Week 7 – Let’s get this project rolling!

Alright! We’re rolling into the semester break, and with all these assignments due, it was nice to have a class to just kick back and draw in.

Up until now these posts have been roughly structured around‘Research’, ‘Tutorial Activities’, ‘Project Development’ and ‘My Thoughts’ subheadings. However, from this point on, I feel it would be best to really begin to throw myself into my idea. I will begin by outlining my overall experiences in Fremantle, and reflecting upon the need I have discovered. I will then explain an idea that I have had floating around in my head, and see where it takes me. Finally, I will describe this weeks tutorial activity  – which was a welcome relief after all the assignment writing I’ve been doing.

Reflection on experiences:

The trip to Fremantle was a really good experience for discovering what needed to be done. One of the biggest things I noticed, which I mentioned in my week 5 post, was the lack of people, high level of common retail stores and how everyone seemed to be selling something – whether in stores or on the streets. I think it really highlighted how instrinsic market space is to the people of Fremantle. This was not mentioned by Dr. Brad Pettitt, which is a shame because I think Fremantle’s market culture really is one of the biggest factors that add to the vibrancy of the city. As we saw in the in the photos from my Week 5 post, some residents even went as far as just laying a sheet down on market street, and selling their wares. I think this reflects on the overall vibe of the city, as well as its residents. We spoke about using vernacular design in this weeks class (which I will explain a bit more about in a while), which used the example of some street children drawing up their own goalposts for a game of soccer. While many people would consider this graffiti, a proper designer would consider it the solution to an unrecognised problem – namely the problem of a lack of playing equipment for children. In this instance.

As I’ve just mentioned, the market culture of Fremantle plays an enormous role in the vibrancy of the city. Head down to Fremantle on any any weekend, and you will find at least four seperate markets running at one time. Of course, there’s the iconic Fremantle Markets located on the corner of South Terrace and Henderson Street, but there are also the Melville markets on Canning highway, The E-Shed markets in Victoria Quay, and even the Fremantle Village Art Market! And those are just the permanent markets. There are hundreds of market stall festivals that pop up during the year. And it seems the locals are just as into the concept of selling as the rest of the City. Trying to visit friends in Fremantle on an early Saturday morning is an endless trail of distraction as I get side-routed by all the ‘Garage Sale’ signs that line Canning highway. You can’t go a street without passing someone selling something out of their front yard. It’s an enjoyable aspect of Fremantle that really reflects on how easy-going, friendly, and out there the city is. One of the really sad things is that many people who go to Fremantle – especially those who take public transport right into the heart of the city, miss out on all these wonderful opportunities. It is also clear from my findings in week 5 that alot of residents really want a public area to sell in. While the Fremantle and Arts markets do exist, they are often too expensive and require too much work to really get involved in. The Fremantle Village art market requires your own marquee, while the Fremantle Markets themselves are usually far too expensive for the average resident to even consider selling at.

Another problem I have found were empty streets. Dr. Brad Pettitt did mention this in his lecture – and I even had the chance to experience some of the anti-social behaviour he talked about. It was unnerving and uncomfortable, and I soon found myself being herded back onto Market street due to the unwelcome atmosphere. Of course, my experience was just one, but imagine how many people have been discouraged from exploring the rest of Fremantle due to one bad experience trying to venture forth from the main street? This is unfortunate since there are actually heaps of really ncie walking trails and small stores that exist in the emptier streets of Fremantle. This is another problem that I think I should try to address in my project.

And lastly, one of the big problems I noticed walking down the streets of Fremantle was that the city seemed….almost normal? Is that a proper way of putting it? Market Street was lined by the usual national retail chain-stores. There was JayJays and Kathmandu and all the usual stores I could probably find in Perth city. I had traveled almost half an hour to get a shopping experience that was eerily close to what I could get five minutes from my home. The city was still uniquely Fremantle of course, but I couldn’t help but feel the experience was slightly diluted by all the mainstream stores. However, you could still feel the pulse of the City’s unique culture trying to break through. Most notably was the lady selling stuff on the side of the road. That just seemed like an extraordinarily Fremantle detail.

So in short, I have defined the problems that the project will need to solve as follows:

– Empty Streets that encourage anti-social behaviour and prevent possible exploration of the rest of the city. This means businesses outside of the immediate CBD area don’t get any foot-traffic. The Butcher shop – one of my favourite stores, was practically empty when I visited it.

– Too many big name stores that dilute Fremantle’s unique cultural atmosphere.

– A publicly accessible space that locals can take advantage of to sell their awesome home-made wares is needed.

In other words (to shamelessly rip from my own report) the objectives of this project should be:

  1. Encourage foot-traffic into outer areas. This will be done by providing an outlet for small businesses and home business owners to advertise and draw customers towards their products. This will help to boost Fremante’s economy.
  2. Contribute to Fremantle’s vibrant cultural fabric (Pettit, 2014). This cultural stimulation will arise due to people discovering new, interesting retail opportunities in the Fremantle area. Furthermore, the continual cycling of merchandise will guarantee that there are always new things for locals and visitors to peruse – giving people an incentive to continuously return.
  3. Reduce crime in the area. During my recent visit to Fremantle, a fight broke out while this researcher was walking down an empty street just a street away from Market Street (my blog entry). By encouraging more people to venture beyond the main CBD area, increased foot traffic should discourage anti-social behaviour.

These objective will all be addressed in *Drumroll Please*:

Project Walkabout!

Yes! Project Walkabout will be a happiness inspiring project that aims to provide a publicly accessible space in which locals and small businesses operating outside the CBD can sell and advertise their merchandise. I have considered doing other projects over the last few weeks – such as a wayfinding app or maybe a noticeboard, but these ideas all seem far too boring and mundane for Fremantle’s artsy and creative atmosphere. I want this project to be something utterly unique to Fremantle, and which has not been replicated anywhere else. This will, of course, make it difficult to find precedence studies, but then I figured that those precedence studies probably didn’t have precedence studies themselves – and yet still worked out. Everything has to start somewhere.

But before I talk anymore about the project, allow me to talk a bit about this weeks tutorial – as it has played a significant role in shaping the project as it stands today.

After spending the last two weeks writing awful, soul crushing essays, it was a welcome relief to have the chance to sit and just storyboarding our design idea. We outlined out stakeholders and drew them out. I had fun playing around with some Fremantle stereotypes.

Alright, a butch business owner!

Alright, a butch business owner!

I also had the chance to do some cartooning and comicking – my favourite thing to do.

Click for a better view

Click for a better view

The excercise itself was really good for getting my idea down on paper. Up until now, I’ve just been thinking about it and occasionally doodling it on my lecture pad. One of the most useful elements of this excercise was Chris and Hanadi wandering around and giving feedback. I had the chance to scribble a bunch of ideas down talking to Chris especially, who seemed very keen to add a little more creativity to my project (I’ll explain why in a moment).

An idea inspired by talking to Chris

An idea inspired by talking to Chris

Overall, it was a really good excercise, and I was glad to break out my pencils and go a little wild on some butchers paper.

So with that out of the way, without any further ado, allow me to present: Project Walkabout!

Project Walkabout

Finally, a chance to explain. Project walkabout is a conceptual pop-up store that will allow virtually anyone – be it small businesses out of the CBD, local artisans and even individual residents – to rent out a ‘shoebox’ worth of space. This space will allow people to not only sell their goods, but also display any contact and location information that would encourage people to walk beyond the main CBD area. The rent should be extremely cheap so just about anyone can access it. I think it’s a good idea as it will encourage economic prosperity, remind everyone of all of the unique and quirky stores that exist in Fremantle, and encourage people into the empty streets that feel so unwelcoming. Hanadi and Chris thought it was a reasonable idea – however, Chris brought up a good point that the project only focuses on the economic aspect of happiness. It’s true that I am rather cynical, and that the average person doesn’t really have either the time or inclination to participate in more conceptual stuff. However, this is Fremantle after all. And this project does need to encourage happiness. One of the key lessons we learned in last weeks tutorial is that new experiences are at the crux of what make people happy. So I sketched up an idea for a ‘collected’ memory idea. Maybe people can record their experiences and put them in jars for other people to purchase and experience themselves. I will need to think about this idea further.

Another concept that Chris inspired me to try was an interactive art project I call ‘Possible futures’. The idea is that a wall covered in sticky notes will have a ‘possible future’ that people can pick off and read. Almost like a fortune cookie. This is the sort of quirky art project I would expect in Fremantle, so I think it’s one that would fit nicely in the overall project.

So that is the project so far. It’s been a good break so far, although I haven’t done much development on the project. However, I do have a timeline organised in the report I handed in, so I intend to stick to it. In my next post – some concept development sketches!

 

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