AN EVALUATIVE REPORT

At the beginning of the year, I made the right decision for me by choosing ‘’Materials Innovation as my Unit 5 Expanded Practice. Before making this decision, I read the description that was given to us, which I understood and I found really interesting. I was excited because I always wanted to know more about materials. Where are they coming from and the process of their creation? I think is it important as an Interior Designer to understand the function and the purpose of a certain material, the sustainability of it. As a student studying Art I have always been interested in different areas of art and I really liked the fact that our teacher is not in the field of Interior Design but she is familiar with Fashion. This could only be useful to us. We learned some information different to Interior Design. It is good to have a contact with people from different art fields because this only could help you to gather more knowledge.

We started this Unit by exploring different materials and examine technical processes used to create bespoke and mass produces products. The first lecture was about ‘’Raw Materials’’, a variety of textiles and where are they coming from. Honestly, I did know the definition of ‘’Raw Materials’’ and I could not figure out exactly what these materials were, but with the progress of the slides and the information that was given to us, including great examples, I was more aware of what these materials were. Personally, I enjoyed it because it was something new for me, it was additional information that could be useful for my own practice but then I asked myself how textile could be so useful for my practice. Why textile, why not other materials, like; metal, concrete etc.? Then we continued studying about varied materials, we have looked at design projects and analyzing them.

I could say that I enjoyed every lecture and every topic but one of my favourite lectures was about sustainability. As designers, especially in the Interior and Spatial Design field, is really important to understand what sustainability means. From the given to us information, I have learned that sustainable design could not only be good for people because a certain building will beautify the streets of a city for many years and there will not be any need for frequent renovations, which is also good from a financial point of view. However, I personally look differently to sustainable design, and I learned that design can be in favour of people in need. It can simply save lives. To support my point of view, the image below shows a project, which I wrote about in my previous blogs, of a company called RE-MATERIALS. It is a company that creates a unique modular roofing system. They have invented a solution for the residents of India. They have improved homes or even created new ones for people in need.

RE-MATERIALS / Project in India

As a conclusion, I want to mention that I also enjoy all of the workshops. It challenges you mentally. Also, the teamwork is always useful for designers, because working in groups we exchange, skills, information, ideas that can be of benefit to each one of us.

RESEARCHING OFFLINE (personal research)

Another example of offline research that I have done is in Prague. I had the opportunity to visit Prague and its architectural landmarks that do not need presentation. Wonderful castles, churches, bridges, museums and libraries.

Among the many historic buildings in Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau stands out the silhouette of a modern building that remains the impression of a romantic dancing couple. It is no coincidence that the building is called a “dancing house”. (Please see image (1) below)


(1) The ”Dancing House” in Prague

The construction of the dancing building is a project by Croatian architect Vladimir Milunic and Canadian university lecturer Frank Gehry. The history of its construction dates back to 1945 when, at the end of the Second World War, the Americans bombed Prague and destroyed the historic building on the corner of the streets “Rasinovo nabrezi” and “Resslova”.

The ”Dancing House” in Prague

The “Dancing House” is made of glass, concrete and stainless steel and it has a rather unconventional style.
You know who Fred Auster and Ginger Rogers are, right? Even if you have not seen one of their emblematic films, you have at least heard of them – they are making a real revolution in the musical and dance comedy, and their names become synonymous with a dancing couple. The unique building, called the Dancing House, has and another unofficial name. The locals call it “Fred and Ginger”

‘’Dancing House’’ is one of the most famous buildings that was so hated by the people during its construction. I cannot think of any reason to hate this building. I just love it!  It looks impressively good. There is also a restaurant at the top of the building, called ‘’ la Perle de Prague’’, offering French cuisine and amazing view. ( Please see image (2) below) . The atmosphere, that the restaurant creates is just so relaxing. It just makes you want to stay all day and watching the view.

(2) Restaurant ‘’ la Perle de Prague’’

 

But does the building have a connection with sustainability?

My opinion is yes and no. The concrete and stainless steel materials seem to be really stable. However, the glass part, which covers the half of the building does not look as a connection to sustainability besides the glass has a really good strength.

RESEARCHING OFFLINE (personal research)

Let’s get out of the UK and go to another place. Over the Christmas holiday, I have been to one of my favourite places in Bulgaria called ‘’Etara’’. Today I will try to ‘’take you there’’.

Etara captivates and enchants. Etara impresses and inspires. Etara carries past reality in real time and leaves an inheritance for the future. Etara is the authentic handicraft of Bulgaria – unique, unadulterated and spiritual.

” Etara”, Bulgaria

The main idea of Donkov (the founder of Etara) was to allow visitors to Etara to touch the Bulgarian Revival and to get an idea of the life, customs, architecture, household and economic past of one of the oldest Bulgarian cities – Gabrovo.

The architectural and ethnographic complex “Etara” is a “city in the city”. Why? It is located very close to Gabrovo and many consider it his neighbourhood. But it is something else – Etara is a miniaturized model of the former Gabrovo, its Renaissance copy, where the workshops, the original architectural structures and the narrow streets – preserved in time and still “alive” – can be seen.

”Etara”, Bulgaria

I have been many times to this incredible place and I enjoyed every moment spent there because in Etara you can follow the development of crafts and trade, touch the traditions of the Renaissance culture, get to know the specifics of the ancient technology, which for decades was a major source of livelihood in these places of Bulgaria.

In the next paragraph, I will give you a little information (based on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etar_Architectural-Ethnographic_Complex )  about where Etara is located. ( in case if someone would like to visit it 🙂  )

Etar Architectural and Ethnographic Complex is situated 8 km south of Gabrovo, in the northern wooded slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Occupying an area of 70 decares, this is the only one of its kind not only in Bulgaria but also in the whole South-East European Museum of the open air. It runs through the fast-flowing waters of the Sivek River, which are the main source for the propulsion of the water facilities in the complex. And even more impressive is the fact that these facilities are a model for folk techniques of water extraction.

Etara itself is an attraction. But this attraction consists of many components, each of which occupies a definite place and meaning for the overall appearance of the complex.

”Etara”, Bulgaria

The “exhibits” in Etara are conditionally divided into three strands. The first group brings together 10 objects representing the folk technique of water.

The second direction in the complex accentuates the architecture of the Renaissance houses,two-storeyed, with curved bay windows and consoles, with rosettes on the doors and spacious verandas.

I personally think that especially remarkable is the house of the Gabrovo merchant Petar Saka. (Please see the image below)

The house of the Gabrovo merchant Petar Saka

Its facade is dotted with painted columns with 21 windows. The open corridor passes into an indoor room called “kiosk”. In the shop on the first floor are sold articles made by craftsmen of folk crafts. On the second floor, there is an interior of a commercial dwelling. My opinion is that exactly this house is a great example of a sustainable design. The main materials that have been used are wood and bricks, which make me, think that probably in the past there were not many varieties of any stronger materials. These types of houses have been built in 1780’s and they still look impressive.

I could say that it is worth to visit and feel the spirit of the past time. By biting off the warm cakes with savoury and the sugar cake, it helps you to move imperceptibly at that time.

REFLECTION ON WORKSHOP / MATERIALS RE-IMAGINED (session 7)

In this workshop it was all about design fiction, it was about Testing out future scenarios and playing with ideas and with new technologies. To everyone who does not really know what is the definition of ‘’design fiction’’, Design Fiction uses design as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate about the social, cultural and ethical implications of possible futures. Briefly, design fictions often depend on a question: “What if?”

During the workshop, we looked at a variety of materials that are being created in response to real-world problems and we questioned ourselves on how we can re-imagine better futures through materials.  To find the answer we have done a really useful task. The task was about designing a future scenario based on climate changes and imagining a real Persona. This task was consisted out of 4 steps:

  • Reframe: It is the starting point of designing a future scenario. It helps you to choose a circumstance on which your project will be based on.
  • Personas: Identifying a person that is affected by the issue of the scenario
  • Idea generation: By using brainstorm ideas we referred them to our chosen scenario. Imagining that we are living in 2050, we thought of varied materials which do not exist yet and how they can be useful for finding a solution for the issue.
  • Storyboard: Showing the journey of our scenario through drawings.

Our scenario was based on an impact of rising temperatures. We imagined that there is a forest fire and our work was to think of a material that could stop the spread of the fire and to save our persona. Our persona was Henry, who is 35 years old male and who lives in a wooden forest house. His occupation is to look after the forest. (Please see image (1) below)

(1) Persona

During the ”idea generation” step, we came up with different and interesting ideas (some of them could have been a little bit strange but let’s don’t forget that we are thinking in the future). We can leave our brains to invent different weird solutions.  We tough on designing a barrier around the trees that could stop a potential fire, another idea was to construct water wastage that could go into the forest. But our main idea was to create a Fire-retardant cloth ( a loth resistant to fire)  or a damp with water cloth that is placed on the tree and it expands if there is a fire.
On the image below is shown our storyboard, which explains our imagined scenario. It starts with a drawing of Henry, who is sitting under a tree and knitting ( one of his hobbies), after a while the temperature is rising up to 55 degrees. There is a fire and it starts spreading up. The fire-retardant cloth is put to prevent the fire from spreading up. (Please see image (2) below)

(2) Storyboard

I enjoyed this workshop because it challenges you mentally. I imagined that the scenario is happening at the moment, and to save the Persona’s life, it only depends on me and my team. It is based on life or death. I personally took it really seriously, I placed myself in the place of our persona. I think that designing for real people, does really change our vision of designing. When it comes to a real and dangerous situation, you cannot make any mistakes. You have to think precisely and find the best solution for a certain issue, which is actually a good approach to designing materials for the future

The most difficult and challenging part of the workshop was to think of an exact material and how it could stop the fire. We had many ideas but when it comes to the question ‘’ How it does work? / How it could stop the fire?’’, these ideas did not really work. Even after our main idea we still need to make some changes, especially on the way how the cloth will be placed, but I think we still have done a good job. My team was great and I enjoyed every moment of the workshop.

In addition, I learned that thinking of a real Persona does change the thinking about the issue of a scenario. It makes it more realistic and I definitely would use this idea for my own work.

REFLECTION ON FRIDAY’S LECTURE ”MATERIAL FUTURES” (session 6)

The lecture was about sustainable design / future design scenarios. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this particular lecture but by checking the presentation and gathering opinions from my classmates, I think that the subject of this lecture was really interesting. I think it is interesting because it challenges you to think of creating something that does not exist yet, something that would be useful, and something that most importantly could change lives.

The presentation shows examples of climate changes and also of varied design project related to technology. Today people can hardly imagine their lives without the amazing technology and the wonderful devices. Computers, social networks, digital cameras, audio players, video chat – each of us uses these “fruits of scientific and technological progress”

As I like art, I also like tattoos. One of the examples in the presentation was about future tattoos. These are temporary tattoos that can remotely control device. When I researched this project on Internet I was impressed about the idea and the cheap material that has been used for the creation of these tattoos. When I read the title, I thought that it would be a complicated and expensive project, however, it is really simple, beautifully made and also cheap so they can be accessible to anyone. (Please see image (1) below)

(1) DuoSkin Temporary Tattoos

After researching the other examples of projects related to technologies, I started thinking: Is technology really important in our lives? Do we actually need it? How does it help us?

I can see that new technologies are coming at a fast pace because they are up to date and meet the needs of the people. They allow people not only to feel more comfortable working with them but also to be more flexible in the production, the realization of the production.

We are witnessing how much of the work that a person has to do today is made by computers and robots, and this also helps for faster production, which is a prerequisite for lighter competition in the world.

I personally think that we cannot imagine a world without having a phone in every household. So I think that it will come such a time that computer will not be a super luxury item at home, but a necessity for each of us.

 

Referencing:

Year published: 2016
Page Title: DuoSkin Temporary Tattoos Can Remotely Control Devices
Website name: Dezeen
URL: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/08/17/mit-media-lab-researchers-duoskin-temporary-tattoos-control-devices/
Access date: 03 Jan 2018

POTENTIAL FUTURE SCENARIO (session 6)

Does the time of our planet expire?

How do you think the following sentence should continue?

In the near future the conditions of the earth …

(a) will improve.

(b) will remain the same.

(c) will get worse.

Nature attacked humanity with all sorts of upheavals: devastating earthquakes and floods, destructive hurricanes and fires, erupting volcanoes, frosts, hot waves and drought. Based on information from CNN website:

 ‘’At least 452 people were killed and thousands injured after a powerful earthquake struck near the border of Iran and Iraq.’’ 

People in the world suffer for the loss of someone close to them or the loss of their home. After such a strong and dangerous earthquake many people no longer have a roof over their heads. How we the designers could solve this problem? Do you think that an earthquake-proof house could exist?

It is really hard in terms of thinking of creating a new building material that could be earthquake resistant. The buildings are usually constructed by using: concrete and bricks, which are heavy and strong materials. Even using these materials, the earthquakes still destroy them. Thinking on the opposite side, by using lighter materials, it will be even easier to be destroyed by an earthquake.

While I was thinking about inventing a design solution against earthquakes I made a quick cardboard 3D model. By starting to think out of the box, I placed the model on my table and I started shaking the table. Guess what… the small model was destroyed. I did not give up. I questioned myself ‘’ What if… this is a real building, how can we keep it safe from earthquakes? ‘’ What if we surround the building with a really strong material? By asking one of my dad’s friends, who is the construction field, I learned that buildings are primarily designed to support a vertical load in order to maintain the walls and the roof.  Then I started thinking what if the walls, the roof and even the floor are tied together? What would happen? Is it going to be a safer version of a building?

After experimenting for few hours with the same small 3D model, I end up with a design solution. My imaginative scenario would be related to the protection of people’s houses. The houses would be constructed of a lighter material, such as wood and to secure the wooden structure, it will be all surrounded by metal. The idea is like the wooden house to be stuck in a metal box. This would prevent an earthquake to destroy it. (Please see the image below).

 

Referencing:

Year published: 2017
Page Title: Powerful Iran-Iraq earthquake is deadliest of 2017
Website name: CNN
URL: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/11/12/middleeast/iraq-earthquake/index.html 
Access date: 03 Jan 2018

 

2 SPECULATIVE DESIGN PROJECTS (session 6)

No one really knows what will happen in the future, we can only predict. But at least we notice that the climate is changing. The best example I could think of is the metre of snow that felt in the Sahara Desert. Yes, you read it correctly, it happened in SAHARA DESERT. How crazy is that!

As we are seeing and feeling the changes in the climate we have to think of future climate disaster possibilities around the world. We have to make sure that we and the people around us would be safe if something happens.

For example hurricanes, they are most commonly seen in the United States. The extreme weather makes a huge impact on people’s lives, as I say: ‘’ It makes a 360-degree turn in their life.’’

Today I will give an example of two projects in relation to climate change.

The first example is a company based in the USA and called Deltec Homes.
This a family company that builds innovative, high-performance round homes with respect to the natural world. It seems a normal building company but they are different from everyone else with that they are also inventing future construction of hurricane-proof homes. (Please see image (1) below)

(1) Example Of Deltec Homes

I like their work because they are not only trying to achieve a beautiful look to the houses but also they put the safety under consideration. They are looking at three main things: quality, sustainability and strength.

Mainly the rounded shape of the houses prevents the wind to build up pressure on any side and to cause a structural failure. Also, a roof pitch is made to deflect the wind. The wind energy is scattered instead of being built in one area.

To build stronger houses they have been looking at specific materials. They used plywood sheathing used instead of OSB on exterior walls, roof and floor. It strengthens the home and prevents flying debris from penetrating the structural. The lumber is twice as strong as typical framing material. In addition, they used reinforced windows with impact glass which do not let any wind or water to come in the house.


Drawing Explaining The Idea And Showing Materials

To make the houses more stable they use connectors ties between the walls and the floor, oversized truss hangers to keep the roof system stable and for the whole structural stability they use continuous metal strapping from the roof to the foundation.

In terms of sustainability, the reflective metal roof helps to reduce the heat output in the house. The house also has a solar boiler, which provides continuous hot water. In addition to the sustainability of this project, through proper window placement, it helps to heat and cool the building.

I personally think that this design project is just AMAZING!

The company puts everything under consideration. I like that they think how to secure every little part of the house against a hurricane. Each of the materials is carefully chosen for its purpose. I definitely think that they put a lot of effort, making sure that their design meets the requirements of quality, sustainability an strength.

Referencing:

Year published: 2017
Page Title: A metre of snow falls in the Sahara desert
Website name: The Telegraph
URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/algeria/articles/a-metre-of-snow-falls-in-sahara-desert/
Access date: 02 Jan 2018

Year published: 2018
Page Title: Hurricane Resistance
Website name: Deltec Homes
URL: http://www.deltechomes.com/learn-more/hurricane-resistance/
Access date: 02 Jan 2018

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I want to relate my second example of a speculative design to other natural disasters than the hurricane. FLOOD.

Let me give you a little explanation what exactly is Flood. It usually takes hours or even days to develop, providing residents with enough time to prepare or evacuate. But some of them could be extremely dangerous because they generate quickly and with little warning. The water has awesome destructive power, that bridges, houses, cars, trees can be picked up and carried off.

Let’s get back to the speculative design idea. What do you think about a floating city? It sounds interesting, isn’t it?
The Seasteading Institute is an organisation founded by Patri Friedman and co-founder Peter Thiel. The aim is to build ‘’start-up countries’’ at sea, known as ‘’seasteads’’.  Looking through their website I understand that their goal is to develop ‘’ open spaces for experimenting with new societies’’.  They do not mention to relate their project to climate changes, but I think that could be a potential design idea for a safe place to live after a climate disaster (flood). (Please see image (1) below).

(1) ”Seasteads”

The organization claims that the floating cities will be sustainable and become realistic. Concrete platforms will support three-storey buildings including apartments, offices and hotels for up to 100 years.

According to information from their website, it is expected that between 250 and 300 people will live abroad the settlement. (Please see image (2) below).

(2) Floating City

In relation to my own work, I had to challenge myself few times to invent a future design solution and I always was thinking about only a single building, not a whole city. For me, this example of a dream city could only be an amazing inspiration for potential future projects ideas.

 

Referencing:

Year published: 2017
Page Title: The Oceans Are The Next Frontier
Website name: The Seasteading Institute
URL: https://www.seasteading.org/
Access date: 02 Jan 2018

Year published: 2017
Page Title: The Seasteading Institute’s floating cities are designed for unregulated innovation
Website name: Dezeen
URL: https://www.dezeen.com/2017/07/24/seasteading-institute-floating-cities-designed-for-unregulated-innovation-architecture-mini-living-initiative/
Access date: 02 Jan 2018

EXAMPLES OF MATERIALS ( RELATION TO MY OWN WORK) (session 5)

Today in my blog, I am going to mention three different materials that I use as part of my creative work and also explore their material properties.

                                                                    CONCRETE

Concrete is a composite building material resulting from the curing of a mixture of cement, water and sand. Concrete has a neutral colour, which is the most popular colour range in the interior design of office buildings. My opinion is that the grey colour is serious, moderate, insensitive, cold and quiet. It often depicts fog, boredom and the dirt of the big cities, but it also means industrial and “modern” and it definitely represents concrete very well. The concrete express strength. I will use Tate Modern as an example, the building looks enormous and very strong as if nothing or nobody can destroy it. This material is one of my favourite materials when it comes to surface texture. The surface texture of the concrete in Tate Modern is so smooth that in some places the material looks shiny. In addition, I have been working with concrete before and I noticed that after something is built out of concrete, there is usually a strange odour that disappears after a while.


ALUMINIUM SHEETS

My second example of a material is aluminium. There are varieties of pressed aluminium sheets but I  I have done a project using a plain shiny sheet and I was surprised by the final outcome. It is easy to work with it because of its thickness, softness and lightness, you can bend it and you can achieve the shape that you want to create. Unlike concrete, the aluminium sheets do not have any smell.

CLAY

My final example of materials is clay, which is a natural mineral, composed mainly of small-scale milled aluminium silicates. I would describe the clay as a thick and soft material that has a distinctive smell and which you can mould when it is wet and afterwards is dried and baked to make bricks, pottery, and ceramics. It is easy to work with and you can turn the smooth surface texture into beautiful patterns.

MY MATERIAL JOURNEY TO COLLEGE (session 4)

Have you ever wondered how many materials have you touched every day? When you brush your teeth, do you ever stop and wonder what material your toothbrush is made of?

My task is to consider how many varied materials I touch daily on my way to university.

Thinking of exactly the first material that I touch when I wake up, this is my desk lamp. To turn on the lamp, I have to slide the lamp switch, however, why do I have to bend myself off the bed every morning?!  Why has the designer not created the light switch higher? The lamp switch is at the bottom of the lamp, which I find really annoying… Personally, I think that it will be much better and easier for me if the light switch is higher. ( Please see image (1)  below )


  (1) the lamp switch (slide)

I always wonder why the door handle has to be rotated in another direction, not in the same as in my country ( Bulgaria) and then I also realise that, in the UK, people drive on the right side of the road.There are a lot of differences in how individual countries do things, of course. However, the direction of the door handle is not a big problem for me. Sometimes to be a tall person is really annoying. The actual problem with the bathroom door in my flat is that the door handle is placed really low. I prefer it to be higher and maybe not as a ball but as a t-bar handle. (Please see image (2) below)


(2) Bathroom Door (low position of a door handle)

Every day I am using a public transport: a train and a bus. Usually, I get on the train/bus, try to find a space to sit, listen to music and get off the train/bus on my destination, which in my case is Vauxhall Station. I do not usually consider what fabric has been used for the creation of the seats and what material has been used for the floor. But this week, that was my task.
Regarding the public transport, there are metal poles and railings are usually designed to protect you from falling. I can see that there are almost everywhere in the buses and the trains but I noticed that sometimes when I catch the metal pole/ railing, I can feel that my hand is sliding. For that reason, I think that if there is a rubber or a similar material over the metal, the handles will protect you better. (Please see image (3)  below)


(3) Public transport (metal poles/railings)

Considering the seats, I personally think that they are comfortable, except the softness. I think that the whole seat design will be much better and even more comfortable if the seats are made by softer fabric, or added like a sponge between the fabric and the actual seat. (Please see image (4) below)


(4) Interior of a train (seat)

 

REFLECTION ON A LECTURE GIVEN BY A VISITOR (session 4)

Last week, we had a lecture by a guest named Francesca Perona, who is a London-based designer whose practice spans across textiles, design research, product innovation and interactive installations.

I definitely found the lecture really helpful and inspiring!  Francesca was really descriptive about her past projects as she gave us a lot of examples that she has done in the past few years. I definitely was surprised by her experience! She travelled to so many places, exploring different materials, talking to different specialists (as every designer should do),   for example in the field of making ceramics.

Ceramics for the Anthropocene 2017
http://www.francescaperona.com/portfolio/ceramics-for-the-anthropocene/

One of her projects that really got me interested was related with clay. I have been working once with this material, but I have never asked myself where does it come from and are there really ‘ clay or ceramic specialists’? She described very well her visit to Italy, related to finding more information about clay ceramics.  I could say that Francesca definitely gathered a lot of experience by doing this trip!  Because of her enthusiasm, she started developing her new project. The process was long! She talked to different specialists in making ceramics, exploring clay and making a variety of experiments. She told us about the difficulties she has been through and the time she has taken to complete this project and I definitely could say that she is very patient!

Another part that I liked about the lecture was that Francesca seemed really passionate inventing a new design. She shared with us her interests in the field of designing.

Crafting Human Perception 2012

Another project that really impressed me was related to sound, vision and touch.  She took part in an exhibition and her exhibited object was made out of fabrics, including sound. She combined both fabric and electrical parts. The project was called ‘Crafting Human Perception’ (https://vimeo.com/54328722) and it is an interactive textile wearable soft sculpture that explores new ways of extending the natural bandwidth of human perception. The artwork rethinks the traditional relationship between bodies and handcrafted textile surfaces, enhancing common functionalities through sensors and electronic augmentation. 

The main reason that I liked this project is that she is trying to engage the audience with the object. Unfortunately, not many artists do that.
I have been to many exhibitions so far, however, I rarely have seen an exhibited object that I could touch or play with it. Most of them express ‘ DO NOT TOUCH ME’.  For that reason, I think that Franchesca’ s work is really successful!

In my opinion, I gathered a lot of information and inspiration from this lecture. It inspired me about my future projects. It made me think about different possibilities combining varied materials.
I can say that Francesca Perona is a big inspiration and proves what a designer should be!

 

Referencing:

 

Year published: 2017
Page Title: Design with Materials
Website name: Francescaperona.com
URL: http://www.francescaperona.com/
Access date: 12 Nov 2017