Lace is More! Vintage inspired wedding dresses and accessories by Verity Scott

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My lovely friend Verity has just set up her new studio at the Ginger Piggery in Boyton, Warminster http://www.thegingerpiggery.co.uk/. If you love unique vintage wedding gowns, jewellery, accessories and all things creatively vintage, then this is the place to go! Verity is just fantastic…a talented designer and gifted dressmaker, she has an eye for detail and is a font of knowledge when it comes to handmade clothes, sewing and creativity…and I can vouch for the loveliness of her work – Verity made my wedding dress what it was…and the accessories!

Verity will be exhibiting her latest bridal collection at the Vintage Nostalgia Show, from 30th May until 1st June at Stockton Park, Stockton, Wiltshire. http://www.vintagenostalgiashow.co.uk/# …this looks like a great event for anyone keen on all things vintage…cars, music, fashion and all sorts…

Verity is also running some great workshops, including making French Knickers, Vintage Clasp Purses and How to Make a 1950s Style Summer Dress! She also takes commissions…and organises custom built sewing parties, so if you fancy a creative Hen Party or Baby Shower, this would be perfect!

For all enquiries and further information:

01225 768260/ 07804 023498

verity@laceismore.co.uk

www.laceismore.co.uk

 

Space and The Modern Office: making change includes choice, creativity and cognitive engagement…

Last night I went to a fascinating talk at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, organised by The British Psychological Society. This talk was part of their ‘Psychology in the Pub’ series and the invited speaker was Dr Craig Knight who presented some of his research on the toxicity of the lean, clean, ‘modern’ office and the negative impact it can have on our well-being.
Not only is this sort of stuff interesting given my own area of research, but this is particularly timely given the spatial changes going on at my own institution – the faculty is getting a new building and we are being asked about what we would like to see in the designs…
I was pleased to hear Knight confirm my own thoughts and research findings regarding the detrimental affect clinical, sparse and supposedly ‘modern’ offices can have on our well-being and happiness at work. Our work spaces should be enriching, designed to engage us and, as Knight argues, this has a direct impact on improving our levels of creativity, productivity and how inspired we feel.

Broadly, we need to move away from the ‘5 S’ methodology and the shiny clear-desk policies that organisations seem so intent on creating – it makes no sense, says Knight (…and so do I!); these are some of the worst places to work. From my own research in office spaces it’s constantly clear that people want to see that humans work there, not robots. Amidst the hot-desking open-plan world, people still want to see a sense of self, the unique, the individual, and the subjective. They want to see, feel and experience the pictures from last year’s summer holiday, the party hat left on the coat-stand, the tin of home-baked biscuits on the side of the desk and the knitted dinosaur on top of the computer monitor. These are the things that enrich space with a sense of identity…and this is key to well-being.

In Knight’s research, he calls this sort of thing ‘identity realization’ (albeit from a psychological perspective…and different to my own more sociological take). Knight, along with his team at the University of Exeter and company ‘Identity Realization Ltd’ http://www.identityrealization.com/ have, for 11 years, been scientifically exploring business space management and continually their research shows that cognitively enriching work spaces are good ones to be in!
So, what’s the message for organisations? Workers need to create their OWN spaces and feel empowered to do so. When making changes to work space, building a new building or simply moving the office around, this message is clear: build your own space. By allowing people to develop their own space, have choice, and make the decisions about how it is designed increases their control and therefore their sense of well-being, happiness, brain function and sense of empowerment. Knight suggests that this process often lies in the ‘power of the group’ and that making decisions about work space can be done together. Of course, we might question how this approach might work differently in certain industries, cultures and groups. Is it always easy to gain buy-in to change from all group members? How can organisations be sure of commitment levels within the group? Group dynamics and decision making are fraught with power, politics and the voices of those who often shout the loudest.
Nonetheless, some of this sounds good to me. If we are going to design and build work space that works – and by this I mean build something that people use and enjoy, rather than build something sparkly, flexible and modern that no one uses because everyone’s decided it’s better to work from home – then the design and build should be user-led. Let decisions come from within and take a bottom-up approach.

Overall, it was certainly refreshing to hear a talk on work space from someone like Knight, who clearly has a wealth of clients, where the user was the key focus, not the bottom line, not the organisations mission statement and not driven by “how many desks can we fit into ‘x’ square metres for the least amount of money?”. This talk foregrounded the subjective experiences of space and individual identity…and that I liked.
Details about this talk, and others from the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, can be found here: http://www.brlsi.org/node/58854

 

#thedayijoinedtwitter

twitterToday I joined the world of Tweets, the Twitterati and entered the Twittersphere…! I have had a few students who have suggested I get on this bandwagon – they said they might like to hear what I have to say about news items or my research or stuff to do with their study of business; I have another student, Cameron Parker http://cameron-parker.com/ who has been trying to persuade me to use it to promote my research and consultancy work – he’s a social media machine!; I have teacher friends who use it all the time; …and last night I was at a meeting at The Watershed, Bristol with Kalpna Woolf, former Head of Production at the BBC, Bristol and finally, I was sold! We were meeting to talk about the new MA Leadership and Media Production Management (in partnership with the BBC) that I’ll be Programme Managing at UWE, from September 2014. We’re starting our marketing drive and launch in the New Year, and apart from the usual websites, launch events and so on…Twitter, Tweets and #s will also play their part. So, this morning, I set up an account and for the next few months I’m going to experiment and see how I get on. I posted a few tweets today…promoting the Organisation Studies blog I run, the new Team Entrepreneurship programme…and my lovely afternoon teaching visual methods with MSc Public Health students. So, I actually found myself finishing the day, in my lecture, saying ‘…and if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, you can find out more…’! I never thought those words would pass my lips. Here I am in the 21st Century. Here I am: @HarrietShortt

#herewego!

Sounds of the Salon – new paper out!

IJWOEcover-medium

The International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion has a lovely new special issue out: Sensually Exploring Culture and Affect at Work. The papers in this issue aim to provoke thought regarding culture, the senses and affect. Included, are articles on smell, touch, sensory experiences…and my paper on sound!…Sounds of the Salon: the auditory routines of hairdressers at work…..

…..Abstract: This article broadens the landscape of sensual ways of knowing and understanding and takes account of what we hear at work. In particular, I examine what role sounds play in the everyday lives of employees and why sounds are notable in organisational research. Central to this exploration are data gathered from a study of hairdressers working in hair salons. The findings presented here demonstrate that employees use sounds to sensually and creatively ‘tune out’ the emotional labour encountered as part of their work. It is argued that these auditory routines are used as a way of escaping work that is different to other strategies of escape; it is less about resistance or dis-identification, and more about respite and ways of relocating the ‘self’ elsewhere……

 I have attached my paper here: FINAL 2013 IJWOE050402 SHORTT and you can find all the papers and editorial introduction via this link: http://inderscience.metapress.com/content/h52631515180/?p=634b0958efbe4e8ab63e79a2d1a73ffa&pi=0

Enjoy!

Workplace Trends 2013 – what’s new in work space?!

20131024_113649Another part of my week last week was spent at the Workplace Trends Conference 2013, held at the Royal College of General Practitioners. This is one of the few non-academic conferences I have been to and it was recommended by a friend of mine, Steve Brewer, at Burtt-Jones and Brewer, a great Workplace Design Consultancy http://burtt-jonesandbrewer.com/About-us

This conference, which has been going for 11 years now (why didn’t I know about this before!?) http://www.workplacetrends.co.uk/  is at the cutting edge of workplace design, architectural work and consultancy. There were delegates from all over the world and from a whole variety of organisations….Cambridge Architectural Research, Credit Suisse, Hassell, Leesman Index, Herman Miller, Google, Steelcase and so on….!

The amazing Frank Duffy kicked off the day with an overview of architectural workplace change over the past 5 decades…the US office landscape, the shift from the individual office to collaborative working, technology and how the computer has completely changed the way we work and where we work, globalisation and its impact on how we develop space, urbanisation and the big debate – are office spaces obsolete?

The rest of the day included some great presentations…from case studies of innovative work spaces in Australia, to academic research on work space and productivity, to trends in property development in London and how this shapes the future of the office build…

Broadly, for me, there were 5 key issues that emerged from this conference and raised questions in my mind – given work space is my area of academic research, the ideas here touched on some personal topics of interest!

1. There was a lot of cross-over here with the Learning Spaces conference I had just been to!…in fact I met Caroline Paradise from IBI Nightingale here too! In particular, we heard the same sorts of themes here in London as we did in South Wales…how do we cope with increasing numbers of employees/ students and the same/ less space?…flexible and collaborative working spaces…the impact of technology…and the little things matter. In fact, one speaker noted that we should be looking to universities for inspiration in terms of the future of our offices, given HE institutions are having to deal with an increasingly diverse population who work in increasingly diverse ways…

2. I LOVED the entertaining debate we had after lunch! “Offices don’t work: They’re a waste of space!” – Paul Morrell (Paul Morrell Consulting) and Paul Finch (Architects Journal). This is a debate we should all have if we are really and truly interested in the future of space and the nature of work. Get together at lunch with your colleagues and thrash it out! 🙂

3.  I still found that the core threads of what was discussed here was ‘functional’ and ‘physical’. There was still that age-old debate about productivity and when pushed, it was about what the CFO would say when you said you wanted to change the work space. Although I believe that there is a place for research and design that uses ‘efficiency’ and ‘productivity’ as its foundation, where was the emotional stuff?! There were glimmers of this, I admit… hints at the ‘people’ side of things, how do you cope when people don’t like change, how do you get people to collaborate in certain spaces….but it was being ‘measured’ (there were lots of statistics and graphs!) and people wanted ‘proof’ and ‘truth’ that it worked! It’s a question of where you come from, but arguably there is a space (forgive the pun!) for other sorts of research – research that embraces complexity, doesn’t look for the ‘holy grail’ of work space and ‘how to make people happy with their desks’ and that genuinely, collaboratively works with everyday users of space to understand what IS meaningful to people and where they work!…research like mine 🙂

4. There was a fab presentation by Ian Clarke – a polar explorer who has explored the 7 summits and travelled to the edges of remote spaces all over the world. There was something about this presentation – apart from the fact that it was completely awe-inspiring! It made me think about what we could and should learn from people who see space differently – and not from an ‘office’ planning/ architectural perspective. Ian’s talk included important ideas about trust, pride, people, power and being alone…

5. This conference was about the office. When we talked about ‘workplace’, we were talking about the office…and yes, there was the debate around where we actually ‘work’ nowadays and technology and the future of work meaning we would work at home more…on the train…in cafes and so on….but! In workplace research we still focus, broadly, on the corporate world. I know I have my own agenda going on here…but what about other workers and their workplace?! What about hairdressers, what about taxi drivers, what about refuse collectors, what about teachers in schools, what about body workers, what about nurses in hospitals…what about all those that don’t work in offices? These are areas that, in my view, are ripe for research – there’s more to space than the office, there’s more to space than office workers. We’ve still got a way to go before we really understand the future of workplace trends…

Re-imagining Learning Spaces Conference 2013

20131022_140239Last week I went to the second Re-imagining Learning Spaces Conference, at the University of South Wales. This was a great one-day FREE! conference organised by The Learning Spaces Pedagogic Research Group, chaired by Dr Bela Arora, and IBI Nightingale, represented by Head of Research and Development, Caroline Paradise. Despite being a rainy and grey day in South Wales (and boy did it rain!), this was an enlightening and energetic day! There was a great mix of academic staff from all over the UK, architects, facilities professionals, librarians, designers and space consultants – which made for some lively and varied group discussions.

The day started with a warm and enthusiastic welcome from Dr Bela Arora, who highlighted the important connections we should be making between facilities, space and the aesthetics of our universities, the student voice, innovative teaching, well-being and the student experience.

Next, we enjoyed a fascinating keynote from Dr Mark Moss at the University of Northumbria. Mark’s work – in the school of psychology – explores smell and the environmental application of aromas. Apart from learning a new word – ‘anosmics: people who can’t smell!’ – I thought Mark’s work was really thought provoking…and apart from Prof Sam Warren and Dr Kat Riach’s ESRC funded ‘smell’ project, Mark is one of the few people who I have heard talk about detailed research into the significance of smell in the workplace, learning space or indeed any space! He talked about scientific trials exploring the smell of rosemary and its impact on long-term memory…other work that examined the relationship between the smell of peppermint and exercise, smells when we go clubbing, smells when we go shopping, and using the scent of lavender in toilets in the workplace in Japan to enable people to ‘rest more successfully’!

Our small group discussions then raised some key issues, where we debated ‘what are the characteristics of the ideal learning environment?’…lots came out around facilitating teaching and learning relationships, ownership, togetherness, technology…and that the little things matter!

After lunch we had a great tour of the award-winning Students’ Union building at the University of South Wales – we all took lots of pictures, asked loads of questions and along the way debated how various spaces would work at our own universities, what wouldn’t work, what spaces could be used differently, how and why  acoustics are really important and although we talk about togetherness and community…what does it really mean and does it really work?

Our second keynote was from Prof. Alexi Marmot at UCL. Alexi discussed design and the management of innovative learning spaces and covered broad ground in this area, including technology, using an Action Research approach to exploring this emerging topic in more detail, and’ future proofing’ the space in our institutions.

An important part of the day was the Student Panel Discussion, where we heard from a number of students across the university and how they felt about their teaching and learning spaces. This was an insightful session where we heard about where students work most effectively, what times of the day they worked and again…how the little things mattered to them too!

Finally we heard from the Director-General of the Department of Education and Skills, Welsh Government, the Programme Director for 21st Century Schools, Welsh Assembly Government, Caroline Paradise at IBI Nightingale and the Site Librarian of the award-winning Trevithick Library at Cardiff University. For me, this last session drew together some important threads – we need to make sure that we talk to those in and across the education sector and learn from them; that we should identify the ‘space champions’ in our institutions and work with them during change management process; that pre and post occupancy research is vital…and once we ‘move in’ to our spaces, that’s not the end – as Alexi Marmot said, that’s just the start and the academic community needs to continually work together to ensure that spaces and places are always working well for those that inhabit them!

Thanks to everyone involved in this conference – and I’m looking forward to Re-imagining Learning Spaces, 2014!

Students Doing Great Things!

I had a wonderful day at work the other week when I met with three of my students for a catch up. They were inspiring, full of energy and enthusiasm…and it was one of those days that you remember why teaching is one of the best jobs in the world! So, I felt compelled to blog about this and share the good news!

schoolsspeakersCameron is an undergraduate student in the Business School who is embarking on a self-employed placement year. Cameron came to catch up with me and tell me about his latest ventures and how he’ll be spending his time over the next year. While most of our undergraduate students seek full-time paid employment for their placement year, Cameron will be working on building two of his businesses and developing his role within them: Managing Director of Hungry.Under.Dogs (www.HungryUnderDogs.com ) and as a Motivational Speaker (www.Cameron-Parker.com ).

Cameron has already been involved in a wide variety of charity work, community services and business engagement across the region, nationally and internationally, including The Princes Trust. Cameron was recently invited as a guest speaker at The South Gloucestershire and Stroud College and at Royal Holloway University, to speak to a wide variety of young sports people, including the Great Britain American Women’s Football Team.

Cameron also told me he had recently been accepted as a Motivational Speaker with ‘School Speakers’ (http://www.schoolspeakers.co.uk/ ), an organisation set up by Claire Young, The Apprentice finalist 2008 – wow!  Cameron intends to grow his business and his role to construct workshops that can be taken into schools and colleges to inspire others and promote the value of self-belief, education and aiming high!

There’s something about students with such entrepreneurial spirit that is just so inspiring. It’s great to see students so dedicated, not only to their studies, but to their careers, the lives of other young people…and developing their own business ideas – lovely!

fashionLater that morning, I saw another fab undergraduate student who is just starting his Second Year and is looking for a placement. Daniel came to catch up with me and talk through the finer details of a ‘good CV’! Here was another case of a student going beyond what is expected – Daniel told me about some great marketing work experience he had done over the summer at a leading German Supermarket! He is now working on the PAL scheme that helps other First Year students develop their study skills, he’s part of the marketing society and at the same time has achieved a first in nearly all subjects so far and achieved over 70% for his First Year overall! Crikey!

Daniel told me that he is now looking for a placement for his Third Year and would like this to be based in the Fashion Industry but is also looking at L’Oreal and other larger organisations…

I was so impressed, not only with the grades Daniel has already achieved – amazing! But also his determination to aim high and work in a competitive industry…whilst at the same time maintaining a down-to-earth, approachable and friendly manner…sometimes a rare combination…and good to see!

Grow-Your-Own-1-640x426Later that afternoon I saw a postgraduate student who is just completing her MSc in Sustainable Development in Practice. Jenni is doing some fabulous work for her dissertation; exploring people and their everyday experiences of growing their own food! She came to talk to me about the methods part of her work…and her interest in using visual methods, namely, participant-led photography.

Seeing Jenni’s work progress over the past few months has been really interesting and the use of visual methods for a project like this has worked really well. She came to show me her data and the images her participants had taken and they were just BRILLIANT! SUCH rich data and wonderful stories that went along with the images. We talked about the age old issue of how you analyse all this!?…so we worked through some of the stuff I had done using visual methods…

Jenni had made a great start though, and some of the themes coming out of her thoughtful analysis of the transcriptions were super – stuff to do with how people see the produce they grow as extensions of their own identity and their bodies, stuff to do with emotions, and stuff to do with space and place – marvellous! It was one of those cases where there’s too much for an MSc dissertation…and perhaps a PhD would offer more space for exploration!? Anyway, I found it a fascinating study and I can’t wait to see the outcome!

So, a jolly good day seeing three truly hardworking, interesting and happy UWE students!