Moving on to Year 2!

Hi and welcome to my page. Here is where I record my journey of my Interior Design Degree. I’m currently starting year 2 of my degree which is very exciting and even more exciting knowing that the last 3 years have been well spent working through year 1. All three units were an amazing experience and I’m so thrilled to be starting year 2, ready to begin a new chapter in my life, let’s go!

The opportunity to design an interior residential space

Word has spread that I am studying my Interior Design Degree and opportunities are arising which gives me the chance to practice what I have already learned in the first year of study.

My daughter’s boyfriend’s parents have consulted with an Interior Designer to look at redesigning their living room. They were delighted when it was suggested I also give them some designs of my own. How exciting and what a journey the last few weeks have been!

The first thing for me to do was to meet with Angela and chat about all things design. I took along by sketch book and tape measure, we discussed colours, textures, furniture, the existing space and likes/dislikes over a delicious cup of coffee. Their living room measures 6m x 4m and consists of sliding patio doors that lead to the back garden, 2 small windows that overlook the driveway, a large window made up of 4 smaller windows that also overlooks the driveway. Internally, a doorway leads to the hall and sliding pocket doors lead to the kitchen. Currently the two smaller windows have curtains constantly drawn for privacy from the main road. This of course lets no natural light in and so it’s important to think of a design that offers both natural light and privacy.

They have two armchairs that they would like to get reupholstered and two leather sofas, all of which they intend to keep within the space. One more change they are keen on having is to replace the open fire with a log burner. With this in mind I designed a few spaces, all with different colour schemes and two different layouts. One of which is based mainly around the TV, another which is a more sociable space. Both designs work well but they are a family and busy hosts and so logistically the sociable space would work better for them.

Once I had made some sketches I played around with the layout of the furniture within the space. On the chimney wall I added bespoke furniture for storage and on the opposite side created designs that temporarily blocked off the doorway into the hallway by added wooden slats for the tv to sit on, not only giving this side of the room texture and character but adding a temporary wall space in a playful way. With each of these steps I made a note of the cost and where the product can be purchased. A really important factor for me was to include some of the colour and/or texture from the kitchen that leads into the living room area, this way the two rooms will compliment each other but offer different functions. They have two large tiffany style light shades in the kitchen that inspired my colour boards. They also have black kitchen units and soft lighting, this led me to look at bold colours that add drama to the space.

I made a list of important considerations for the room

  • Storage
  • TV area
  • Window blinds
  • Texture in materials
  • Colour scheme
  • Artwork

The next stage was to create these designs digitally. I chose to use SketchUp which is a 3D modelling design software that can be used on the net, this was helpful to try before I make any payment towards an upgrade. The experience was very time consuming but so much fun, I’m really pleased with how the designs look, it’s great to see them in 3D. Alongside these designs I created two mood boards using Indesign. I soon realised that using the free version of SketchUp gives you limited options in terms of colour and furniture and so giving my client a mood board will enable them to have a better idea of how the colours and textures can work together. Adding real plants to the space not only adds dimension and vibrant colour but they purify the air too.

Mood boards created using Indesign
My own SketchUp Designs

I met with Angela 3 weeks later and presented my designs on my Ipad. I talked through each design and the reasons for doing so and we discussed the different options offered to her, she was particularly impressed with the slat wall for the TV and the way the furniture was laid out offering a better sociable space. By chatting with Angela right from the beginning I could build up a better idea of her taste in design and by pushing the boundaries I came up with colour schemes she didn’t think she would like, sometimes we need to push a little further and be experimental with colours and textures, this experiment worked really well and I think it was helped by showing different colour schemes, different ways of having the sofas and chairs. The feedback was so encouraging and I look forward to finding out which direction they have chosen, it would be so interesting to see the other Interior Designer’s ideas too!

This was such an exciting opportunity and I am so grateful that I was given the chance to create designs and this was only made possible by completing the first year of my Interior Design degree, I have learned so much and looking forward to getting stuck into year two!

Reflecting on Assessment of Unit Three

Exploring Creative Practice

Mid April and my summative assessment mark sheet arrives by email, a nail-biting moment after waiting for what seems like forever! I passed!

I am demonstrating a good introductory awareness of sound practical and contextual knowledge and a growing appreciation of the subject knowledge and boundaries. I am selecting, testing and interpreting sound range of research to produce good ideas and outcomes. My practical, technical and communication skills are reasonable and show effective outcomes. Unit three was a really good chance to delve into areas I might be more interested in and more inclined to lean towards practicing in when I’m qualified whilst building on my knowledge and skills using technical drawing software and digital presentation software.

It was noted that throughout my work there is a level of consistency and discipline that is evident and clearly benefitting my growth and development as a designer. They were pleased to see an expanding set of techniques being used to conduct research and communicate findings and I must continue to build on these as I move forward. My application of the design, technical and communication skills are being shown and there is definitely evident progress being made, to improve in these areas I must practice and develop these skills.

Overall, I am so pleased with the work I produced throughout unit three and I’m confident that with more practice of the technical and design software, the more confident I will become in communicating my ideas. Unit three gave me the opportunity to build on my research methods and communicate those ideas which was a great learning experience.

Going forward I have made a list to help organise my thoughts and actions

  • continue to back up my work with images or diagrams
  • be more experimental with how I communicate my ideas
  • spend time practicing my presentation skills
  • spend time practicing my technical drawing skills

I will continue to look at ways of improving my work and ideas in all of these areas to build on my confidence which in turn will help me communicate my ideas as I move forward to level two.

Detail

Whilst visiting my daughter and enjoying walking the streets of the beautiful city of Bristol, I came across the most amazing artisan interior shop. Each item for sale is perfectly placed, such a cool vibe and a beautiful feel to the store. I came across these baskets in the shop window, just look at that detail in the weave, couldn’t resist taking photo’s, after all my exhibition is all about basketry!!

An exciting opportunity to design interior spaces

Working my day job as a painter and decorator gives me opportunities to talk to clients about colour choices, wallpaper designs, bringing their existing space together with all aspects of design. On one occasion in the summer of 2021, a company we worked for wanted their office and communal spaces decorated, they had an idea of colours and so we transformed the spaces for them. They also have a room they call their breakout room, which currently occupies a few comfy chairs, a table and chairs but lacks in good design and isn’t used as a space for employees to relax when they are not sat at their desks. I approached the Manager, explained I was currently studying my ID degree and asked if I could have the opportunity to design their breakout space, which they jumped at the chance of having done. They also threw in the ladies and gents toilets! I was more than happy to oblige.

I took photographs of the spaces. After many hours brainstorming ideas I came up with a couple of different scenarios for each space. Firstly, the breakout room. The company is made up of a number of people with different job roles, some of which are office based, some of which are workshop based. With this in mind I wanted to create a fun space for them to spend their break time in. Their work either involves sitting at a desk, in front of a computer screen or on the telephone or sitting at a workshop space designing intricate quartz crystals. Their office environments lack character or colour and so to have a space to retreat to during their breaks, would be a great idea. Even the toilets have a fun botanical theme to them.

Taking on board what I have already learned during my first year at OCA, I brainstormed ideas for the breakout room and the WC’s, then using photoshop I transformed the spaces from characterless walls and interior elements, to fun, bright, cheerful spaces to want to spend time in. This process was quite time consuming, I am self taught with Photoshop and so learning as I go along takes time, it was at points frustrating but I’m pleased with the end result. I then created mood boards, using Indesign, showing the different elements of colour, texture that would work in this space.

I was inspired by local artists work and so added some paintings based on their take of the local area. By adding a mural on one end wall adds an element of fantasy, by adding colours with accessories brings warmth and fun to the overall space. There is a table and chairs in the room, I thought that maybe by painting a chessboard on the table would give the staff an opportunity to play chess during their break, giving them chance to switch off from their job and calm their minds. The idea of having other board games in the room would give them choice as well. The room would also benefit from having real plants, flowers, this will help with boosting moods, lower the feeling of anxiety and help improve their working performance, all of these elements are vital for good working relationships, especially working in an office environment. The breakout room only has one wall of windows with natural light coming in so colour and impact is needed to bring this space to life.

Again, using brainstorming ideas of mind maps, I chose botanical themed wallpaper as feature walls for the WC’s. These spaces are used for only a short time and so I wanted to make an impression in a fun and colourful way.

The Manager really liked my designs and fed them back to some of the employees. Until such time as they know whether they are staying in the rented building, the designs are on hold, they have assured me that once a decision on whether they stay in the building or move to new premises has been reached they will arrange for us to go ahead with the designs for the spaces, they are being smart by not spending their money on areas that they possibly won’t be able to enjoy. I look forward to transforming the spaces.

On reflection of my designs, I have so much more to learn with the software but feel that I have made a good start. I made a design proposal, using Indesign, that I emailed to the Manager, which covers my design idea process from start to finish.

This process was an opportunity for me to create good design within existing spaces, taking into consideration the wants and needs of the staff employed on site. A specification was that the existing furniture and flooring would need to stay, based on that principal I chose colours and designs to fit. If eventually they do go ahead with my ideas I would propose they look at changing the furniture and encourage that they have new flooring installed to compliment the colour scheme of all the rooms.

Reflecting on my feedback for Assignment Five

Making an Intervention

On the whole my Tutor noted that I was making some interesting choices for this final part of the unit and that I have shown evidence of the resulting design draws from my previous study.

I now need to consider how my research can be presented for assessment to show evidence of how it has informed my development of the design, which is all embedded in my learning log but I will have to make the right choices to enable the assessor to understand my process of working.

My tutor noted that the idea of a basketry exhibition space was a unique approach to the idea of merging practices and that maybe my exhibition space would benefit from adding further partitions to enable to visitor to walk the path I intend for them to follow when experiencing the space, so I have added a wall of baskets as a border to guide the visitor to the left side of the exhibition.

I have pushed myself with the technical drawings, having only learned Autocad last year I’m proud of what I have produced this time. I have learned so much over the last six months with this final unit and my tutor noted that it’s good to see how I have communicated my ideas. I now need to be sure that the drawings are labelled correctly, showing the right scale and check the thickness of the wall in my section drawing. I have revisited these areas and corrected them. I have also revisited my images and taken photographs of them in the natural light. More often than not I’m studying during the evening and so rely on artificial light, which I can see is not complimentary at all and so will continue to take photo’s during the day.

To improve my work I must consider how my work can be presented more clearly to showcase the narrative of the design, with this in mind I revisited the exercise, compiling content, and described the space in a clearer way whilst also adding elements that will be needed to support this to the list.

My tutor also noted that I am showing thoughtful consideration of the coursework in my learning log but that I could benefit from further organising with hierarchy. I have revisited some of my work to organise my notes moving forward, which I will continue to do. This way of organising my thoughts is so much easier, saving time for being creative with my studies!

Going forward I have made a list to help organise my thoughts and actions

  • continue to back up my written work with images or diagrams
  • be more experimental with how I communicate my ideas
  • continue to organise my reflection for easier reference

I will continue to look at ways of improving my work and ideas as I move forward to year 2 and build on my knowledge gained so far.

Assignment Five: Designing from your Brief-Exhibition +

Using the brief that I wrote in Part 3 and the list of content from exercise 4, I have designed an Exhibition Space, mostly for elements of display but a smaller space for a different purpose that compliments the exhibition. In the design brief I listed objectives in order of hierarchy with sub headings of style and practicality. I have also communicated my ideas through some technical drawings, visuals and a scale model.

My exhibition space will exhibit basketry designs from around the world, the additional space will be a sensorial space where you can walk through to get to the main exhibition, on the way you can experience images of basketry and sounds from the native countries where the basketry is made through soundscape art.

Firstly, I made a series of sketches of the whole space within the building, this includes the exhibition space, the additional space, the kitchen, toilets and lobby entrance. I sketched a plan drawing which I then annotated. I added a piece of tracing paper on top of this drawing which I used to add measurements in red pen. I then added a further piece of tracing paper on which I made a series of block shapes to show where the display cabinets and floor blocks will sit within the space. I then drew a pathway with a continuous line and arrows showing the journey through the space.

I also made a 1:50 scale model of the space. Firstly I measured the floor area and sketched a rough idea of where the cabinets and display furniture will be placed. I then added walls using white card, sketched windows on the walls and cut out squares that would represent the panes of glass. I raided the lego box once again to add black blocks to represent the display cabinets, white blocks for the floor displays and foam board for the display boards. I purposely cut out window panes so that I could capture the sun-path through photographs, with a glass roof natural light would flood through the building and windows giving the overall effect I wanted to create.

Whilst making these drawings I was conscious of the previous exercises where I learned about hard and soft entrances and creating a pathway around the exhibition which demonstrates the direction to take to fully appreciate and understand the narrative of my exhibition. After walking through the calm, softly lit additional space of the sensory room, you will enter the exhibition through a soft entrance and immediately be drawn to the natural light coming through the glass roof and windows.

Fig. 2 – Annotated photograph of the model exhibition space
A sketch of how one end of the exhibition would look
A visual of how one end of the exhibition space would look
A sketch of the items that would be on display in the Exhibition

Here are some sketches of the additional sensory space.

First attempt at sketching the additional exhibition space in perspective
Second attempt at sketching the additional exhibition space in perspective, added fineliner to emphasise the frames and borders
Annotated sketch of the additional exhibition space in perspective

I then created a digital image of the sensorial space using Adobe Photoshop, this space will give a taste of the world of basketry, with images and text. There will also be a film shown on the projector screen of the World Initiatives of basketry making.

Digital image of the sensorial space

The final part of the assignment was to produce technical drawings of the whole design at a scale of 1:50 in plan, section and elevation with an additional plan drawing of the exhibition space only, at a scale of 1:20.

Images

Fig. 1 – Sketches of the exhibition space

Fig. 2 – Annotated photograph of the model exhibition space

Exhibition sketches and ideas

Throughout this part of the unit and the lead up to designing an Exhibition space I’ve always known that I wanted to create an organic, natural exhibit of designs. I have researched so many exhibits online and visited a few in the last few years and the idea of having ancient craft still being designed today exhibited alongside new and inventive graphics compliment each other, as long as this is done well. My concept sketches and ideas are below, I have changed the space slightly by increasing the sizes of the WC’s, lobby entrance area and the doorways to allow for wheelchair accessibility.

Looking back at Assignment Three where I wrote a brief for a multidisciplinary interior design project, I have also revisited this brief and added more information to it. Originally I didn’t consider a few things such as the interactive elements, the soundscape art and projector that will be in the additional space leading to the main exhibition, a zine introducing the visitor to the space, photographs and wayfinding signs. With this in mind I added the additional information to my brief which now builds a better picture of what my client can expect.

I sketched the plan firstly, added annotation and then added tracing paper and made notes of the sizes for each space, all the time being aware of the needs of accessibility for a wheelchair user. I then added another piece of tracing paper to highlight the journey throughout the exhibition in red pen. I also did a sketch of how I would like the designs to be displayed and then a visual of how one end of the exhibition space could look like. There are so many aspects to designing an exhibition, I have learned to break those pieces down and research each one individually so that it comes together at the end. I also sketched a view of the additional space looking towards the entrance to the exhibition, with frames that would entail typography and basketry history. The projector on the left wall would project images onto the right wall of the basketry initiatives, this will give the visitor a sneak preview of what to expect when they walk around the main exhibition.

A sketch of how one end of the exhibition would look
A visual of how one end of the exhibition space would look
A sketch of the items that would be on display in the Exhibition

My sketching skills have improved slightly! Once I had finished the first sketch I held it away from me and knew it didn’t quite look right, then I realised that the right hand side of the sketch wasn’t quite drawn at the right angle, the balance was all wrong.

First attempt at sketching the additional exhibition space in perspective

So I took a spare piece of paper and placed it on the far right angle, I then proceeded to sketch a better perspective, I think I’ve captured it a little better in the second image. By adding fine liner in black around the wall edges and frames emphasises those particular areas.

Second attempt at sketching the additional exhibition space in perspective, added fineliner to emphasise the frames and borders

I pushed my creativity design skills a little further by adding the image to Adobe Indesign software, I then placed text in white boxes to label the contents of the room, creating a mixed media piece.

World Basketry Initiatives

The craft of basket making occupies a very special place in the cultural heritage around the world and brings a community of skilled craftspeople to make a wide spectrum of baskets, from the utilitarian and
functional to the contemporary and sculptural. I have researched some very interesting initiatives from around the world.

Operation Planet Basket are a large ecosystem restoration initiative based in Idonesia. They are a small but critical part of a larger project, the Katingan Project which is an important rainforest ERC (Eco System Restoration Concession). They aim to create vital revenue for people who would otherwise have little or no alternative to illegal logging, clearing forest for palm oil cultivation or poaching endangered species including orangutan, pangolin, cloud leopards and orchids. The Katingan Peatland Restoration and Conservation Project ERC is based on the premise that large areas of peat swamp forest in Indonesian Borneo can be saved, which then offers local people a sustainable source of income, tackle global climate change and base this on a solid business model.

The project group work with indigenous Dayaks and other farmers living in and around the rain forests of Indonesia who for centuries have cultivated rattan vines and used the strength of rattan to fashion wicker baskets made to last in an extreme environment. By working directly with the local community, the project helps them maximise their rattan resources, whilst making sure the baskets don’t cost a lot of money. The main support behind the project is Emily Readett-Bayley, who for many years has pioneered the concept of stylish design and exceptional craftsmanship with an ethical policy. She has taken this idea and works with artisan crafters with sustainable agro-forestry, preserving the traditional skills and heritage of the indigenous people living in and around the forest.

ITC are an ethical fashion initiative, called Hadithi, made up of a female collective of over 1,700 basket weavers and artisans that use their skills to help with the conservation of their environment. The organisation currently supports 61 women’s groups that make handicrafts throughout the Kasigau region in south-eastern Kenya and, in doing so, complements larger conservation initiatives in the area. The artisans are expert weavers that use their skills to create one of a kind baskets. This is a sustainable alternative to charcoal production, basket weaving results in more trees, enabling conservation of a threatened forest and wildlife. It also means there is less pressure on farming and gives local people the ability to sustain their families with an income from the sales of baskets whilst living within the ecosystem. 

Hadithi have partnered with Wildlife Works, a conservation-focused company that creates jobs for citizens in the area and provides both direct and indirect benefits to communities from carbon financing through forest protection. The driving force behind all biodiversity conservation efforts in the Kasigau region, Wildlife Works, is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) management company. Theirs is a successful initiative that allows landowners in the developing world to monetise their forest and the natural assets that come with it and because nature conservation is as much a collective effort as it is an individual work, conservation efforts are shared between the local community and female artisans do their part through basket weaving.

Endangered Baskets is a heritage basketry group based in the UK. Based on the embedded skills and techniques of basketry including the knowledge about growing, harvesting, storage and preparation, baskets are part of the local culture and history, this information tells us about the basketry traditions, rituals, aspirations and experiences. By revealing stories of heritage basketry the forms and skills tell us much more about the richness of the UK’s cultural heritage.

This project is a partnership between the Basketmakers’ Association, the Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers and the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) where together they aim to not only raise awareness of the endangered skills but to build on the existing research and help communities work on preserving and protecting that knowledge.

Crafts Council Nederland are a platform that presents a series of talks all about basketry. The talks are about Dutch basketry, the global basketry, connecting and appropriation and the future of basketry. They have speakers that talk about the craft and they hope that this way it will improve the socio-economic position of weavers on the Italian island of Sardinia. The variety of techniques and materials and the many possibilities show us that the technique is still a source of knowledge, creativity and innovation to this day.

CCNL is the initiator of a great and growing community of craftsman, museums and educational institutions. Each party involved builds a link in the transition to a new form of meaning within the sector. Through CCNL the sector becomes a national and international contact point where they can help connect people who still have crafting knowledge and people who want learn from it, is the natural result of our work.

Smithsonian American Art Museum, SAAM, has a collection of American baskets, A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection. It explores the revival of traditional basketry in America during the past fifty years through works by 63 contemporary basketmakers. They were all made between 1983 and 2011, the 105 baskets on display demonstrate the endurance of indigenous, African, and European basket-weaving traditions in the United States as well as interpretations of the craft by individual makers.

The basketmakers that have taken part in the exhibition, have mostly done so with un-dyed native materials such as grasses, trees, vines and bark, all of which they have gathered by hand. They explain how when gathering their materials, that the preparation of the materials is just as important to their process as weaving and acts that connect their finished products to the surrounding environment.

Basketry material

I have researched the different materials used to make basketry and listed a few here.

Pine has always been used by the American Indians, taken from the longleaf piney woods forest of Louisiana. In Louisiana there are three regions that have been historically longleaf pine. Much of the longleaf pine was harvested in the early 1900’s and replanted with the faster growing loblolly and slash pine.

Fig. 1 – An example of a basket made from pine needs by the American Indians

Coiled straw baskets were made from a need to provide a variety of containers for domestic and agricultural purposes and straw was a readily available and low-cost raw material that was used to make robust baskets. They would have been made all over the UK but they are particularly associated with Scotland and Wales.

Fig. 2 – A collection of coiled basketry made from straw

Willow was often used by the Romans for basketmaking. Britain was renowned for skilled basketry, and large quantities were exported to Rome. Somerset, with wetlands suitable for willow beds, was the heart of Britain’s willow industry.

Wicker Coffins | Somerset Willow Coffins™
Fig. 3 – A traditional willow coffin made in Somerset, UK.

White oak (Quercus alba) is one of the most common basketmaking materials in the upland southern region of the United States. Where most basket weavers use flat splits to construct their wares, during the 19th and 20th centuries, makers in Southern Indiana produced baskets out of thin oak splits that makers pulled through iron dies to render them round.

Fig. 4 – White Oak traditionally made in South America

Hazel basketry was a traditional rural Welsh craft, practiced often by farmers for own use, with limited opportunities for marketing. Hazel is susceptible to woodworm so old examples are hard to find.

Fig. 5 – An example of Hazel basketry, a traditional Welsh craft

Most basketry weavers will add a colour to their designs, most of the materials will take naturally to the dye but some won’t. Some will need a bonding agent called a tannic acid to help with the process. The weavers dye the material first before weaving and use chemical compounds called alum, as well as tannin, which is natural micro nutrient found in plants, bark, wood, seeds, leaves and fruit skins.

Images

Fig. 1 – An example of a basket made from pine needles by the American Indians https://www.randolphartsguild.com/pine-needle-basket-from-the-native-american-tradition/ (accessed 12.1.22)

Fig. 2 – A collection of coiled basketry made from straw https://www.bada.org/object/collection-welsh-straw-baskets (accessed 12.1.22)

Fig. 3 – A traditional willow coffin made in Somerset, UK https://www.somersetwillowcoffins.co.uk/ (accessed 12.1.22)

Fig. 4 – White Oak traditionally made in South America https://jaskets.blogspot.com/2009/06/gregory-baskets.html (accessed 12.1.22)

Fig. 5 – An example of Hazel basketry, a traditional Welsh craft https://www.newalesheritageforum.org.uk/en/a077-hazel-basket/ (accessed 12.1.22)