Douglas and Bec


Today we were introduced to our first Studio 4 project, ‘Materials do Matter’ which is in collaboration with the famous New Zealand Design Firm Douglas and Bec. We were even lucky enough to have Rebecca Dowie visit and talk to us.

In this project we have been tasked to ‘design an innovative functional object that in its use of materials and form reflects high local design values’.

Good luck to myself!

I also visited the Douglas and Bec store in Ponsonby with Mat, Selina, Sidd and Ben to get a better idea of what Rebecca expects. We also to the opportunity to visit other design stores in the Ponsonby area including seeing some iconic pieces from alessi, Phillip Stark and Michael Graves. It was a valuable experience because I was able to see for myself the details and finishes of objects and being able to interact with it helped me to understand the level of refinement that goes into making a single piece. Here are some photos from the adventure.

The gangPaper WeightKnife Holder  500D Mirror  20150720_124722 Knife

In this project we have been asked to look at the health and wellbeing aspect of people’s who participate in any of the following areas:

-urban cycling,

-rural cycling

-snowboarding or

-boot camp training

and consider a proposed intervention that would help increase safety or simply benefit the wellbeing of those people’s. In doing so we would consider would-be clients such as Avanti and Ground Effect groups for their respective cycling groups, Snowplanet for snownboarding or BootIt etc for boot camp training. 


At the start of today, before the lecture, I had already decided I would do the cycling option but after a little research I found that the idea I had in mind had already been done. Now I am a little unsure whether to continue cycling or look at the boot camp option and possible opportunities that may be plausible in that area.

So this year of Product Design started off in an quite interesting way. Camp.

Firstly, before I continue I would like to state my papers for this first semester. As per last year I have three papers per semester and for this semester I have Product Design Studio 3, Theory and Context and Computer Aided Design (CAD). 

For Studio our first assignment is to design a product or solution whatever form it may be, for the New Zealand outdoor campany Kathmandu. For that we went on a camping trip as part of ethnographic research, to get a better understanding of the camping experience including the processes involved (e.g. packing/unpacking).

For Theory and Context as part of our first assignment we are tasked with giving up a designed thing for a week and to observe how it affects our lives e.g. my wallet, then to write about it.

For CAD we are being introduced to the design/engineering software Solidworks. On the first week we have just completed a few basics tasks and have been asked to do more independent ‘tinkering’ in our own time.


What is the relationship between consumerism and Design?

What is consumerism?
Consumerism is the multifaceted relationships that exist between merchants, consumers and a product or service, and the consequences of those relationships. The exact definition of Consumerism has changed over time from America’s single definition to the current three (Spark, 2013). According to the article by Robert Crocker (2013) and the Free Dictionary (2013), the three current definitions of consumerism are that it is (a) a movement seeking to protect and inform the consumer by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees and improved safety standards, (b) the theory that progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial, and that it is c) an attachment to materialistic values and possessions.
What is design?
Design is the discipline that helps bridge the gap between creative ideas and innovation in the real world. It is involved in investigating abstract possibilities and then bringing them into a more tangible form that is appealing to potential clients.

Design is also attributed as being naturally human centered, designed with the intension of being beneficial to people. Designers are often characterised as being self-obsessed but the contrary is true. Designers design for the benefit of the user, whether the user is aware of the design aspects employed or not.

Design also consists of various types of designs and designers. Some designers design to make everyday objects more appealing, at the aesthetics level. Other designers design at a more functional level with human-centeredness in mind such as the zigway by Dean Karmen (Mau, 2004). Other designers such as Jamie Lerner design at a system level where their considerations of human centeredness are concerned with how to make a system that corresponds with needs of the people (Mau, 2004). These systems include transport and city traffic flow but also could include business models.

What is the relationship that exists between design and consumerism?

Design existing between the realization of an idea, and in the case of consumerism a product, it has become a ‘cog’ for increasing product consumption. Different designs make common objects more appealing which increases consumptions. Designs that improve an objects function or provides new capabilities also serve to increase the objects rate of consumption by the public.


1. Crocker, R. (2013). From access to excess: Consumerism, ‘compulsory’ consumption and behaviour change. In R. Crocker & S. Lehmann (Eds.), motivating change: Sustainable design and behaviour in the Built Environment (pp. 11- 32). London. New York: Earthscan.
2. Sparke, Penny, Jan 04, 2013, An introduction to Design and Culture: 1900 to Present Taylor and Francis, Hoboken, ISBN: 9781136474101
3. Website retrieved on the 8th September 2013
4. Mau, Bruce. (2004). Massive Change Bruce mau and the institute without boundaries. Phaidon Press Limited, Regents Whalf, London

Discarded Pine Wood + Discarded Aluminium Cans + Design = Desktop Stationery Holder!

To properly reflect on the whole Material Reuse project I feel it is appropriate to briefly state the aims of the project. The brief asked us to undertake methods pertaining to the ‘design process’ to transform a maximum of two waste materials into a functional object that is aesthetically pleasing whilst at the same time evoking an interest in a nearby attraction. We were further encouraged to celebrate the aesthetic value of the materials in our products, to use it in a way that best showed off its qualities e.g. the grain of a wood, the bumps on steel, the tread on a tyre or the textures in the braiding of a rope. Furthermore we were told that the final products we present should not look like trash. Ok, those are pretty narrow boundaries to work within, but ok, and I did, as the whole class did, work within in those boundaries. Also, for this to be a true materials reuse project to me I had to not use any new materials, no extra new add ons, the exceptions being the workshop tools. If I wanted to use electronics, or anything for that matter, I had to source it out of the waste bins, no short-cutting, if it is to be something I am to be pleased to show off.

This project did not go well. The first mistake, and most crucial, was reading the old Material Reuse brief from 2012 or 2011, and the mistakes cascaded from there. I mismanaged my time overlooked many aspects of the brief and overshot others.

The final result of the project is overall very disappointing but there are some aspects which I am pleased about. I am pleased with the design of the final product, a desktop stationery holder, but I am appalled with my execution of the whole idea as well as the other aspects surrounding it, such as the portfolio. The design is more complex than is immediately obvious. The simple form of the three letters ‘reo’ hides it functions; the ‘r’ is a sculptural paper weight, the ‘e’ is a letter and pen/pencil holder that can double in capacity when needed, and the ‘o’ is a stationery holder that can hold siccors, pens, pencils etc. with two hidden compartments for usbs and other knick knacks on a desktop. The execution of the design is lacking. There should be a way to lock the usb compartments in place to stop them from moving unnecessary. The ‘e’ should be weighted down at its base to make it less flimsy, and each of the parts sanded down to a level surface as well as the non moving parts connect and held together and the moving parts held together too. The finish can do with a more impeccable and wax and polish. Also, I could have chosen materials that are more a recycling problem.

The Material Reuse project was a very challenging and very demanding project. Though I feel very disappointed with the project overall, I know I have learnt a great deal about myself. To do better next time I am going to thoroughly read through the brief, to properly understand it, before moving on and to keep referring to it. Time Management is also a key aspect of the project that I need to work on a lot.

Made from discarded pine wood and aluminium sheets from aluminium cans.

Today at around 10am we started the presentations starting with Josh we proceeded down in alphabetical order. For my presentation I did not have a slideshow, a video or even a packaging for my product. I only had my product, which I had finished as far as I could. I placed it on a white cardboard background because I had found out the night before that it lightened the overall tone of the wood and in doing so made more visible the grain of the pine wood. My presentation did not go well. Despite repeating in my head the points I wanted to cover before hand, when I had to pitch I panicked and forgot it. I felt distracted, in large part because I had not completed so much of the project and that my design has the potential to be really nice, aesthetically as well as functionally if it had been completed properly. I have learnt a lot about my self from this project, chief amongst them is my critical need to manage my time.


On Saturday I continued to do my portfolio and at the same time to finish my final product. I am pissed off that I left it so last minute. With my final design I wanted to show that the product is made of discarded pine wood and aluminium cans from the rubbish bin, and not just show but celebrate the materials by bringing out and highlighting the most appealing properties of the materials. I did this by showing the growth rings of the pine wood and then sanding, waxing and polishing it to a finish that, best shown with the ‘R’, highlighted the pines natural beauty. With Aluminium (Al) I sanded it and polished it to show the metals natural mirror-like finish. I have achieved this to a certain degree but with the extremely short time I have left I have had to make a few compromises in the finishes in many places in the final product. Currently I am trying  desperately to finish my portfolio and packaging, which have and will suffer in quality due in large part to the time I have dedicated to the product. 


Photo: The final product ‘reo’.


Photo: ‘reo’ links back to the Auckland City Library.













Photo: The inspiration for my product, the word ‘reo’ in front of the Auckland city library.


Photo: The inspiration for my product, the word ‘reo’ in front of the Auckland city library.


Photo: The inspiration for my product, the word ‘reo’ in front of the Auckland city library.


Photo: The prototypes.