Designing with Forces

In the run-up to our final presentation our key concern was reaching a physical product conclusion, while ensuring our end product, project direction and presentation reflected our design agenda (intervention of the design process).
As a group we created a design process - this process has taken great learning from the outcome we presented last time. Our object will be determined by the user not determined by the role of dice. the quantity of material Will be decided by the month of the users birth and a further manipulation to the product Will be determined by the users star sign.

A key consideration is the users relation to the product outcome, having a direct relationship with both the creation of the product and the determining factors Will only enhance the users Love for the product.

James was able to fulfil a trial of our second design process - we had concluded wax would be our material of choice (I will touch on reasons later) and James's housemates became our customers. A different amount of wax in different colours was dripped over a range of James's bedroom furniture! The outcome was completely out of our control, a beautiful waxy mess!

Had this project continued, we intended the next stages in the process to be: scan the waxy outcome, use a coding program to digitally manipulate the shape further (within predetermined parameters) and finally 3-D print the final lampshade using a more sustainable durable material.

For me this finaliasation of the process would create something that is desirable yet meaningful, giving the customer a personal connection with the Evolution of their product.

Below is included a copy of the group presentation given to outline the project goal, inspration and outcomes. Most of the group research related to the use of random chance within design. One of the more interesting research topics was work carried out by Mitchell whitelaw - he created a pot with the diameter dependent on the changing weather conditions over a number of years. This was even more relevant to modern day design as the process utlised 3D printing.

For me the next generation of this design process would be to create responsive lighting, potentially interactive and personalisable. This project has informed my personal design agenda I have always been concerned with interactive and customisable design but I never quite considered designing a process which could result in a product that has evolved. Blending chaos and control into design and embracing natural forces; seeing you become as much an observer of the process as a master of the Design.

Why Wax?

We were looking for a material which would allow us to observe the process and allow the product to evolve itself.  Wax was our chosen material. Wax settles and hardens as it pleases, wax is quite responsive to slight changes in its environment. The forms and shapes wax create are very organic, using wax will be about the balance between chaos and control. Wax has a low cost and is easily accessible for the customer.

In addition, wax is an ectoplasmic material - this means it can morph in a similar way to water.

critique of process

As the project is now over, it seems to be a good time to evaluate what i have learnt from the process and how it has influenced my approach to design. This will point to a few specifics, but before i get into those I think it's worth noting that Fundamentally I think the whole first term at MMU has had a prfound impact on my design approach. When i first started i was blissfully unaware of different design approaches and didn't really think that they would add anything to my way of working. it turns out that i was wrong! finding out about the history of my practice has opened my eyes to the journey that design can take. this course is about more than becoming a better designer, it's about exploring the boundaries of creative thinking. If we accept limitations then we will never improve - this is highlighted through examples such as the OLED, which enables light to be embedded in flexible surfaces.

So, the project.... I always find that a useful exercise is to look at what you set out to do (the goal), then look at where you ended up (the result), and see what influenced that evolution. In this case the goal was to have a product/ outcome that was determined by the end user - giving an aspect of random from the design perspective. The intention was to allow some aspects of the randomness found in nature to influence the design. We also chose a material that had unpredictable properties. The outcome was not too far from our initial goal - randomly choosen items (albeit from a limited selection) with wax allowed to flow of its own free will. Whether this is truly random is debateable, as the location of the wax 'drip' was determined by us. However, the patterns created were heavily influenced by the object choosen and although similar shapes gave a similar overall look, the intricacies and minor pattern deviations do give a unique artwork. If transferred to another medium (through the use of scanning and 3D printing - or even conversion to 2D) this would mimic some of the random beauty of nature.

I learnt a number of things from this process. There were a lot of interesting things that were directly related to the project itself, such as biomimcry and using randomness as a design agenda. But as well as this I was able to take learning from the way my group worked and interacted. My background has led me to working to a particular brief to achieve a fixed outcome. This whole process was more fluid, with no fixed design direction. The limiations were removed and there was no need to focus on the end goal - form and function - that's my design agenda and moving away from this has given me inspiration to bring into my own ideas. The main influence is that people can easily associate with nature, with biomimicry. As someone interested in providing an interactive experience, the idea of incorporating nature is a faciniating one. Can light and surfaces be attuned with nature to engage a user? Do people associate better with design that has shapes and forms that mirror a familiar concept - this would make a fancinating study.

One thing that I have learnt is that I'm not looking for revolution - I'm looking for evolution.