Migrant Business Show

Category : Blog, Events

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Run by fellow Ravensbourne incubatee and founder of Mi-Hub Rafael Dos Santos the Migrant Business Show is an event where migrant entrepreneurs showcase their businesses to people in hopes of receiving future business opportunities.

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While not being a migrant entrepreneur myself it was fascinating to see the broad range of businesses on show from a new and innovative storage service all the way to IT solutions for large companies.

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The event also doubled as a party for the launch of Mi-Hub’s new office space in Aldgate. By day the space will not only be a place for Mi-Hub and its operations but a place where migrant entrepreneurs can develop their own businesses, network with like-minded people and work in the heart of London at an affordable rate.


Hyper Japan Christmas Market: Food stands (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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If you’re going to an event like Hyper Japan you pretty much have to try the Japanese food despite how expensive it is. One of the most interesting taste experiences I tried this year was eating mackerel that has been dipped in to a glass of warm sake I don’t know how or why it tastes so good but it does, it tastes almost as if the mackerel was marinated in champagne and in every bite you get such a rich flavour on top the meatyness of the fish. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone whenever the opportunity arises.

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I for one have never really been a fan of macarons but for those of you who are you are spoiled for choice not just with the sheer number of flavours but also the attention to detail with some of these aesthetically, who wouldn’t want a macaron shaped like a cute bear’s face? I tried the sakura (cherry blossom flower), rose and lavender which were all very nice, I as tempted to buy a box of assorted macarons but as a rule of thumb any food at a convention will always costs a lot more than outside of it.

The final food I tried for the first time was something I have seen before but always been cautious of, i’m talking about green tea flavoured ice cream. At £2 per cone it’s not too much more than a traditional ice cream but it’s so much nicer, of course being inside a stuffy convention hall means you have to eat it quickly or else it will melt.

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Of course I had to have the usual street food favourites takoyaki, karaage, gyoza and a dragon tail. The dragon tail (above) is the simplest and cheapest of all the options and makes for a nice snack but flavour wise it’s not much more exciting than you would expect it to be it’s just rice, shrimp and nori.

There were other foods and drinks I wanted to try including instant miso soup dispensers, ramen and everyone’s favourite drink Ramune but one can only eat so much over 3 days and it’s good to have something new for next time.


Hyper Japan Christmas Market (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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Due to the ever rising popularity of Hyper Japan for the first time there have been 2 events this year, the usual one during the Summer and now a Christmas Market which was held at Olympia. Last time I mentioned how disappointing Hyper Japan was as it was a medium sized event trying to expand in to a large sized venue which resulted in lots of leftover space and wide walkways, this year they corrected that problem by using a smaller venue and spreading the event over 2 floors.

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If you’re going to an event like Hyper Japan you pretty much have to try the Japanese food despite how expensive it is, this time there were more food stands than ever including instant miso soup dispensers, green tea flavoured ice cream macarons and of course the usual street food favourites takoyaki, karaage, gyoza.

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After eating your fill there were plenty of video games to play including Mario Kart 64, Street Fighter with the arcade stick and Dance Dance Revolution. While I may not be a good dancer there were plenty of other games (primarily retro) to play and even if you come alone you will definitely find someone who’ll be your player 2.

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There were plenty of stalls selling Japanese products from replica swords and pocket fans to pokemon cards and kimonos. While the quantity was not as large as any previous Hyper Japan it catered to the vast majority of people at the show. When you’re not attempting to succeed at Kendama (Japanese ball and cup game) or almost being fooled by the hyper-realistic Japanese food there are constant performances on stage from musicians, chefs and artists showing their craft for the public to see.

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Even the Sake Experience makes a small return with a grand total of 3 stands where you can taste a variety of sakes. As expected the Hyper Japan Christmas Market was nowhere near the scale of the usual events in the summer but for what it is it’s enough to satisfy people.That being said I don’t think the Hyper Japan Christmas Market should charge the same amount to get in as its predecessor (£12). Not everyone wants a huge venue where it would take a huge amount of time and energy to see everything instead Hyper Japan condensed everything that makes its events in to a more bite sized experience.


Hardware Startups Soho Showcase

Category : Blog, Events

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Having missed the majority of this talk due to a meeting that went on far longer than I expected as well as some unexpected time finding the place which was hidden behind a gated community. The talks were very refreshing as the focus was not on apps, websites and software but physical products, hardware and technology. Many startups were present at this event and all of them were doing something amazing.

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After the talks there was a show and tell from each of the startups who presented earlier as well as free beer and canapés. The first product I saw was the Pavegen, these slabs can generate electricity by just letting people walk on top of them. It’s such a genius idea yet also so simple, why don’t these already exist in public space? My guess is the cost.

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Next up was MyScope which is a medical device for reading vital medical measurements. While smart stethoscopes already exist the design of them is okay at best with little to no thought about context and how it will be used in the field. MyScope is changing this with the most advanced stethoscope medicine has ever experienced. Their words not mine.

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A lot of these startups consist of only a few people and securing funding is often a problem however with crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The Deska Board is one of many startups that are seeking funding to bring their product to market. Deska is an innovative new form of transportation that lets people windsurf through the city.

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Combining technology with products is another big theme for startups today and Audiowings has fused them together to create a new experience you wouldn’t expect. By using GPS Audiowings know where you are and plays music to enhance what you are doing for example if you are in a park then you might hear calm music or if you are in a restaurant then perhaps you will hear music that compliments your meal.

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Also in the area of combining technology, audio and hardware is a device called Mogees that lets you play the world as a musical instrument. It works by sensing vibrations nearby and playing a sound based on the frequency it hears, it’s a lot of fun to play the wheel of a bicycle who knows what creative things musicians will do with this product?

After seeing this showcase it’s with great pleasure and discomfort that I say, I have had my faith in hardware restored. So many apps, websites and digital products are booming right now and people think they are the future which they are but let’s not forget about physical products and the power that something tangible can have on someones life. In a world where digital design dominates it’s nice to see the impact hardware startups are having too.


Hyper Japan: Nintendo (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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As per usual Nintendo had several areas dotted around Hyper Japan to show off their existing games, consoles and even demos of upcoming games. While I can’t deny Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 and Captain Toad Treasure Tracker where all highlights nothing stood out more than the Wii U Smash Bros.

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In order to play it you first had to play and win a match in the 3DS version of Smash Bros (which I lost in) then you had the chance to go on stage and fight live on the big screen for fun and for glory. Many people say they are pleasantly surprised with the 3DS version as they thought it would be awkward to play however I can confirm that excluding the chunky slab of metal attached to the 3DS so we couldn’t steal it the gameplay was fluent and before the match started they did show you they controls. Not every character was available however we did get to see newcomers like Megaman (who I played as), the Wii Fit Trainer and the Villager tussle with veteran fighters. If you were lucky enough to win your round in the 3DS Smash Bros (which I didn’t) you got the chance to play it on the Wii U in on the big screen in front of a cheering audience. Although Amiibo showed an appearance in what was perhaps the world’s brightest display case it Nintendo didn’t show how it would be used in the game.

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Perhaps the 2nd most popular game hence the 1 1/2 hour line was Hyrule Warriors. This Zelda skin of the popular game Dynasty Warriors was an action filled hack and slash game with barrages of enemies coming at you and overkill attacks to disperse of them. One complaint which I found out happened to pretty much everybody is to do with the key-mapping on the gamepad. Every Zelda fan knows you press A to open a chest but so many people ended up wasting their special attacks instead according to Nintendo the keys are mapped to the Dynasty Warriors game style however there is an option to change them for a more Zelda-esque experience.

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Originally a mini-game in Mario 3D World Captain Toad Treasure Tracker has the protagonist Toad exploring 3D environments in order to achieve a star. While it is in the same style as Mario 3D World and Mario Galaxy it is a much slower paced games with little emphasis action. The road from A to B is not always simple although it does requires patience, timing and utilising the gamepad to create new pathways.

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As for 3DS games I have already downloaded the demo of Tomadachi Life so I didn’t need to try it again. The game is a life simulator although not a serious one like The Sims or an open one like Animal Crossing. After creating a Mii as the main character you move in to a block of apartments on an island with other Miis, by interacting with the other Miis you can create friendships, find lovers and even raise a family. One feature I would have liked to seen is a world where each Mii is controlled by an actual person instead of a CPU this would have brought a lot more meaning and depth to how people interact with each Mii in the game although to Nintendo’s defence they wanted it to be a lighthearted, not-so-serious game which isn’t a 1:1 mirror of reality. This is most evidently seen in their controversial decision to not include same-sex relationships in the game.

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The final game I tried for less than 10 minutes was Pokemon Art Academy. The Art Academy series is not one I have played before this being a designer I do not see the need for this as I already know how to draw. During my session I sketched, inked and coloured an image of ???, The result was okay considering the limitations although I also do not understand the need for this as the 3DS and even the Wii U as they are not the ideal mediums for learning how to draw digitally, I leave that up to the iPad for casual use and Wacom tablets for professionals.

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Despite not playing Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros on the Wii U like I wanted to I thought Nintendo’s did a great job of selling themselves at Hyper Japan and appealing more people in to buying a Wii U. Hell I even bought one last week! More on that soon.


Hyper Japan (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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This year the Hyper Japan took place in Earl’s Court 1 which had a huge amount of space in it however it might have had a bit too much. The event itself was bigger than last year’s one at Earl’s Court 2 but it still felt like it was too small of an event in too large of a venue. Spacing aside there was a wide variety of activities going on including talks on Japanese culture, live cooking shows with free food given to the audience and the chance to sing with Wii Karaoke U.

The Sake experience this year didn’t have as many types of sake to try as last year however there was a lot more variety with what was available. Some that stood out to me included the Funaguchi Kikusui,  Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura MIO sparkling sake and the Gekkeikan Yuzu Nigori. There was free cheddar cheese and crackers to help pace the alcoholic content that comes with 25 shots of sake in a short time-span.

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Having missed out on The Sushi awards last year I also gave that a try. It was at a much faster pace than I expected with chefs making sushi at lightning speeds then piling it on your plate and sending you to the next stand, there wasn’t even enough time to eat it until the very end. While visually appealing food porn is definitely a turn on for people the taste has to at least match if not surpass it’s appearance which it of course did with flying colours.

There were plenty of other stands at Hyper Japan not related to food or drink including a place where you can buy replica swords (although you are forbidden to open the packaging until you get home), a school offering you the chance to write your own message on a fan in Japanese and a plethora of merchandise from cute plush toys of burgers to art books from Studio Ghibli.

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Another highlight was the Nintendo section where people could play demos of Monster Hunter 4, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, Tomadachi Life and if you were lucky enough to win your round in the 3DS Smash Bros (which I didn’t) you could play it on the Wii U in on the big screen in front of a cheering audience.

While it was certainly a great event which I recommend to anyone who is even remotely interested in Japanese culture I don’t think it lived up to the hype, it certainly is in the same category as Comic Con it still felt like it should have made a lot more use of the space at Excel 1 like Eurogamer did.

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Rave DPI 2014: External show

Category : Blog, Events

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Last Thursday evening was the external show for the Ravensbourne Product & Interaction design course at the Hoxton Gallery having graduated last year from the same course how could I not go? The gallery itself was a lot larger than anything you would see at New Designers or New Blood and they certainly used the space well giving guests the room browse and mingle in a very creative environment.

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After catching up with some friends I went around the exhibition and picked out some highlights that I thought i’d share. First up has to be the student of the year Daryl Humphrey who came up with an innovative new packaging design solution for tablet based medicine. By using perforations and a light tac adhesive it’s never been simpler to get your medicine.

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Perhaps the most striking was the Strike Master by Jo Tharmaseelan. Strike the illuminated pads at the right time then once you’re used to the rhythm increase the difficulty via the app and very soon you will find yourself be faster, stronger, fitter.

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Picking up leaves is one of those problems you don’t usually think about but Ross Whillis has thought about it and he designed a leaf retriever which actually works. After a lot of experimentation with different shapes he found that a cylindrical drum with combs on the surface was the best methods of both picking and disposing the leaves.

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Another project that caught my eye was a packaging solution by Fatima Raza for families to enjoy festive picnics during the summer. Packing a picnic can be hard as different people want different things however a store based solution of multiple themed packs can solve this problem for the right price.

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Finally comes Annabelle Murguet and her colourful stories. This app tells the user a visual story through colourful illustrations, by using red or green filters you can hide or reveal certain elements which change the stories narrative. Just like A Book for Two this takes the classic idea of storytelling and turns it on it’s side although I would like to see a physical version of colourful stories.


D&AD New Blood (2014)

Category : Blog, Events

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D&AD New Blood is a show for graduate graphic designers, illustrators and other type of digital designers that is held in the old Spitalfields Market every year although this was my first time going to it. It was a lot bigger than I expected although not as big as New Designers in the Business Design Centre.

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The Ravensbourne graphic design course was exhibiting their fine selection of work including a clever poster about discrimination of Muslims using perforations and cuts to display an infographic.

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The Solent Illustration had a gorgeous display of graduate work featuring many different styles from the hand illustrated to the computer generated. Each illustration conveys a message and a story to the viewer, while illustration may not be as lucrative in terms of employment it’s a skill that can make work shine when used.

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This project stood out to me for a number of reasons, one I think I have seen it before but more importantly it brings up an important issue, why are people embarrassed about vaginas?  Why is the penis so much more accepted in the media and vaginas are never to be mentioned without an alternative name for them. A pussy is a cat, a muff keeps your ears warm, a bush is to be kept in a garden. “A vagina is a sensitive spot not a sensitive subject”.

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There was also a booth set up by agency JWT getting recent graduates to tackle one minute advertising briefs. It’s a great exercise to get you thinking as fast as possible, replace colour schemes and typography with snappy word play and crude illustrations all to show your ideas as fast as possible.

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Another stand that stood out to me was the one that invested in 16 iPads to display their work to prospective employers. It’s an interesting idea that i’ve never seen executed before probably due to the expense but then again these can be used for many years to come. Each iPad on the upper row showed videos of the students work while the ones on the lower levels could be interacted with to see more specific information on the projects as well as the students themselves.

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Perhaps the one piece of work that stood out the most was one that had a warning sign on it saying it’s too naughty for New Blood, how could you not get interested by that? With a whopping 30% of web traffic being dedicated to adult sites you’d expect advertising costs to match. The majority of existing adverts on porn sites only advertise more porn, making it an massively untapped market for other brands. The poster is an advertisement for Polo mints that cleverly displays letters to show 2 similar words. By using these similar search terms advertisers can be more clever with what can be advertised where and turn accidental mistakes in typing in to potential traffic.

new blood - 10Finally when I saw this poster for OCD I could tell something was wrong so I went to go and adjust it only to realise that it’s wrong on purpose. How do you define OCD? Does wanting perfectly aligned boards mean you’re obsessive or does it mean you just want things to look right? The line seems to be very blurred between what counts as OCD and what doesn’t.


Clerkenwell Design Week (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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Despite knowing about Clerkenwell Design Week for many years this year was the first time I had the chance to visit, while it spans over the entirety of Clerkenwell I only focussed on the main building.

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There were many amazing designs scattered around the building from lighting to products however what stuck out to me was furniture.

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One of the most amazing pieces was the Leica T camera which was milled from a single block of metal, every single detail was thought of when designing this camera from the form and aesthetics of the main body to the lens that came with it.


Hustlehack: Lean Prototyping Open Workshop

Category : Blog, Events

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While juggling The Secret Power of Brands and +Acumen Human Centered Design for Social Innovation I decided to take part in a 1 day pre hackathon called Hustlehack. The main goal was to get people brainstorming ideas that and come up with solutions based around design rather than looking at the bigger picture of business, finance and feasibility.

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My group decided to tackle the problem of empty spaces in large cities we came up with many ideas from virtual tours of homes and offices to an app that shows you whats on in your area but what we eventually went with was called Places 4 Spaces.

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Essentially we would find unused building and through guerrilla advertising show off how amazing the space could be if only someone bought it, the public could vote on what they would like to see in that space and if someone wants to provide that then they can buy the space. I am currently working on this concept with someone I met at the event which should come to fruition soon.


Meeting Swoozie

Category : Blog, Events

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A few weeks ago a guy named Adande who has the YouTube channel Swoozie came to London and held a meet-up in Stratford shopping centre which I decided to go to with my friend Momo. The queue was surprisingly short for a YouTube star although we all managed to get at least a minute with him while he gave his autograph, took pictures with us and answered questions we had. It was amazing to meet someone who you only know from their videos in the flesh and there are definitely more YouTube celebrities I want to meet in the future.


Pick Me Up London (2014)

Category : Blog, Events

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Pick Me Up is a 12 day graphic arts festival that is held every year at Somerset House. The first piece I saw was by someone named Edward Carvalho-Monaghan whom I had met at a tech talk at Technology Will Save Us and saw him produce the Bat Macumba print.

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There were a large variety of illustration styles ranging from the psychedelic and flat to the highly detailed and pencil drawn. Upstairs there was a large space for studios to show off and sell their work as well as a music room, screen printing classes and the opportunity to have your portrait done by a mystery illustrator which I decided to do.

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Although I didn’t get involved in it there were nightly events which included talks, lectures guests on the Pick Me Up twitter account answering questions. I also got a chance to play a game which was produced by UsTwo called Monument Valley and inspired by the M.C Esher style architecture although the highlight of the whole festival has to be the staring contests, thumb wars and arm wrestling contests going on. Another great festival which I hope to cover as press next year.


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