PDP Blog

4k Warm up

Before starting the ever so daunting dissertation there is the lesser intimidating research proposal. Consistent meetings with my tutor have meant that I am on track, reading multiple books and gathering information about my topic

What is your topic?

Good question, at the moment there is no set topic. Initially, there was the idea of researching what is ‘cool’ and what is desirable. What is it that distinguishes what sells and what does not?

The above statement in itself is something quite broad (which I am encouraged to stay away from) so a smaller and more specific question must be adopted. How about investigating what makes a certain chair popular – this still echoes what the initial question was about yet, is refined to allow for a more direct and informed dissertation proposal.

As with any academic piece of writing, theories will be applied to this, mainly Dick Pountain’s theory of cool. There are also other theories such as Bourdieu’s theory of taste as well as investigating ergonomics and their relationship with the aesthetic of something.

The latter is something that fascinates me. What if a chair were to be discovered that was amazing to look at, a chair that you instantly fell in love with. A piece of furniture no, art that you had to have but, when you sat on it – the love had vanished and replaced by disappointment or detest

How can someone design something so beautiful yet so … uncomfortable?

One question: Would you still buy it?


The hunt for Ashley

Calm down, I am not going to sharpen my pitchfork, I just want to talk – I promise.

Whilst studying different theories on the internet, two key themes were recurring constantly in my mind.

Ergonomics & Aesthetic

As mentioned previously, the above two do quite fascinate me and I’m beginning to want to study them instead of a single chair. Whilst this could be understood as a vague thing, I’m still unsure of whether to go down this route or not.

Perhaps I can continue with the chair theme and see where it takes me. A quick search in the university library has garnered disappointing results.

There are a few books which contain information with regards to ergonomics however, there aren’t any specific ones that relate to the aesthetic. I’ve yet to find some research that compares the both – not to say that it doesn’t exist of course.

I’m beginning to think that this will result in myself carrying out some research.

Brain wave!

What if I conducted a study to find out which chairs are deemed attractive and then got people to sit on them.

I would record the opinions before and after the experience and then reflect on the change.


After tracking down Ashley using my superb hunting skills (she was casually talking to someone in the heart space), I managed to talk to her about the following things. The new directive is now to look at the definition of ergonomic as well as aesthetic to then form a comparison or a relationship between them. The key defining point is to find the meaning of aesthetic in relation to design and to then find a chair that conforms to both.


Dusty trails

As I walk in the valley of academics, the beating sun reminds me of the limited time my proposal has to live. Sweat runs down my face from exhaustion of scouring the fields, looking for information. Hope appears between the tall dry grass yet, is burned by time before I can get to it. All seems bleak as the sun proceeds towards setting. I know I have to do it, the question is when can I get it done by.

Getting information on ergonomics and aesthetics has proven to be more difficult than expected. Multiple searches online have brought up a few articles, journals, and the occasional books. However, the main issue is – are they enough for a 4,000-word proposal?

Reflecting on my notes from previous books have proven to be some help. I am reading them again but this time, I’m reading to reflect on the two categories above opposed to identifying a successful chair.

Everything is ‘up in the air’ at the moment, this proposal needs to be complete by the end of the week. It looks very unlikely that it will be complete before I’m due to jet off for my sister’s wedding. Perhaps the scenario I am in will act as a gravity for my academic situation.

I’ve borrowed more books and now reading through them to determine whether I can get any information. This is a key point in this so called ‘marathon’ as If I cannot find any information – resorting back to the initial question will have to be adopted.

“If there is no information, there is no information”


Concrete pathways

After gaining information from books and taking notes (still much to read) I have decided that I have left the so-called dusty trail behind. My pace has quickened from an uncertain walk to a fairly confident stride.

The books are proving to be worthy of my ever so decreasing time. Information gathered from there is being fed straight into the draft version of my dissertation proposal. This will be expanded and paraphrased to avoid being chased by the ‘plagiarism detectors’ on this already challenging run.


Asphalt Road

All notes have been typed up. It has been a crazy reading rampage which had me seeing words everywhere… even in my dreams – ok maybe not that bad but still.

These notes have been added to a word document alongside the book and page number which I will use to add some quotes to my proposal. I’m not sure if this should be done but I’m prepared to take that risk… live a little.

The books which I have tortured so far are as follows:

Chair: Massey, A

Scandinavian Furniture; A sourcebook of classic designs for the 21st century: Gura, J

Furniture By Architects; from Aalto to Zumthor: Hesse, Petra & Lueg, Gabrielle

Furniture Design; An Introduction to Development, Materials and Manufacturing: Lawson, S

Fantastic plastic; product design + consumer culture: S. T. I Mossman

Ergonomics At Work: Oborne, David J.

Furniture Designed by Architects: Page, M

Body Space; Anthropometry, Ergonomics and Design: Pheasant, S

Human Factors in Design: Sage, J & Goodier, A


The Sprint

On your marks, get set…. type!

It seems the pace has been a little slow for what is to be achieved within this time frame. The notes have been typed up and now there is the task of adding meat to the skeleton my constellation tutor has provided. So far everything looks bleak – again, it seems that this task will be left just on the stadium approach i.e. no attendance at my sister’s wedding *sigh*

This sprint has two days to be achieved, two days to write over 3,000 words, two days… you get the idea.

The only thing left to say is… run!


Sprained ankle

The sprint turned to a hobble and then resulted in a screeching halt, I stood there outside the stadium with bated breath.

All of this running has caught up to me, I can hear the noise of the bystanders wishing me to continue. My body is in pain both physically and mentally and honestly, I don’t know if I can continue. I am so close yet so far..

My sprint was short lived, why is that when things look up – life has a way of reminding you to stay humble. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit here.

My uncertainty lead me to the drop in session with Ashley, I’m surprised she isn’t sick of my face if you ask me but anyways. I waffled, I mean talked to her for a bit and she suggested another book to read… great! no really – amazing, it’s just what I needed a few days before departure…. yay!

*tantrum over*

I’m more than halfway through reading the book and have made a few notes and actually, the drop in session with Ashley helped. It made me realise that I need to include other materials in my post and to talk about other things as well as writing a billion words on ergonomics.


Finish Line

I have done it, I have managed to succeed… it seemed impossible but it has been done, just on the last day before I am due to depart. I need to get to sleep now for I have a big journey ahead of me.

I will no doubt lay awake in this last night, thinking of the stress that this proposal has caused me and the new stress that I will need to go through when I get back…IF I get back. I get that my sisters wedding is important for me to attend yet so is the work that needs to be given in for my course. Paul has mentioned that we will not have any work to do during the holidays and that it is entirely up to us.  Something in the back of my mind is telling me to stay and do work yet the other majority of my body, alongside family are telling me to go – what shall I do?


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