The thesis has been submitted.
I enjoyed writing that thing too…
However, as one challenge is over, another one begins!
In order to keep our minds stimulated and the creative juices flowing, we were tasked with a design project that was unlike any other project we have previously done.
We were given an ordinary, run-of-the mill design brief by Product Design Research (PDR). They are a design consultancy that is based on the Cardiff Met Llandaff campus.
Surprisingly, they have no affiliation with the University so it was interesting to finally work alongside them.
One would initially assume that we would have a week to complete the project that they had given us but that could not be any further from the truth.
This project had to be completed in its entirety, from start to finish, in 24 hours.
You heard me right.
This was the 24 Hour Project.
Although, the project could have also have been called the ‘1,440 Minute Project’ or the ‘86,400 Second Project’ but they’re not nearly as catchy.
The brief was (seemingly) simple:
Design a piece of wearable technology due to be released in Q1 2019. The product or system must be designed for one of the following uses/user groups:
- Mother & Baby
- The Elderly
- Women’s Health
- Crime & Punishment
And that was the brief. No deliverables, that’s it. We were just simply told to do as much as we could and to the best of our ability.
We were tasked to complete this brief as a team. This made the project a bit more bearable as I knew that we would all be in the same boat. I would also like to think that I was in a pretty decent team:
The project officially began at 10am on Thursday 25th January and using some deduction skills, the project would finish at 10am on Friday 26th January.
A long day was ahead of us and late night would surely be inevitable.
However, in order to provide an incentive for this project, the team with the best response to this project would receive £300 in sweet, sweet cash.
Things just got interesting.
I believed that this level of competition would drive and motivate everyone to work their socks off, even if it meant that we would all be sleep deprived.
My initial thoughts about this project was wearable technology is a growing trend and so it would only make sense for us to tap into that trend in order to create new and exciting solutions. Obviously, the fact that that it needed to be ‘released’ in 2019 meant that the ideas generated needed to be grounded. They needed to be viable using existing technology and so it would be challenging to be completely speculative and out-there with this project.
The different user groups/uses did not necessarily excite me all that much. On the surface, it just seemed that there wasn’t anything to them. I was initially drawn to Crime and Punishment as a possible theme but choosing our user group was an important discussion that had to be done as a team. We all initially felt that each user group presented obvious, clear-cut solutions so we needed to see beyond this in order to create a new and exciting idea.
Everyone made their opinions known and it was key that we had these open conversations as this allowed everyone to contribute. Because this was a team project, we had to work as a team and not as 6 individuals.
After some discussion, it was unanimous that there were 2 user groups that felt had the most potential: Mother & Baby and Crime & Punishment.
However, after some research into both of these user groups, we found the ‘Mother & Baby’ market to be incredibly overcrowded.
‘Oh, I’ve got an idea!’
‘That’s already been done apparently’.
We found ‘Crime & Punishment’ to be seemingly limited to just tracking technology so we felt from this that there was a clear opportunity to do something innovative and meaningful.
We spent a considerable amount of time researching and exploring this topic in more detail but this allowed us to have an in-depth and rational discussion about various creative avenues.
This discussion was vital as everyone contributed their voices to the point where a viable ‘idea’ was formed and by using all of the research that had been gathered, we weaved a strong narrative that justified the existence of our ‘idea’
And so, our key focus was the rehabilitation of prisoners in order for them to become a contributing member of society. The narrative is as follows:
59% of prisoners, whose sentence is less than 12 months, re-offend (Gov.uk, n.d.).
Why is this?
This could be attributed to the following:
- Poor mental health. 49% and 23% of female and male prisoners respectively suffer from anxiety and depression (Prisoner Resource Trust, 2018)
- Lack of sensory stimuli. All prisoners can hear is the loud and harsh sounds of their fellow cell mates.
- Lack of social contact and family interaction. This is part of their ‘punishment’ but how can they reform if they are not readjusting to society?
If there was a way to improve upon the lack of sensory stimuli and social interaction, this could improve the prisoner’s well-being thus increasing their resilience and engagement to reform and to better themselves.
One would argue ‘So what? They’re prisoners, They are there to serve a punishment’.
That is correct. They are there to serve time but that time is wasted if they are not using it to better themselves. If a prisoner fails to readjust to society, they will re-offend and that costs money.
It costs £32,510 to keep one prisoner in prison for one year. Add the £60,000 cost for police and court fees and the approximate cost to get a prisoner into prison costs £90,000 to £100,000.
Therefore, our concept attempts to improve a prisoner’s chance of re-adjusting to society through the increase of sensory stimuli and social contact as not only does this improve their mental well-being. It could also potentially lower the re-offending rate thus decreasing the amount of money the Government has to spend in order to lock up prisoners in the first place.
It’s a win-win for both sides.
Once we worked through the night, our entire design process over the entire 24 hours had to be presented in front of PDR and that presentation can be viewed here. It explains everything about our design process:
We therefore proposed the following concept:
Before we presented this concept, we allocated the various slides to the people who had contributed to that specific element of the project. We had a clear-cut plan and because of this, the presentation went smoothly without any hiccups. We were briefly interrogated by our peers and PDR but we managed to answer any questions they had relatively unscathed.
Remember me mentioning the fact that there was £300 on the line for the ‘winning’ team? I’m assuming this meant the team that the best combination of ideation and research that translated into the most viable idea or system.
We didn’t win the money.
Fair play to them!
Although, PDR did announce that there was essentially an ‘Honourable Mention’.
And who did that belong to?
It belong to us!
I wasn’t expecting this but PDR liked our overall narrative and justification of our concept. Not only did this justify the hard work that we had put into this project, but it was satisfying to receive some form of recognition from a group of industry professionals. This made me realise that the story behind the product is as important as the product itself and this something that I need to keep in mind for future projects. I could design any product I wish but if it doesn’t have a true reason to exist, then there is no point in it existing.
It was remarkable to see how much work we could produce within a short space of time and it showed that we all have the motivation and work ethic to produce a high quality body of work no matter what the circumstances are.
It also gave me an insight as to what industry professionals expect from us student designers and believe me, they expect a fair bit from us. But this in itself will motivate me to develop and hone my creative skills, not that this project had done that already.
So, would I want to another 24 hour project in the future?
Depending on the project and the brief, then why not?
Even if it means that I’ll become sleep deprived.
Gov.uk (n.d.). Reoffending by prison sentence. [image] Available at: http://open.justice.gov.uk/images/reoff-graph.gif [Accessed 2 Feb. 2018].
Prisonreformtrust.org.uk. (2018). Mental Health Care in Prisons. [online] Available at: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/ProjectsResearch/Mentalhealth [Accessed 2 Feb. 2018].