Forestry project and groupwork issues

Currently we’re working on a project on service design for forestry. The project started in the beginning of April, but it really feels like it started just 2 weeks ago. We went on a field trip to the forest when we brooded in a deep snow/ice listening to a relatively boring (in my opinion) lecture. Then we were fed a ton of information, and told to read through boring scientific reports which were supposed to give us an overview of the industry and environment. In the way they did, but with the time given we only scratched the surface and which to me makes almost no difference whether or not I went through all the information. In fact, I just got the impression that everyone got confused from the amount of it and broadness, there was no clear target or problem. Sure, there are problems, quite a few, but we can’t solve all of them, and many are outside of our possibilities, e.g. influence on law and regulations and politics about forestry.

This project if a fully group project, and therefore it’s doomed for having various issues within the groups, and so it happened, and in this case the available information was our enemy. Difficulty in finding direction, agreeing on direction, people denying to read documents (I’m guilty of that too). But mostly about finding a direction and specifying ideas. From the beginning I knew I’d have to lead my group, but eventually the lack of ability to make decisions, and, in fact, lack of commitment to the group started to be a big obstacle. One day I came home really pissed off after an unproductive day of “maybes” and “perhapses” and illustrated our groupwork. At least I finally got a chance for “learning” some infographics/illustrations.


The next day we tried to sort out our problems and also asked our program director to help us with that, which was a good thing. What I found funny at that conversation was that my remaining group members said we lack a leader, and then I wondered what was I doing all that time then. People generally don’t like groupwork and they have certain images of what leaders and leadership is about – making orders, decisions and delegating  tasks. And even though we got a brilliant and short book about working in teams, but who cares to read that? And that’s how we get those common misconceptions. I know I’m not the best leader, but I’m trying and learning, I can order, but I don’t want to, I want to make sure works get done, people stay on the right track, work is systematic, and I try facilitate to make decisions together, but nope, apparently that’s not leadership according to my group mates.

Either way, eventually we got passed that. Got a concept, which was the most obvious and simple idea, in my opinion, that I suggested not thinking anyone would approve of it, since it’s so boringly obvious, but in a way it still works. We continued working on it, with my idea and my quality standards I had the most amount of work. Oh well, if you want to get something done, do it yourself, right?

Presentation + idea + graphic design of materials all mine

Presentation + idea + graphic design of materials all mine

Anyway, that was the start. Now we’re nearing the end of the project. We had an internal presentation for our tutors on Friday that was in a way concluding main part of our project. Now we have to make a movie that would give some background to our project, without being a direct advertisement. And here is our group again, different ideas, constantly diverging instead of converging on ideas and making decisions, almost avoiding making decisions. I’m the only one writing stuff down to at least have some reference point to hold on to. In the end, it just feels like I’m forcing my vision onto others, but I really don’t know how else to encourage people to think of concrete ideas and watch out for “plot holes”. This project is quite exceptionally nerve-wrecking and testing my patience. In fact, I like the project itself, it just everything around it…

Updates: IxD, IKSU, library lecture & projects

I was away from here for quite a long time. There were multiple times that I wanted to write something but there wasn’t enough time or I just didn’t have enough energy to go through all the typing business. I’m not necessarily back, just want to write about a couple of recent events. I’m a awfully busy person recently. But I manage to somehow deal with the school assignments, some extra events while being quite social with my amazing classmates.

Point one: IxD (Interaction design)

I applied for the Master’s program in Interaction Design at UID (where I currently study). I wanted to study that program ever since I found Umeå, but I wasn’t eligible due to lack of education in arts, and also lack of portfolio. I submitted my application in mid-January with a very weak unfinished portfolio, and to my surprise I went past the first stage, being selected from over 65 participants. In fact part of me hoped I wouldn’t get in so that I would have a chance to go for internships. But me and my friends went through the first stage, so now I’m hoping we will get in and have another great year with awesome classmates :D

For the Second stage we had to record a short video blog talking about co-design. I spent a couple of hours on Sunday filming it, and then most of Monday editing it, and when I was ready to send it in, I read the assignment again… and I had to re-shoot the entire thing. Thankfully it’s only 2-minutes long video. But first I made a video about my opinions about the method, not my experiences, as it was asked. So 2 hours before the deadline I filmed a new video, in 15 minutes this time, 1 hour editing and then uploaded it. I wonder if it’s good enough. Results will be announced probably around mid or late March. *fingers crossed*

Point two: IKSU

I finally got the IKSU card – the local sports center –  and I’m enjoying the full benefits it gives me. Despite I generally don’t like classes and workout in groups I decided to try out some here and I love them! It’s also easier to get in for classes than for a regular gym which is usually full, but at the same time I can never really push myself alone as much as during organized classes.

A couple of weeks ago we had a sports day at the university and the entrance was free. We booked beach volleyball and played it with classmates. Ever since we book it every week! Some of my best friend also decided to get a card so now we can also go to classes together. I never though I would experience going to the gym with my friends! Feels so cool! We went to 2 workouts this week, and I went to BodyCombat today as well. I love it. Plan for the future is BodyPump twice a week (for building some muscles) + BodyCombat twice a week (for cardio and cool moves) + ice skating + beach volleyball. Quite an ambitious plan, but I hope I’ll be able to maintain it for a bit. It feels great!

Point three: library lecture

Two days ago I had a lecture at the university library. The library encourages students for more participation and offers the possibility to share knowledge on various topics (and also pays quite well for that). I talked about the basics of web design. Even though I’m not updated that much on recent technologies the basics don’t really change, and there wasn’t time to get into details anyway.

The lecture went really well, and some people talked to me afterwards too. It was really cool!


Point four: projects

Recently we had a project for the university library, mostly about updating the look of their website but we expanded the area a bit more beyond the website. We also had a great group, where I worked with two of my best friends, one of which is also a web designer (but much more experienced than I am). It was great, learning more and discussing issues. And even though we’re friend we kept the groupwork really focused on the task without going on random private conversations. I think it was the best group experience so far, where entire group worked really well (I think I was the lazy one in this case).


Currently we have a transportation design project, and I decided to focus on snowmobiles and their controls. I always wanted to try riding one, but since I haven’t it’s a bit challenging. I emailed an organization which rents them if I could come and at least see them from up close. Still waiting for a reply. I got really excited about it. Seems like it’s a transportation type with a very particular community, and there’s a lot of passion and love for the machines there. I love those kind of communities. But then, trying to re-work a machine is gonna be challenging not to be viewed as a total poser who ignores their passion for snowmobiles.


All in all, I’m busy with a lot of things. And in the beginning we’re going on a trip to Brussels and Amsterdam with my friends-classmates. Best class ever! Finally!

IDI is really intensive

IDI – Industrial Design Intensive – is the course I study right now. And indeed it’s pretty intensive. So far we turned in 2 projects and deadline for the third is on Tuesday.

For the first project we had barely 3 days (in total 2 weeks from start to the end, but without supervision). For the second project we had 1.5 weeks. The second project was the sketching practice where we had to design and sketch a hairdryer in 3 perspectives. Current project concerns designing a handheld blender, and we have 3 weeks for this one.

All projects so far are extremely short,and there’s barely enough time to complete them. Most people stay after classes a couple of hours to continue working. And many complain there isn’t enough time, and that we can’t get quality results in the given time. While I agree with that, I don’t think it’s that bad.

During the first two project I was working on finishing my thesis, so I had to manage time to finish all of them on time. Sacrificing quite a lot of project time for the sake of the thesis. In the end my end result wasn’t standing out looking terrible amongst others.

Because I always work “last moment”, I believe I learned to efficiently cut corners, and achieve an acceptable result in a short period of time. Also, I am aware of what our requirements are and how much I actually need to do. In general, I don’t have a problem with time, but certainly it’s hectic.

Right now I have to do several sketches, a final foam model, re-draw storyboard on a tablet, and prepare presentation material before Monday evening. I assume I’ll spend the entire weekend at school. It’s quite a lot of work, but it’s not unmanageable.

But of course, everyone has different goals, and some people will put in more work and work with different methods. I like to be realistic about time limits though – I know that within given time my result can only reach certain quality with my skills, or that certain quality will be enough. Some people like to stretch and do great looking renders, but I’m lazy, and I know the course’s focus is on the process rather than on the result. I still put a great deal of time into projects. But also so far, we’ve only done product design projects, and it’s not my thing. I’m so much more interested in the cool things a product can do rather than defining how exactly it will look like. I can’t wait for the interaction projects :D

First project done

During the entire morning and one hour after lunch we had the presentations of our hairdryers. Some people stayed until 4:30 AM at the university to finish them up. It’s pretty crazy for such a small project like this one.

I was sure mine would be the worst, given how little time I had, but in fact it stayed at the same level as other presentations. I also planned my presentation to be a bit more interesting and story-oriented in order to make up for the lack of quality. I think it worked. But quality surprisingly wasn’t as terrible against others as I would have expected.

hairdryerIn the end I noticed and understood many of us felt like ours was the worst in comparison to others. It’s just so difficult to look objectively at an own thing, being aware of all the flaws coming from either lack of skill or lack of time (or both).

After the presentations we had a short course summary and fika with IDI alumni, who continued their education further in this school. Unfortunately for me, most of them were from product design program and some sort of artistic background (either bachelor in design or architecture). They told us they learned a lot during IDI, but strangely I don’t feel like that right now. This first weeks were mostly about sketching, but all I’m told is that I need to practice more – what if I’m not interested in making great sketches? Is there any point in practicing like crazy for a month, if I’m not gonna carry on in this direction and the skill will get rusty over time, quickly? I’m waiting for the more meaningful stuff.

We’re also trying to work out having a class blog where we can document our time here, because no one really knows what IDI really is during application time.

And we also have a sauna at school! So we’re doing a small class sauna meeting in half an hour :D I need to work on my thesis, but I really want to go to the sauna. I think I need a bit of a free time after yesterday.

Day before the first deadline @ IDI

Tomorrow, we have presentation for our first small project (or actually second project, but first presentation). I’ve been staying at our studio for a couple of evenings this week and last week. Most people went home by 5 PM. Today, everyone was still there at 7 PM (or nearly everyone). Half of the class stayed until 11 PM. When I was leaving at 1.30 AM four people were still working. Amazing! It’s so much fun working at night with other people day before deadline, knowing I’m not alone!