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Links Fx: The original version
I developed Links Fx in the first few months of working for Bluefish. The idea came about whilst discussing the possibility of applying De Bono’s thinking hats to the teaching of design technology. I was not keen on De Bono’s thinking hats then and still am not. As a teacher I find it hard that in 2014 we still refer to the black hat as the negative and the white positive, sorry, but not happy, so I do not use it!

I would like  to give you a guide on how to apply Links Fx and suggest how to use it in a real classroom.

L- Logical:
Look at the product and decide which parts or functions are used in a logical fashion during normal use. Which parts of a product actually work, time after time, year after year, no matter who uses it?

Look at the product and decide which parts or functions are used in an illogical way during normal use. Think about it, how many of us close the car door using the door window frame or even the window itself, so why place the handle so low down?

N- Need:
This is all about having a fresh look at a product, a new perspective and the courage to define what is really needed. How many products primary function is lessened by the fact that it has been given superfluous secondary functions in an effort to sell it? Think early VCR and DVD players.

K- Keep:
Now you get to decide what is absolutely necessary to enable a product to function perfectly, you get to list those features that you feel really work and are essential to the product, not dictated by a marketing team.

S- Scrap:
This is the part that young people love, the ability to simply remove all boundaries and scrap those ideas, however old or well established, in the process completely freeing up the possibilities. Just because an idea is 100 years old it does not mean it’s actually any good, think toilet brush. How much of that idea, if produced for the first time today would be seen as acceptable simply from a hygiene point of view?

F- Form Follows Function follows Form:
Confused? Stay with me on this one. We all know that the accepted paradigm is form follows function, but is it really? When you develop a product its function and form are paramount and great focus is afforded to both. However in many cases I believe that function wins, think of all those pre-release photos of new cars, they looked sleek, sexy, low and fast, what happened from concept to manufacture? What I am suggesting is simply this, when you get to that stage that a product is complete and some of the aesthetics have been sacrificed to allow perfect function, why not focus again on its form. You have the function and as long as it’s retained you have nothing to lose.

X- X Factor:
For years designers have tried to define what the X factor really is, I reckon I have the answer. Go into a store to buy a kettle, you have a £20 budget, two are available, one is plain and the other aesthetically pleasing, both have identical functions. Most people would by the better looking example.
So how do you put the X Factor into your products…? Form follows Function follows Form of course

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The cost of Sustainability?


I was lucky enough to attend the Design and Technology Association Awards in London recently – though not lucky enough to win a prize.

At the end of the evening Dame Ellen MacArthur (her father was a D&T teacher) gave a speech about sustainability, during which she pointed out we have around 118 years of coal supply left.

And it got me thinking. Sustainability and the Environment have, until recently, been the preserve of those with dubious facial hair and a penchant for multi-coloured knitwear. But now it’s everywhere. And surely the crisis point that’s been so long anticipated has already arrived. (We have 40-50 years of oil left. That’s scary isn’t it?)

But here’s a controversial thought – and one you could work into a classroom debate. Why not design better and more durable products, instead of attempting to recycle everything in what has become a disposable society.

The switch on my wife’s hair dryer broke recently. You can buy a new one for less than £5. But being a D&T teacher I thought I would mend it. I just had to take the case apart. The manufacturer, however, had apparently never considered anyone might want to do this, for while I have every screwdriver under the sun (and a Torx set) I don’t have the Security Torx set I needed to fix the hairdryer. Result: My wife now has a new one.

Remember the “Scrappage Scheme” where the government encouraged us to crush perfectly workable cars in order to “save” £2000 off the price of a new car. Nothing to do with money they said, all about getting old cars off the road and replacing them with environmentally friendly ones. But why do we need a car which is 100% recyclable. Why not buy one which is designed and made well in the first place? It’s like marrying a woman you really like, not love, so she’ll be easier to divorce when you trade her in for a younger model.

I recently went into a large fast-food chain and the amount of packaging was incredible. My straw was wrapped in paper, and the cup given a firm plastic fitting lid before being placed in a pulped cardboard holder. Why? “Health and Safety Sir”. Oh. And everything had been recycled.

I have a suggestion: how about I have no holder, no straw sleeve, no lid and a cup made of thinner material. In return I’m charged less. The company saves money and we save the environment. Or would that be just too simple?

Spencer Herbert

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How do you define an Iconic Design?


Tough one!

Especially if teaching Product Design at A-Level, this is one of those omni present questions which has a tendancy to make an appearance at exam time.  I came up with this recently along with my A level students studying product design in relation to Iconic design. You know how much I love anagrams and acronyms!

We tended to focus on Iconic rather than classic as the term classic is a little open ended. A Morris Minor is a classic car but it is not an Icon. Whereas the Beetle is both classic and Iconic. All old cars are labelled classic cars, few are Iconic.


S: Symbolic, can represent a movement, a time, fashion,ideals, design beliefs or principles

P: Provenance, it has a rich and important history, it changed things, affected the users

U:Unique, different when first released, since copied but still seen as the original, genesis

R:Resonance, people remember it, evokes passion, is still relevant or even still used

See what you think, my pupils can now tell you exactly why a Barcelona chair is an Iconic design and why the W.W Stool by Phillipe Starck is not.

Spencer Herbert

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Check out my “Store” section


Check out my “Store” section on the website. I have hand picked a series of products that I feel would be perfect as part of an inspirational handling collection. Furthermore I have listed a number of publications that are ideal in a real classroom. These are books that I have either used, referred to or wish to own and in a number of cases have written a review for in my “Resource Review” feature. I have decided to use as my link , as this is a company that is extremely competitive and one that I have made countless orders with in the past. As such I am happy to both recommend and have featured on this site. Take some time to have a look and happy shopping.

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The Times Educational Website


When was the last time you took a good look around the Times Educational Website? There is now a Teachers TV tool, literally thousands of free Design and Technology resources, a great forum and of course plenty of jobs for you to view. For me however, its all about the resources, you could build an entire department’s scheme of work around that which you could find in the resource section. And I am not talking about just making do, no way, these are absolute top quality projects which are fastidious in their approach with superb aesthetic appeal. If I could make one recommendation to anyone teaching Design Technology today, then it would be to visit the TES as soon as possible!


Spencer Herbert

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