This blog will allow you to follow my creative journey

  • Kim Burke

30/ Critical Reflection

Updated: May 4

Beginning fourth year I was set on creating a response to ocean waste, in particular the waste produced from the fishing industry which accounts for 60% of ocean waste and was a topic close to my heart.

I considered many up cycling solutions of discarded equipment and also developed several concepts surrounding retrieving and locating lost equipment.I used sketchbooks throughout the development process of See Buoy as this is how I work best to project my ideas. It took me a while to get my feet on the ground and solidify my design concept. I had many phone interviews with product developers, fisheries organisations, divers, fishermen and industry experts. This was really beneficial to gain contacts and talk through my project and get further ideas, but it also swamped me a little with the bigger picture and the enormous issue of ghost gear.

Entering Gurus Day I had three main areas of interest. LOCATE, RETRIEVE AND PREVENT. Which each focused on a method to find, retrieve and prevent loosing fishing equipment at sea. Some ideas included a sonar devices on the creels and exploding emergency buoys. It was on this day that I gained the idea of harnessing wave energy when chatting with Jon Rogers! James Williams also reinforced that I needed to have clear branding to illustrate the product well in order to communicate customer 'gains'. This stayed with me and I have tried to deliver this in my final outcome.

The process as a whole I felt that I was fighting a little bit with what I wanted to do and what I thought was right to do. Each of my concepts were rather 'solution' based and it took me a while to get out of the mindset of not trying solve the issue as a whole. It was at this stage that I focused on what I could do as a designer to PREVENT the loss of gear. A phrase that Martin said to me, ACT LOCAL, THINK GLOBAL stayed with me and helped me reach out to local fishermen and take it from there. I went on two research trips with fishermen which was crucial to the development of my project! Without these trips I don't feel See Buoy would have developed into a successful project. These trips clarified that buoys simply weren't visible enough and I began the journey of improving the visibility of buoys.

Throughout this process I got a bit run down and struggled with trying to figure out precisely how the buoy would work, rather than designing its function/delivery. My solution to this was discussing with Fraser how I wanted to deliver the project and how I wanted it to reflect myself as a designer.

At this stage I tried to take a step back and change my idea, prototyping two variations of reflective harnesses for the buoy.But my mind was driven back to the solution of light, so I was immediately driven to research wave energy in detail and prototyped various methods/models for a generator, (horizontal, vertical and spherical) to power an internal light.

Again I got a little dragged under with the complexity and I made the decision with Fraser two weeks prior to DJCADs closure that I was going to strongly focus on illustrating the concept to the best of my ability, rather than spending a large amount of time creating a fully working integrated model. This was a big decision to make but one that reflected my strengths as a designer, rather than trying to be an engineer.

At this stage I decided to build an interactive wave tank, with the vision of showcasing a small replica of See Buoy lighting up when waves were generated. I coded an accelerometer to read the measurements of movement from the buoy which would accordingly light a flashing white light within the buoy. Without the correct tools to complete the wave tank I decided to compromise and divert my attention to CAD modelling and delivering the concept of the product to the best of my ability. This decision was largely based upon the fact that I was going to be incorporating technology and water in close proximity and I did not want to create an unsafe/botched model from home. Spending 1-2 weeks on this representative model, with some help from Ali, it was near completion when DJCAD closed and sadly this is time I can’t get back.

Coronavirus hit the UK when I had solidified my design concept and was beginning making a small scale ‘looks like prototype’ of the buoy. Prior to this I had spent multiple days on the lathe and used the 3D printers to prototype variations of internal components and exterior forms of the buoy. I used the last week, which was then cut short on the Wednesday, to the best of my ability to finish the small-scale model I had been working on. My aim had been to finish the exterior model and all internal components. With the early closure, I was unable to print the top of the buoy, as the was a long 30hr print, however alternatively I decided to use the lathed shape I had made the week previous saving time, money. and materials. Due to this I had a severe lack of materials and equipment necessary to complete a fully integrated, scaled prototype of my final product. To navigate round the barriers I faced, I made important decisions regarding my making and concept development.

With some previous prototypes I could build upon to resemble a potential look and feel prototype, I got making and developed a model as close to the ‘final product’ as possible and photographed it in its environment. This involved a bit of creativity and adaptation. So 'being creative' as instructed, I travelled out on the water in a kayak to take some footage.

Although from this stage forward, I specifically decided to use my time more efficiently through detailed sketching to develop a well resolved CAD model, to represent my final product. I believe that this illustrated the design concept far closer to the industry standard I was striving for. Despite being unable to produce a physical final model, I believe I achieved a greater quality of product visualisation than I would have achieved by modelling at home from cardboard, paper-mache or plasticine. The organic shape of my model was also a leading factor for choosing this method of modelling.

Diverting my attention and placing a strong focus on branding and illustrating the products narrative as previously decided, I dove head first into brand exploration, logo design and generating a product brand and concept to best illustrate the products goals. I consumed my parents desk and transformed it into a work space that I would use most days. I tried to maintain a good working schedule, working from 10am-1.30pm, 2pm-6.30pm and 8-10pm. This worked well for me throughout the course of my time working from home and still gave me breaks to have my one form of exercise a day and spend some time away from the desk and enjoy the sun.

With the Degree show and New Designers out of the picture for a while, it was quite difficult to self-motivate as everything we were working towards was gone. Luckily at the time I still had an event to present my design concept. I had been invited to Fisheries Innovation Conference in June through Kara Brydson, I had gained contact with during my research period. The theme of the conference was ‘From Innovation to Action’, and invited young professionals to pitch ideas for 'innovation in wild capture seafood, from management and catching, to marketing and packaging'. This became my new goal and target to work towards, framing my new angle of branding and marketing my design concept for the pitch.

Although it didn’t take long for me to receive an email to announce this was cancelled too. At this point I found it even harder to motivate and with all of the stress placed on-top from COVID, it wasn’t easy to pick myself back up. But I did and I didn’t miss a day working from my desk, even if it was only half a day. I continued on the path of creating a design concept that I could ‘pitch’, through developing clear branding and a strong narrative.

Though it doesn’t feel like we have anything to work towards, my motivation to complete a project I am proud of and for a topic I am passionate about has drove this project. One thing that I really lacked working from home was the studio environment and being able to gain feedback and bounce ideas off of peers. This is a core element to the design process which lacked in my time working from home. I did 'use' my family for this aspect but as they do not have knowledge of adobe programmes or a creative mind like those in the studio, I do believe my product lacked from peer feedback.

It has been difficult, but I feel like I have adapted well and worked to the best of my ability during this crazy time. I do believe that if I had had the workshop facilities and the correct equipment then I could have improved upon the physical outcome of my product, producing a final scaled look and feel prototype, including its embedded technology such as the generator and light. I feel that I could have produced a very well resolved and impactful exhibit at the degree show which would have ben engaging and created an impact amongst the public and press.

But aside all of the negativity, I am proud of what I have created and still believe it is a viable product that could reach the market of the fishing industry. I am aware that my design response has been quite 'literal' some may say - as in it is a functional, solution based product - but I think this response has solidified my design style.


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