Neverland

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.” – Peter Pan

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Whenever I have a moment to spare, I love to ponder about life and let my imagination run a little wild.

This morning after having a conversation with my colleague about babies and children, we were reminiscing about our 20’s and where it had gone.

My memories of my 20’s?

  • 20 – Second Year of University and realisation / coming to terms with not being a teenager
  • 21 – Placement Year at Boots HQ, learning the ropes at a fantastic corporate company
  • 22 – Grinding it out on the Final Year of my course, sleep deprivation
  • 23 – Joined Tesco HQ, relearning the ropes with minimal guidance
  • 24 – More 9-5 and gaining valuable experience, proposed to my girlfriend
  • 25 – Moved roles to Creative and Technical and planned to buy a house / get married
  • 26 – Bought our first house, marriage
  • 27 – Settling down

Even though I have hurtled through my 20s and thrown myself head first into getting good all round life and work experience, I still feel like I am around 21. The routine of work, sleep, work, sleep, work, quickly becomes apparent that after what appears to be a matter of days turned into a few years.

“All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.” – Peter Pan

Growing up was never a problem for me. I had to be mature from an early age due to my allergies and I embraced it with open arms.

Recently, going on a few bike rides on my own. I have time to think and reflect on my achievements and what to have for dinner. The quote below speaks for itself whenever I have these moments, a beautifully crafted and powerful meaningful message.

“Just always be waiting for me.” – Peter Pan

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Neverland would be a fantastic dream for me. From the outset I am travelling through time with my loved ones, but truthfully, I am still a kid inside.

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People you just click with

Having met with a former colleague last night who I hadn’t seen for just under 3 years was a thought provoking experience.

I had always wondered what life was like since I left the supermarket giants Tesco. With their recent market loss and profit reporting amidst the press spotlight, it was insightful to hear about their thoughts and feelings regarding the current climate.

I felt that 3 years was a long time to not see someone, but being a fellow Designer and former friend, some people you simply get along with. Time may shape their lives and change their ways, but core values stay the same. I suppose you can say the same.

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Buying a drink at the bar (both non alcoholic) we sat outside and chatted about life since we had last seen each other. Conversation never stopped or felt remotely awkward and I kept on thinking how much he reminded me on a few of my newer best friends that I had met in life since Tesco and that I had kept in contact with.

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The effortless talk and banter that we give each other is also a sign of mutual respect that we understand what each are going through. Acknowledging that we both have our own problems and that we are working towards a better self, whilst checking up on each other to make sure we are both ok is a fine balance.

“I know I’ve been selfish and not seen anyone that matter to me in the last few years.”

When my colleague said that, coupled with his facial expression, it really hit home to me that even though we had spoken a handful of times. His empathy and attitude towards me and most possibly others made him a friend certainly worth keeping in contact with.

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So here’s to great mates we meet in the many paths of life! …and to Golf next week!

The Awkward Office

Ever left your phone on loud, got into the office, placed said phone on the table and the wife texts you.

Well the above is fine if you have a standard message tone and not a snippet of R.Kelly “Bump n Grind” which sounds exactly like, “My minds telling me NOOOooooOooooo!”

We all live and learn…

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There have been numerous occasions where I can recall in the office something has happened to trigger the awkwardness, most of the time it’s our Managing Director shouting at a Salesman or at our other Director. Classic hole in ground moment. However, I have learned to embrace this awkwardness recently, coming to terms with the fact that if it’s not me getting shouted at and reassuring myself that unfortunately for the victim it’s really nothing I can do at that given moment to help them.

Here’s to the awkward office moments

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I’m a Designer, you’re a Designer – what is a Designer?

Designer

A job title that encompasses many skills that someone in the Creative Industry may have.

Wikipedia describes the term Designer as the following

A designer is a person who designs. More formally, a designer is an agent that “specifies the structural properties of a design object“.[1] In practice, anyone who creates tangible or intangible objects, such as consumer products, processes, laws, games and graphics, is referred to as a designer.

I can recollect the first time I realised there were several career pathways that a Designer could take. It was at School in A-Level Design when we were all tasked to design a product to manufacture. Your own idea, anything you wanted, designed your way as long as it was justified. The idea pool and concept generation for products was a broad spectrum. Our class came up with a whole host of products: Cameras, POS systems, pens, hats, garages and handhelds to list a few.

It took me a few years to realise that my idea was not the only design solution to a brief.

With three of us attending Loughborough University. It quickly dawned on me that I was in a mix of Designers from multiple backgrounds who would interpret a brief in ways that I could never had imagined.

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Working as a Professional Designer, my work is constantly under scrutiny from Directors, Buyers, Marketing Managers and Technologists alike. Each with their own subjective views of what the design should be. Ultimately a design should fulfil the brief set, not the stakeholders opinion. There is a fine line between what I know is right VS what you think is right, with the power struggle of the Designer in the creative process being all too familiar for us all.

I use the words “us all” as a collaborative plural, because after years of working in the industry. I know that design doesn’t just come from a single person. The front end and back design process of Conceptual Visualisation to Implementation Coding shows how digital design works.

Another fond memory of mine is when I first starting working Professionally as a User Experience Designer (UX) at IAT. I met two other Designers (Graphic & Digital) amongst Information Architects (IA) who I thought had the same skill set as I did. Manufacturing, Production, Packaging, Product, Supply Chain and Supplier Management are skills that I cherish as one of my core strengths. To be able to look at the bigger picture when I’m not immersed in the nitty gritty of moving a border or stroke 1px across to perfectly align with an edge.

When I have conversations with other Designers, I can see how my history and background of designing commercially for mass manufacture and launch benefits a project. Being able to see what problems would arise before the problem becomes the problem. However, my design skillset is specific for my client and company projects. Should you ask another Designer what they design you would get a different answer almost every time.

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Fabric, Graphic, Illustration, User Interaction, User Experience, Product, Packaging, Online, Digital, Web – I could go on for hours. The split between physical and digital. The hierarchy or an Intern, Junior, Middleweight, Senior/Lead and Head. The term Designer is broader than most if not possibly all job titles.

The mentality of a Designer is very focused and borderline OCD. We like to share our ideas and voice our opinions with others, whether we listen and take advice from others is mainly down to the maturity of the designer and project situation. We all share the same outlook that the solution and design is almost like our baby. It was created by a series of clicks, layer masks, strokes, colour selections etc which gave it a personality and bought it to life.

A few weekends ago, my great friend Rohan and I met up for a few drinks post football match. Along with two of my other friends who were at the pub, we were asked, “What do you design?” As per above. We both gave very different answers. With Rohan being a Digital Designer, I have designed Web Banners, Logos and Websites before, but he offers the backend coding for Email e-Shots and newsletters which are coded via HTML. Which makes him much more suited for his role. No doubt that either of us could learn about each of our specialisms in our role and become successful at it, but that is the beauty of design. It’s a free-formed discipline that is a never ending journey of learning and discovery.

In conclusion.

We all take for granted a great design. Design is all around us. Simply reading this blog on your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop, it’s on a product that has been designed by a Designer for you the consumer. Each designer has their own specialisms and skills! So for now, let’s roll along with the Wikipedia definition and remember…

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The personality smokescreen of Facebook

Ask yourself, how many times have you seen someone on your Facebook Timeline, with their holiday photos, check in at a fancy restaurant, status about going out partying or drinking and thought.

“Wow, what an amazing life they live!” followed by… “I wish my life was that exciting…”

We have all been duped into thinking the above before. I can instantly think of several occasions in the last week where a person has popped up on my newsfeed and I thought that they were living the dream life. Constantly going on holiday, buying expensive items and visiting niche restaurants – posting images and status’ showcasing how they are having a fantastic time.

A great example is below

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The image where I had caught a carp at Clavering. Did you know I had the worst back pain I’ve ever had in that summer and sitting in a chair was difficult.

The image in the middle taken in Bruges, seemingly enjoying one of the fantastic sights and features of a picturesque town. Did you know that I had almost blacked out and fainted barely 30 minutes before that and that my head was in a daze from exhaustion.

The image on the right taken in Brussels, with one of my great friends on my back. Did you know that he could not walk because he had plantar fasciitis and staggered around for the entire weekend to keep up with the group doing himself more damage than good.

Images and status’ show a split second of what they person is currently experiencing. Many people have asked me questions or know about my life through my ‘highlights’ on Facebook. Where they learn I have done X, Y or Z on the weekend. However, what Facebook doesn’t show are the events leading to a post. They have integrated the options of feelings, places and tagging other friends at that point. What I have posted on provides an instant snapshot of (in my case) a positive experience with friends or family.

I have been guilty of thinking and comparing my life between those that post all too often. Looking at their seemingly champagne filled week with my 9-5.30 office job, dinner and sleep. I began thinking that I was not fulfilled and was questioning why I was doing so little with my life compared to those who are my age, this affected my mood and overall happiness for a while when I came across a very interesting article regarding the link between Facebook and depression.

The article made a comparable between Facebook and how it reflected your personality. We all know ‘The Moaner and Whinger’ on our timelines, I have unfollowed a few of them when it got to the point where s/he would post several times daily on how bad their life is. Whilst I found this frustrating to read about all their problems, it’s an accurate reflection of all the pain and troubles we encounter in our daily lives. As the “Moaner/Whinger” you are usually frowned upon by your family and friends, however in reality, your posts about your difficulties in life are a true reflection of all our lives.

Yes my Timeline and Page may seem sublime because I only choose to post my high’s not my low’s. But never forget that we are all human and experience these high’s and low’s. Whether we choose to share those high’s and low’s is the beauty of social media and how it shapes our online/digital persona.

So when I next see my next set of Facebook feed updates, whether positive or negative, I will remember that there will be a sequence of events before and after which led to that particular person posting. Don’t feel alienated by their online persona and never forget, you are what makes you… well YOU (Unique!)

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The apple iWatch

no introductions needed here. I finally had enough time on a weekend to pop into the local apple store to have a look at the future of wearable technology.

First impressions, intruiging.

The delightfully display unit with the full line up of apples’ finest tech was neatly laid out in a parallel row. I’m assuming cheapest “sport” option on the left, to the gold edition which automatically comes with a mortgage.

I find myself strangely frustrated by the display unit. Macbooks, iphones and ipods are all on the table readily accessible. Whilst the iWatch is under a glass case which most likely is bullet, bomb and fanatic proof.

Being a self described “touchy feely” buyer, drawn in my the rounded edges and gloss HD screen. I am minorly disappointed that I can’t touch and feel this piece of wonderful tech.

I eventually find myself playing Pro and Con tennis with my head, as the apple genius explaining all the features slowly becomes one monotone slur as I imagine integrating this watch into my life.

“Will it break easily?”

“Teething problems with new tech?”

is met by

“Look at the colours, oooo!”

“I want it…”
One of the most intimate features is tapping on the screen, which sends a vibration to your contact or in my case. Your significant other half. To simply say “I am thinking of you” the intimate and touching feature appeals to me, drawing me into the thought of “would my wife wear this?” Lets find out…
In conclusion, the iWatch is a beautifully designed product. I find myself captivated by the marketing and not being able to try the watch on has heighted my anticipation even more. 

 

The Male seating corner

following the wife around on a Saturday morning from Debanhams to Dorothy Perkins to John Lewis in Welwyn Garden City is standard practice for many men.

What really makes me chuckle is at every store, without a doubt there is a seating area where the other half will reside during the ‘fitting’ and ‘trying on’ stages are commenced.

In Debanhams I was having a fantastic conversation with an elderly chap who I was entertaining with my ‘below par’ comments and enthusiasm. We eventually came to the conclusion that there should be a TV mounted football cafe in each area of each store where the waiting rooms were.

Currently residing in John Lewis outside the changing rooms on the seating area. The clientelle are just the same.

Wifes comes out, husband says “any good”, wife replies “hmmm maybe, I don’t know”

Fortunately I consider my profession as a designer gives me an edge in weeding out the “hmmm maybe, I don’t know” outfits before we ever reach the changing rooms. Resulting in a condensed and precise clothing selection.

So… Men of WGC and Nationwide currently sitting in the “Male Corner” of each store, battling through bags of shopping and following your wife through the retail maze. I sympathise with you all, pulling the same face as I am currently.

The autopilot face