25th March 2017
274 High Street
I stumbled upon this Papercup in the East End of Glasgow when I was on my way to another breakfast spot. Only spotted by the small sign in the window it was thankfully much quieter than its West End counterpart so I decided to make it this weeks venue. I chose a comfy window seat that allowed me to oversee the minimalist decor and also catch a glimpse of the beautiful sun that was bathing Glasgow.
Last week a number of students from my class opted to participate in a 24 hour design challenge, set by London based design consultancy Native. I decided to join in with the challenge because it looked like it would be a bit of fun and it felt like another opportunity for me to be inspired.
I have to admit that when we first received the brief it didn’t initially portray itself as something that catered to a 24 hour challenge. Maybe I had mislead myself by believing that it would be along the lines of a Design, Build and Test project which would allow us to demonstrate our ability to quickly innovate and apply our practical skills.
The brief, which asked us to address the problem of urbanisation and how this is leading us to develop a Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD), was clearly a complex problem and in reality would require a lengthy process to gather the correct insights and really understand the problem properly. However, the brief was set and I didn’t feel like there was much point in dropping out after psyching myself up for it.
The first couple of hours saw us get to work in groups to look deeper into the problem and identify what we felt to be important. As we sat around the desk, even with an active environment and a far from blank sheet of paper in front of us, I began to feel myself spiral into my usual course of self-doubt and became frustrated with the lack of ideas I was having. Then I said something to the group that really struck a chord with myself.
“This project is stupid; we can’t be expected to sit around this table and come up with ideas when we don’t have time to experience any insight opportunities.”
Immediately, I packed up my stuff, told the group I was going for a cycle and told myself that I was going to develop any idea I had and produce something for the coming day.
Now, I don’t want to get too romantic about it but given that the brief was trying to highlight the positive effects that nature can have on us, going for a cycle may have been my best decision of the day.
Firstly, I managed to get myself lost, which was a great start. Carrying on in some unknown direction it took me only 10 minutes before I felt like I had completely removed myself from the city. I looked to my left and saw a patch of grass, trees and the sun setting over the Glasgow skyline. To my right, the horizon only revealed grass and a few far off trees. This was my first step towards an exciting evening.
As soon as I set about working on my idea, I had this weird sense of excitement that made me feel as if I was on the right path - in life - and that design is what I’m supposed to be doing. I began to just follow any thought that came to my mind and look up the answer to any questions I had. It wasn’t long before I’d filled three A3 sheets and had what I regarded to be a reasonably developed idea.
For a moment I took a step back and asked myself whether or not I was really enjoying this or I was telling myself that I was enjoying it. This opened up the broader question that I often ask myself: Do I love design or do I just love working and finding success in the general sense? As I write this, it sounds like a bit of a worrying question but it does cross my mind and I think its okay to ask it every once in a while.
What it was that gave me hope was the fact that now I had an idea, I couldn’t sleep until I knew how it could work. Deciding that I wanted to do my own thing on Friday morning, I spent the night developing the idea and putting a presentation together.
Thankfully I was able to produce something that I believed in and felt as though I had gained enough knowledge to support my idea. Upon arriving back at Art School before the presentations and finding out what my peers had created, my thoughts about the natural designer were broadened even further. Because this had been such a short challenge, it had really forced us all to focus on what we really wanted to do and discard the portions of design that don’t appeal to us quite so much. The fact that everyone had chosen to take such different routes and approach different aspects with varying degrees of research was enlightening.
What I really love about design is the fact that the end result is often something that could only be realised in a specific situation by a specific group of individuals. Seeing 20 or so designers go away for 24 hours and all return with completely different ideas really emphasises the fact that there is no precise formula for design and just how natural a process it really is.
The distinct flavour of Papercup coffee is unforgettable and gave me a much needed pick me up this morning. My choice of sourdough topped with squash, ricotta, nuts and honey was also brilliant: a real freshness to it and a bit of spice that snuck up on me made it all come together nicely. A generous portion meant that for maybe the first time during the blog, I was absolutely stuffed and unable to finish.
Nice to know that this Papercup lies tucked away in the East End if I ever find myself in need of an emergency coffee. Once again they just seemed to do everything right and I came out with my day well and truly brightened.