Thesis Wrap


It actually hasn’t been as long as I thought, I mean it’s been two months, but it feels like much longer than that. Since it’s now all over and done with, I’m going to skip the Phase/Part structure and just do a summary write up of the thesis build. To be honest I would probably just let it slide and go back to the pre-thesis days of whinging about my hair and Project Runway, but I feel like I owe the Raspberry Pi foundation something for following me almost all the way through the Instagram countdown. Plus I haven’t been able to watch any Project Runway in months.


So I built two things, a website and a dress.



I went over the connection of these things in the Design post.

I built the website using my old reliable WordPress. Starting with the Twenty Fourteen theme I made some adjustments to match it up with the Indesign mocks. Nothing too complicated, the “Spots” and “Shop” pages are fairly face-value mocks with very little available interaction. The home and profile pages are both internally scrollable lists of divs populated with info from SQL databases. The sidebar is filled with a variety of completely non-functioning, but lovely looking, widgets.


The dress runs off a Raspberry Pi, which hosts the SQL databases used by the website and runs the python program that makes everything work. As an immediate feedback some fibre optics light up when the dress is touched, a colour for different body parts (waist=purple, hip=green, hand=blue, etc.). At the same time the dress registers when and where it was touched to a database to be displayed on the user profile, as well as adding a certain number of points to the user total. The user total determines their place on the homepage leader board. The sensor used is a capacitive one, specifically this one, from Adafruit. Its used with conductive thread to pick up human contact all over the dress. The illumination is provided by the Pimoroni Blinkt, which provides some unbelievably bright and pretty colour effects for such a small (and cheap) piece of tech. It saved me having to wire and code a bunch of LEDs individually. Absolutely adore it.


This first prototype fit my function, but sticking to my vision of designing something that was actually wearable, didn’t make for a great exhibition piece. So I made another one, one that was a little flashier and simplified the interaction right down to its basics. More fibre optics, less fabric. Because there aren’t different sections in the second dress, the lights run through a rainbow (code for which was stolen directly from the Blinkt example library) for as long as it’s touched.


This has been a very brief description of how I spent the last 2 months, but I’m so very over this whole thesis thing now, and I still have to proof read it. The blog will be back to semi-regular for the next while, I have actually managed to do the whole “productive member of society” thing and get a job, but I don’t start until January. I will get into that in my next post, but for the time being, I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands.

Featured In/On:
MagPi Issue 53

Best Raspberry Pi Projects

Adafruit Blog

Mood Swings Abound

Life choices I made this week include deleting the LinkedIn app to make room for Pokémon Go and opting to order enough fabric to clothe several elephants. Naturally you assume someone who so clearly has it together would be above things like mood swings, alas no. The last 26hrs or so have been quite the rollercoaster.


Yesterday was going alright-ish, until I got an email from my supervisor describing my Lit Review as “not OK”, so then I was not OK, and proceeded to put on my onesie and go to bed with a litre of ice-cream. At four in the afternoon. That was that for the entirety of the night.


This morning though, was a new day. Well it was after the post arrived, before that I was still in bed, approaching my fourth hour of watching old John Oliver rants on youtube. An informative but ineffective use of time. But the post brought with it my Pimoroni order, and something within me decided to cop on. And it was glorious. Thanks to the good people who staff Pimoroni and Adafruit, coding the Raspberry Pi program was a genuinely pleasant experience. Considerably more pleasant than writing the English language side of my thesis.


Taken by this swell of accomplishment, I began looking into the possibility of setting up an API/SQL to the site again, because I am clearly a technological genius and all things are possible. I borderline skipped into college to do some CSS styling a few hours ago, and it is around here that the day took a turn. Half three is obviously not a time of day that agrees with me. I am still here in college, having just finished implementing a Google map into a page of the site demo. It took three and a half hours. This is not a difficult task. Technically the map itself was not an issue, but for whatever reason, when I tried to edit some of the code, the site would respond with “Oh, you want to add a second marker? And custom icons? I can’t even” *SPAZ ATTACK*.


But it now shows up and I wish the internet had never been invented.

Thesis Phase 2: Design

Design got really, really big, so I split it into three parts. This first one is about the over all interaction without going into detail about the visual and functional design of the wearable or the website. I say interaction, I mean the algorithm that runs the whole thing. I’m just going to describe what it is really, rather than “The Proccess”, because my artistic “process” is thinking about stuff while I binge TV series, writing some of it down and, if I’m feeling particularly motivated, drawing some of it. Copy, paste and apply for all steps. If you are interested, the series in question were RuPauls Drag Race, Orange is the New Black and Silicon Valley. Like I said in Phase 1, I’m measuring four variables;


1. Where the user is
2. Who the user is with
3. What the user is saying
4. What physical contact the user experiences


These variables are tracked and have their worth determined according to an algorithm. The interactions worth is measured by points and added up to establish the user’s worth as person. Remember, dystopia.


A user collects points through verbal and physical contact. These are additive actions in that they are worth points. I am a firm believer in making things “Marketing’s problem” when I design, but even I had to acknowledge that a device recording conversations is a difficult sell. So, instead of recording speech, the device records the presence of speech, without storing any recordings. To factor in the nature of the conversation and how that effects the points value, it uses word recognition, with specific words equating to a higher number of points. Positive words, e.g. “love”, “happy” or “koala”, mark a positive conversation. The “good” word list is not publically available, but the display in the garment reacts to the chosen words, making them learnable.

A value is also assigned to physical contact. Different values for different body parts, higher amounts for more intimate areas. Connection made with multiple contact points at once are added together before the application of multipliers (see below), making concurrent contact more significant than consecutive. To account for prolonged contact the points are re-added every minute the contact continues.
Another source of points, separate to the wearable is the users profile. Each page view accumulating points depending on privacy settings. A users interaction feed can be made private, protecting their information, but making page views worthless. A public profile set with a time delay offers users a limited number of points per view, while a real-time feed generates the maximum number of points.
Where the user is and who they are with does not in itself accumulate points, they multiply the points earned by the additive factors.


Location based multipliers can be created in two ways. One of which is by purchase. Similar to the way in which Snapchat allows consumers to buy an area and timeframe to display Geofilters, businesses and private parties can purchase a multiplier for their venue to make it more attractive to customers or guests. The cost of this is determined by the size of the venue, the length of time it is to be in effect and the value of the multiplier. The second method of creating a location based multiplier is natural development. Venues and spaces that consistently attract high volumes of users, especially highly ranked users can develop multipliers without need for payment. Multipliers created in this way can be higher than those available for purchase. The locations of all multiplier spots can be looked up on the site.
Proximity multipliers are based on the rankings of those that the user interacts with. The higher up the scoreboard, the higher the multiplier. These multipliers are attached to the coloured rank system (see below). This makes friends who use the site, in particular those who do well on the site, more valuable to the wearer.

Obvious example users. Please ignore that I didn’t have a search icon off-hand and picked a random Wingding instead.


Interactions, and the points attached, are only recorded and valued for seven days. So users have to be consistently active to stay on top. It also means early-adopters can’t get too far ahead of newer users. Only the previous seven days are included in calculating a user’s score.
Oh and the coloured rank thing. A big problem with wearable trackers is a lack of long term motivation. Wearers get bored with goals that start to seem unattainable. With space for only one at the top, users could quickly become discouraged with the site. Taking inspiration from the use of levels in social fitness website Fitocracy, which also uses a points system, users will be sorted into different classes dependant on their rank. These classes are identified by colours, with number one having its own unique colour, from two to ten being another and so on. I made a table but I am too lazy to go find it for you now, maybe next week. These classes continue up to the top million, above which the user is “colourless”. The break up lets users set themselves smaller personal goals. This coloured rank also justifies the garments displays existence beyond “I just really wanted to put a bunch of LEDs on a dress”.


I will cover either the dress or the website next week, depending on my mood.

Don’t Panic, Lower your Standards

Boy, I was miserable last week, but such is life as a drama queen. As basically anyone who has ever met me could have predicted, I’m OK now.


I was freaked out about how much I had to do so I made the simple decision to do less.


Like every project I have ever attempted, I got over ambitious, it ballooned out of the realms of what was possible in the timeframe, and I then lost the absolute plot over the entire thing. But unlike during my FYP, when one product turned into eight plus an app, I’m not going to fall into the trap of carrying all the nonsense out until the bitter, sub-par end. I decided for the good of the final product to streamline my task list and do away with some unnecessaries. For the purposes of demonstration I’m going to ditch the API connection, have a visual demo of the website, but have all the Raspberry Pi’s data readings self contained. There’s already so much coming up that I don’t know how to do. There is only so much I’m going to achieve in the next month and I have to accept these limitations. I have to accept the fact that I have limitations.


That said I’ve still got an unholy amount of stuff to do in the next three weeks, but I’m back on caffeine so there’s no way I can fail. The fact that I’ve been shaking uncontrollably for the past two days is fine. Totally fine. I mean except for the soldering I was physically incapable of doing by myself, but no, everything is fine.


Everything is TOTALLY FINE.

Thesis Phase 1: Speculation

Sucking it up and taking back all the horrible things I said about Dunne and Raby here, I decided to take on a speculative design project for my thesis. I even read a few of their books to work out what speculative design actually was. The first step in any speculative design project is obviously the speculation, in this case speculation of what social media will look like 5-10 years from now. Being a research project, the future is inevitably dystopian, because if the ghost of Christmas future had brought good news then “A Christmas Carol” wouldn’t have sold nearly as well.


So what trends are observable in social media today?

  • Success on social media is incredibly important to people, for reasons most people aren’t quite sure of
  • With some work, this “success” can become increasingly lucrative, to the point of being an almost legitimate career option.
  • Mystery algorithms have a large amount of control over what we see and consequently what we do
  • We are becoming aware of how faked a lot of posts are, particularly those from social media personalities

In her book, “Seeing Ourselves Through Technology”, Jill Walker Rettberg states that there are three distinct modes of self- representation in digital media: written, visual and quantitative. For this I am eternally grateful to her, because this is the premise I built my entire thesis on.


In the early internet, self-representation was purely text-based, the internet was less capable of handling images, so social media consisted of blogs and instant messaging. Lying about who you were was very easy to do. As technology advanced, we moved on to basing the transfer of information on visual communication; photos, videos, and emoticons in place of words. Lying on the internet became slightly trickier. Not so tricky as to discourage any of the people who appear on “Catfish”, but the likes of Facebook and Instagram require a little more effort than typing about how you’re totally a 16 year old girl from LA who is also Britney Spears’ best friend. As such, the natural progression would be quantified social media, that couldn’t be manufactured. No one would go to the extent of  actually living a false life for the purposes of social media. Right?


Combining this with wearable technology, because that is literally the only consistent thing in my entire dissertation, my mission is:


To design a wearable connected platform that introduces what is sold as a “purer” form of social media. The quantitative data means users would have to go to extraordinary lengths to misrepresent their lives, thereby making its information more reliable than that of its competitors. Thanks to revenue from wearable sales, it can afford to offer a platform with less advertising.
This platform measures four factors to give as accurate a representation as possible of social actions.


1. Where the user is
2. Who the user is with
3. What the user is saying
4. What physical contact the user experiences


The user is then scored on these factors by an algorithm to earn points, which determine the users rank on what is less a social network and more an online scoreboard. Cutting to its point, this scoreboard reduces each user to a name, a picture, a vague location, a number of points and most crucially, a global rank.


To keep up with daily activities, the device would have to be worn daily. No one wants to wear the same thing everyday. So, the device built for this project is just a representative of what would be a suite of wearables available for sale from the corporation. These would track and display at various different levels, allowing users to choose to what degree they engage at different times. More understated, smaller wearables, like smart jewellery are more suitable for day-to-day wear. Larger scale wearables, garments,  that track more and therefore collect more points as well as offer more pageantry, can be worn for social occasions. The dress built for this project demonstrates the full range of parameters that could be tracked and a more elaborate display. An extended selection of the range is shown in the “Shop” section of the website demonstration.


The name of this social media platform and the corporation behind it is QBee, named for “Queen Bee”.


Phase 2: Design write up should be coming next week, seeing as I’m already on Phase 3.

Hello Again

Anxiety. It’s been a fairly consistent part of my life for as long as I can remember, but this past week has been something else. It started last Friday night, two days out from my first thesis draft being due, when I sat down and realised how severely lacking I was in the word count department. It continued through Saturday when I wrote up my “Design” chapter, hoping it would miraculously be 5,000 words long. It continued through the two hours on Saturday night I wasted googling “how short is too short thesis”. It continued through Sunday as I desperately stretched my 4796 words to 5283. By this point, I had been planning to have about 8000 words. By the looks of things, that’s how long my entire thesis is going to end up. I just don’t know how to waffle.


But a deadline is a deadline, so I sent it off to my supervisor, and enjoyed a brief respite from the intense desire to throw up everything I’ve ever eaten. On Monday morning however, it came rushing back as I lay in bed and allowed myself to properly think about something that had been in the back of my head all weekend. My timeline is fucked.


A month for design, a month for build, a month for presentation. Sounds super neat when I put it that way. Problem is I know design, I’ve spent five fucking years studying it and what I achieved in the past four weeks could easily have been done in two. What I don’t know, is how to program a Raspberry Pi with various connected sensor boards and actuators, create a REST API and an associated PHP/SQL driven website. All of these being things I have to achieve in the next 3 weeks if I am to have a working prototype by the 25th. As well as build all of this into a fully constructed dress by the 8th of August, and writing the aforementioned missing 3-7000 words.


There is basically no way I’m going to complete my thesis project in time. I haven’t been able to eat properly since Friday an it’s unlikely I will again untile August. I’m in for a really, really shitty couple of months, during which I may fail something for the first time in my extended academic career. Naturally it felt like the right time to recommence talking to the internet

Getting Organised

This week was mid term break, an opportunity to structure my time as I want and  a trial run for how  the summer is going to go. Now, if you have been reading since before Christmas, you will be aware that structure and I have not always gotten along. But I’ve been getting better the past few months and I am an eternal optimist, so as I do in any time of stress, boredom or day that ends in a Y, I planned.May
What I set out to get done:

  1. HTML5/Js Project
  2. PureData Project
  3. App Design Midterm
  4. Arduino/Processing Project
  5. Updates to Website
  6. Start writing thesis.


What I actually achieved:

  1. HTML5/Js Project.
  2. App Design Midterm
  3. Finally added content to the Graphic and Product design pages
  4. Started writing thesis. (42 words and counting, 14 of which are the title.)
  5. Gave my hair the protein treatment its been craving for weeks now.
  6. Caught up on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Which basically sums up my life, highly ambitious, but lacking the motivation to actually see it through.

I actually don’t think the result is too awful, especially considering the Hunt catalogue continued to haunt me right up until yesterday. Having started to put any words at all down for thesis feels like a massive weight off, and I’m now at least clear on what I want to achieve with  Arduino and Processing, which is more than I could say on Monday. My past self found it hilarious to put it in my to do list as this. Still iffy on PureData because I really don’t like it as an interface and do not find it’s capabilities in the least bit inspiring. It just seems like an ugly form of Processing.

All in all, B+ Clodagh, could do with improvement.

The Journey So Far|Thesis Diary

It took me more than a month to follow up my first totally going to be weekly post, because of course it did.


Achievement Unlocked, Supervisor Acquired. And if my time with my FYP supervisor is anything to go by, Nora, I apologise in advance.


Since I’ve changed thesis idea so many times and been less than devoted to my posting about it, it would be easy to get the impression that it’s just my short attention span jumping around. So I want to take a minute to clear my name and prove that there is a certain amount of method to my madness and write up what I swear to Christ is my locked in, final, never changing ever concept.


I started before christmas with an idea to do a piece of wearable tech that you can read all about in the December entry of my Thesis tab. I knew in September I was doing a wearable. I am obsessed.


The Christmas break gave me a lot of time to think on the fact that I was going to be looking at this project for a very long time, particularly the three months of the summer. I took a hard look at my project and realised, unlike my FYP, it didn’t need to be in the least bit commercial. What it had to be was interesting. The idea I had was small time, so, inspired by the woman who has been my design hero since 2013, Anouk Wipprecht, I decided to go all in a build a dress. I dropped the location based thing because when asked why it interested me, I didn’t have an answer.


I give it a week

After a while of reading broadly in the area I decided to focus in from general social interactions to smart phone addiction, and the anti social side to social networks. The concept was that LEDs in the dress would dull with prolonged phone use, to represent that the wearer was being dull. This was the idea I presented to Nora in our first meeting, she said it was a good jumping off point, but wanted me to go bigger, which in hindsight, I shouldn’t have needed to be told.


Finally, direct from the message I sent my supervisor, is the final product:


“After reading around I still wanted to look at the anti social element, so I started thinking about why it was anti social and started looking at multitasking and how a person can only properly focus on one thing at a time. I essentially circled back to a similar function, but with a more detailed reasoning behind it.


The concept is to treat the physical world as another website/app/social media platform. To be active on one, means to be inactive in the other. In the same way you can only have one tab or app open on a screen, your attention can only exist in the digital or physical space. When the wearer is active online, they are therefore inactive in physical space, and the lighting (thinking fibre optic fabric) in the dress goes dead to indicate the wearer is “offline” in the  world around them.


I’m also playing around with the idea using white noise (possibly in a hood) as a sort of sensory deprivation to push the “out of body” feel a bit.”


And that is our journey so far.

Suffering for My Art


To see the un-photoshopped version of this click here, because I think what I did with it is quite impressive.

I call this one “Dignity”

Against all odds, this is actually a thing that exists in the world right now. “Totally finished on Saturday” turned into “One skirt and may never walk again on Saturday”, when I pulled a muscle in my back and had to waddle home after about 6 hours work and lie down. I didn’t get up for a full 24 hours. It would seem that I have reached an age where crouching on the floor all day gluing newspaper together is no longer an acceptable pastime. The loss of those days led to a bit of panic (and pain) Monday and Tuesday. But it got done.

Not that the stress stops there. I don’t know why I volunteer things, but I do it. I think I just like to martyr myself. I could have been finished with this project on Wednesday morning, but no. “I’ll do the catalogue, no problem”. “What? Thesis? No, I don’t actually want a degree”. Putting together the actual booklet wouldn’t be a problem, but getting other people to send you their stuff is trying to get blood from a stone. It’s Friday and Flat Pack Museum is still my first priority. This is why I hate people who aren’t me.

I’m venting at people who really don’t deserve it, I appreciate the deadline and brief were very fuzzy and you got stuff going on. I just had a frustratingly unproductive day yesterday and I have so much to do. With that in mind I’m going to stop spending time on this and go back to waiting for people to email me.

If you’re interested in seeing it live, Flat Pack Museum runs in the Hunt Museum for three weeks starting next Monday. We hope.

Here are some photos of the build to tide you over until, wait for it, WEDNESDAY! When there will finally be a follow up to Thesis Diary.


Happiness is

This is really long, because apparently I still have a lot of internal scars and I decided to just go with the flow. If there’s one thing I can write at length about it’s how happy my time in product design made me. It is also horrifically dramatic, but so am I, and mental health being the hot topic that it is these days, I’ve just found this the most amazing realisation over the past few weeks.

What a difference 12 months makes. Thanks to Facebooks insistence on living in the past, as well as getting to question whether my friend Nicola and I were high all through secondary school, I’m getting to relive my FYP instagram countdown from last year day by day. It’s highlighting to me just how unhappy I was in my work last year, and how much happier I am this year. My FYP drained me. For about four months, it was all consuming and I wasn’t enjoying any of it. It twisted so far away from anything I saw it being and became an exercise in box ticking. The environment I was in was toxic, creatively (That’s right, I really just said that without irony).  And I captured every gloriously miserable day of it. It’s mostly the captions that put across how thoroughly destroyed I felt, but some of the photos are equally as depressing. Here’s the reason for the post, a really cute one from this week.


My hair was admittedly phenomenal though.

This was after a particularly unpleasant meeting with my supervisor, and is the point I gave up on creative integrity (again, no irony). I was tired of being angry all the time, so for the last two months I was just sad. I finished out all the parts of my FYP to the best of my technical abilities, but my heart wasn’t in it. I stopped fighting because I realised there wasn’t any point. It wasn’t just the FYP either, there were four years of something a kin to emotional torture that left me feeling consistently beaten.

The day solidworks won #fypcountdown #day78 #productdesign #selfie

A photo posted by Clodagh O Mahony (@yodaomahony) on

I find it hysterical that I still tagged it selfie. Never let despair stand between you and IG likes.

I’m not sure how to make this in anyway advisory beyond “don’t study product design, it will ruin your life”, but I do have a happy ending. Since September, I haven’t done anything I’ve hated (except report writing, but we don’t talk about the report writing). While it’s sad the bar is so low, it’s a massive leap forward. I’ve liked my module even though some of it overlaps with things I have covered and remember disliking. Guys, I’m talking critical and speculative design and all that other conceptual nonsense, like Dunne and Raby levels of nonsense. AND I AM LOVING IT. I’ve been proud of my submissions and enjoyed the time I spent working on them. Above all, I have been  working with tutors who are entirely reasonable humans, who don’t suffer from delusions of infallibility or anything (Yes CENSORED, that’s a dig).  My work is better for it, and I’m better for it. It turns out, I’m actually not that angry a person. I am still and always will be sarcastic, but I’m much a bit less mean about it now. I’m much less irritable in general. I am a lighter, brighter person. Although I’m still pretty mean. People are just too ridiculous not to pass comment.

Waking up dreading the day no longer feels normal. Because last year was not normal. It’s not normal to get up in the morning nauseous at the thought of going to college. It’s not normal to come home in tears. It’s not normal to hate how you spend 80% of your time in between. Fuck Product Design for ever making me feel like it was.

PD studio scores two points for not being air conditioned to minus twenty degrees and having its workshop located in the same building.

Disclaimer: I’m taking my fellow students in both cases out of the equation. So if anyone wants to get uppity about it, don’t. This isn’t about you. Not everything is about you. It’s about me. Because everything is about me.

Adventures with Paper

The crease pattern is more or less there and a sizeable quantity of newspaper has been acquired, I even have paint I want to try. With an entire week left I have absolutely no excuse not to at least attempt a life size origami dress. Although I don’t think it’s origami if you use pritt-stick. If my maths is correct (which, of course it is), the circles required for the skirt will be 3.2m in diameter, or approximately 2 of me end to end. This is all going to go horribly, horribly wrong, and I can’t wait.


The first shot in the workshop is a bit crisper than the others because it’s from before I had to carry it from the ERB to  the CSIS building in the rain. The fact that it survived at all is quite impressive.

It’s been a bit of a weird week here in iMedia, for reasons I won’t go into, so I no more word today. I sleepy.

Thar She Glows

If you’re not following my snapchat, you’re really missing out. It’s crazy.

Plugging in the arduino and finding out I’d actually managed to rig up the circuit right was one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me. I definitely wasn’t expecting it. It sure as hell didn’t look like it was going to work. There were wires everywhere, and I did not make my life easier by trying to colour code it. Starting with electronics has been a bit of an eye opener in terms of how much I might be biting off with this thesis project of mine(Again I skipped the Wednesday post this week, but the February update has been posted on the thesis page). Not least the cost of it. No more lunches from Subway for me. My thesis project may save my salt and cholesterol filled heart.

Other highlights of this week include progress with the paper dress and making my incredibly competitive class play musical chairs in the name of science. There was a lot of violence, and I got college credit for it. This was part of a seminar a group of us had to organise, and I have been coasting off the accomplishment of having finished it since  Monday. These were also the presentation slides that I wasn’t designing. But totally ended up designing. Because I have a problem.

This is really short…

I also read lots of things this week. Interesting things. Actually if its something you are vaguely bothered with, Fundamentals of Wearable Computers and Augmented Reality edited by Woodrow Barfield is a fantastic read.

Reading for Two

Unsurprisingly there was no dedicated Wednesday thesis post this week because I can’t handle structure. Meanwhile my “sometime between Thursday and Monday” post is coming to you within the same 2 hour window for the 4th consecutive week. I think I spent more time writing about my blogging schedule than I do anything else.

This past few weeks seem to have aged me. And not in a bad way, curling up with a mug of Ovaltine and a stack of journal papers is fast becoming my favourite way to spend an evening. I’m slowly trudging through my Mendeley saves and working out what’s actually of use to me. I take back everything I said about academic reading. At least when it comes to wearable tech and addiction studies. They’re sort of my jam now. This whole lit review thing might not actually be so bad.

Speaking of growing as a person, I took a major step this week and put a presentation design in someone else’s hands. Granted in was Manasi’s very capable hands, but 12 months ago, letting someone else take the mouse would have been unthinkable. If I’m not the one picking the fonts then what else do I have to offer? Ideas apparently, and research skills. Who knew?

Pity research skills aren’t helping me with the blasted flat pack dress. I know I’ve only been seriously working on it for about a week now, but I hereby declare paper the least cooperative of all the materials. Its squishes, it slips, it tears and does basically anything but fold along the crease you want it to. I never felt like I picked up a lot of competencies during my time in Product Design, but I should definitely have a grip on this paper nonsense by now.

Just as a round off here are some photos from my week. . . studying for an advanced degree.

Pretty Dresses

The second I loosen my posting schedule, I suddenly become capable of military discipline.  Every Friday afternoon for the last three weeks.

Pic via Pinterest and apparently nowhere else on the internet

It’s so pretty. And it is what I am going to be attempting for Flat Pack Museum. It is the Blue Hyacinth evening gown by Sybil Connolly, or at least a maquette (miniature mock up) of it. Maquettes are the next step on from sketching, to show the client commissioning the project what it is their paying for, before investing the time and materials in a full size piece for them to turn around and hate. This tiny picture of the full size piece and the image above are the only visual evidence of it on the internet, so I’m looking forward to getting back to the Hunt Museum to do a bit of sketching and take a few photos of my own. I hadn’t heard of Sybil Connolly before the project, but information on her life and work is significantly easier to come by. She was the first Irish woman to make a dent on the fashion world and designed for everyone form Jackie Kennedy to nuns. Design research is so much easier to do when you like what you’re researching. The plan is to build it from paper, using the magic of origami, without turning against paper for life. Our exhibition opening is the 21st of March, which is not as far away as I think it is, and while I’m not a total beginner at origami, I’m a long way off constructing a replicable dress.

What Clodagh does during exams.

I’m spending more time researching this than my thesis right now, even though that too is about looking at dresses, although to be fair this is due first. Other modules aren’t even competition, not just because they don’t involve pretty dresses, but they’re not asking that much of me. Actually not true, there is plenty I could be doing with Javascript and Pure Data, but none of it’s due until week 15, so that feels like a problem for 10 weeks from now. I’m sure mobile app design will speed up, and when it does I’ll complain about that, but right now it feels like Java for backwards people.

Everyone say hi to Maire, she’s visiting me from the wilds of Kerry this week.

Beauty and the slightly less Beautiful|Thesis Diary



The artist and the engineer within me are at war.

My rational side understands that I have a background and skills in product design and usability. It understands that I got into this degree with the intention of developing my UX/UI design abilities. But things change, I’ve changed, and there is a side of me that wants to let her freak flag fly and build a big haute couture masterpiece of insanity, that you wouldn’t actually be able to sit down in, but would look wonderful at exhibition. And at the end of the day, that is where my thesis project will have it’s moment, at exhibition. But there is also the distinction between MA and MSc to think about. It shouldn’t matter but it does, it really, really does.

From a research perspective, both are plausible in the realm of reacting to social media/ smartphone usage. It will just depend on whether it’s at a personal or public level. I have at least been able to make head way in establishing there are problems with excessive smartphone use and disconnection from reality in academic references. So there’s evidence to support my wild assumptions, or my thesis, if you will.

Of course you have no idea what I’m talking about, because I haven’t updated the thesis page in about 2 weeks and its changed 20 times a day since then. It’s going to be a dress and it’s going to discourage/draw attention to anti-social smartphone use in some way. Beyond this all I’ve got is a Mendeley folder that is quickly growing past the point of being useful and I need a supervisor to make decisions for me help me make decisions, or at the very least, shush me and tell me it’s all going to be OK. I need a grown up.

Picking posting back up to twice a week, because the second all-consuming, sanity ruining project of my short life warrants its own space. I will shoot for Wednesdays, but we know how my scheduling has worked out in the past. Posting on my inspiration, my issues, my progress or lack thereof. “FYP 2 – Now with more chance for electrocution.”