1st Project Proposal – Sustainability and Sportswear
My original idea for my project was to create sportswear that embraced environmentally conscious design. I initially thought of placing emphasis was on materiality, wanting to study how materials such as bamboo or organic hemp act as adequate replacements for non-sustainable materials such as polyester.
One of the projects I explored was Nike’s Space Hippie shoe which claimed to have the “lowest carbon footprint scores ever”. The shoe is made from recycled factory materials (fabric offcuts, t shirts and water bottles). The product exhibits sustainable values whilst being visually compelling as Nike have considered both the environmental impact user friendliness.
An idea I was considering at this point was ways of repurposing stadiums for social change. After reading an article describing the numerous abandoned olympic stadiums/venues which had been left disused following their Olympics games, I became excited by the concept of using the spaces for refugee centres or medical treatment for asylum seekers. I researched countries that had been financially affected by an influx of refugees, Greece was a frontline country of Europe’s migration crisis in 2015, when an estimated million refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan landed of the Greek coastline. I ultimately moved away from this course as I couldn’t envision creating prototypes based around this concept.
Reusing Sports Equipment
Following my study into repurposing disused olympic stadiums, I explored how designers have repurposed other types of sporting products. Through desk research using sites such as Pinterest, DIYS.com and Instagram, I was able to observe range products that have been reworked to carry out a different function. From here, my project progressed to examining ways of adapting sportswear, not necessarily creating an entirely new function for an object.
Uniforms – What they represent
The type of sporting products I began exploring was sportswear, in particular football shirts. Football shirts carry a lot of cultural meanings, they can represent a place, an era, a player but most importantly they convey a persons loyalty to a club. A shirts colour is the common feature which highlights allegiances, and this was an idea I wanted to experiment with. The first prototype I created was an idea for detachable sleeves.
Using an old t shirt, a long sleeve shirt and a zip, I created prototype which had a removable sleeve, which could be exchanged with another person. What I was trying to learn was whether people would be willing to exchange ‘a part of their club’ to another person. I was also investigating whether people were willing to show another teams colour of their person. Using interview questions as a research probe I learnt that some users would be unwilling to take their sleeves with rivals, they felt it might dull down the rivalry having something so permanent on there arm.
2nd Revised Proposal – Interactions through Sport
Having completed the first gateway seminar, it was at this point that I revised my project proposal. I reconsidered my project, and came to realisation that I was more interested in the social side of sport, as I wanted to investigate the interactions fans have at sporting events. At the same time, I refined my project so I knew who I was designing for. I had narrowed down the type of fan I was interested in was a football one, however there were still traits I wanted to uncover about them. My response to this was to create character profiles which specified characteristics of potential users.
Creating these profiles made me realise the type of fan I was designing my project for was one that attends most games, is up to date with team updates, enjoys socializing with other fans, can afford to attend games/buy club merchandize, has experience with technology (tech savvy) and possibly supported club for significant period of time. Other traits I was considering was whether they had family, and do they attend the games with them, what is their age and their gender. On the subject of gender however, I interviewed both male and female participants, asking other they attend games; do they buy club merchandise; how much do they interact at football matches. I came to the conclusion that gender should not affect the design of my prototypes, since despite a higher proportion of football fans being male, there is no reason to exclude the other sex and instead I should design for all.
With a clear idea of my target audience, I tuned my attention to my theorising my prototypes. Some of the themes I wanted to explore related to rivalries, solidarity, anti – conflict and mutual respect. Designing a product which either highlighted rivalries in sport, or combatted them interested me as I started to consider what a neutral fan is. When I was ideating connects I considered creating a attachable sportswear pieces which convey neutrality, this fan attends games to enjoy the experience of a football match, rather than the rivalries and dislike between teams.
I researched the different fan outbreaks of violence or protests that have occurred over the last 20 years to understand the ways rivalries can escalate. This research coupled with the interview probe I carried out earlier in the project made me realise I should careful as to what type of interaction I could expect between fans, if any. And so using this information, I turned my attention to creating a project to support solidarity between same sets of fans. Similar to the Black Lives Matter arm bands, I began thinking of adjustments I could make to sportswear to portray social messages.
Building off what what I had learnt from my first prototype, I created a second model which continued looking at interactions, this time however I wanted to experiment with the permeance of the prototype. I experimented with the idea of having a single use product, only one interaction can occur between fans. I did this by using cable ties, which would need cutting off to remove the sleeve once attached. When I tested the product on people, they were quick to first question how useful this permeant feature would be; they were unsure about the overall aesthetic and finally found the plastic cables uncomfortable. And so overall, I concluded this was a failed prototype, but in all honestly had preconceived suspicions when designing it.
I should mention that a useful reference I used when creating these prototype was the football match that occurred in 1914 between British and German soldiers at trenches along the western front. Photographs, letters and interviews in the Imperial War Museums collection show a temporary truce occurred so opposing soldiers could exchange presents and partake in a football match.
I referenced this since I was interested in incorporating the images into my design. Whether this was the image being printed onto sleeves, opposing fans having different images and so they must trade, this is an idea I was to revisit in future prototypes.
The third prototype I created was a continuation of the first two. I experimented with detachable feature of the design, opting to use fasteners as the attachment piece between body and sleeve. When I put the prototype to the test, I soon realised it was much more successful since users could easily detach and re-attach the sleeve by themselves. What I learnt from creating this prototype however is that despite the metal fasteners being easier to operate, people disliked the feel of them against their skin, and thought the gaps between each fastener was too great.
I continued to develop this idea and created another souvenir which includes details that the previous prototypes were missing.
Whilst a previous prototype I created used zips, it was not made from the synthetic material that running tops and football shirts are made from. This prototype includes that material. It was difficult sewing this material as it was very flexible and would not sit in one place when trying to attached the zips to the hems.
Another feature of this prototype is the removable hem from one side of the shirt. This decision was based off the interview probe I carried out earlier in the course. The interviewee claimed that he wouldn’t want such a large part of another teams colour on his shirt. When I asked him if the tradable piece was reduced in size, would be more inclined to trade, his answer was yes. Moving forward from this design, I want to continue to experiment with different portions of a shirt, seeing what is the minimum size of sleeve a person would be willing to trade.
3rd Revised Proposal – Consumption and Souvenirs
At this point of my project I had revised my project proposal to focus more on the interactions between fans in a sporting environment. I became interested I the physical ways people show interactions, which led me to study the value of souvenirs. A souvenir can be defined as a physical/non-physical object that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event. I interpreted this definition as creating something that reminds a person of an experience or memory. I explored ways we make souvenirs, what are the typical souvenirs people keep and why people keep souvenirs. I did this by asking a set of people to show me the souvenirs they treasure most, and give me insight into when they purchased/found/made it and where they keep it. From here I started to create a diagram using InDesign to illustrate how people make souvenirs, and how ultimately how keeping them can reduce consumption of manufactured goods.
In preparation of gateway seminar 2, we were told to created 3 prototypes which pushed the boundaries of our project. I interpreted this as creating two ideas which are the extremes of one another, and creating one idea which is somewhere in the middle. The design method illustration beneath to illustrate my thought process. My project had progressed so that the main themes I was exploring related to consumption, sustainability and souvenirs.
NFTs and Collectable Memories
The first idea I started exploring was based around the idea of creating a device which stores your memories from football matches, and has an interactive feature to it to allow for personalisation of the souvenir. Referenced below are images from my process stage, I created a number of smaller prototypes, some more sophisticated than others, which ultimately led me to my refined model.
The process of sketching and model making led me to creating the prototype below.
I created this prototype using an A6 notebook, a set of 3 mm magnets, newspaper cuttings, red cartridge paper and two fridge magnets. It is a speculative design as the 0.5x05cm newspaper cuttings are meant to resemble digital screens. On these screens, memories a user has uploaded will remain playing when the user opens the device up. When close the moving images will stop moving. The type of videos that would exist on the device are fan recorded videos of sports moments, these might included, highlights from games, clips of interactions with other fans, photographs of a stadiums atmosphere, food eaten at the game.
The idea was inspired by NFTs and collecting tradable objects. I thought it couple interesting to create a device which has unique memories which could then be sold or traded with by other fans. This idea came from reading an article describing the difference between a consumer and a fan. Furthermore, I considered the idea of having the device as a ‘legitimacy’ object with proves who us a loyal fan and differentiates them from the casual fan. I began to expand on this idea by questioning whether the object could be only available to an exclusive range of people. Perhaps it is only available to those with season tickets, and they receive the object as a gift at the start of the year, to commemorate their support of the club. When I proposed this idea I the form of interview questions, I was surprised to see the positive reaction to the idea, with some interviewee’s stating they would like to see highlights from the previous season which have been selected by multiple fan entries.
The final prototype I created for this stage of my project I entitled traces. The idea with these prototypes was to investigate the objects we leave behind when we play sport, and what are the accidental souvenirs we create and do they have value. I came to this idea when asking a friend about their beaten running shoes, they told me they kept them to remind themselves of the London marathon they had ran in previous years. It became a souvenir which reminded them of the training and hours they put in wearing the shoes. Despite the questionable appearance of the shoes they still kept them (not on display though).
This conversation led me onto investigating the breakdown of shoes during exercise. The first probe I carried out was placing shoes covers on my shoes and going for a 20 minute run. At 5 minute intervals I checked the condition of the covers and recorded them. The souvenir was leaving behind was a pair of torn blue shoe covers which I didn’t value enough to keep.
I carried out another experiment when I replaced the laces of my football boots with elastic bands and cable ties. Once again I did physical activity in them and after the session observed the results. Unsurprisingly the bands and cable ties didn’t last and I was left with another broken object which I did not value enough to keep in as a reminder of that session.
Carrying out these research probes did lead me to developing another speculative probe relating to tying shoe laces. A metal wire surrounds a lace, and overtime the more the lace is tied, the more the wire comes off. Finally, after a significant length of time the wire piece comes off the user is left of a souvenir of that season of exercise. The difficulty I had with this probe keeping the wire on the lace long enough for it not come off after the first time of using it. A positive I took from making this probe however was that it did not affect my performance when I went for a run with the object on my shoe.
Future: Continue to explore souvenirs in sport
Moving forward with my project I see myself continue to develop my ‘tradable sleeves’ idea as I still feel there is potential to create a more refined object. I would like to see how people would react to having multiple zips on their shirts, how comfortable do they feel, do they need more people to help them trade with others as well as a number of other features I would like to investigate.
Moreover I would like to revisit the 1914 football match reference and explore if there is an aesthetic feature I can take from the images and transfer it to my own work. This may lead my project back to solidarity and discovering the neutral fan, however it may be interesting to see how that theme relates to souvenirs and consumption.
I think it would be useful to explore sustainability more with my next prototype, and possibly explore creating a shirt with detachable pieces that are made from sustainable materials.
Finally, a topic I am also interested in exploring is citizen journalism, as I want to investigate how people would react to trading unique clips they have of sport events, as well how people record their clips.