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Midterm Learning Portfolio Eric Daniel Fura Arch 101 Spring 2012

Artifact Icebreaker Exercise: “Bare Bones: Framing the Essence of Form + Space + Structure

For this first exercise, we were instructed to select an artifact to which we are especially attracted. From there we were to construct a skeletal framework of the object we chose using linear materials such as toothpicks, bamboo skewers, etc. The artifact, I selected was an Hermes cologne bottle. I’m particularly attracted to this object for several reasons- It was a gift to me from my partner, I believe it is beautifully designed, it has a substantial hand-feel, not to mention it has become one of my favorite scents.

Iteration #1 6 hours

bamboo, toothpicks

This first attempt to create a skeletal framework felt like learning a new language. Almost the entire process was something I hadn't done before. I sat down, the cologne bottle in front of me, and pondered what makes up the “bare bones� of a bottle. Since a bottle is hollow, I had to alter my preconception of what a skeleton is (an internal structure) and focus on what I would need to represent in order to convey the notion of my artifact. My thinking let me to constructing the outline of the essential parts of the bottle. The materials and tools that I used were simple, yet effective- bamboo skewers, toothpicks, hot glue and wire cutters. Overall, I was fairly happy with my creation. It represented my artifact, and the construction technique was at a satisfactory level. I did have some difficulties constructing the top piece and would need to figure out a better method for my next iteration.

Iteration #2 5.5 hours

bamboo, toothpicks

My second iteration was inspired by a series of gesture drawings that we did in class. These explorations into discovering the “big ideas” are helpful because they are drawn quickly from the feelings and emotions evoked by our work. They can allow us to realize what we first perceive about the world before we alter our perception based on what we know. The gesture drawings affected my design by allowing me to realize that what’s inside the bottle may be as important as the bottle itself. It also inspired me to increase the scale of my work to better realize the presence it maintains. Again I was pleased with the outcome and enjoyed the complexity that incorporating elements outside of the strict bottle edges was adding to the piece. I began to realize however, that the hot glue I was using didn’t provide the bond I needed for this new scale.

Between iterations, I played with one component of my work, the top of the bottle, trying to mimic the twisting action at the base of the cap.

Iteration #3 6.5 hours bamboo

Design Ideas: > Design can have a sex.

Masculinity is expressed through: angular lines, squared off curves, simple materials and accomplished through sturdy construction, giving it weight.

> Being true to function is relevant.

The design would allow the object to be used for it’s intended purpose. (Form following function.)

> Icons & symbols give familiarity to a design.

Iconography is used in branding to create a connection to the familiar. A person familiar with Hermes would recognize this symbol even in a skeletal form due to the repetitive use of the designer’s iconic “H.”

I believe this iteration effectively expressed my intentions. I also addressed construction issues by reinforcing critical supports and used super glue in the connections. However, I feel like I am stuck in the literal interpretation of a cologne bottle.

Design Ideas: > Changing the orientation can give a fresh perspective.

Placing the bottle on it’s side gives new emphasis to the horizontal plane. Also, introduces a sense of movement.

> Components maintain their base qualities even if they have been rearranged. Even when placed at an angle, the dense areas maintain their strength while the sparse outer regions remain delicate and suggest transparency.

> Abstract variations promote new ideas.

Deconstructing the bottle makes me think of it in terms of it’s components and their relationships as well as the movement of the composition though it is stationary.

As a first attempt at straying from the literal translation of a cologne bottle, I’m beginning to see the possibilities but continue to struggle with a desire to maintain all of the qualities a glass bottle possesses.

Iteration #4 7 hours


Introduction to the design narrative. My evolving design and form is based on an association with masculinity and it’s manifestations. The model contains masculine components such as strength, weightiness and an emphasis on structure. The design will question the ability to maintain these qualities while also experimenting with the fluidity of it’s components (incorporating curvilinear components.) The design is modular in nature in that it consists of a basic external form, the components within that form and a functional element (a means of use.)

This iteration was inspired by my classmate’s work as well as a continuation of my desire to escape the grasp of literal interpretation. I’m intrigued by the use of wire to incorporate curved elements which relate to the fluidity of the contents of a bottle. My work still lacks a commitment to the abstract and a departure from literal interpretation.

Iteration #5 8 hours

bamboo, copper wire

Design Ideas:

>Envelop >Intrigue

Once used, scent invades the surrounding space.

The force of scent has affected those within a certain proximity to the user causing a search for the source (seducing the affected.)

>Connection/Attraction A connection is established through the use of a tool and interactions occur in response to the level of attraction


The intent of this design is to illustrate the use of scent as a tool to create an interest and/or attraction between people. This stems from my initial artifact of a cologne bottle. What is more interesting is the effect it has on other people as well as why it was used. The depiction I created shows a prominent figure connected first by an underlying factor that is semi-transparent followed by the more conscience connection as a result of being drawn in by the spring-like mental connections.

I’m SO excited to have succeeded in finally breaking into the realm of the abstract by turning the concept of a bottle into a story and dissecting the important emotions/interactions! I did incorporate surfaces and poor use of bonding agents but I’m on the right track in my process.

Iteration #6 3.5 hours

bass wood,plastic, metal springs, eye hooks, screws

Iteration #7 7.5 hours


There are many possible expectations from the use of cologne or perfume. However, most involve that of a response from those around the user either physical or emotional of attraction (positive or negative.) The various ways this occurs is represented in the patterns of connections between the components of my model. The plane between the sets of columns represents a division between tangible qualities and things that are perceived through our intuition or have yet to be discovered. The materials making up the connections are varied exploring the value we find in people once all of these qualities can be considered. Then, their importance can be determined and their true value is revealed (shown by the differences between each side of the plane.)

This iteration was a very fascinating journey. I wanted to take the base that I had used in the previous model and incorporate it as a relevant, contributing aspect of the piece. I accomplished this by introducing another element to story. What happens after people make connections and are then able to draw conclusions based on their interactions. So now my story has a before and an after. But, how does one get from one side to the other, and what occurs in the process?

bass wood, plastic, dowel rods, thumbtacks, metal springs, screws, eye hooks

Narrative: In a sea of seemingly limitless quantities of people, many of us find ourselves looking for a way to make meaningful connections with people we are attracted to. We appeal to the senses of others through the way we look, sound and smell. Scent, through using cologne or perfume is a powerful tool because it can draw people in before they can even see or hear us, perhaps stimulating their curiosity. Once a person is drawn in, there is an opportunity for interaction. This interaction facilitates one’s ability to make certain judgments about the people we meet and allows us to determine how valuable they are and if our attraction to them is valid or not. My work is the story of this process starting first with a group of forms surrounding a central figure. As you pass through to the next stage, a network of connections is being formed as interactions occur. Finally, after all have formed opinions, a reordering of the group occurs so that those with the stronger bonds are closer to the central figure while maintaining a circle of influence established by their original proximities.

In this iteration, I really wanted to explore what happens in the transitional space between the two sides of the composition, creating a third. Within this area, a new, complex system of relationships developed. I was unhappy with the lack of connection on one of the sides though (other than their circular organization around the center.) The composition also lacked an orientation or clear intended perspective.

Iteration #8 8 hours

dowel rods, thumbtacks, nylon rope, basswood, screws

Iteration #9 6 hours

tacks, bass wood, dowel, rope, plastic, screws

First use of trace

Gained from using trace to promote evolution of design:

• Aligning of columns between planes • Plane extension to suggest definite orientation and defined movement • Additional connection between central figure and surrounding columns explaining continued Design Ideas: >People often present themselves differently than interactions in subsequent statements who they really are to attract those we find physically attractive • Redistribution of spiral posts to (often without considering the fact that they may not occupy more space creating balance intellectually or morally be compatible.) • Shortening of posts to emphasis the >Curvilinear lines lend themselves to an intriguing middle statement or mysterious form when intertwined. >Proportions of importance change when different qualities are examined. Example: An attractive person may have nothing in common with you, so while you see them as someone you’d like to know based on your initial attraction, you may reconsider their worth after getting to know them. Their image has transformed in your minds eye.

Still no significance assigned to plastic strips intertwined between the columns on the underside of the structure.

Iteration #10 8 hours

tacks, dowel, rope, bass wood, screws

This iteration changed the central figure into a void for which the pathway of the rope could travel from one plane of existence to the next. It also made a true connection from one side of the composition, through the middle statement, and out the other side in one continuous journey by using one rope per column flowing from one side to the other. The work also began to experiment with the idea of tension because the juxtaposition of the ropes suggest that each side is pulling in opposing directions in a constant power struggle. The downfalls of the piece included an unclear transformation from one end to the other in that the connections were made with the same white rope and its not clear that a continuous path is made with the complexity of elements happening within the compressed middle statement.

Gained through trace:

• Explored idea that perception works in both directions so why shouldn’t my design? Extended planes so that the piece can be oriented in either direction. • Decreased slope of planes for a more dynamic alignment of the composition (almost appears to want to twist with the tension.) • Simplified central support down to 2 columns, one for incoming ideas and the other outbound. Iteration has come a long way since the first attempts. Professor Lum agrees that many of the defining characteristics of my composition are successful and things are now shifting towards refinement rather than reinvention. This model was built according to the rules of the new challenge of building without the use of glue. I’ve been using mechanical connections for several previous iterations so the transition meant only minor considerations.

Iteration #11 6 hours

Tacks, rope, bass wood, dowel, screws

It was brought to my attention that several of my previous iterations have not exactly been following the true skeletal form in that I have incorporated two surfaces indicating planes of perception. The goal of this model was to eliminate the surfaces, design an alternative support system and maintain the contributions of those previous surfaces without compromising the concept. I feel that the design I came to accomplished this task. There are still defined areas of space, a top, mid, and bottom and the transition from one to the next is as clear as it was before I eliminated the solid surfaces. Moving forward, I feel like I could get away from the narrow symmetry of the piece and also get back to connecting the upper space to the bottom area through the middle statement.

Iteration #12 7 hours

Bass wood, tacks, rope, screws

Iteration #13 7 hours

Bass wood, rope, tacks, screws, dowel

This iteration was based on two goals. The first goal was to find a way of eliminating the narrow line of symmetry from the last version. The second goal was to reincorporate the connection of rope between the first statement (starting at the top) to the third statement (endings at the bottom of the composition.) All the while maintaining the idea that the entire thing could be inversed and still effectively read according to the constraints of perception working in two directions. An additional element was thrown into the mix when I realized that not every attempt to connect with another individual is accepted and/or succeeds. Therefore, there must be open- ended missed opportunities. Thus, I made sure that the number of successful connections was less than the initial efforts put forth, and those “left hanging� still had hope for connecting with someone at some point despite this failure. The rotation of axis’ was demonstrated as a way to fight the strict symmetry. I also tried to get back to the clear expression of transformation by connecting ropes from one end, in white, to a central post and emerging on the other side in yellow. I have realized that the structural integrity of the piece is lessened more and more with the single connection in the middle statement and the elimination of solid surface planes.

For this iteration we were asked to incorporate surfaces. Because I had already experimented in this territory with success, I chose to bring back some of the surfaces I had used in the past. I brought back the solid plane surfaces as I believe they contributed towards separating the space of my composition into clear divisions from one end to the next (Top, Bottom and Middle.) In thinking about surfaces, I was reminded of the interest gained in the suppressed middle area. I decided to use semi-transparent surfaces to shield the middle statement, thereby attracting interest because the viewer wants to see what exactly is transpiring behind the surface. It is mysterious and therefore, draws interest. I believe I’ve come back to a place of symmetry and the next step would be to see how I can transgress yet maintain my successes thus far.

Iteration#14 6 hours

bass wood, rope, tacks, screws, plastic

Final Thoughts: In the wrapping up of this midterm portfolio, I only fear leaving out some of went on during my creative journey this semester. There were many moments I encountered in my personal life which inspired my work and also lead me to want to inspire the other students in our class. I am reminded of the inspirations that came from the construction of the new bay bridge, as well as many new construction projects in my neighborhood of SOMA that I pass by every day on my way to class. I realize that there is inspiration in almost every aspect of life, it is up to us whether we choose to use it or not. I also realize that there have been other elements of the creative process that I’ve left out, like that of wandering down the hardware store isles and thinking about how I could incorporate some of the hardware just sitting waiting to be utilized into my designs. While I did enjoy learning about several new construction techniques, and tried to keep up with the demands of my imagination balanced with the constraints of my budget, there are many pathways I wish I could have further explored. None of this is disconcerting though because I know that It’s only a matter of time before I get to accomplish many of these goals and make the multitude of possibilities forming in my imagination into a reality. What I would hope to imbue on myself for the semester to come is the foresight of better documenting my personal insights, lessons learned and prospects for future exploration. The only thing worse than lack of inspiration is being inspired and then forgetting what it is that you were trying to accomplish or how it relates to your work. -Eric Fura 3.14.12


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