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Designing with my childhood’s tools


by Maikel Mourao

TAB Report T.A.B. ... Three words which every designer should be capable to use in his work...


…the language:

what do you think?...what do you want to tell? do express yourself?... I see it as the designer’s “style”. The way he works and physicalizes his work represents and communicates his skills, vision and intention.]

…the craft:

are you a craftsman?...are you a drawer?...are you a writer? Every designer expresses his ideas and concepts with the skills he has. Some sketch, some use 3D modeling software and others go into a workshop and build what they have in their minds. It is the toolbox of a designer.

..the image:

how is your picture of the world? do you contribute to it? As a designer you see the world as a picture. This picture coins everyone of us. It is our task to add our thoughts to this picture and reflect it back in order to influence the world and other people’s picture of it.

ME My vision on Design Design and society are linked within an interacting relationship. The continuously interference requires from a designer to gain a third perspective in order to influence the interplay through his work. A designer’s position demands awareness and responsibility looking at the influence of sociocultural or environmental aspects through design. I strongly believe in the communication of values and qualities with which I can identify myself as a designer, through a quality based design approach. This way of working allows me as a designer to narrow down the essential qualities of my design while breaking through the conventional picture of society by scrutinizing conceptional, ethical and environmental questions.

My passion, motivation and goals Since I can think, cars and bikes were always part of my life. My interest for the engineering and form giving turned out to be my biggest passion which I see now as a focus, a direction which I will follow as a designer. This passion provides me with inspiration and motivation which I use in my current study. I chose industrial design to gain a brought and colorful perspective on design. With my aim to do a master in vehicle design, the experiences which I gain in my current study, help me to become a more “complete� designer. and seeing in cars or bikes more than just a commodity. Since I am a very goal oriented person, various visits to the Royal College of Art (Vehicle Design) motivated me to stick to my dream. The imagination to have the possibility to study in one of the greatest design universities in the world pushes me forward every day.

My own challenge Environmental change – vehicles have to become more efficient..more intelligent…more sustainable… It is not a unknown problem that the consumption of energy is strongly connected to the destruction of our planet. Especially mobility which is an important aspect in our alldaylife contributes to the environmental change. A lot of car manufactures revealed thousands of car and mobility concepts which provides us with a new image on how mobility will look like in the future. For me as a designer, this topic is also considered to be a challenge to solve a problem but also to explore possibilities considering new technological developments but also social and economical change.

Project Briefing The project brief is based on my current vision on mobility. My knowledge about the history and present of mobility allowed me to define my own vision for mobility’s future which I physicalized in this project. For the briefing I also set very strong boundaries for myself by only focusing and exploring the mechanical architecture of a car instead of futuristic technological developments. The main focus was to create a concept car which could be realizable within the next 20 years. Briefing: Design a concept vehicle for future mega cities by exploring mechanical mechanisms which gives the vehicle the ability to adapt to different ride situations. The adaptivity should manly focus on the energy consumption of the car but also on its practability.

Ideation The ideation session started with the search for inspiration. The mobility of animals in nature and other design areas like product and fashion design were taken as a base which provided different ideas and philosophies which were in cooperated into the concept development of the vehicle.

The chassis Make a sculpture adaptive to aerodynamics -Like a skeleton the chassis carries the bodywork, the engine and transmission of a vehicle. Also as a protection the stiff chassis contributes to safety in case of impact. The architecture of the chassis is very important considering light weight, stiffness and the use of sustainable material. A change in this architecture opens a door for different modification opportunities which are able to change the vehicle’s drivability and function.

The Rims and Tiers The whole wheel is the only contact to the ground which provides a vehicle with grip in the curves and traction in the acceleration and braking. Due to the constant size of the wheels, a transmission is needed to reach higher but also to attend lower speeds. The weight of an transmission does not contribute to the vehicle’s fuel consumption. Partly it is up to the extra weight but also the friction within a transmission derogates the whole degree of effectiveness. The change of size of a wheel has an effect on how the rotation speeds are transmitted to the ground.

Concept Development The challenge was to in cooperate the two main ideas into a final concept. In order to communicate the essence of this concept, a small prototype was build

The Chassis Looking at the skeleton from different animals, a very powerful and flexible joint, called the ball joint, offers great possibilities concerning less friction adaptation. In smaller mechanical parts in this joint is present in the car today. In this concept this joint will play a “bigger-role” and be part from the chassis in order to create the drop form. In combination with the whole bodywork, the whole car can gain the shape especially in higher speeds.

Description The core of the chassis architecture are two centered mounted ball joints. The joint connects the chassis with the two “legs” on which the wheel will be mounted on. The two “legs” turn into two rocker bars which are able to move into horizontal and vertical directions. In order to keep control about the rocker bars two pneumatic springs will act like “muscles” in order to give the vehicle the possibility to move and be flexible. Due to the horizontal movement of the bars, the tires have to be adjusted in order to keep the driving direction. Two extra rods keep the tires in the right way. While driving at higher speeds the car can shrink on the back in order to reach the famous drop form.

The Wheel A tore which changes it size is hard to imagine. In this concept the rim consists of 5 spokes. The complex mechanism was inspired by the variomatic transmission how they are used in motor scooters today. Rotating masses cause a liberation of forces which change the transmission.

Description The idea is to use the force of the rotating mass to provide the expansion of the rim diameter. The special formed rim consists of 5 independent spokes which are connected via a hinge to the hub. The form of the spoke offers space to place the tire over the five spoke. On the other displacements another rubber band will be placed which will create a counterforce to the actual tire. On the front end of the rims are masses which will rotate while driving and forcing the tire to expand. The balance between the tire and rubber band will change and the rim will start to expand. Trough the expansion of the rim, the transmission will change. Under the runnig surface which is made out of flexible rubber, a metal ring mechanism will be used. Like in flexible backing molds, the metal ring also varies in its diameter and guarantuees the round form of the wheel.

Bodywork/Driverscabine Our cities structure are very complex and the mobility will have adapt to the given circumstances. In order to be a part of this complexity, a system is required. Also the form of the car can contribute to a more efficient movement. Migratory birds make use of special flying figures in order to reduce aerodynamic friction. The same idea can be translated into this car concept. The cars will be able to drive in line on very small distance. Due to the small distance an internal communication between cars is required in order to ensure safety. Another advantage which is gain by communication is the optimization from aerodynamics.

Description Due to the special chassis, the bodywork be lifted up in lower speeds and sink back at higher speeds. Vehicles in a row can communicate and calculate the best cabin position in order to optimize aerodynamics.

The revolution in the design process Reflecting on the research and conceptual stage of the design process a certain linearity can be seen. This leads to a “boring” process which denies any kind of explorations on several aspects of the vehicle’s construction. Materials, form or changes on the concept itself should be explored in another manner. Looking at my identity and the origin of my passion for cars, I find myself in my bedroom surrounded by Lego’s or in the workshop of my father. Working on small cars which I build from the different materials which I could find at home. A lot of glue, sticky tape and screws were the used methods to stick the materials together in order to create a chassis or a shape.

This memories are burned in my mind and symbolize the start of my passion for cars, building and designing. The limited opportunities of material recourses often lead to a more exploring and improvising way of constructing and building. This playful way of creating triggered me to set me another challenge for this design process. I decided to work in the same way like I did when I was 10 years old. Even I exposed the physical quality of the physical output to a risk due to the limited source of materials, on the other this limitation could lead to a more explorative design cycle.

Building The building process started with searching different materials which were available in my house. While searching for materials a intense ideation session started. The aim was to find pieces of materials that could be mounted together to illustrate the several ideas of the concept. Different forms and functions of different objects were explored and taken for the building process.

As a base a model car ( Land Rover) was chosen. The plastic chassis and the rubber tires gave a good base for the prototype. By modifying the architecture of the chassis the aim was to find a way to implement the ball joints into the construction for the moving bars. While modifying the plastic construction, a pincers was used. Culled parts of the chassis were removed. This formed the base of the fundament for the ball joints. The place for the ball joints was set right after the front wheel axis. By gluing the metal rood on the plastic chassis, the two parts were fixed together. Two extra cable ties ensure the right position and extra safety for the construction. The front part of the chassis was separated from the back.

In order to extend the “legs�, two Lego bars were attached into the holes of the ball joint attachments. The wholes within the bar offered a good opportunity to attach the back wheels of the vehicle. Like in the human body, the ball joints were controlled with muscles. In order to control the orientation of the bars, rubber stripes connected the chassis with the bars. With screws the ends of the stripes were fixed on the plastics. They represent the force which would change the bars direction during different driving situations. Furthermore it insured a stabile standing of the model.

Due to the change of angle of the bars, the wheels had to be adaptable considering the driving direction. A hinge was needed for wheel suspension which guarantees a straight driving direction. For the hinge the legs of a Lego puppet were used. Glued on the Lego bar the hinge were ready to hold the back wheels. A screw was used to attach the wheel on the hinge and also appeared as the axis.

The next step focused on the form giving of the body work. The lack of possibilities like metal welding or the use of clay demanded further ideation sessions. Due to the adaptively properties of the car and its architecture through its chassis the idea was to make the whole car and its body work adaptive. The body of the car should harmonize with the entire chassis. A fabric which could roof the whole vehicle and be flexible during the movements and torsions of the chassis. This also would contribute to the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle. In order to create a skeleton for the coating, the wheel housing from the back chassis were glued over the front wheels. Furthermore a round metal piece from a kitchen roll holder was cut and clued on the front of the vehicle. This would give the vehicle the form of the front. For the main corpus the shape of an old shower head was used. The curved form was perfect for the drop form. The front of the shower head was cut off and adjusted to the chassis. The part was mounted on the chassis. On the shower head and the wheel housing glowing stripes were mounted. While capturing the energy of day light, they would glow in the night.

Now the skeleton was finished, a textile for the coating had to be found. The flexibility of a nylon stocking was considered to meet the demanded properties. The stocking was pushed over the vehicle. In the next step the textile was adjusted to the vehicles skeleton. Underneath the vehicle the textile was sewed together. Due to the flexibility of the textile the vehicle changes its form depending on the torsion of the chassis. Furthermore the textile is always under pressure and creates a constant smooth surface which seems to sample a metal made body work.

Van Abbemuseum Within the exhibition abstract art, products and environments were present. It was very interesting to analyze the work of different artist and designers. A challenge was to interpretate the meaning and intention of the work. Even my first reactions were associate with a disturbing felling, often a closer look revealed relation to historical, political or environmental themes. The use of materials, forms, paintings or symbols were a powerful medium to send a certain message to outer world. Especially in rooms where light, symbols, sounds and movies were used to create an special environment, the play with the human senses really showed its potential. We tent to relate environmental input to certain feelings and emotions. We address a meaning to the environmental change in our surroundings. This meaning gets more intensive through the emotions and feeling we experience. This experience can be used to trigger people to think about different themes or also as an inspiration source. Even my study pushes me more to a concrete physical, technological and often also business related design, I am and will be always open minded for abstract art and design. Especially while looking at several aspects considering society, culture, philosophy and history the experience often provides a lot of knowledge and shows different ways of thinking and seeing things.

Felini - Satyricon The movie Satyricon is abstract in its actions. Looking at the actors, some of them express their character through a visual expression by representing symbolic figures like an animal. Looking at the environment of the movie, different places also with symbolic and metaphoric value can be seen. Temple, hell and the ocean often created a cold and disturbing environment which often harmonized with the society within this movie. Different actions during the movie like, gay inclinations, homicides or slavery represented a disturbed society. The movie remind me a lot of the Van Abbemuseum. Also here symbolic values and change of environments helped to create and emphasize a certain message which caused certain emotions within the observer. This method often lead to a more abstract level considering the actions within the movie. As a designer, the telling of a message through abstract tools like light, form or symbols can add a higher level of art to my work. Looking at the irritated and sometimes also chaotic society, a design process often gains the same properties. For me as a designer it is always interesting how different movie directors use abstract tools to create environments and tell the story of the movie in a higher abstract level.

Andrei Rublyouv (Andrei Knochalovsky & Andrei Tarkovsky) This movie focuses on the passion, skill and dedication for creating. Within the movie the figure Andrei Rublyov is an artist which has massive struggle with his believe in his work. Looking at the final scene of the movie, the construction of a church bell has a deep symbolic value. The bell is build by a young boy. His passion and skill is very high for his age. Within teamwork he and several men mold the bell. The symbolic meaning behind the last scene focuses on the power of young people which can make a change with their skills. The trust and faith in the own abilities and work is a becomes the fundamental aspect in this movie. This movie had a clear message for me. The trust in my own skills and work is a fundamental aspect which is defined by my passion and self confidence. Also the skill of building is a tool of every designer to change society’s thinking. The message which can be send with the creation of an object is very strong. Especially in this movie a young boy showed old men the way to go by proving how skills, trust and passion is able to create something wonderful. For me as a designer I always try to develop my skills. A high quality output has a higher effect on people’s attention which triggers them to think about my work. My passion, trust and self confidence are fundamental for me as a designer. The passion for design gives me the power to work and develop myself so good as possible.

Royal College of Art (Vehicle Design) Since I am a goal oriented person, I am following a conscious reasoned line in order to shape myself as a designer. While following my dream to become vehicle designer, my first step is to combine the brought view on design which I gain in my industrial design bachelors with a more focused master in vehicle design. A second visit at the Royal Collage in the Innovation Design Engineering and Vehicle Design department helped me to gain a greater image on the high leveled professionalism of the students. Due to the fact that the IDE study is very similar to my industrial design study, I had the opportunity to even deeper my awareness level of my current study and at the same time, get to know the vehicle design study which I want to follow after my bachelors. As a designer I think that it is always very important to have goals and a plan. Overall this plan should be powered by motivation and passion. This visit gave me a lot concerning motivation, awareness and knowledge. During the time in the IDE department I had the opportunity to share my thoughts and knowledge with designers and engineers. The exchange of experiences and skills contributed to my growth as a designer and gave me a picture of the needed skills and will to get into one of the best design universities in the world. The various backgrounds from the students lead to different ideas which offered a brought picture on my project. The visit at the Vehicle Design department gave me a lot more than I thought. Conversations with different students gave me deep insights into this study. How the students work, their vision on mobility and vehicles and their personal motivation confirmed my affiliation to this study. Another valuable experience was the ideation sessions with several students for my current project. The biggest part of the students also had an industrial design background and worked on different kind of projects before. The different vision and approach as normal automotive designers was clearly visible. In my eyes the visit at the RCA helped me to define my next steps within my study. Considering my internship, portfolio and choice of projects, I want gain the appropriate skills and create the needed opportunities in order to join a vehicle design master study like in the Royal College of Art.

Reflection TAB Within the assignment T.A.B. the main focus was on the identity, passion and skills of a designer. While looking at these aspects, the aim was to create a design which reflected this personal values. For this process two movies: “Andrej Rublyov”, “Satyricon”, a visit at the Royal College of Art (IDE, Vehicle Design) and the Van Abbemuseum were used as the base. During a design process a vehicle concept was developed and build. Reflecting on this design, the intensity considering the process of implementing my identity and personality into this work was much higher. Even my passion was easy to determine, the final outcome gained a higher personal and symbolic value due to the implementation of my past. Even the concept was developed through my knowledge and experience today, I build the prototype in the same method like I did in my childhood. My childhood represents the start of my passion for mobility, engineering and design in general. Looking at the process the conceptualization stage was very linear due to its conscious line of decision making. My knowledge about engineering and current developments within the automotive industries offered me a good base to think about the mechanical constructions and possibilities. The visit at the Royal College of Art gave me extra input considering they way of working as a vehicle designer and how to structure and implement the ideas into concept. With the descision to build the prototype with my childhood’s tools, I found a way to reflect on the origin of my passion. Even I was looking for a high quality prototype, the only use of materials which I could find at home was denying this possibility. On the other hand the building process gave me the opportunity to implement more of my own identity and offered great exploration space with materials which also lead to the development of the concept. A very intensive ideation session started throughout with the building which was driven by improvisation. I tried to find possibilities to match several materials, to see forms in objects for the body work and explore different construction constellations for a solid prototype. The use of different materials like metal, plastics, textile and the different manufacturing methods like clueing, screwing, cutting, forming and sewing showed the horizon of exploration and skill. This experience really took me back to my childhood and made me think about my passion. Regarding the activities besides this design process. I could identify several aspects from the movies and the museum in my work. The abstraction of an concept through the chaotic building process from my childhood could also be find in the movie “Satyricon”. On the other hand the passion and the power to change the world even as a young child is also reflected by my work and the movie “Andrej Rublyov”. Looking at the use of different materials, shapes and objects the associations to some work in the Van Abbemuseum was also present. Even the exploration space during the building process was high, the way of working also had negative aspects. Looking at the physical quality of the prototype, the use of different materials did not match my level. Due to the limited recourses no piece was precisely manufactured for the construction. Furthermore the technical feasibility of the “wheel-concept” was also not possible. The modification of the rims was not possible without destroying the rim. Regarding smaller details like windows or headlights the use of the textile also denied this possibility. Resuming this experience together, the way I designed the concept and build the prototype offered me possibilities but also limitations. On one hand I implemented the origin of my passion into the design but on the other hand I had to pay with limitations in technical implementations. All in all I this assignment was a great opportunity to think about my childhood considering my education, passion and hobbies. This gave me a opportunity to understand where I come from, what I am doing right now and what I want to do in my future.

TAB Report  

Concept car, Tu/e

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