6 Things I learned from Designing a Business

IMG_2037Typically, companies keep design activities and business strategy separate (Harvard Business Review, 2007). In fact, a new product based on the company strategy is usually conceptualised by the marketing sector; the team of the project consists of various fields of the company to fulfil the business case; and senior executives make a final decision from among feasibilities and possibilities. Because of this, the role of designers may be to beautify ideas which follow the sequential steps with the organisational strategy. However, the line between services and products has become misty because of user preferences changing and customers’ demands evolving (Brown, 2009, pp.178-179). In fact, in the creative and innovative generation, successful design can be measured by diverse perspectives such as satisfying the usability, inspiring human experience, and branding the value (Esslinger, 2009, p.xii). Therefore, being design-driven is not just making attractive products. It relates how a designer and even a company to embed the culture to deliver the positive emotional thought to customers (Lee, n.d. cited in Brunner, Emery and Hall, 2009, p.i). Moreover, in order to adapt to the changeable market and the multi-cultural society, designers should not only work in parallel with other corporate sectors but also take part in the procedure at the beginning stages from concept brainstorming through the development of materialising to the final product launch (Harvard Business Review, 2007). For this reason, through building our start-up, BAGBOY FASHION, and personal networking via social media, I learned by doing, not only developing my capabilities but also enriching my practical experience and theoretical knowledge.
There are 6 things I realise to achieve my aim – not just be a designer, to be an integrator in the design process:


Culture and Communication
Collaborative working increases multiple capacities and expertise, encouraging creativity and productivity (Bright Hub, 2010). Therefore, MACE students come from different countries, diverse background, and varied speciality. However, because culture influences and shapes how people think, collaboration may bring inevitable challenges such as complex decision-making and everyone not being same position sometimes (Learning Pool, 2011). In fact, in a team, we should not favour to one of two sides, just following others or being individual. Therefore, understanding assorted thinking and distinct personalities is the primary mission for us to communicate and cooperate smoothly. During the collaborative process in BAGBOY FASHION, we shared the ideas and attempted to balance opposite opinions. Indeed, I learned to respect different viewpoints and compromise dissimilar logic because of culture diversity. In particular, how to communicate is the essential issue. How to clearly express my opinion but not straight refute other people is the skill we need to learn. Corrine said that the tactic is like when you meet your friend, you need to follow their steps first and then turn to the direction you want instead of turning immediately when meeting them.

Moreover, when working on our business, I strongly realised that the role of each person in a team cannot be substituted. As we played Personality Poker in the induction of MACE, the guest lecturer, Vali Lalioti, pointed out the relationship between leadership and innovation. In fact, a well-structure team may necessitate analytical people, creative people, structural people, and engaging heart people. In my experience, working with people who own similar personality can easily convey the information, but we may lapse into disorientation because no one can jump out of the box. Although some people prefer to work with similar characteristic teammate, it is not denying that a balance of complementary individualities and the specialisation of members make for an effective and efficient team (99U, 2013).

Observation and Human-centred consideration
Current design is based on human-centred factor emphasising user experience, human behaviour, and market demands (Brown, 2009, pp.229-230). Indeed, Kolko and Connors (2010, p.5) states that a product may connect with experiences and interactions. Therefore, a dialogue between people and the object, service, or even system is created by design (Kolko and Connors, 2010, p.11). Because of this, intensive observation plays a significant role when designing products. In order to seek the inspiration of our product, we started to take notice of our life and attempted to identify the real problem locally. Although doing survey is one of the direct methods to understand customers’ behaviour, the result was not really helpful as we thought because how we ask people relates their answer. Furthermore, people usually do not really observe and understand themselves. For example, the reality of how long do people take a shower is less than they thought. Thus, through observation relying on quality not quantity, we can watch what people do not do and listen to what they do not say (Brown, 2009, pp.43-48). In terms of design thinking, as we were required to be blind, deaf, and disable people in the beginning of last term, we must place ourselves in other’s position to observe and then design. Because of this, we noticed the inconvenience of holding list when people purchased and the shopping cart with the board in Waitrose so that we invented BAGBOY with magnet. However, this design may not suit for other countries. In other words, when designing products for geographic regions and multiple cultures, the project team should conduct audience observation and research in various locations (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.93-94). Overall, design thinking translates observation into insights which are infused into products and service to effect people’s life instead of changing their behaviour directly. Because just changing consumers’ behaviour is difficult, one way to encourage people to undertake something new is to be familiar with their experience (Brown, 2009, pp.118-120).


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas A. Edison


An experimental attitude leads design thinking to discover the novel direction, explore the original solutions, and recognise valuable possibilities (Brown, 2009, pp.71-75). During the manufacturing procedure, we met several challenges. Firstly, although the backgrounds of all my teammates are related to design, in reality, design concerns various fields such as product design, graphic design, and interior design. However, fashion design is the unfamiliar territory for us. Not only we did not have knowledge of fabric and skills of sewing but also the logic from 2D to 3D of making a bag differs from making a product or construct an architecture model. Therefore, we continued to experiment via learning-by-doing to comprehend the relationship between fabric attribution and practical manufacturing. Furthermore, after we made the final design decision about BAGBOY, unfortunately, the fabric we chose had sold out and would not be produced anymore. Nevertheless, because of looking replaced fabric, we have transformed the threat to the opportunity which was four colour design for BAGBOY. Indeed, design process encompassing creative thinking and problem-solving actions may encounter unanticipated situation (Bruce and Bessant, 2002, p.153). For this reason, flexibility for solving problems profits the development of products and the potential of business. Indeed, problem-solving bottoms upon experimentation to achieve creativity and innovation (Brown, 2009, pp.71-75).


Networking – It is not about what you know, but who you know (Forbes, 2012)
Due to advanced technology, social networks enable us to easily and conveniently connect to each other in this interactive society (Fast Company, 2014). On the part of individual growth, being an international student here, I am surprised that networking has a consequential and visible presence at school, differing from my country. Originally, I was not a person talking actively. But after several occasions and the dragon’s den, I noticed a delicate change in my behaviour. In the pitch workshop, we were required to talk with other students we did not know before in few minutes. In fact, I was confident to be the person who started the conversation. As Fast Company reports (2014), the positive attitude and the courage of jumping into the social life can build our own work, bridging other people and us. Moreover, in terms of business operation, we did not familiarise with fashion design before so that we tried to find the resource and to learn to produce BAGBOY. At this moment, the importance and contribution of networking can be seen during the whole process of our business such as importing cheaper components from our home town, producing the bag by fashion students we knew, and taking the professional pictures with models. Indeed, the best harvest of networking is meeting the heroes who help our project. Although we might be not a master of fashion design, but we start to enter fashion world. For this reason, spending 15 minutes sharing and interacting with social networks may change our career (Fast Company, 2014). Therefore, networking is not just a medium of promoting ourselves, it is a process of interaction and cooperation to acquire information to achieve our goals.

Storytelling – Brighten a product, a brand, and even a person
I was really impressed when Corrine told the story of her shoes made by her grandma. In fact, stories not only are the natural form for people to process information but also stimulate people’s imagination and curiosity (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.76-78). The way of the description linking the customers’ experience and their emotion will affect the success of the product. Because of this, I realised that a narrative product which has the meaningful implication standing behind can touch people’s heart and get their attention. In particular, Weinschenk (2011, pp.79-81) mentions ‘people learn best by example’. For this reason, when selling BAGBOY and shooting the advertising, we shown the dilemma when shopping and the usage of BAGBOY for customers to convince them. In general, a great branding which combines with emotional stories and functional demonstration can bring customers into the scenario to link their mind and experience in reality (Lucente, n.d. cited in Brunner, Emery and Hall, 2009, p.i). With respect to teamwork, I tried to use pictures to describe my opinions because visual narration assists me to capture the attention of audiences. Indeed, people can recognise patterns faster and easier (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.7-8). Through drawing, I figured out the structure and details of my ideas. Overall, visual thinking via sketch simultaneously reveal functional features and emotional contents although verbal and number can also deliver precisely (Brown, 2009, pp.80-81). Above all, stories which we are immersed in may work. The key is how to tell a story.

In addition to storytelling, social media is one of the platform to convey our brief. In recent years, we can manage and maintain individual and organisational networking via social media such as the blog and the website. It inspires me to think what is an attractive web page for audiences. Not only the meaningful contents but also visual attraction can engage people to follow our business and articles. Firstly, we need to perceive what the purpose of our promotion is. According to Weinschenk (2011, pp.43-44), people read one single wide column (100 characters per line) easier and faster because of less interference. However, they prefer to read a shorter line length (45 characters per line) with multiple columns (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.43-44). Furthermore, when designing a logo for the business, the typeface influences the impression of customers for the company. For this reason, the typeface of web page may evoke the audience mood, the brand image, or relevant association. The fonts we use for web page should be readable and appreciatively express the invisible feeling. For example, although capitals letters can catch audience eyes, some people could not read by using capitals for all context which is perceived as shouting (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.30-32). Therefore, the layout of web page can represent our personality and attitude. Indeed, using social media in suitable way can motivate the networking and benefit to build our reputation.

In conclusion, through this module, I firmly believe the importance of human-centred thinking for designers. Design is not just attractive shape. The best ideas emerge from an integrated team which may include designers, engineers, and managers (Brown, 2009, p.73). Good design is redefined as aesthetic functionality which fascinates people to use them comfortably and permeates into their life naturally. In order to fulfil physical demand and psychological intention, brainstorming base on multiple perspectives and user experience is necessary. Not only the collaborative team boosts the group performance, but also I can get energy from other teammates. Indeed, sharing is the fundamental pathway for learning in the knowledge economy. Moreover, there is a reciprocality between business and design. We need to control time within the schedule and manage the budget of production. Through practical activities, I cultivated design thinking in manufacturing, marketing, and management. Designing a business focusing on knowledge profundity and strengthening the learning extent enables me to be an all-round designer who competitively possesses design thinking, multiple abilities, and flexible attitude in the future. At least but not last, to confidently appreciate our own advantages and attract other people to discover our beauty and value.

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Reference list:
Brown, T. (2009) Change by Design. New York: HarperCollins.

Bright Hub (2010) Collaboration at Work: A Look at the Pros and Cons. Available at: http://www.brighthub.com/office/collaboration/articles/73856.aspx (Accessed: 18 April 2014).

Bruce, M. and Bessant, J. (2002) Design a Business. Essex: Pearson Educaion Limited.

Brunner, R., Emery, S. and Hall, R. (2009) Design matters: How great design will make people love your company. Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Esslinger, H. (2009) A fine line. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fast Company (2014) The 15-Minute Daily Habit That Will Change Your Career. Available at: http://www.fastcompany.com/3028112/agendas/the-15-minute-daily-habit-that-will-change-your-career?utm_source (Accessed: 3 March 2014).

Forbes (2012) It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know? Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/tykiisel/2012/05/02/have-you-got-klout/ (Accessed: 18 April 2014).

Harvard Business Review (2007) Innovate Faster by Melding Design and Strategy. Available at: http://hbr.org/2007/09/innovate-faster-by-melding-design-and-strategy/ar/1 (Accessed: 17 April 2014).

Kolko, J. and Connors, C. (2010) Thoughts on Interaction Design. [Online]. Available at: http://www.kingston.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=631962 (Accessed: 10 April 2014).

Learning Pool (2011) Five benefits and five challenges of collaborative working. Available at: http://www.learningpool.com/five-benefits-and-five-challenges-of-collaborative-working/ (Accessed: 18 April 2014).

Weinschenk, S.M. (2011) 100 Things every designer needs to know about people. Berkeley: New Riders.

99U (2013) 9 Facts Every Creative Needs to Know About Collaborative Teams. Available at: http://99u.com/articles/16850/everything-youve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-teams (Accessed: 18 April 2014).

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After I saw one little girl’s painting…


“Imagination is the mother of originality.
We encourage imagination in every way possible.”
— Harry Gordon Selfridge

Actually, people may be trained to accumulate knowledge and to complete tasks by talents or skills. But is it possible to provide an activity, a program, or education for imagination and even creativity? Can imagination and creativity be trained or taught? Guilford (1950), as cited by Fasko (2001), stated that a creative behaviour is an example of learning. So, the comprehensive learning may benefit insight, imaginative thought, and creative performance (Guilford, 1950, cited in Fasko, 2001).

Indeed, Piaget (1962), the renowned child psychologist, said that ‘Play is the work of childhood’. Learning to walk, to talk, to sing songs, and to play games: every stage is creative and imaginative for children. When we are playing, we are constructing our imagination, sharing our creativity, and then reflecting both of them (euronews, 2013). The education is just a medium which builds a learning environment, a sharing opportunity, and an effective platform. Above all, the substance of creativity emphasises freedom and freshness which is often unexpected and exciting. Therefore, I think that creativity is not a skill, it make use of intellect and competency emerging in different ways and breaking conventional rules.

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The limitation is only defined by ourselves. 
We can make our imagination come true, even a child. 
Just do it, follow our mind!

Reference list:
euronews (2013) Creative thinking: new ideas in education. Available at: http://www.euronews.com/2013/12/20/creative-thinking-new-ideas-in-education/ (Accessed: 22 April 2014).

Fasko, D. (2001) ‘Education and Creativity’, Creativity Research Journal, 13(3-4), pp.317-327, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. [Online]. Available at: http://www.jarwan-center.com/download/english_books/english_research_studies/Education%20and%20creativity.pdf (Accessed: 22 April 2014).

Piaget, J. (1962) Play, Dreams, andImitation in Childhood. New York: W. W. Norton& compagny.

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Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined

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It is a sensory-spatial experience I never have.

We sleep, work, and live in sorts of architecture. Buildings are not just practical, functional, and aesthetic. Indeed, they are the ever-present background representing the footprint of history, the existence of culture, and the record of life. We experience buildings through inhabiting them and moving within and around them. We react consciously or not, to the spatial relationships, materials, sounds, smells, vistas, and volumes. When we are engaged physically with space, it also informs our memories and habits. Therefore, how do spaces shape our lives? How does architecture make us feel? How do the human body and senses respond to the spaces? Sensing Spaces which creates the new space within a traditional space evokes the awareness and the power of architecture via experience and sensation. Each of architects bring a particular sensibility shaped by the places and cultures to connect with the human spirit.

There are three factors which interact with the exhibition:
。the nature of physical spaces
。our perception of them
。their evocative power

Installation by Diébédo Francis Kéré 2014-04-04 16.01.09 2014-04-04 15.57.34

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It is a magical and charming environment. When I entered this space, I got a glint in my eye because I saw that everyone just attempted to throw their creation made by straws at the tunnel regardless of age, gender, and dress. “The point is to try and be a child again — then I feel my brain connected to the structure” Diébédo Francis Kéré (n.d., cited in Clark, 2014) explains. The straws bridge the relationship between the space and audiences. It is an alive space where changes every second and people can build their own space with pleasure and creativity. I think that this piece truly fulfils the brief of Sensing Spaces.

Blue Pavilion by Pezo von Ellrichshausen

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This piece faithfully presents the interaction between human and space, time, or other people. People can visit the historical gallery from different perspectives 


say hello to others and observe people in different levels via this platform.IMG_2062


Installation by Eduardo Souto de Moura

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The brief of the work is that architecture requires continuity. We may follow the previous work which have been done. The most important factor is transforming to create new value by using different materials and methods. However, there is a controversial issue of originality. As mentioned by Pagel (2014), although creativity is an evolution, sometimes we combine ideas to make new things through copying, tinkering, or playing. So, where is the line between imitation and originality within creativity?

Installation by Kengo Kuma

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Architecture builds the atmosphere. Close your eyes and draw a deep breath when arriving home, you may feel ‘Yeah, it is my room’. Or sometime the smell would remind your memory and experience in the particular environment.

Installation by Li Xiaodong

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When entering this space, you may lose your way and then try to find the direction. You cannot expect who will you meet in this forest. Relation and transition are not isolated so that this space addresses the human spirit and nature harmoniously. Indeed, architecture is a medium bringing people together. His another architecture, Liyuan Library, is also based on this concept: not intrude on nature but complement it.

Installation by Grafton Architects

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Light is the ingredient of the space. How to be aware and how to change and move it? It can effect the interaction with the people position. Using the skylight, we can feel different atmosphere with shadow and light at different positions and different time of day.

In the exhibition, I could not see any drawings, photographs, and models to directly realise the existence of architecture. Some people may think it is too conceptual. But in reality, I really felt the value and meaning of the surrounding via practical exploration and imaginative experience. As Pezo von Ellrichshausen states, “Good architecture is often invisible, but it allows whatever is happening in the space to be the best experience possible.” It is a simple but critical exhibition that impresses and inspires people to re-think and re-notice what architecture is.

Reference List:
Clark, L. (2014) RA’s Sensing Spaces asks what makes architecture a human experience. Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-01/21/royal-academy-sensing-spaces-review (Accessed: 20 April 2014).

Pagel, M. (2014) Creativity, like evolution, is merely a series of thefts. Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2014/03/ideas-bank/mark-pagel (Accessed: 20 April 2014).

Relative articles:

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Visual Merchandising

When you go shopping, what thing will catch your focus?

A product, the poster, or salespeople?


Although the quality of products and the customer service are really important, how to engage people to visit the shop to purchase is the first step of marketing and cannot be neglected. Because all senses are trumped by vision which is the most direct way to perceive (Weinschenk, 2011, p.1), visual merchandising plays a significant role to bridge between customers and products. I believe that visual merchandising is a silent sales who provides the visual hook to tempt people and the opportunity to introduce products.

Also, Corrine shared some examples of display design to us. Indeed, colour, different level, and background are influential to our vision image. In order to design the display of BAGBOY in the trade fair, we went to Festival of Imagination at Selfridges to get the inspiration.


The exhibition utilised the window display, the most conspicuous place for walkers and shoppers, to spread their brief which is “Discover Innovative Products And New Shopping Experiences In The Imagine Shop”.

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I noticed that there were two factors of exhibition outcome which could catch the audience’s eye:

Common objects but using creative way to display- The decoration comes from the daily life which can link the people’s experience to arouse their echo.

Movable interaction- Because people owns curiosity when teasing with an interesting information (Anderson, 2011, p6). The interactive device has a high engagement to invite people participate.

In terms of BAGBOY, firstly, we tried to use one word and the adjective to describe BAGBOY and then narrowed down the range to seek the image and style we required.


Secondly, we found the similar style materials around us which can fit our brand brief and target group. Finally, layout!!


In fact, in order to be a visual merchandiser, they are required the combinative skills including creativity, the understanding of using different materials, and artistic knowledge. Because of the progressive society and enhancive knowledge horizon, aesthetic economy is evolving. Therefore, the requirement of customers shifts physical function to psychological enjoyment. The shopping environment and the display are the attraction for people. Indeed, the display of merchandises and the decoration of the store will attract the attention of potential customers, helping to make a sale. Gathering crowd successfully can achieve to promote the brief, brand, and product.

Reference list:
Anderson, S. P. (2011) Seductive Interaction Design. Berkeley: New Riders.

Weinschenk, S.M. (2011) 100 Things every designer needs to know about people. Berkeley: New Riders.

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Culture influences how people think

Here are two pictures below.

Do you focus more on the cows or the background?

culture cowPicture used in Hannah Chua (2005) research

As mentioned by Weinschenk (2011, pp.93-94), the responses to the picture depend on the geographical regions and cultures. According to the research (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.93-94), western participants may pay more attention to the central and foreground object, while East Asians may focus on context and background. Also, East Asian participants who grow up in the western country illustrate the western pattern instead of the Asian thinking (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.93-94).

Why? It probably is because East Asia culture norms emphasise groups and relationships, causing people to focus on context and may be introverted (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.93-94). On the other hand, western society may be more individualistic, leading people to concentrate on the main object (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.93-94). However, despite the result linking cultural education, due to globalisation and advanced technology, there were several people in Asia who answered with western thinking. But there is no denying that culture can shape how we think and what we think.

Reference list:
Weinschenk, S.M. (2011) 100 Things every designer needs to know about people. Berkeley: New Riders.

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Let’s be creative!


“Oh, it’s amazing!”
“How creative it is.”

Regardless of at Frieze or at Art14 London, I often heard this kind of comments at the art fair and in the exhibition. Actually, can we learn to embed creativity? Or it is a natural talent which is like the ability of painting? According to Arne Dietrich (2004, cited in Weinschenk, 2011, pp.86-90), the answer is both and neither. From the brain and neuroscience point of view, creativity can be based on emotion or cognition, and it can also be deliberate or spontaneous (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.86-90). For this reason, there are four types of creativity with fitting brain activities.

figureArne Dietrich (2004, cited in Weinschenk, 2011, p86)

Deliberate and cognitive creativity
。Representative: Thomas Edison
。Pay focused attention in particular area (PFC)
。Link previous knowledge and existing information to come up with ideas in novel ways (PFC)
。Usually from sustained work or experiments. Therefore, As mentioned by Tim Brown (2009, pp.71-75), the essence of design thinking is an attitude of experimentation which creates new possibilities, conducts new direction, and provides to find new solutions. In order to achieve this type of creativity, you need enough time and abundant knowledge to work on the problem (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.86-90).

Deliberate and emotional creativity
。Example: although there is a series of crises during the creative process, people who own deliberate and emotional creativity attempt to overcome by A-ha moment.
。Also make connections among informations (PFC)
。Instead of paying attention, this type more focuses on emotional support and feeling (Amygdala  & Cingulate Cortex)
。This type of creativity requires quiet time with their mind to work.

Spontaneous and cognitive creativity
。Representative: Newton and the apple
。Require the existing knowledge
。Switch conscious awareness and unconscious part (Basal ganglia)
。During the process, when this type of people face the bottleneck, they need to do something different to stop work on the problem.

 Spontaneous and emotional creativity
。Example: Artists and musicians
。It is not necessary about specific knowledge
。Skills such as singing, painting, and writing needed to create something from emotion (Amygdala)

Overall, there are different methods to be creative. Understanding which type of creativity you are talking about or managing and cooperating with will help to foster creativity of individual and group.

Reference list:
About.com (2014) Anatomy of the Brain-Basal ganglia. Available at: http://biology.about.com/library/organs/brain/blbasalgan.htm (Accessed: 08 March 2014).

Brain explorer (2011) prefrontal cortex. Available at: http://www.brainexplorer.org/glossary/prefrontal_cortex.shtml (Accessed: 08 March 2014).

Brown, T. (2009) Change by Design. New York: HarperCollins.

Science daily (2014) Amygdala. Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/a/amygdala.htm (Accessed: 08 March 2014).

Wikipedia (2014) Cingulate cortex. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cingulate_cortex  (Accessed: 08 March 2014).

Weinschenk, S.M. (2011) 100 Things every designer needs to know about people. Berkeley: New Riders.

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Negative Critical Commentary – Design Example

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In positive perspective, this simple and common pen of the local brand is easy
to write for everyone in Korea. It seems to be the classical Korean design. 

What is classic?
The Prototype of Korean Design?
Why so many people own it ?

After asking people their previous experiences of using the pen and searching the definition of classical design, here is my Negative Critical Commentary of Monami 153 Ballpoint Pen.

The factors of good design that people needed are not only focused on simple and convenient functions such as easy to use, but also cared about comfort and the users’ feeling when using. For example, if the ink stains other papers and hands of the user, do they feel happy? In fact, both physical and psychological requirements are necessary for a good design.

Also, the representational design for a country should have attractive and valuable features, the culture especially. Actually, this kind of simple pen exists every place.

Moreover, “popular” means everyone wants to have it. How and why so many people own it? It’s because of classical design or just because it is cheap and can obtain it easily from some companies’ promotion. 

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