Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Final Post...For Now

1. What seminar readings, exercises, or assignments were most challenging, interesting, or rewarding for you? Why?

I really enjoyed working on three projects in particular: the Wikipedia Article, the group presentation, and the final argumentative essay paper. These projects were the most challenging that our class had this term, and I felt that they, more than anything, allowed me to develop and utilize college-level skills. The group presentation was fun because of the variety of opinions and experiences that our group brought together. It was challenging, but our ideas melded well in the end for a fairly polished final product. The Wikipedia article, like Dave said, forced us to implement a different writing style than is standard for most papers. The argumentative essay was an interesting project as well because of the opportunity to express strong opinion.

2. What are the most important things you learned in this seminar?

I learned a good deal about my own writing and design process. I think I've learned how I should go about improving the mechanical aspects of my writing and presentations. For instance, my best work comes when I do it a week or so in advance with lots of quiet time to reflect on it.

3. How might you use this learning in the future?

I am going to apply the skills I've learned in this seminar to how I study and write in the future.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Behavioral Architecture

1. What are examples of architectural design that you consider to be epic failures?

There is a community college in Centreville, MI with an absolutely terrible design. The building is built into a hill with a long hall leading up to a massive set of stairs. The stairs, a hideous blend of concrete, wind up into the center of an enormous concourse/student area. The concourse is larger than any other part of the school and is hideous. It is one huge open room with no visceral appeal and no private places to study or relax. The classrooms are set back into four tower-like "wings" at the corners of the concourse. They are inconvenient to reach because there are no entrances besides through the concourse. The building does not allow for easy or desirable expansion and suffers from structural issues (leaks, shifting walls, etc).

2. Choose a building on K's campus and analyze its behavioral and visceral usability.

Stetson Chapel is a really cool building on campus. It has an extremely attractive, antiquated feel with a neat bell-tower. The brick construction is very pretty, and the windows are neat. Stetson has a large seating capacity, and so is appropriate for some student functions. The building is also acoustically well-designed and so functions well for concerts.

3. What is the flaw in the current design process? How could this problem be fixed?

The flaw in the current design process has to do with a lack of communication. Owners and contractors cannot seem to communicate desires properly to each other. It results in finished products falling short of desired results. Were the strictures of relationship loosened, the program schedules changed, the flow of design would improve 100-fold.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


1. "Focusing on individuals or groups of individuals in test studies frequently concludes that advertising plays no significant role in decision making. An examination of advertising as a cultural phenomenon, on the other hand, suggests something quite different, a conclusion that might explain why revenues for advertising keep growing and why businesses continue to advertise."

This passage begins to rationalize, I think, a question I find very unclear: why is advertising so important if its affects are so unclear? The author then goes on to describe advertising's power, how it reaches into our psyche and preys upon, well, our greed.

2. First, the author defines advertising. The author then describes the subliminal power of advertising and contends repeatedly that it works despite a lack of concrete supporting evidence. He describes advertising basically as one cog in a machine of commercial selling power. His final point is that our culture revolves around the television, and so television advertising subliminally affects us all, "what television does is deliver audiences to advertisers."

3. Advertising is a psychological ploy in the first place: it is an elaborate game in which the advertiser must simultaneously entertain and inform while disguising the fact that it is trying to do so. An advertiser who does not understand the psychology of what they are trying to accomplish will come across as inexperienced and crass.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thesis Statement

Downtown areas should emulate malls to increase appeal and maintain a sustainable and vibrant retail community.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fashion Design

1. Why is fashion so reflective, when it could be purely functional and behavioral? (Why do people feel an impulse to express and redefine themselves through their clothes?

Humans choose to redesign themselves with fashion (clothing, hairstyles, etc) because it is an easy, extremely visible way to make yourself unique. All of us want our sense of style to reflect things about us, what we do, with whom we friend ourselves. Fashion does that: it reflects and enhances our projected image to others.
Fashion makes it easy to express and redefine ourselves because of its variety and visual appeal. People make thousands of judgments based on appearance, and fashion is a tool that attempts to frame those judgments, to put them in a narrow field. Thus, fashion fills a desire manipulate others' view of us.

2. Jones discusses the importance of time as it relates to fashion--why does fashion change and evolve, instead of remaining static and functional?

Fashion's evolution is derived partly from our need to differentiate from others as discussed above. In our desire to be unique, we move beyond the fashions of our predecessors and create new "looks." Fashion changes to reflect cultural swings. Looking at the past two decades in women's fashion, we see marked changes to showcase strong, smart, independent women. This is a direct result of how women would like to be seen in the modern era.

3. Based on the reading, make a checklist of principles to consider when designing a garment.

Fashion Checklist
1. Social context/affiliation: With regards to price, and style, in what class does this garment place a person? Does it denote authority or status? Does it say something about the wearer's background or preferences? About what they do in their spare time? About their status among peers?
2. Psychological self-enhancement: I think this is important because if fashion does not first convince the wearer of "self-enhancement," it fails to sell. I own many articles of clothing that lend me that sense of self enhancement, like some of my American Eagle shirts or my orange Nike shoes.
3. Fit: For some kinds of clothing, fit is everything. For instance, I will only purchase jeans with a very specific cut. There is a limited selection that match the style I wish to convey and feel good while doing it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thesis Analysis

1. "Make it simple and people won't buy. Given a choice, they will take the item that does more."
2. "Why such expensive toasters? Why all the buttons and controls on steering wheels and rear-view mirrors? Because they appear to add features that people want to have."
"But while at the store, I marveled at the advance complexities of all appliances, especailly ones that once upon a time were quite simple..."
"Why even more controls? I asked my contact at Siemens, "when you could make this machine with only one or two?"
"Are you one of those people who wants to give up control, who thinks less is better?" asked this usability expert. "Don't you want to be in control?"
3. Given the choice between two similar products, one complex and one simplified, today's consumer is smart enough to choose the simple design.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Downtown Evaluation

1. Downtown Kalamazoo is an area with much potential. The strengths of the downtown lie in its variety and individuality. Stores like Gazelle Sports and Climb Kalamazoo generate visitor traffic. The downtown's proximity to the Radisson Hotel offers visitors some nice places to shop and/or eat. Downtown Kalamazoo's problems arise from a few factors: the area's one-way streets can be confusing and thus deterring, and the area is known to be suffering economically. While generally a nice place to be, downtown Kalamazoo is not extremely successful as a business area.

a) Even more stores, more variety. The area has many successful generators, but as many of us noticed while walking downtown, there is a lot of empty space. Kalamazoo needs renters.
b) Kids spend money, try to appeal to them! There are some aspects of the area that my generation enjoys, but certainly not enough. The area could take a few hints from Gibbs' ideas about urban space and let in some mall-like businesses.
c) Kalamazoo needs to use the downtown mentality in its favor and sell lifestyle. Presently, boutiques far outweigh any other kind of store. Sure, these are nice to have, but they are not generators, and they do not actually sell a high-class lifestyle. Kalamazoo needs more stores with expensive wares that cater to the upper-middle class.

3. From Lagerfeld's writing: "As Gibbs sees it, Clematis Street is fighting the same problem that a lot of other American main streets are: it doesn't have a purpose anymore. During the 1920s it connected the train station, on the west end of town, with the ferry to Palm Beach, on the east end. But after two bridges, on either side of town, began funneling traffic around Clematis, its fate was sealed. The Woolworth's, the McCrory's, and the Sears, Roebuck all continued to prosper for a while, but business inevitably followed the cars."
One of the problems with Kalamazoo's downtown is that save for purposeful guests, the roads there have little or no purpose. The main thoroughfare runs past the downtown, but it does not slow enough to provide retailers a chance to draw traffic in. The highways around Kalamazoo unfortunately do very well at funneling traffic all around downtown. The area is relatively isolated from all the other major retail centers (South Westnedge, West Main, etc).