Application & Interactions – Week 10: Design Development

Week 10 Lecture & Resources

Notes on Week 10 lecture (practitioner interviews)

Workshop Challenge

Design prototype

After taking some time to let my assorted ideas gestate, as well as asking selected people for their input, I decided to pursue the cyanotype kit concept, with the aim of using it as a vehicle to tell the story of Anna Atkins and how photography evolved as a science.

In order to get feedback on my design concept, I developed a visual prototype design to demonstrate what the DIY cyanotype kit packaging might look like.

Prototype design concept for the cyanotype kit.

I then showed this prototype design, along with an explanation of the concept, to people in the target audience age range and (aged between 18 and 30) asked them for feedback.


User Testing – Target Audience

Below are a selection of responses to to the cyanotype kit concept.

Click on the image above to view as a PDF.

Overall, the individuals I spoke to were very interested in the kit, even just on the surface level, either as a gift idea or something to potentially pass the time (e.g. during lockdown!). Beyond this, several of the female participants I contacted were particularly intrigued by the fact that it also highlights the work of an under-represented woman who was a photography pioneer.

This feedback was really useful in confirming that the idea had appeal, as well as giving me the sense that it does connect both aspects that I wanted to address with the kit – the making part with the learning/knowledge part. I will definitely incorporate information about the history into the kit to reinforce this, and take on board the comments about adjusting the wording on the cover of the kit too.


User Testing – Peers

Beyond the target audience, I also shared my prototype design concept with other individuals within my own creative circle (including people with an art/design background, as well as marketing). The feedback was very positive, with many commenting on the appeal of the visual concept. The background of the story around Anna Atkins and her work garnered a lot of interest and several people expressed being keen to get hold of one of the cyanotype kits too.


Notes from Week 10 webinar:
Advice on preparing for the crit session

Making the most of crit sessions
Ben Evans James comments:

  • One thing – don’t go through this process and then say – “I just want general feedback.” End on a question.
  • Think about: What do you want a response to?
  • The quality of your response is directly correlated to the quality of your question
  • Don’t expect good feedback if you’re not asking people the right questions

Research vs Creative work/stages
Working on the research aspects + the design process:
The two should work in tandem. Design *as* research. Think about the inquiry circles, for example.

Set yourself a question to respond to through design, then design and reflect in practice and on practice.

So in practice, it is a “tacit” skill – as in, it’s something you reflect on while you’re designing/ on practice is looking back at what you’ve done and asking questions such as: What did I do? Why? How did it work? What did work / what didn’t work, etc. – then use that to think about reframing your question.


After the webinar (see above notes), I realised that the best way to make the most of the group crit the following week (with John Stack from the Science Museum) was to prepare my questions in advance and also to have a clear idea of what I want to get out of the session.


Cyanotype Printing

I felt the best way for me to really understand the cyanotype process was to actually try it for myself – in so doing, I would also be better informed to create the guide and information booklet that I intend to include as part of the kit. I managed to get hold of some sheets of pre-treated cyanotype paper that I then began to experiment with.

Creating a test strip to figure out timing for exposing cyanotype prints.
Using pressed Japanese maple leaves trapped under glass (held in place with bulldog clips) to create my first cyanotype print.
A trio of cyanotype prints I created with pressed acer leaves and pieces of lace fabric.

By doing these test prints, I gained a much better sense of what’s actually involved in creating them and it also provided me with visual imagery to use within the kit’s contents.


References

Etsy. ‘Cyanotype Paper.’ Available at
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/836857137/cyanotype-paper [accessed 28/11/2021]

MARIEN, Mary W. 2012. ‘The Cyanotype.’ 100 ideas that changed photography. Available at https://search-credoreference-com.nls.idm.oclc.org/content/entry/lkingitcp/the_cyanotype/0 [accessed 28/11/2021]

Wikipedia. 2021. ‘Cyanography.’ Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanography