Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Lonely Laboratory Seeks Exciting Experiments

The Material Knowledge Laboratory has been a little lonely of late; it lives to answer creative questions but is not being asked.

So, dear reader, I am asking YOU, what creative avenue would you like to see explored next? What could be valuable and applicable to your own practice and/or arts education delivery? Is there an issue or subject matter that you could benefit from reading about here? Would a crit be of use? Would a conversation about managing the balance between personal desires to be creatively fulfilled and the practical necessity of paying the bills be advantageous?! (ALWAYS!)

The Material Knowledge Laboratory is poised and ready to accept all and any creative questions and challenges! Send your comments and suggestions via this blog, by email; andrea_taylor_1@hotmail.com or even by post! (Address below headed Material Knowledge c/o Andrea Taylor) but PLEASE whatever you do send them as it's not nice to see a grown laboratory cry.

While you muse over what to request of the MK Lab, please read on for the findings and results of November's experiments. This session's work took on October's design a modular chair challenge and played with it.

I started with 4 triangular elements from last month's geodesic dome exercise. 1 flat, 1 with 1 side folded, 1 with 2 sides folded and 1 with all three sides folded.
Using split pins to secure the cardboard modules, this multi-functional stool or side table was constructed using 1 triangle with all three sides folded and 3 triangles with 2 sides folded. 3 legs is a good number for furniture because it's more stable and not prone to the wobble which can occur with it's 4 legged counterparts.


Duplicates of this design are stackable, making them easier to store. As a sustainable designer-maker, I always use the Ecodesign model that considers; Material Extraction , Production, Distribution, Use and Disposal.
This matching chair was made using 2 triangles (back and back leg) with all 3 sides folded and 3 triangles with 2 sides folded. All of the designs produced were a result of essentially sketching in 3D, this freedom allows ideas to form and be acted upon quickly, showing which are worth pursuing to the next phase of the design process. I would be inclined to build a scale model next, then full size prototype and then actual piece, reflecting and acting with the materials and using a sketchbook all the way through to and beyond completion.
After over an hour of playing with straight edges, I thought it would be nice to introduce a curve into the mix and imagined how luxurious sinking back into this chair would feel with comforting support for my legs. This recliner is composed of 6 triangles and a curve.
I also liked the way this functional object looked from all angles. Form follows function and if you're lucky you have an object that is both a pleasure to look at and to use.
 So there we have it, with a little time and imagination the challenge was met and not just a chair but the beginnings of a whole range of furniture was created.
Whilst building the objects, I thought about the concept behind them too. It could be interesting to produce the modules and have some basic designs but that really a consumer could engage with this on a whole new flat-pack level, not just reproducing but inventing their own combinations and then sharing them online.
The modules could be made from a sustainable material (e.g. recycled cardboard - could the packaging and the product be one and the same? - or sustainable ply), producing modules with straight edges decreases the amount of waste and a limited type of modules means less production set-up, flat pack articles are more eco-friendly to transport because they are more space efficient. If a module got broken or damaged, it could be replaced with another, making the item repairable and adaptable. At the end of the products life, as no matter how well made or loved an object is, nothing lasts forever, the modules could be dismantled and either re-used, recycled or allowed to bio-degrade back into the grand design.
The next Material Knowledge session will be on Monday 03rd December, 6-8pm, The Art Studio, Level 2, St Luke's Community Centre, London, EC1V 8AJ. With Christmas hurtling it's way towards us at an alarming rate there will be a festive crafts theme so please feel free to bring any items that may come in useful (and some booze and nibbles!)
For those interested in exploring cardboard furniture further I recommend www.foldschool.com


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