an object that depends on you next
a hands-on inside-out design process
mesh is a product design evolved from a primary research approach of an inside-out hands-on material exploration. This document follows my design process from its germ as personal material research to a knowledge transfer in the form of a product that opens for user participation, personalization and customizing.
–adj 1. of or pertaining to the viscera. 2. affecting the viscera. 3. of the nature of or resembling viscera. 4. characterized by or proceeding from instinct rather than intellect: a visceral reaction. 5. characterized by or dealing with coarse or base emotions; earthy; crude: a visceral literary style.
Through my hand I am able to access ideas that exist on both in the physical and mental states . Thinking with my fingers generated moments where the material feedback triggered seamless interactions between senses, memory and conceptual associations.
I was able to create distance from the purely cognitive, travel through the liminal realm of emotional intelligence and draw from the latent, the intuitive, the imaginative and the visceral.
making moldable mesh
We started the project with an intense exploration and manipulation of yarns and textiles. At this phase of this project, we were freed from the constraints of the assignment which allowed a fluid playfulness with the materials.
Delving into this period of material play without even knowing the criteria and constraints of the assignment, opened my eyes to the material possibilities and limitations.
The hands-on crafting evokes the human innate drive to make and through the making, tacit knowledge come to the surface. This is fertile ground for new thinking. In addition, my personal crafting experiences run parallel to weaving and tapestry field trips and guest lectures.
v.tr. 1. To make (a fabric or garment) by intertwining yarn or thread in a series of connected loops either by hand, with knitting needles, or on a machine. 2. To form (yarn or thread) into fabric by intertwining. 3. To join closely; unite securely. 4. To draw (the brows) together in wrinkles; furrow.
Building a process around crafting established a diverging/converging process in which the dynamics between my personal making and the considerations of opening for user participation were conflated one into the other.
My mantra throughout the process iterations was: How could I as a designer, through the threedimensional sensory language of an artifact, evoke other humans innate motivations to create?
putting things together di·chot·o·my
–n 1. division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves or pairs. 2. division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action.
I was intrigued by the grid qualities of interlocking and woven textures. Through the weaving and knitting, I created grids that opened for layering with new intersecting materials. The crafting moved to a space of intersecting systems.
When scaling up weaving and knitting, the dynamic and powerful dichotomous relationship between mass and void was emphasized. The negative space created between the woven or knitted textiles created an active space that could be filled or further connected with overlapping systems and textures.
making texture & repetition
In intense moments of making, I found the need to change directions radically at times. I started visiting my roots in Norwegian patterns and mulling over the possibilities to build pattern through layers under fabric.
n. 1. The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication. 2. a. A mode of thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to generation; a custom or usage. b. A set of such customs and usages viewed as a coherent body of precedents influencing the present
It was not a route that I continued for long, however it was a route that brought me to a material discovery and finding short wool fibre padding intended for rug padding. This was a material that I found use of later in my design process for completely different purposes.
a rigid material shift cnc
n. (Computer Numerically Controlled) Machines are programmed and controlled by computer so can offer very short set up times and the flexibility to run batches from one offs to several thousand
I decided to make the mesh surface pieces with ply wood with different finishes. I chose four different finishes - oak, birch, maple and walnut. All the ply wood had different cores and the distributor was unable to tell me what these cores where made of or how many layers they consisted of.
There were huge discrepancies in both layer amount and core materials and the only way to control this would be going straight to the manufacturer.
To get the precise even cuts of the circles, the shape and the tracks, I chose to use the CNC .
Learing about production processes
holes pre-chamfer cut holes after chamfer
I had a valuable lesson after using the CNC to cut my mesh surface pieces. My belief was that the finish would be perfect from the CNC cuts and would not require much additional work. All the boards required a hand routered chamfer edge and sanding prior to a Danish oil finish.
Testing on smaller pieces to find the perfect router piece for the CNC is an experience harnessed for next time. Also, when cutting ply, it is advantageous to clamp the piece between two thin MDF pieces to avoid splintering of the wood.
All these things need to be planned for prior to talking to technicians. Being 100 % clear on expectations and desired outcomes and enabling concise communication.
Learning outcomes: • check if router bits on CNC are sharp • check if the right router bits are used for the material • ensure that you know your wood and its material qualities • clamp wood between material to avoid splintering • make a checklist of these things to avoid mistakes
expressions in other mediums
Notes for Stephen: - the tracks running across the bench are 9 mm deep - the holes go through the piece
By translating this dynamic relationship of woven and knitted grid to a wood surface, I attempted to strip the textile texture to its basic mass and void relationship. This could provide a surface inviting user participation;a surface in which I could translate aspects of my material exploration on to a user.
v.tr. 1. To render in another language. 2. a. To put into simpler terms; explain or interpret. b. To express in different words; paraphrase. 3. a. To change from one form, function, or state to another; convert or transform: translate ideas into reality. b. To express in another medium. 4. To transfer from one place or condition to another.
The noun â€œmeshâ€? is defined as an open texture and is characterized by evenly spaced openings. Mesh is also an example of how a material metaphor offers a language and framework for discussing less tangible relationships - it can be used as a metaphor of how humans connect to things or each other.
The visual language of my design was driven by the open texture and possibilities for material interaction with soft form. The three dimensional artifact mesh invites an array of various actions: poke, weave, sew, knit, pull, arrange, match, join and so on.
In order to translate my design idea to production (CNC), I had to create a precise illustrator file defining the measurements as well as cutting depths. Notes and annotations to the technician was added as a separate notes layer in the illustrator file.
making & precision
Working with textiles in contrast to metal and wood, you become very appreciative over how forgiving textile is. It is also the material where your hands are the tools, so the tactile sensations have the opportunity to sit in the driver seat for a while.
v.tr. 1. To join (metals) by applying heat, sometimes with pressure and sometimes with an intermediate or filler metal having a high melting point. 2. To bring into close association or union.
In working with metal I had to keep a keen mind on everything I was doing. There were no meditating, mind wandering moments. It was a period of intense concentration and attention to precision for safety reasons as well as to ensure successful outcomes.
This was a period where it was all about the outcome, and the process was a pure means of getting there. The precision of my welding and metal work was critical for the frame to fit to the mesh surface pieces. I ended up having to adjust my surface piece tracks with 0.2 mm!
building a brief around constraints
mesh is the result of a soft product challenge from my second year in the industrial design program at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. The product was thus under academic and material constraints and had to satisfy the following design criteria:
n. A standard, rule, or test on which a judgment or decision can be based.
• • • • • •
to interact with the human form to include molding, lamination and cut techniques to be designed for personalization to contain sustainable solutions to use self woven fabric to include dynamic relationships
Above is my design brief for this assignment
sketching the ideas in an early design phase
Products are engaging when they ask for user involvement. In interaction design the ideas of participation, user generated content, open source design, experience and engagement drive the design process, and are the core element of their design. consumerism that tend to exist as parallel idea constraints to these design areas. The fact is that an object does not exist without its human interaction.
Transferring a dose of interaction design wisdom into the realm of industrial and product design enables us to free ourselves from the historical baggage of platonic reductions, functionalism and as parallel idea constraints to these design areas. The fact is that an object does not exist without its human interaction.
n. 1. a. The dense, soft, often curly hair forming the coat of sheep and certain other mammals, such as the goat and alpaca, consisting of cylindrical fibers of keratin covered by minute overlapping scales and much valued as a textile fabric. b. A material or garment made of this hair. 2. A filamentous or fibrous covering or substance suggestive of the texture of true wool
using sustainable molding methods
Molding wool fibres was an neverending source of opportunities. In addition to multiple possibilities for form and function, it was a way of exploring a natural, sustainable molding technique.
I was in control of the additives used for the molding, the source of the fibres and the dye processing. I used a soap based on natural oils and wool carded from a local resource. The needle felting did not even use the castille soap to bond the fibres, but merely friction and the natural fibre qualities of the wool.
Personally, this was a way of checking off different ways of working with textile fibres. From using spun wool for knitting and weaving to using raw fibre material for felting., I got hands-on material knowledge that I will bring with me when evaluating textiles for various purposes.
Through the three explorations, I got a better understanding of the microlevel of what fabrics consist of as fabrics are either woven, knitted or felted. The various manufacturing methods of textile fabrics effect their characteristics in form and function, affecting elasticity, durability, moldable qualities etc.
The process I used to tease out the vocabulary coining my concepts echoed the process I used in finding an equivalent three dimensional vocabulary. Objects are constantly speaking to us; suggesting opportunities and connections that we chose to embrace, retain and reuse.
vo路cab路u路lar路y n. 1. All the words of a language. 2. The sum of words used by, understood by, or at the command of a particular person or group. 3. A list of words and often phrases, usually arranged alphabetically and defined or translated; a lexicon or glossary. 4. A supply of expressive means; a repertoire of communication
My intention of inviting people to participate in the visual language of my design had to be clear. It was my intention to open it for other verbs than those connected to its commodity name bench (=sit).
My explorations became focused on opening the space between the artifact and user further, assuring that the interaction and participation would become primary attractions and commodity secondary.
Questions arose as to how I could design an artifact that could sustain time, change, personal taste, and different users and maybe even evoke the human instinct of making.
n. 1. An object produced or shaped by human craft, especially a tool, weapon, or ornament of archaeological or historical interest. 2. Something viewed as a product of human conception or agency rather than an inherent element: 3. A structure or feature not normally present but visible as a result of an external agent or action 4. An inaccurate observation, effect, or result,
what am I asking my audience?
When shifting from an object centered to an experience centered perspective, the important question is not what constitutes a product, but rather what mindset is being employed by the designer and what questions they are asking of their audience.
Artifacts are like language in the way that, they become a representation and an abstraction. Breaking down definitions allowed me to discover the grammar and vocabulary I could use as language building blocks for my design.
Personalization and customizing can mean a wide variety of things for different people. The terms customizing and personalization are defined as making something personal, to alter, to attribute and to mark. In other words, my task was to create space in my design that allowed people to appropriate it and add their personal meaning.
I chose to adopt the active verb forms and place them within the wider term participate. In contrast to appropriate, participate is active and embracing. Where personalize and customizing suggest a performing quality, derived from fashion and style, participate encourages an active role in determining content.
creating dynamic relationships
If I say I have designed a bench, I close off some of those choices for the user. Semiotics and semantics play an important role in design today. Sometimes semiotics is intentionally used to refine the form to funnel user interpretations to a specific function and thereby closing off all possibilities for user “misinterpretation”, “misuse” or “mistakes”.
n. 1. Linguistics The study or science of meaning in language. 2. Linguistics The study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent. Also called semasiology. 3. The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form
Other times semiotics is specifically used as a rhetoric device to question and challenge user assumptions, interpretations and expectations. A design parameter for this assignment was that it had to relate to the body.
By infusing the surfaces with different tactile qualities I am able to evoke different expectations in the user. What happens when a bench has an uninviting surface texture?
How do we pre-interpret this interaction that the texture will have with our body? Will it be discredited as a bench? Will it morph into something dysfunctional? Does it matter if it is dysfunctional if it holds another important meaning?
two sides to everything
n. A method of critical analysis of philosophical and literary language that emphasizes the internal workings of language and conceptual systems, the relational quality of meaning, and the assumptions implicit in forms of expression
What happens when we expose the underbelly , the backside, flip-side, of a design? How do the sides relate to each other to create interesting dynamics?
discovering preferences pref·er·ence
n. 1.a. The selecting of someone or something over another or others. b. The right or chance to so choose. c. Someone or something so chosen.
The areas of sociology, ethnology, design and psychology all point to the understanding that the function of objects reaches beyond their mere purpose and has a psychological dimension: to represent or to mirror the identity of their owners
“Mesh” is defined as an open texture. How open is up our biases, perspectives, preferences and comfort-levels. Use implies choice The external surface offers the opportunity to present and expose individual messages.
The options and ideas I share on how to manipulate this surface provides the user with a starting point for participation. A means for meta transfer some of my experiences, without assuming which ones would work for whom.
making with everything
Extending the molding ideas from felting on to manipulation of textiles, I started using needle felting as a way of using all bi-products from other surface textures. New meanings, interpretations and metaphors were created and unexpected bi-product dynamics evolved.
v,. 1. To keep in existence; maintain. 2. To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for. 3. To support from below. 4. To support the spirits, vitality, or resolution of; encourage. 5. To bear up under; withstand: can’t sustain the blistering heat. 6. To affirm the validity of: The judge has sustained the prosecutor’s objection.
The negative space left over from the cut out circles became the source for a new dynamic void and mass reconstruction and relationship when felted together.
Similarly the cut-offs from the felted tubes were felted together in a cell mimicking structure.
princess & the pea
Sometimes the simplest wisdoms picked up from a fairy tale can become a valuable source of inspiration and generate fruitful thinking in a design process. As soon as I started thinking of layers, I started thinking of the fairy tale of the princess and the pea.
1. To beat or compress into a thin plate or sheet. 2. To divide into thin layers. 3. To make by uniting several layers. 4. To cover with thin sheets.
In addition to the story being a visual metaphor inspiring form ideas, the idea in the story evolved into a contemplation of how we interact with objects and the artificial world.
The concept is how the princess can find a flaw in everything. More than often we find flaws in our everyday artificial world. As designers, sometimes our ideas evolve from a problem space and other times it evolves from a drive to discover new opportunities.
The story brings focus on that use implies choice. To make everybody happy with one design is impossible. There needs to be room for user participation in defining meaning.
goldilocks & three bears
To extend the fairy tale idea I also used the ideas in Goldilocks and the three bears to mull over the variations of comfort. The individualization and personalization of objects in this story is a key element.
It is a childrenâ€™s story that connects objects with individual characters increasing the character interpretations solely through object connections.
locks without locking
In connection to my discovery of goldilocks, I made a series of cushion seating in different sizes that could be applied to the surface.
n. 1. A single complete movement of a threaded needle in sewing or surgical suturing. 2.a. A single loop of yarn around an implement such as a knitting needle. b. The link, loop, or knot made in this way. 3. A mode of arranging the threads in sewing, knitting, or crocheting: a purl stitch.
I started stitching these cushions, which made me think of language that a stitch entailed - from its function, to its aesthetics, to its additional cushioning.
finding what matters
By opening the space between the artifact and the user and moving commodity to a secondary attraction I attempt to endow my design with a meaning that reaches beyond pure purpose, allows people to take possession of the artifact and provide it with emotional qualities.
v.tr. 1. To cause to draw near or adhere by physical force: Magnetic poles are attracted to their opposites. 2. To arouse or compel the interest, admiration, or attention of
We are surrounded with products that are used in ways the designer never envisioned and the success stories of interactive open source designs should encourage us to be more bold in allowing the users to define the content of our products even further. If the message that a product sends out to the user forms a relationship we can elongate the lifespan of a product.
My process illustrates how you can design with semiotics, user criteria and sustainability in mind. It all boils down to intention and applying the intent in your visual language .
By designing objects that depend on us we can erode the consumption culture. Because however durable products may be physically , in a culture where people only care for them for what they do, they will easily be discarded and replaced.
an object that depends on you previous
Published on May 11, 2011
A unique opportunity to see the design process of an Industrial Design student at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. 3rd year ID student...