The project brief I would like to reconsider in connection to the secondary research methods developed in Design Studies in semester two is Stone Setting. This project did not simply require us to learn a selection of new jewellery skills, it had another level which encouraged research into the ideas of luck and superstition which interest me greatly. I focused on the aspect of body guards, objects that are considered to have protective powers over the owner or that simply bring good fortune to the wearer.
In my secondary research I looked at a number of books related to the subject. I discovered how wide the field of projective amulets and charms is and was astonished at the fact that almost everyone one I asked had some sort of an object that they considered lucky. Even the least superstitious people I have ever met turned out to be in possession of a sentimental piece of jewellery or some other small item that was either worn or carried or just kept safe. Another research technique I used to complete that project was simply surfing the Internet. I came across many on-line “societies” devoted to popularising a certain ancient symbol or an image that assumingly has some kind of protective abilities. In fact, many of the websites I came across had alternative versions in a language different to English which made me realise that there is quite a few objects that are considered to be lucky globally. This made me wonder even further, whether it would be possible to classify or maybe even rank those objects to create a list of the top body guards of our times. Nevertheless, after thorough consideration and lengthy discussions with my classmates I came to the conclusion that since the people of every single culture, religion and country believe that different objects bring luck, it would be rather impossible to state for certain which one is the Worlds most popular. However, using the techniques of secondary research I have practiced this semester I could quite easily find out that is the number one British protective amulet.
Out of all the methods we studied this semester interviewing seems to be the most striking idea. The groups of people I would interview would have to be divided accordingly to their age, sex and occupation. Lets say, I wanted to ask my university friends the same set of questions about their lucky objects. Most of the interviewees would therefore be round about the same age of 19 to 25, mostly female, British and students. That would give me an idea if the younger generation is superstitious and why is that. Then I could contrast that with the same set of questions being asked to the older generation of over 70 years of age. The outcome would reveal if anything has changed in our understanding and beliefs in superstition over the 50 years diving the two groups. For example, some of the questions I would include are: “in your opinion, what does superstition mean? And do you consider yourself to be superstitious and why?”, “what is your lucky object and how did you get it?”, “ if your lucky object is not wearable but could be redesigned to be, what form would you prefer to wear it in? (ring, necklace, brooch, bracelet etc…)”. Moreover, I would keep truck of the colours of the objects mentioned so that by the end of the interview process I would have a clear idea of the colours that seem to be repeating and therefore are considered luckiest. The results of this form of primary research would enable me to design a full collection of lucky objects that would be universal to all ages. I would know what materials, symbols, textures and colours to use in order to achieve the best outcome and satisfy the majority of the customers.
Another technique I could potentially use in order to enhance my project is observation. I could make up a collection out of all the objects that I discovered to be protective in my secondary research and expose my interviewees to it. I could ask them to pick, present and explain which one of the objects has the most “powers” and why. Next, I would ask them to place it somewhere on their body to give me an idea of how to incorporate it into a piece of wearable jewellery. This experiment and the interviews could also the conducted on a group that is exactly the same as the first one just of a different nationality. By that I would find out how big the cultural differences are when it comes to this subject and I would be able to see if a national luck charm could be named for each country. Even in the case if I was commissioned to design and make a one-off piece of jewellery of a client I could employ both of the techniques discussed above to gain a better understanding of their taste. This proves how vital methods such as observation and interview are when it comes to designing something as personal as a piece of jewellery.
In my opinion, using Design Studies techniques in my everyday work in studio is highly beneficial. To be more specific, I cannot imagine not using those tools because I do it all the time, even without thinking about it. It is our subconscious way of making sense of any situation we are in, in the Design environment. Primary research happens all around us, it is just that we need to pay more attention to it and make more of an effort to link it to secondary research. Those two types of researches when interconnected form the perfect combination to success. We just have to remember to look into insignificant details we would normally miss, as sometimes they can tell us more then just mechanical reading. So from now on, I promise to look and ask, not from just reading. I am sure it will be worth it.