Where Next has been a great project to be part of and I believe I have contributed to several aspects to some degree. However, I feel my input and efforts have, at times, held the group back and/or caused problems. On the whole, communication within the group was strong, supportive and reminded everybody what to focus on and when. The shared Google drive and WhatsApp were extensively used and particularly helpful when we were not all together. Initial meetings were enthusiastic and focused but lost momentum with the absence of a key tutor. Attendance waned and decisions were made without discussion as a group. This indicates how much we were relying on her guidance instead of us directing the project ourselves, and would have benefited from appointing a Project Manager.
With each year of IMO, I have always tried hard to produce good, well-informed work but have had persistent trouble managing my time and workload. I believe I set myself realistic goals and deadlines but spent too long working towards and failed to meet them. Also, I couldn’t stop adding to my task list or agreeing to help others with theirs. Unfortunately, this has affected more than my own work and is now unfair to my peers and unprofessional. On the other hand, the quality of what I have done has enabled others to carry out some of their tasks more easily. The imbalance is something I must resolve very soon.
Forming a budget and sticking to it was helpful for some of us but not everybody knew about/understood it. With hindsight, I could have explained my calculations and printed it for reference in the studio. In approaching my other responsibilities, I tended to initiate research promptly, become distracted and not see it through. My most serious oversight was not conducting a Risk Assessment and the whole exhibition could easily have been disallowed. I’m really not sure why this happened or how I let it happen but it has featured frequently enough in my studies that I am seeking help managing my time and workflow.
I definitely sought help and advice when attempting something unfamiliar but much less so when feeling overwhelmed and falling behind schedule. Here, all my senses of judgement and scrutiny were impaired and I seemed to achieve very little. Although we built free days for making into our plans, we never allowed much time for things going wrong. As such, the paint of the stands wasn’t dry and some maps were still being screen-printed on the morning of the exhibition due to my mistake orientating the map and text layouts. Could this be avoided by me working in tight pairs, like the metalwork team, and ensuring my work is checked before progressing to the next stage? In truth, whether any of this happens or not is inconsequential but would help me understand I was specifically being held to account and that all deadlines mattered.
Our choice of structure materials was decided early on and not seriously revisited because we simply lacked time. My reticence in changing backdrops from fabric/vinyl to MDF/photo-emulsion disappeared when tests proved successful enough against a dark grey background. Plywood would have been a more pleasant mount for our maps but given our circumstances and budget, I believe we correctly stuck to MDF. As one peer predicted, the public, for the most part, were not designers and did not appear to notice the difference. Many commented on the vibrant colour scheme and that it suited our work and the station.
Regarding my personal work, I am delighted that I was able to display it at all and pleased that it had evolved since the bicycle-parking project. Regrettably, the last 3 days were not really spent improving or producing more reflective pins because I considered my group contribution to be more valuable. Nevertheless, I am grateful to my supportive cohort who pushed me to print my map and repaint a 5th structure on the off chance that it would be allowed in. Development of my ideas should have been greater and applications for my chosen materials more thorough by scrutinising independently at regular intervals, and not just during tutorials. This is an essential requirement of a final year student and one I am yet to enact.
The final outcome was successful and many of our objectives achieved. The handmade aesthetic was preserved and everybody’s work sat well together with no single display dominating the space. It is a shame we did not pool resources during the exhibition for gathering contact details or have a book for the public to leave written feedback.
Doing it next time:
- Produce one complete structural model with measurements to refer to instead of multiple images online or in somebody’s sketchbook
- We needed more variety of work to choose display pieces from. Although it was an excellent event, our work/concept development could have been slightly elevated in terms of IMO3 showing to the public, especially mine
- Get posters out much much earlier and ensure listings in local/regional newspapers, national design publications, have more online presence than just social media who tend to ‘like’ events but not actually attend them
- Take advantage of Open Days/interviews to promote across the university and beyond
- Often too reliant on tutors. Use each other (and objective opinions of IMO1+2) to help improve peer work well ahead of time
- Meetings should cover individual progress and collectively address problems/pre-empt difficulties as we are exhibition curators and designers
- Rework public access and promotion as one element. Take turns distributing leaflets at exits. Lay vinyl/speech bubbles outside back exit and lead through tunnel round the front. Hang pink/yellow ribbons in static doorways to attract attention. Vinyl in large windows behind one student’s display
- Have a small range of Where Next products visible but not for sale, e.g. tote bag, vinyl on flask of coffee/big bottle of water for us, scarves shaped like arrows
- Discuss merits/failings of previous years’ exhibitions – particularly relevant for our international student. I visited the last two and recalled some of my feelings about their events but didn’t share these