Dissertation PDP

I’ve reflected over the last 5 months the journey this dissertation has taken me on. Heres the summery of my difficulties, findings and an overall reflection for the process.

The reason I chose to explore the design responsibility, specifically in connection to Global Warming, was because of a field project I participated last January. ‘Agents For Change’ was a project focused around harvesting an understand of sustainability and applying to design. Working with a really client ‘Eco Camping Wales’ in groups we had to come up with sustainable solutions to improving their campsite. Before this I hadn’t heard of the word Sustainability, and it took a good part of a week to grasp the meaning. The project was lead by Wendy Keay-Bright and Neil Angove, both specialising in sustainable and green design, and throughout the 5 weeks they couldn’t express enough the importance of sustainable design in the future. Neil also preached that designers have greater responsibility than they realise. Saying something along the lines of “unless we as designers embrace sustainable design, we will be left behind”, hearing this really hit me hard, and after the 5 week project I felt the direction I wanted to take my study was clear.

When it came to producing a proposal last year, I was adamant on focusing around sustainability, the responsibility of a designer, and effects of Global warming. What I struggled with was concentrating my question, and the feedback I kept receiving was that it was to vague. Thats been the biggest struggle through this process. If it wasn’t for being able to reflect my concerns in my blog and discuss it with my tutor then I would be in trouble. The concern I had was the less subjects I had to discuss in my dissertation the less research and words I could use.

Also I don’t consider myself a strong writer, partly due to being dyslexic, which effects my ability and my confidence. None the less I was passionate and intrigued about the subject, so when it came to researching and reading, it did feel strenuous.

Although, I did get extremely OCD when using a highlighter.

Another struggle I encountered was not being able to ignore the word count. I felt intimated by it, especially having never completed an essay of this magnitude before. I had always struggled with short essays, usually down to time management, but I liked to think I’ve grown as an individual since joining CSAD. The approach I instantly took was to reach the world count as quickly as possible, so I could improve it later. Despite only having written 2,000+ words before we broke up for the end of term, I had made sure I spent the whole summer reading and highlighting, so during the christmas holidays I was able to spend a full week on it, and things came together pretty quickly from there. A frustrating part of the Dissertation was reviewing sections of a paragraph that I’d written, towards the start process, over summer. The constant need to shuffle and adjust things was tricky and I could of spent a whole day just re-writing a signal section.

After producing a whole chapter on Global warming I became quite concerned that it may not be necessary, that I was going off subject , but the idea of including a sizeable part of this thesis on Global Warming was to educate myself, the readers and to set the scene. Global Warming isn’t new but I can guaranty a large majority of the world know little about it, I am guilty of this. So I though it was important to include such an in-depth study into the subject. It also occurred to me that some of the changes brought on by the ever altering climate may effect my future descendants, like my children and grandchildren, which is worrying, but sparks a personal emotion that invites action on my part.

Coming back to my practice, I have always be sceptical of essays and the benefits, because I believed creatives shouldn’t have to do academic study. This preconception was wrong, I have learn’t so much about my subject, and the world around me. I have discovered artists, scientists, theorists, publications, authors, companies and many more interesting sources, that will contribute to the kind of professional I will graduate as. Currently for a ‘The Big Idea’, a subject project, I am studying the word ‘Serendipity’, and have to produce an outcome based on this word. Being influenced by the findings from my essay, I feel like my outcome should be a functioning, sustainable, and have a purpose, instead of being a piece of art that may only be used in this particular project. I am now conscious of what I do as a designer, and an individual, so I do feel like this thesis has made me re-evaluate my career path. If you had asked me 4 years ago why I wanted to be a designer, I would of said because I want to make ‘sick’ skateboard art. If you had asked me before ‘Agents Of Change’, I would of said I want to do some branding or posters. Influenced by the dissertation and Agents of Change, I now want to produce work that is sustainable, meaningful and that benefits society.

To conclude, prier to starting this dissertation my attitude was very pessimistic and I didn’t see the benefits nor understand the why we had to write a essay, especially considering our field is creative and visual. I starting reading in the summer, the more I read the more engrossed I got in the subject, and this surprised me. In fact I got so interested in the subject I believe it’s altered my perception and made me re-think my career path. If I could what would I of changed? I would of started writing sooner, I made sure I read over summer and gathered a good amount of information, but I didn’t really start writing until January. I could of read few more up-to-date and contemporary books. I think I could of refined my topic/question and found something more to argue/debate about, saying that, this dissertation was a self educating thing, and I think I’ve gained a lot from it. It’s been a long and exhausting process, that I have enjoyed and found very useful. my attitude has matured and I see the big picture of academic studies.


Dissertation order

Still slightly unsure of the order of things. This is currently how it looks


Chapter one

  • What is global warming
  • Whats causing it
  • How long have we be aware of it/history
  • How is it effecting us

Chapter two

  • What has design got to do with it?
  • The infrastructure of the industrial revolution
  • Materialism and Consumerism ‘life style’ and mass production
  • Manipulation
  • Human behaviour
  • Product design

Chapter three

  • History of when design took a turn for the best
  • Good design – graphics and product, influencing human behaviour
  • examples of design done well – companies, cities, products


I think it’s still ‘vague’, which is what i should of titled it, but I think if I can get up to a rough 8,000/9,000 words by the end of the week or at-least before my final tutorial on the 19th Jan, then I can work towards removing the unnecessary.

Key Dates – Dissertation notes

Do good design

Chapter 11 P.135

1964 – First Things First manifest Ken Garland, and thought our skill could              be used in a more nobler way.

1983 –  The world bodies of the main design disciplines (icograda, IFI, and                  icsid) jointly declared that “a designer accepts professional                              responsibility to act in the best interest of ecology and of the                            natural environment.”

1996 – Design has been a certified profession. The term “R.G.D.” (and                      “Registered Graphic Designer”) is now a professional designation                   protected by law. The Rules of Professional Conduct are linked                         through certification to the law of Ontario.

1999 – Movement of sorts?

2000 – The society of Graphic Designers of Canada adopted a courageous                   and progressive national code of ethics, standing on the shoulders                 of inspiring documents for around the world. Including a                                   commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

2000 – First Things First second release, published in adbusters, the AIGA                   Journal, Blueprint, Emigre, Eye, Form, and Items.

2005 – AIGA, the world body for communication design, offers the                               Canadian model as a benchmark for design associations in other                     countries seeking to establish their own code of conduct.

90% of Europe’s top companies publish corporate social responsibility reports.

Changing the existing system.

Being green has now become a mainstream obsession. p.143

Ways you can do help- Cradle to cradle

  • Demand objects that are designed to last
  • Avoid disposable
  • Carry one great pen – fuck Bic
  • Eat fewer animals
  • Avoid bottle water
  • drink and eat local
  • Resist all messages that seek to convince you that you need to consume in order to feel good
  • Avoid products made of PVC, the hazardous waste of the display industry
  • Buy products that tell the truth
  • Resist being manipulated by visual lies
  • Lead by example

Design your better future, then help us all design ours.



Dissertation game plan

So going home for christmas with the slight ignorance that I’d be ploughing through my dissertation….but, due to financial reasons I’m back working, as a temp, at my beloved T****, which is fine, but I find myself working every day, all day, until xmas day. I will insist of having a day off, as this is ridiculous, definitely if I’m to, maybe not the most mature use of language, smash this dissertation. I will be too tired to work on it after the 8/9 hour shifts, so I just plan on reading every night and morning until I find myself with a day off to get some writing done. Let hope this isn’t an ambitious plan of action.

Dissertation Tutorial

Had a great tutorial with Ashely Morgan today, where we discussed what action is needed over christmas regarding my dissertation. It’s been hard, not only because we’ve had subject projects that have run alongside this, but due to not being able to fully commit myself to what I intend to explore and achieve in my diss. Today was an opportunity to share my ideas with Ashely and get some honest feedback. I explained that I wanted to re-structure my diss and she agreed, after suggesting I was being to vague before, it made more sense what I want to do now.


Role of the designer – Do good design

Design influences

  • How messages intended to influence the behaviour of large audiences are selected, crafted, and developed.
  • How people are portrayed and represented visually
  • How raw materials for designed objects (such as the paper for this book) are consumed.

Advertising and design change change how youth behave and think.

If that message is counterproductive to the larger strategy of a sustainable world, then my effort is also irresponsible.

Overconsumption is fueled most powerfully by clever visual arguments to convince everyone (including large, growing Developing World populations) to consumer more and more. The impact of designers and consumers of design is huge. We should be held responsible.

Ethical design is also profitable: both client and designers make more money in the long term by making a promise to customers that is later fulfilled.

Ethical design and promotion can be the most efficient marketing. Getting excellent products into the hands of consumers with tangible needs, through clear communication that delights and informs, is a profitable sustainable business.

Smoke and mirrors

Imagine again a society’s potential where the largest signs, the cleverest ads, the most prominent messages promote healthy behaviour.

What degree of responsibility do designers have for the offences that led to that court decision in florida? Aren’t the ad and package designers just as guilty of promoting destructive behaviour? they had access to the strategies that laid out the mechanisms of nicotine addiction and tricking people into trying to smoke. So how long until the agencies, the art directors and the designers get sued along with their tobacco company clients?

Social responsibility is also good for design because it will protect the profession.

Lies in words are controlled with libel and fraud laws, while subtle visual lies are often not and so many creative liars can continue to operate with impunity (exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines).

A well-crafted visual lie can easily outperform a lie built solely of words. This is because images provoke subconscious visceral reactions. The imagery can be so subtle that people often don’t realise they are being manipulated.

Our society has a legal code that is based on words, not visual literacy.

Speaking the truth – make more profit and look better for you in the long run.

Code of ethics

The print industry is the third largest waste producer on earth.

Designers must educate the public that design is strategy not decoration. How design was doing good in their community, in their hospitals, in their streets, in their water, in their air. Design Matters

EIDD is dedicated to how design can improve life while leaving no one behind.

First Things First design Manifesto

Materials – Cradle to cradle


products/materials that make something lesser and not of the same standard as it was.

Built in obsolescence – cradle to grave

design with Built in obsolescence so to only last a certain amount of time

Technical Metabolism

A technical nutrient is a material or product that is designed to go back into the technical cycle, into industrial metabolism for which is came.

Biological Metabolism

A biological nutrient is a material or product that is designed to return to the biological cycle – it is literally consumed by microorganisms in the soil and other animals.

 Respect diversity 

Respecting diversity in design means considering not only how the product is made but how it is to be used , and by whom.

Great quote “Imagine a building like a tree, a city like a forest” P139

Using local material

Avoiding the problem of bio-invasion, when transfer of materials from one region to another inadvertently introduce invasion of nonnative species to fragile ecosystems. Will also benefit local economy.

how can we enrich local species, and invite them into our “cultivated” landscape instead of destroying or chasing them away?

How can we gain profit and pleasure from a diversity of natural energy flow?

How can we engage with an abundance of diverse materials, option, and responses, of creative and elegant solution