has been intriguing, insightful and has even helped me understand more about myself.

Scientifically the book concludes that how we behave as either male or female is how our brains are wired. Here are the differences:
Male– Analytical, focused, linear. Action. Fight or flight. Innate interest in things. Survival through self interest, hierarchy, power and competition. Hard wired to systemise.
Female– Whole brained perspective. Feeling. Tend or befriend. Innate interest in people. Survival through relationships, empathy and connections. Hard wired to empathise.

In chapter two it discusses the two different approaches that men and females have towards life. The men have the achievement impulse which mean men live for the competition and creating a personal status. For men its about being the best and better than the rest, its an ego thing. Whereas women have the utopian impulse, their goal in life is to make there surroundings a better place, they are always thinking about others. Women strive on companionship, they cannot survive without interacting with others.

Chapter 3 explores the idea of the current marketing approach that business tend to take to target both men and women, the masculine approach which promotes competition and status. In this chapter it is argued that business and brands need to take a feminine approach when it comes to targeting women. Businesses need to market to a female audience with what appeals to them, such as making the world a better place and other selfless acts. It was suggested that 4 feminine codes should be considered when targeting women which are altruism, aesthetic, ordering and connecting codes.

The altruism code was discussed in chapter 4, to summarise this approach, it is appealing to the female audience when a brand is working towards the greater good of its surroundings. Women are encouraged by brands that promote positivity, that promote community. They are encouraged by a business/brand whose main priority is not the product functionality but the consumer that uses the product. Selfless, altruistic characteristic that particular brands display automatically become a success with the female audience.
The following codes will be discussed at a later date.

To conclude the first four chapters have shown how different we are as male and females. These differences need to be considered if we want to successfully target male and female audiences as designers in the future.

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