Luis de Sousa Product Design Year 2 October 2014
“After All... I Am Here For Your Own Safety.” 3
Discover and Define
Concept & Inspiration Defining Form Initial Prototyping Exploring Materials & Textures Details
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Final Concept Video Conclusion
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Introduction In the Redux project we were asked to create a specific product associated with a character trait. As human beings, we create emotions with many objects around us. Whether it is a car, a phone or even a key holder we particularly enjoy, we tend to generate an emotional relationship towards these items and project in them emotions that are part of our human realm. Some are actually thought to enhance such characteristics - how easy and confortable is it to use, is it aesthetically aggressive or friendly, how far can you personalise it? - such objects are made with the intention and purpose to bound with its user. This project approached the same method, however it brought about different types of character traits and objects that would not normally be used together. When researching and developing such items, we need to think not only about form but also about texture, context and interaction. In my case, I was assigned a doorbell as an object, and austere as a character trait. How would I create an austere doorbell? How would I create an austere interaction between the user and the doorbell? In this project journal, we will revisit the process, from its early research and concepts, passing through rough prototypings, texture texting, detailling and final product. 5
Discover & Define Austere Doorbell Early Concepts
Adjective (austerer, austerest) 1.Severe or strict in manner or attitude: he was an austere man, with a rigidly puritanical outlook 1.1.(Of living conditions or a way of life) having no comforts or luxuries: conditions in the prison could hardly be more austere 1.2.Having a plain and unadorned appearance: the cathedral is impressive in its austere simplicity *in Oxford Dictionary
During the initial research I thought about the presence of this character trait amongst not only people but also in everyday objects, in design, architecture, art, and ultimately in its values. What does it represent to society in general? What are its qualities and its weaknesses? Such character trait is often perceived as negative, nevertheless it posesses qualities that not only make it interesting but widely used as inspiration in visually creative processes. I started by brainstorming around the word and defining how I would associate it in terms of a sensorial approach.
Austere Moodboard 9
While researching for doorbells, I made again a mind map in order to determine the words I associated with that object. During this research I not only learned about the differences between doorbells physically and interactively, but also its universal dimension as an object, that is, how one knows how to work a doorbell regardless of where we are in the world. Similarly, there is also a universal language that is used whenever the doorbell is pressed. The personâ€™s feelings or emotional status on the other side of the door can easily be identified by the way the doorbell was pressed. Was it too long? Too short? Keeps pressing the button? Such things allow us to determine if the person is upset, relaxed, in a hurry or with time.
Austere Moodboard 11
Inspired by the townhouses from the 18th/19th/early 20th Century, where unexpected visitors who stay outside waiting to be announced to the house owners, this doorbell requests the personâ€™s basic info, renquiries the reason of the visit and displays an image of the visitor on a screen inside the house. It may also send the picture to the ownersâ€™ mobile phone. Upon confirmation by the home owner, the visitor may finally go in.
EARLY This concept allows its owner to select the the time window in which the doorbell may ring, becoming inactive outside that window. In this latter case, visitors have to type a passcode, previously provided by the owner, in order to make the doorbell ring.
This doorbell prevents unwanted guests, by asking if they are expected. If they are, it will ring, however if not, visitors will be notified that the homeowner is not interested in any sort of sales or publicity. It then confirms if they still to proceed regardless of the adversiment.
Dogs generally bark whenever they detect someone at the door, which is an intimidating experience for the visitor. This doorbell emits a 50Khz sound that can only be heard by the dog, which in turn notifies the owner with its barking This doorbell is equipped with a pullcord that rings for a certain amount of time, and can only be rang again once the cord has come up, which also take some time. Such practice prevents people from ringingin a less polite manner.
Development Concept & Inspiration Defining Form Initial Prototyping Exploring Materials & Textures Details Logo 15
In order to come up with a final concept I felt the need to merge my five previous ones into a single product, rather than choosing only one. Nevertheless the design ought to be less conventional, something that would be less of a typical doorbell and more of an experience. I thought about products with simple shapes and unornamented characteristics, but I needed to go one step further and think about the interaction. While researching for cameras and their unpleasant relationship with the individual who is being watched, I made a link with Kubrickâ€™s 2001 A Space Odissey. What interested me specifically was HAL, the computer with an incredibly intimidating and constantly present â€œeye cameraâ€?. That was the sort of experience I was looking for, where the device would take a distant and cold position from the visitor. 17
Defining Form With the concept now better defined, I started developing a design that would reflect the interaction and the environment desired. I started by focusing on HALâ€™s camera, and how I could fit that in a piece. It was clear to me that it needed to interact with the visitor, hence the importance of its strategic position, not only to establish an emotional relationship but also to prevent visitor from reaching the front door. Locating the physical object inside the property was important, and so were its proportions and material characteristics that could successfully intimidate unwanted visitors. I knew I would have the visual aspect of the camera and sound as the communication tool, however I still wanted to add an extra awckwardness to the experience, which made me wonder about spotlights. Spotlights can indeed be frightening, especially in the dark, when they leaves us with an unpleasing sense of intrusion.
For the initial models I tried to built a structure that would be human sized, in order to make its presence felt. After drawing some sketches, I scanned them and applied different colours and textures in Illustrator in order to determine the most appropriate shape and detail for my product.
Initial Prototyping After analysing the results in Illustrator, I was able to narrow down my options, but not enough, as I was still unsure about how they would reflect their austere position in specific contexts. In that sense, I started my process by using a 2m long strip of paper on the wall, so so that I could acknowledge its size on a 1-to-1 proportion. It was indeed intimidating and made me feel small compared to it, which was the emotion pretended. Nevertheless, it made me also realise that the “eye-camera” relationship would not be possible with every single visitor regardless of their height. I soon concluded that the camera had to be movable along a vertical axis and adjust to any different eye level. Despite this conclusion, at this point I still hadn’t seen how the product worked in context and that was I developed some plasticine prototypes in order to visualize them three dimensionaly. These scaled models were then “put into context” with the help or a scaled set. Such tool allowed me to identify how each form would behave in context and also made me detect the one I sensed as the more “austere”. 20
Exploring Materials & Textures
With the form finally chosen, I started testing materiality and texture. I had identified before the ones I wished to use, however I would need to narrow down the choices. The first step was to try different materials (wood, foam, mdf) and apply layers of different coating textures in order to see how the textures and materials would work together. After testing paint, and modelling paste with and without a primary coat, I came to the conclusion that the concrete materiality was the one that appealed me the most. In order to reproduce it I used a modelling paste mixed with a black oil paint, that was applied with a light brush on a wood form, with a primary coat.
Details With the rough prototype shape defined, the detailling still needed to be refined. How would the camera adjust to the visitorâ€™s eye level? What would it look like? How would the lights work? And the sound? With those points yet to be defined, I started working on the camera. Using HALâ€™s concept only as a basis, a redesigned the entire shape only keeping the red tone due to its experiential relevance. I decided to attach lights on both its top and bottom and the whole system (camera, lights, speaker and an aluminium case) could move along the vertical axis. All of this, would have a black tainted glass cover that would prevent visitors from seeing the system while it was off.
Logo The logo played an important part in the project since the beginning. My focus was to translate the same austere character in both the logo and the product’s name. During the prototype research, I took inspiration from futuristic design and architecture from the 1960’s, which made me look specifically for similar fonts from the same period. As for the name, it needed to represent the product’s functionality: it was not just a doorbell but more of of a guard standing outside of the property. Many combinations and different names were tried, however the one that stood out was Fool Proof Keeper 6.0, making reference to the device’s resistance and perseverance, but also to the fact that this would be the sixth generation of doorbells. Ultimately I decided to ommit the logo in the physical prototype since its austere character was asking for a less prominent visibility.
Final Product Final Concept Video Conclusion
Final Concept For the final concept, three different models were made in terms of materiality. The reason for this was to demonstrate that the FPK 6.0 can be adapted to several environments, and therefore be suitable in many different housing typologies. The models shown below are made in glass, white painted metal and concrete. This product was designed to exist within the propertyâ€™s perimeter but it should not stand out from the house itself, instead merging with its surroundings.
Video Since this was a complex concept, the video played a curcial role in order to demonstrate how the product works. It needed to be short and simple yet effective, transmitting not only the product’s functionality but also its emotional link with the visitor. Overlapped with this sequence, a robotic voice reads the following text: You may wonder who or what I am… I know your face, your name and how many times you have been inside this house before. I know if you were expected, not expected or even not wanted. I allowed or denied your presence in this property, as I do with anyone else visiting. You may forget me , but I will never forget you. In fact, I never forget anything or anyone. Please don’t underestimate me, I will engage the available resources if you force your entry. But most importantly. Don’t take this personally. After all… I am here for your own safety. The movie ends with the full image of the product.
Conclusion This project was a very interesting approach that I believe as a class we haven’t tried before. As a designer, the main focus is to produce something that will generate a new or improve an existing product/service, however in this project we were required to think and embrace our assigned character trait, which would in turn not only affect the user’s experience, but also emphasize it in complexity and intensity I found it hard to develop the concept I was assigned to, and my early sketches only demonstrated my will to fight the austerity surrounding us on a daily basis and to improve communication between people. However, after my first tutorial I acknowledged that I really had to develop an austere product that would and go all the way up towards an increasingly austere experience. Once that was clear, I realised the protential of this project. It’s not everyday that we’re asked to actually make something so unkind! The initial five concepts were a lot of fun to develop, however the still very conventional form was not pleasing me since it did not reflect the innovative ideas behind them. The good thing about them was how well they could fit together and generate a unique and strong product. to step away from the stereotypical doorbell, I found inspiration in HAL9000, which turned out to work well in support of my own concept with a substantial improvement. I developed the first scaled prototypes with plasticine, along with a scaled set done with a picture of a real hose glued on an A3 foamboard sheet. With this, I wished to reproduce an austere atmosphere in front of which my plasticine models would sit. It made me realize, once again, how the use of simple materials are crucial in fast prototyping. As the project was coming towards the end and with all the pieces coming together, I started wondering about the ability to make this product more adaptable to different housing typologies. Although in the final presentation there was only one concrete model, there was a clear need for other tones and materials to complete this project, therefore I created two more types, present in this journal, that would extend FPK 6.0’s versatility in a real-life context and enhance its discreet yet dominant presence. In conclusion, this was a very enriching project, not only in its peculiar brief, but especially in the different stages we went through until its completion. It made us explore many different tools, combining both manual and digital techniques. It led me to test and mix materials physically, but also to use 3D techniques to complement the first. I really enjoyed this project; it was demanding, sometimes even hard, yet it provided a lot of satisfation to see the final result.
Product Design project Redux: An austere doorbell