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Colours of Monchique

Nic, the author of the Monchiquetionary blog has added a beautiful collection of colours of Monchique. Especially the rich and vivid colours of the Medronho berries would be great to use in something designy or crafty.

A final [personal] reflection

I love to get stuck in projects – Fact!

Let’s have a look at my reoccurring five metrics I used to give a qualitative stat [satisfaction out of 5 grading] on how things were going. You can compare them also to my previous reflection 12 earlier in the project.

Be outside as much as possible [3/5] There was a direct correlation with cold weather and work, the more of the two, the less I did outside. Outside activities involved walking,  cycling, canoeing, surfing, dry stone wall building and who would have thought I’d enjoy Surfing and Mushrooms?!

Creating design outcomes [4/5] overall and by project:

  • [1/5] Branding for the Quinta was not taken to a final outcome. The owners kept changing their minds about what they wanted their guest house to be. We suggested appraoched, I collected benchmarking and competitor examples. Julia created a business plan. But basically because we were not really getting payed for the work we were doing, the work we did was seen as ‘useful’ but it wasn’t the right timing to get it actually used. Hence, our efforts were focused elsewhere apart from the occasional photo shoot of gems found in the Quinta and group workshops.
  • [1/5] Adventure park. I would have liked to help Lucio with detailing the experience of his park and the branding for Alternativtours and website, rather than making it all makeshift – but it somehow works! Unfortunately due to health reasons most work was placed on ice after one and a half months and the park project was suspended.
  • [0/5] Algarve 123 did not happen. Why? A small improvement was made in-house after our meeting with two of the directors – the cultural part of the newspaper got a tiny bit more significance on the title page. An example re-design as part of something like ‘Novas Direcoes’ or the ‘alternative tourism office’ idea – was suspended as we realised we were trying to do too many things at the same time. Very unfortunate, as it would have been fun to do!
  • [3/5] Own Projects. I came up with ideas like the Patterns of Monchique book and the second post but did not go further into detail, interviewing craftsmen and women, but researched into local crafts and souvenirs. I haven’t had much time to create outcomes from it, but a few: print pattern on fabric and some jewellery prototypes.
  • [5/5] Novas Direcoes – maps, content, exhibition curation and documentation. Great success. We had 60 visitors at the exhibition and 6 email requests for more information via the 2nd newspaper article which was published.
  • [4/5] Veredas de Monchique. I’m very happy with the maps but should have allowed more time to distribute and getting them used. Looking back at the Veredas process, I am also surprised at how long it took to derive at the final maps without the concept changing much. Of course I conducted several GPS traces and did research into existing walks, but already at the first meeting at the beginning of October, I had a fairly solid understanding of what I imagined the maps to be like. I was also not completely pleased with the workflow creating the Monchique town map, giving directions to our illustrator. We (Jules and I) were pulling in too many directions with a too lose brief which caused the style of the illustration to get lost, taking away the enjoyment and attention to detail, rather than having a beautifully crafted map. I also would have liked to continue the Veredas work, but don’t think I made the depth of necessary connections, to get paid work from it.
  • [3/5] Research into ‘How unique is Monchique?’  Blog posts: Salir / Alte Tourist officeHow unique is Monchique? Monchique’s untapped potential for tourism. 

Blogging [5/5] I set up 3 blogs. 130 posts in total. over 1000 visitors in 3 months and an average of 20 views a day. My particular favorites are: Photography competitionTiles contemporary tiles, building a dry stone wall, my Lisbon trip and the Sustainable design jam and the craft posts: Dust and wooden shavingsMonchique Artesanatos and Products of Monchique blog posts.

Follow passion and curiosity

Learn Portuguese [1/5] Due to the lack of immersion, I did not really pick up Portuguese. Living in a house with 12 Brits, 2 Germans and 1 English speaking Slovakian, did not help with learning a language! I should have foreseen this based on my experiences with previous languages and living abroad.

Customer Service Qualification [N/A]- Customer Service Qualification NVQ Level 3. I haven’t really made mention of this qualification I supposedly gained whilst in Portugal by reflecting on my customer service experiences. It sounded like an interesting thing to do, (useful to get to know the other side of designing for service), but it was more a hindrance than constructive, not helping reflection or capturing of impressions and skills. All I can say is that I hope that other individuals who do this qualification don’t get told: No one can fail!

Learn about Sustainable Tourism [1/5] – I’d been keen to learn about the principles of a permaculture garden or learning about how guest houses run and how they run sustainable, but I got the feeling ‘sustainability’ is either treated as a label or it’s ticked off by having a solar panel system. I missed the opportunity to attend the sustainable tourism conference or learn more about the commune Tamera north of Monchique.

This blog in 2011 (annual stats)

Just before the turn of the year, I got an interesting email from wordpress (the great free blog platform this blog is hosted on). It was an annual report – giving little attention to it at first, the link and the page that was hiding behind it held some interesting details, which I’d like to capture with this blog post (predominantly for UX purposes but also general interest). Overall, I thought it was a rather refreshing surprise, considering the un-fun gamification bit they introduced about a month ago, that is attempting to encourage more frequent blog posts by giving bloggers a next 5 posts target. And, of course I am very happy that 1000 people viewed my blog, considering it has only been running for 3 months!! Here is the report, if you like to check it out yourself.

First of all, the report is a scrolling page, which split the content into distinct sections:

1. Happy new year – [name of blog] 2011 in blogging‘ – the fireworks represent when blog posts were published – nice little detail  which only becomes apparent on second sight.

2. Overall celebration ‘Crunchy numbers‘ – 1000 viewers! Yeah!! But why the strange representation in San Fransisco’s cable car journeys??… maybe the quantity of consumed food if all of these viewers were at the same event would make more sense, to make this number more tangible, but not sure whether it is actually needed unless it add’s a funny and memorable anker, which the iconic cable car journey, maybe culturally, does not to me.

3. How did readers get there? – Where did they come from? – ‘How did they find you?’ and ‘Where did they come from?’ – good list of referring sites and nice map and roll over information. (See image below)

4. Who were they and who commented? – Apart from the fact that I haven’t quite succeeded with encouraging comments, with only a handful , these stats neglect how many people ‘liked’ posts or follow them on wordpress or RSS feeds.

5. What where the most popular posts? referred to as ‘Attractions’. A list of the four most popular. How about adding how much time people spend reading them? For sure time must be traced?!

6. Share it with the world – I did!

7. Thanks again

8. But wait, there is more…. 1.2.3. follow.read.blog with a promise that in the new year one can blog even faster… i.e. the promise to have a more intuitive interface?!


Visually: the page has a nice common design feel which has been around for the last two years: strong, bold colours, bold handwritten font and folded drapy things and borders to make images more integrated into the page. I also like the pattern and siluettes of the section dividers.

Last little bits…

It’s been a week and a half since we returned to the UK, the three days of German Christmas is past and the new year is just round the corner. Slowly but surely the time after Monchique has started and I’ve been working hard to process and finish uncompleted blogposts, thoughts, drawing and crafty things to feel ready to embark and emerge myself into the next project (and yes, even the week back has not been long enough to wrap everything up as new ‘nice-to-haves’ are cropping up). So, here the freshly updated blogposts:

  • Lisbon Souvenirs (list and links for nice designerly Souvenirs) and the Craft shop map of the Alfama district (the must-visit crafts shop in the Alfama district, Lisboa)
  • Lisbon for free – completed and with added links to wikipedia articles)
  • Aluzejos de Portugal – more pics from the National tile Museum and more description of the  tile making process
  • Portuguese Theater – play about the convent of Monchique – sharing and communicating different points of view what should happen with the convent ruin in Monchqiue
  • Longevity – a little slagging off the 5star wellness resort by Caldas de Monchique
  • Europe’s biggest cork tree – on Picota
  • Designing guided tours – What makes a good guided walk? Drawing on examples from Lisbon’s ‘free walking tours’
  • Personality of the Quinta – Using a card Archetype game to extract the brand identity

Monchique Pop up Shop

In the last week of Monchique, Julia prompted the idea of a pop up shop – the more I play with the patterns and photos I took whilst out there, the more I think it would be great fun and an opportunity to learn to do a crafty, shop and workshop space. I also stumbled over this very beautiful flat interior picture above in my photo collection –  unfortunately the shop which we could possibly get along the main staircase alleyway in Monchique will most certainly not offer such picturesque interior opportunities. Let me label the idea as a-bit-far-fetched for now, but be assured to be updated if anything more specific comes of it.