Sunday, November 23, 2008

Experimenting and Design

I my self, do not like to make extremely conceptual design, but can respect it. I want my work to be more about function than statement. At the same time I believe that there needs to be a level of experimentation and “out of the box thinking” required to produce new and innovating designs. Theses experiments are what lead a designer in a direction, most of the time this path that is fallowed, could not have been found without experimenting and mistakes. I think that the best place to experiment is with materials and techniques. There has to be a significant amount of time dedicated to experimenting, but it should be done in a manner that will lead to a finished product or project that is worth wile. There is absolutely a large amount of thinking that goes on with experimental design/ experiments, but it is more important what you do with the information that you gain. As far as Max Lamb’s Pewter Chair in Sand goes, what is it? What is it for? Is it Design to pour metal in a sand box or is it a performance art piece? I have no qualms about one-off/ low production objects, but there has to be a reason for it and I don’t see that in the Pewter chair. There is nothing that speaks to the process of casting in the design of the chair, On the execution of his Pewter stools, Lamb did use casting techniques to form the top surface, he carved the design into sand, and poured into that.

Electric Cars

The Tesla Roadster

The Tesla roadster is an all-electric sports car that has the performance to battle a Porsche. At the hart of this car is a very large battery pack used to store energy or ESS (Electric Storage System). Most people think that an electric cars and their batteries consumes more energy to make and create more toxic waste that a standard automobile. The battery in the Tesla Roadster must be very large to propel the car to a 0 to 60 time of 4 seconds and have a range of 200 miles (the largest range of any electric vehicle) Containing 6800 AA sized Lithium-ion cell weighing about 450kg. These cells are manufactured in Japan where there are relatively strict environmental laws, and meet the RoHS standards. They are mostly made of lithium metal oxides with zero lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, PBBs or PBDEs. It is less toxic than the lead-acid batteries that are in regular cars, and at the end of its life it is recycled. Tesla Motors is working with Kinsbursky Brothers, Inc. (KBI)/Toxco to recycle the vehicle’s batteries. They want to maximize the amount of material that can be salvaged, (cobalt, aluminum, nickel, and copper, etc) to reuse in future batteries. It is uncommon for manufacturers to take such a stance in the recycling of their product, but they stand to benefit if they can reuse the materials to create more cars.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

High Heels


I believe that designers can start or direct a trend, whether it is visual or conceptual, but it is up to the user to determine the meaning to the object. In the case of high heels, the design started out as a form of empowerment for woman, then that changed to a form of domination over woman. Now woman wear heals for whatever reason they want. You could have two women who wear the same shoe for very different reasons. One could be a conservative businesswoman wearing a black suit, and the other could be the opposite, wearing a mini skirt with facial piercing and rainbow hair. Both woman play different roles in society, both ware the same shoe. In this case the designer made the shoe with their aesthetic and preferred use, but it is the end user that dictates the final style of the shoe. You could say that a designer suggests a use for their product, but does not have the final say. When you sell a product you do not come with it to show how to properly use it, there may even be instructions, but how often done one even read them. How often have you seen some one sitting on a chair cross-legged, when it was designed to have both feet on the ground? This is the same thing. I do not believe that designers need to enforce how products are used; this allows people to define who they are as individuals.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quality vs. Quantity

There is a major loss of quality in design and execution when mass-producing products. It is accepted that image and affordability is more an important than quality. We as designers and consumers need to support skilled crafts persons and local producers over cheep labor and outsourced production. During this time of increased environmental concern, we need to make environmentally sound decisions and have conscious design principles. Using the cheapest materials and conforming to purely low-end market driven design cannot accomplish this. We need to educate consumers about the benefits of long-term investment instead of couture content with disposable furniture.
As RISD students go through classes in wood, metal and other materials, learning the best way to produce our designs, we are encouraged to design in ways that best suit the material. It is of great importance that we support the art of craftsmanship and skilled work. The current era of economies supports more mass-produced items made by unskilled laborers and outsourced origins. RISD requires that students design work through maximizing the skill acquired at school. When building a chair, is it better to design it in a manner that utilizes techniques and practices (like mortis and tenon joints, or welding vs. nuts and bolts) that produce a stronger more durable product at a higher cost? I would say yes, I also think that one could make conscious design solutions that produce simple yet elegant products that meet the quality of much costlier existing designs.
Right now in 2008 we in the midst of rising oil costs and a global environment in decline. The next generation of designers must take steps to reduce the waste we produce. By moving production back to our country we will decrease use of oil by not having to ship raw materials to china and then the finished product back to us. Also, designing our projects using materials that are local to the builder will decrease the costs of transportation. Most inexpensive furniture utilizes particleboard, which is made with formaldehyde and other caustic adhesives. These bonding agents emit VOCs during application and cannot be recycled after the products life span is over. I believe that it is possible to build inexpensive and environmentally responsible furniture with solid wood or plywood. By buying domestic materials like lumber, environmental impact via use of fuel can be reduced. America uses some of the best practices of obtaining and harvesting lumber in the world. For example, Red Oak or Ash is a local hard wood that is very strong and durable. If one of these woods were used to build a chair instead of say Mahogany, which does not grow in America and is not as strong, the production cost could be lower. Less material is used to produce a chair of equal strength and the consumer is not supporting poor harvesting practices used in other countries.
Another consideration for reducing impact on the environment includes the life of the product. Furniture made from particleboard and/or from a bad design will have a much shorter lifespan compared to solid wood. Even taking into account the greater upfront cost of a well-designed product, over the course of a lifetime it will be less expensive and less wasteful to buy one superior chair instead of 5 inferior ones.
Designers are the ones generating the market trends. They need to direct the market towards products that are better designed. We should introduce designs that maximize the use of material. There is an idea of quality that came from the past that is connected to wood. Old furniture has quality built into it because of the fact that it is solid wood and the existing technologies would not allow for shortcuts. That is the reason that there is furniture lasts for over a 100 years. This is true of both the expensive furniture and the lower quality furniture from the same time. Using materials that are wood composites, (particleboard) to act like wood is a poor design choice to just save a few bucks. Currently lots of modern furniture is made from particleboard with wood veneers or even faux wood veneers. By using a look that is ingrained in our history there is a perceived quality that is not there. This is an entirely irresponsible practice. Designers need to be true to the product and process and create honest designs. Use solid wood when applicable
The reason that the price of a well-designed chair costs more than inexpensive chairs is that there is a lot of time spent designing it for proper fit and function. Look at the Aeron office chair for example it costs about one thousand dollars, but is designed to support the body in a way to limit fatigue at an office desk. The ergonomic chair position minimizes discomfort for the person sitting in it, compared to a Staples office chair for $150. As a business owner it could be more economical to spent $20,000 to outfit and medium sized office with Aeron chairs then $2000 for cheep office furniture. Yes there is a large up front cost, but because it was so well designed, the employer will save money over the long run. Spending the money for better office furniture is a good investment in an office environment. The chairs will hold up better through the daily abuse for years to come, and could increase productivity because the employee is more comfortable in their work environment. Also Spending 40 hours a week 50 weeks of the year in a poorly designed chair could promote back and body pain ultimately costing the employer money for medical treatment and time lost from work.
What it all comes down to is that designers need to produce designs that are honest and pure. Augmenting weak manufactured materials for strong materials that will last a lifetime. This will inherently begin for a better design. Consumers need to see the difference between products that are quickly produced to fill shelves and one where time was spent to develop and deliver the best product. Picking the right materials can offset the higher cost of quality design, the real offset is that better designed product will provide a lifetime of enjoyment.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

One Piece Seating

The PK25 designed by Poul Kjaerholm, is one of the first examples of a chair being formed from one plane of metal. This chair was cut and bent to create the structure. The methods of construction help dictate the final form

This bent plywood chair buy Verner Panton, the “S” chair 275/276 is a take off of the Ritfield Zig-Zag chair. Bending one planer surface in the “S” shape creates the form

Marc Newson used abrasive water jet technologies to cut this chair out of solid marble. He calls it “extruded”, even though it is not, this is most interesting because of the manufacturing process used and material, think about it if it was extruded aluminum

The “Get Bent Chair” by Alexandre Bertiaume is made by simplify one cut and four folds. This chair is very minimalist and also produces almost no waste. The seat folds back while the arm and back rests fold up to support the body.

The Carpet lounge by Felipe Zanardi also creates his chair by cutting a planar surface, but he slide the “carpet” up to create the backs. The contrast between the carpet
and ground let the viewer see how it was folded up.

All of these chairs with the expectation of the “Extruded” chair get their form folding a single planar element. The Extrude chair is similar in the way that it is a plane that was extruded in a direction. These chairs are all very true to their form and do not hide any thing. Another way to connect these chairs is that they are all pushed or pulled to create their forms.

LED lighting


The first Light Emitting Diode (LED) debuting in red was developed by Nick Holonyak Jr., for the General Electric Company.

L.A. Gear was one of the first companies to use LED in non-lighting consumer goods. They put LEDs in the heels of their high-top shoe, so that when you would take a step the shoe would light up

Frog Designs wanted to come up with an efficient alternate to compact florescent bulbs. Their solution was to use the shape of an incandescent bulb, powered by an LED. This combination is supposed to make an easier transition for the consumer, by using a familiar shape.

LumiGram uses a mixture of LEDs and fiber optics to create a flexable wareable textile.

The Phlips Light Company is using LED in a soft to the touch textile. This technologhy alowes for consumers to interact in a new way with their enviroment, and pushes the envlope on what lighting in the home can be.

In the Last 40 years LED technology has come a long way. It has only been in the last 20 years that their placement has grown to the design culture The key features of LED are their small size, minimal parts and the low amount of energy that they require to run. There size makes it possible for the placement in areas that conventional lighting cannot go. the fact that they are very durable and have a enormous life span allow them to be implanted in sealed devices that experience shock, like shoes. The most interesting fact is that they are so small, where will they go next.


The Beginning of Humans
Story telling is the oldest form of preservation it began with the birth of humanity. It can consist of words, props and gestures. It is used to convey information from one another. A large part of story telling is about keeping history alive.

3000 BC

Libraries are a place wh
ere information is stored, preserving ideas for later generations. In ancient Mesopotamia, about 30,000 clay tablets were discovered. This is thought to be the first time information was first written down and collected in one place, becoming the first library.

2500 BC

The Ancient Egyptians were the first people to use a wedding ring. The first rings were made of plant fibers and would only last a year or two. With the innovation of new technologies, like metal smithing, these rings would change into family heirlooms lasting many generations.The ring symbolizes the love and commitment that two partners made in the past and is a constant reminder of their promise


Canning is a way of persevering the flavors of a past harvest, with canning you can enjoy summer fruits the next winter, or years later. The first documented method of canning is from the Apicius a collection of Roman recipes, by Marcus Gavius Apicius who used this method to make fruit jam.


Nicéphore Niépce is credited as the first person to successfully create a permanent photograph. As they say “a photo is worth a thousand words”, and those words can only say so much. With the invention of the photograph, visual representation could be taken to a new level. That up until now, photo was an accurate representation of time passed was able to stop time and preserve the instant forever.

The ability to preserve is important to all people all over the world. it can be done on many levels from food to culture. Being able to preserve items and ideas allow us to learn from the past, or take a small amount of the past with us. Preservation touches all of our senses, stories are spoken and herd, while ideas can be read through books, photos are a visual reminder and jam and canned good spark our taste buds while the essence of wedding rings come from within.