Friday, April 29, 2011

Design Process

I have never been happier for an acrylic box. 

I was smiling all the way home as I held it on the bus from Rapson Hall on East Bank to home last friday. No one understood why I was clutching my box so tenderly. The tall man in tan exited the bus to the right, and only glanced at my wonderful creation. I wanted to stand up in the middle of the bus, arms outstretched holding my box at arms length spinning around like those cheesy lovey dovey scenes in moves, then I would slowly and tenderly hug my creation and continue to spin in dizzying circles. I felt like announcing to the whole bus of bored blank faces of ipod-induced-coma college students “LOOK! My beautiful creation! Yes it may look like a simple acrylic box with circles cut into it, but it’s so much more don’t you see? I made it! I took it from an idea, a sketch on paper, and now it’s a thing! I’m made something! Isn’t it wonderful?”

Okay…even though I wished to do all those things I sat silently with my heavy backpack in my lap, balancing the box on top. Then I slowly made my way home. Not really anything theatrical. But why would a simple box give me such joy? A simple creation? Well, because it really is so much more than that.

It’s more than a box because it’s part of the whole design process. Taking an abstract idea and ultimately making it into an physical thing is wonderful. For example, I am currently fabricating a luminaire (fancy design talk for a light fixture) for my lighting class. This project is coordinated with my interior design studio work where I designed a coffee shop, and now I am making a luminaire that would be placed in said shop.

A Cabinet of Curiosity by Domenico Remps
I start with an abstract idea or an image, such as the above image which I used as an inspiration for my coffee shop design. Then how does that get translated into a physical thing? I make many hasty sketches on notebook paper, sketchbooks, the back of class assignments, and post it notes. Eventually I come to drawing out specific dimensions. 
After that I mock it up with paper, then a crescent board model, where it really helps me figure out the exact size I want. For this luminaire specifically I wanted to see the size of the box in relation to the light bulb that would be placed in the acrylic box to be made.
I figured out the perfect size! After that I put the design into AutoCAD so I could bring the file to the workshop and cut it into acrylic on the laser cutter....

Presto! After about a half hour I had this wonderful object which I carried home one the bus (as noted above). It took little time to glue it together.

While I was home on Easter weekend, I put the lamp kit in, and screws....and that's where the process ends for now! I'm going to finish the luminaire this weekend and present this coming week!
Now you can see into the world of a wonderful design student! Things don't just magically come to be because there is so much that happens in between an initial idea and a finished product. 
Maybe I'm strange, maybe I'm crazy, maybe I have no life (well as a design student homework=life), maybe I'm a nerd, but I LOVE school. I love learning,and curiosity really seems to be a major theme in my life recently. There's so much to know about the world, things to make, inspiration to be had. 

I'm just enjoying the process.

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