Archive for the ‘Britain’ Category

Designers asked by UK Government to tackle MRSA

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Design Week is reporting that five UK design consultancies are being sought by the Department of Health and the Design Council to collaboratte with scientists and healthcare professionals. They will be asked to develop “innovative design-led hospital furniture and equipment that could improve cleaning and reduce patients’ exposure to healthcare-acquired infections”.

The programme, called “Design Bugs Out” starts with a briefing on 2 September and will focus on research in three hospitals, identifying key problem areas.

Having identified five key areas, each team will be asked to focus on one and given a £25,000 grant.
After the closing date for submissions on 10 October, final teams will be announced ten days later and given seven weeks to develop prototypes. Winning designs will be exhibited next summer.

Happy as a pig in sh*t

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

I spotted this poor chap today in the Grassmarket, Edinburgh. The worst thing about it was the fact that the pig seems to be smiling.

I find its slow disintegration from the back rather worrying too.

Looks bloody tasty, though…

BBC News reports "Warning over universities’ future"

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

This article from the BBC backs up perfectly the predictions being made at New Views 2:

Some universities will face closure or merger as they struggle to compete for a dwindling number of students over the next 20 years, vice-chancellors warn.

A report for umbrella body Universities UK says unless institutions adapt quickly to the changing demographics, some institutions will become unviable.

The number of 18 to 20-year-olds is set to fall sharply between 2009 and 2027.
This means universities could face a smaller demand for places and hence a drop in public funding, it says.
The Universities UK report looks at three different scenarios predicting what will happen if institutions react in different ways to the changing demographics and a more difficult economic climate.


In the second scenario, non-traditional private providers enter the market pace and “cherry pick” course areas with low entry costs.
A greater increase in e-learning also leads to partnerships with private firms. […]
In this scenario, damage to the education system is predicted as private providers gain degree awarding powers and a small number of elite institutions seek to leave the publicly funded sector.

In the third scenario, the university sector becomes more employer-driven and flexible and there is full development of technology-based learning thanks to public and private investment.
Most students end up studying part-time on a virtual basis while they continue to work, but full-time undergraduate study does remain part of the system.
This leads to universities grouping together strategically with employers and establishing themselves as major regional providers along side further education colleges.
Again, private providers cherry-pick vocational provision which will net them substantial profits and they also take over failing institutions.

What this report suggests is that if design education is to survive as a university subject, it has to let go of its vocational roots, no longer training designers (leaving that to the FE sector and private colleges) but educating strategic thinkers. Exactly what we concluded.

Percentage wars

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Anna Pickard in The Observer:

Marvellously, The Apprentice brings with it a welcome return of moronic businessisms, as candidates trot out trite examples of things that sound fine in brightly coloured motivational books, but idiotic when tumbling out of mouths.

A favourite is the search for the highest percentage. You may have thought that the highest percentage would be 100, but that would be naive and non-managerial.

For some time, it has not been enough to give 100 per cent effort. To impress, nothing less than 110 per cent is necessary. Or 150 per cent. Or 200 per cent. Percentage wars have broken out and 1,000 per cent is bandied about.

At this point, the notion of percentage flies out of the window and the contestants find themselves stuck in a ‘who can think of the biggest number’ competition. These are, apparently, some of the best new business minds in the country. Which terrifies me 38,476 per cent.

The New Economy Is Here

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

The New York Times asks an interesting question that could be asked of UK politicians too:

Why do presidential candidates touting their concern for the economy pose with factory workers rather than with ballet troupes? After all, the U.S. now has more choreographers (16,340) than metal-casters (14,880), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More people make their livings shuffling and dealing cards in  casinos (82,960) than running lathes (65,840), and there are almost three times as many security guards (1,004,130) as machinists (385,690). Whereas 30 percent of Americans worked in manufacturing in 1950, fewer than 15 percent do now. The economy as politicians present it is a folkloric thing …

It is that the transition is over. The new economy we have been promised is in place. …The ‘jobs of the future’ that were promised 20 years ago are here. Choreographers, blackjack dealers and security guards have replaced factory workers as the economy’s backbone, if not yet its symbol. New economies have always required a kind of initiation fee of those who would participate fully in them.

(Via The Creativity Exchange.)

Stopped Clocks

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

Here’s an interesting project. aims to catalogue Britain’s thousands of stopped clocks on high streets and in villages, and then work with the people involved to get them started again.

There’s something a bit sad about a stopped clock – it suggests all is not well with the world.

From the site’s creator:

I once took a walk around a square mile in central London, I found 11 stopped clocks, either Municipal clocks, church clocks or otherwise public clocks. After poking about and doing some research, I discovered that it really does not cost much to fix a clock, as there is a tendency within clock repair to replace very old clock mechanisms with a mix of digital and analogue mechanisms. For an average of £1,000, each of the clocks that I found could be repaired.

Clocks in the public sphere were once really vital – not everyone had watches, let alone wrist-watches until the early 70’s – you needed to be able to see what the time was and so they truly had a public function. Nowadays, with digital watches and mobile phones being the norm, the function of these clocks has disappeared.

As a metaphor for our relationship with our past I think that stopped clocks are a potent symbol of the loss of our analogue past, how almost unknowingly we left behind so much when we entered this digital age. I hope you enjoy the blog, and will help me create a deep database of stopped clocks around the country, with the aim of getting them fixed.

Best views in Britain

Friday, August 10th, 2007

The Guardian has a selection of some of the winners in ITV’s upcoming series Britain’s Favourite View.

There are some great images there, well worth a look, but my favourite, more because it reminds me of home than anything else, is the photo above of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales (next to the wonderfully named Arkengarthdale).
It’s a massive region of England and I don’t think I was ever bored visiting because you can always discover something new – a working blacksmith, standing stones, gorgeous views, the giant golfballs of the US Air Force’s Menwith Hill monitoring station, or one of the many waterfalls in the area.

Worth a visit if you’re ever in the country and a great alternative to the usual sites (plus it’s close to York, Ripon, Durham and other cities). (And no, I’m not being sponsored by the Tourist Board…)