Monday, August 15, 2011

Scottish designers lead the way in designing social change

I recently wrote an article for Please find here, or read below.

A new breed of designer is emerging in Scotland. In the midst of public sector cuts they are showcasing the value of giving local citizens a voice. But how can design tools and methods be used to create a positive social change?

As part of the legislative programme of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition agreement, the 'Big Society' proclamation declared its intention “to create a climate that empowers local people and communities, building a big society that will take power away from the politicians and give it to the people.”

However, service designers in the UK have already been impressively pioneering such a movement for some years and are leading discussions with both the government and general public alike in how to implement creative action which can transform our daily experiences with public services.

Most people think of designers as creating tangible products such as chairs, a dress or packaging. Instead service designers challenge the role of design within the public sector by placing design thinking at the heart of the service process.

Recent Scottish design graduates Sarah Drummond and Lauren Currie are not only part of this new movement towards a social conscience, but are firmly in the driver’s seat in Scotland (and indeed internationally) in their quest to change attitudes to the way we experience public services.
“Our job is not only to understand what is going on inside people’s heads, but to find ways of getting that thinking out into the world," said the duo.

Together they have formed Snook, a social innovation outfit with a determined ambition to change the lives of the people of Scotland. Within its first two years, Glasgow based Snook has expanded to create three additional roles within their permanent team and have attracted a host of clients ranging from the Scottish Government to the National Museums of Scotland looking for their skills in transforming how people view and interact with their services.

The concept of designing a service is a difficult one to translate. How does one communicate an experience or for that matter design a new one? Designers such as Snook see their skills as easily translatable and perfect tools for the new and evolving discipline, which might otherwise be considered intangible. Using design techniques, they work closely with people to visualize and communicate aspects of their lives, their ideas and opinions, and they do so with an infallible enthusiasm and empathy for the people and communities they aim to help.

“Snook love working with people to improve the things that determine the quality of their life – Education, Health, Welfare and Social Care – and giving people the opportunity to take more control over these services.”

One such example of Snook’s design application is – an online feedback tool for the interaction between police and public. Currently being piloted in Tayside, its success in improving communication between Tayside police and its public looks set to result in the initiative being applied on a national scale.

Start-up companies such as Snook are proof that as the political landscape in Scotland continues to change, a growing number are pushing the boundaries of how public services could look in the future.

On 22nd September in Edinburgh, the Guardian newspaper sponsors the first Public Services Summit for Scotland. The summit is a significant step in recognizing that public services need to be re-examined and re-worked to deliver better people experiences. Design might just be the answer in doing this.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

American Apparel let you in their L.A. Factory

Well, they let you get an insight of what they do there. But it's a clever marketing technique. Click on the windows of our factory to see what goes on in that department: You too can be a part of our world.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Rock star and the Fashionista

For decades there has been a distinct correlation between fashion icons and rock stars (think Jerry Hall & Mick Jagger). In more recent years, there seems to be a resurgence of the musician man-candy on the arm of our favourite style icons.

Here's my pick of our favourite trend-setting rock ‘n’ roll couples:

Kate Moss & Jamie Hince (of The Kills).Recently married Kate and Jamie couldn’t be more suited for one another. Kate has been romantically linked with a whole host of musicians over the years and lists Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie as one of her closest friends. Dueting with Primal Scream and starring in a White Stripes video have all added to her “indie” credentials (not to mention her relationship with Johnny Depp back in the day and the father of her daughter Lily is Dazed & Confused founding editor Jefferson Hack).

The supermodel’s previous tumultuous relationship with Pete Doherty seemed to put Kate’s head in a spin, but it looks like Kate has finally found “the one”.

Katy Perry & Russell BrandOkay so not strictly rock stars but between Russell’s previous lifestyle and Katy’s music, they certainly tick the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll boxes. Add both stars’ ability to set fashion trends and you have the perfect fashion-rock duo.

Prior to meeting Russell, Katy had had a bumpy relationship with hip hop star Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, whilst lothario Russell was an admitted sex addict who played the field.

The recovering drug and sex addict comedian and the 'I kissed a girl' singer have been happily married since last October.

Kate Hudson & Matt Belamy (of Muse)
Not to be outshined by the Beckhams, the A-List couple recently announced the arrival of their new baby son Bingham "Bing" Hawn Bellamy. (Yes, you read correctly.) Matt and baby Bingham will now be Hollywood royalty with Kate's parents mum Goldie Hawn and stepdad Kurt Russell.

The new parents got engaged in April following a year-long whirlwind romance.

Kate has a son to previously husband Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson. Since their divorce in 2007, Kate has been romantically linked to a whole host of male stars the one that stuck was (again) a lead singer in a rock band. The role that kick-started her career was that of a rock groupie (sorry, “band-aid”) in Almost Famous.

Alexa Chung and Alex Turner (of Arctic Monkeys).The model-turned-TV presenter had previously been linked with members of The Lost Prophets, The Horrors and Klaxons before hooking up with Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex in 2007.

The ultra-cool couple are often spotted in their natural habitat of music festivals wearing complimentary laid-back chic outfits. Alexa even starred in an Arctic Monkeys music video.

Unfortunately, rumours are abound that the pair have split up. Photographed in May mid a less than enthusiastic kiss, the two haven’t been spotted together since - not even at Glastonbury despite them both being in attendance.

Keira Knightley & James Righton (of Klaxons)

Having split from long-term boyfriend actor Rupert Friend, Keira’s heart seemed to be broken until friend Alexa Chung introduced Kiera to Klaxons keyboarder James.

In just a couple of months the two have been spotted unable to keep their hands off of each other and look set to become the new fashion/indie power couple.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tula AW11

For a while there, there seemed to be a slight backlash against the 'It' bag. And perhaps rightly so midst a global recession. But brands this season seem to be taking a more nostalgic look back to the classics in order to provide us with 'It' bags which will last us year-in, year-out.

Still not got £2000 to throw away? Enter Tula, a British handbag company who make the most beautifully crafted handbags in classic styles and at affordable high street prices. With a heritage of over 35 years, their AW11 collection looks back in time and relives the classic functionality and lady like glamour of the 50’s and early 60’s. Think in-the-style-of icons (who are having a bit of a revival at the moment) such as Jackie Onassis and Grace Kelly.

Here's my pick of my favourites from their AW11 collection, which are all about quality and structured shapes in a gorgeous Autumnal colour palette:
Metallics have long been a favourite of mine given that I'm still a bit of a rock fan at heart so to see the glam 70s back in trend warms my heart. This'll go nicely with my leather leggings thank you!
Small cross body bags have had a huge resurgence recently on the arms of everyone from Alexa to la Moss. This one's a gorgeous colour and finished off in ostrich skin, another key trend for handbags in Autumn/Winter along with snake skin.
AW11 Lady Dior anyone? Loving the Alexander McQueen/Jimmy Choo/Mui Mui leopard print pony hair going around at the moment.
The pouch bag - So very glad it's back for AW11 as I have a couple that have been stored away in my wardrobe for some time.
Very classic Hermes. I'm in love with this lady-like look in edgy patent black!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Style Crush on Karen Gillian

I have always been a lover of red hair and delicate, ghostly features. My sister has these enviable colourings but views it as a restriction. Au contraire ma soeur, there so much to work with!

Karen Gillian, ex-model (surprise, surprise), rocks the vintage indie girl look whilst having her own distinct style on the red carpet. I could have went on and on with the selection. Much like her enviable legs: