Tag Archives: materials

Planetary: Imogen Belfield

Nature and architecture seem to be a great source of inspiration for lots of beautiful things! Like this week’s Planetary feature on Imogen Belfield’s jewelry.

Imogen Belfied creates ‘experimentalist’ jewelery with a combination of different, interesting materials including porcelain, bronze, silver, steel, and gold. All of her pieces are hand-crafted and all of her pieces that use porcelain fused with metal are unique and individual; they cannot be recreated.

Experimenting with porcelain, gemstones, metals, dyes and glaze and creating casts from paper, plastics and even fruits, she aims to create work that is at once beautiful and challenging; modern yet classic, bold yet subtle. (via)

Beautiful and challenging, modern yet classic, bold yet subtle? Things we all strive for!

More of her work can be seen here.

♥eth

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MicroManufacturing

We’re getting further into the development of our company, focusing on what we’re doing – micromanufacturing – to make a cool name; something along the lines of micro14 and variations on that. The product that I’ve chosen to develop further for our company is a d.i.y. postcard; a picture frame that you can insert your own picture, moment, location into to give to a friend or loved one as a cute little snail-mail present.

I’m currently looking at mailers and postcards so that I can get a better understanding of possibilities, materials, and manufacturing. The challenge with this studio is making products that someone else within our “company” can re-create for us to sell – so it has to be totally feasible and working ASAP. These aren’t just study models.

Today and tomorrow I’ll be working on ways to finesse the first iteration of the picture-postcard and expanding upon the idea of having something to hold up the ‘frame’. I’ve also been thinking about picture corners, and wondering if that’s easier and cheaper than cutting out two pieces of card stock and gluing them together to make a ‘folder’ of sorts for the picture itself to slide into. Lots of shopping and trial & error to be had in the very near future!

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on how it’s crunch weeeeeeek

I have been down. I have been out. But I’m back nowwwww!
Ok, in all seriousness, I’ve been lame, I’ve been tired, I’ve been sick and unmotivated and procrastinating because I’m behind – which only puts me further and further behind.
However, this week is crunch week and there’s so much to do, it makes me feel like I could pick up a mountain or something because it is business timeeeeeee. And I’ve got to get down to it.
I guess the only singular comforting thing about being slightly behind is knowing that getting the concept right, even if the deliverables aren’t all that, is the most important part of a project. Especially because there’s always opportunity to re-do projects for portfolio, but it’s worth the presentation to have your project concept well developed and concise.

I’m making progress on everything involved in this project at the moment. I’m going to lathe today after lunch to get the curves of my form figured out, because I want to transpose the same form from the pasta extruder to the peeler and the ice cream maker. I’m researching portions and serving sizes to see if those can drive my product proportions better, as well as the hand-span of children in my age range so that they can actually hold and use the products I’m making. I’m hoping to 3D print the pasta extruder because I think it’s important to see the screw-threaded interaction points, and having a solid lump of sine foam wouldn’t quite cut it (for me personally) – which means that I need to get into SolidWorks and get everything done ASAP. I’m almost done making the handle that will be used in all three products; it’s a nice blend of geometric shapes (squares, triangles, circles) that are really aesthetically interesting.

I’m currently having problems determining how much serving sizes/portions should drive my product proportions. I feel like using serving sizes literally would drive the ‘health’ point home, but I’m concerned that sticking so closely to them might cause some gross products…? Or some awkward proportions, since an average family size is 4, but I like multiples of 3 and children’s hands are so small. Hmm.
Materials are pretty much already determined, I’m just figuring out details from already-existing products [i.e. how much space allowance around a pint-sized canister of ice cream is needed for salt and coolant substances in a hand-cranked ice cream maker?]. But I’m excited, or running off of adrenaline, either/or and I’m getting on to stuff that I wouldn’t be so ashamed to claim.

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on seeing the design process in action

I’m currently working on rendering different materials and colors for kicks while I mull over the comments I’ve gotten thus far.
Some important points I should touch on:

  1. weight and/or “bulky-ness” (could you stack 6 plates together to take from the cupboard to the table? can a little kid hold this at all?)
  2. materials -> directly relate to the weight of the pieces, and impact the ‘honesty’
  3. the cup has no handle; what is the consumer meant to do when they want to drink something hot? Is the cup insulated?? etc.
  4. color -> changed by the material choice, can communicate the words better or worse
  5. that whole “HONESTY” issue -> can be easily solved through material choice, and can be changed by more “honest” curves
  6. proportions -> some people are having SO many problems with the size of things

So, let’s talk it out.

  1. Yes. You’re all right. It looks freaking massive and heavy. But it’s all shelled out, and you can see that a little more clearly if you peek at the drawings and the sliced shells on the individual boards. So the plate and saucer have huge table-prints [footprints? the area they take up on a table?], but they aren’t solid.
  2. I wasn’t making a very informed design decision when I rendered my set for Wednesday’s pin-up; I was mostly excited to show the overall form, and now I can think more about what to do with the materials. I’m currently rendering some versions in plastic and glass; both of these options change the ‘honesty’ and the weight. Glass would let the user know what’s going on because you can see through it right away, without having to pick the pieces up – but it would probably be a little heavy still. Plastic would be cheap and light and also see-through, but hopefully not cheap looking. Plastic might help in the “floating” sense (the saucer ‘floats’).
  3. Originally, I left a handle off of my cup because I didn’t want to do a “traditional” tea-cup set [because, c’mon, this doesn’t have to be your Granny’s tea set – the assignment is simply ‘cup, saucer, and plate’ and those are all open to interpretation ((Sarah is doing an espresso cup and dessert plate! And it’s cool!))], but Collin brought up a good point – is that cup insulated? What if I want hot chocolate in it instead of sake? Why would a sake cup have a saucer? And I realized that if you put a hot beverage into that cup, would you get a steam burn trying to yank it out of the saucer? Because a cup and saucer set that burns you would be really freaking uncomfortable. Also known as “failure.”
  4. Lighter colors say “fresh” to me, too. I want this to be fresh in a light, crisp, large-windowed-apartment kind-of-way but I also think that if the form is well crafted, that any color applied to it should just yell “YO! I’M FRESH!”
  5. So my saucer isn’t very honest – he’s full of lies and secrets [i.e. he’s holding my cup and pretending like the cup isn’t as big as it is]. Whoops.!I think changing the materials will help this, though, and I can always contemplate redrawing some of my curves to achieve more “honest” relation from one piece to the next.
  6. My proportions are all related, they’re just unconventional. Either it’s fantastic that my overly large saucer is attracting so much attention because I did my job by making it quirky, or it’s just so out of whack that consumers would look at that on a shelf and be like “WHAT?”, and then walk by it on their way to Ikea and grab a ‘normal’ set. My words aren’t “comfortable, boring, normal” – they’re fresh and quirky! I define both fresh AND quirky as being different, unconventional, off-the-wall, new, modern, etc. (Did you bother reading my defintion page? It is there for a reason.) I wanted something simple and crisp, but interesting and different at the same time. I think it’s good to hear people have such concrete opinions about it one way or another, though. I like having things that are conversation pieces (anyone remember my curvilinear composition from sophomore year?).

Things I’m going to work on now:

  • materials via SolidWorks
  • play around with sizes a smidgen; re-think curves a little
  • re-draw the base of the plate; right now it would be pretty hard to get it off the table since there’s no place to put your fingers to lift it!
  • colors and graphics

Thanks y’all!
(ps. Isn’t it cool to take part in the design process? Your feedback helps me know what to tweak.)

new-set-bigger

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on how my saucer is a little “dishonest”

I’ve already noticed that the target word “honest” isn’t really working out EXACTLY the way I wanted it to. If you look at my definition page, I’m defining honest as something that is secure, good, genuine, stable, etc. – not necessarily “oh, this is so truthful and open and straightforward”. I’m interpreting ‘honesty’ through shapes and form – simple lines and clear proportions to each other from the cup to saucer to plate.
But since my definition seems to deviate from what everyone immediately thinks of when they first see the word honest, I’m going to toy around with materials for my saucer. What if the saucer was a frosted glass? Then you could see what was inside it; it would be honest AND open because it isn’t hiding anything at all, and the cup is still neatly nestled inside.

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moving right along

Today we presented the five concepts we created to the class, and then narrowed it down to two.
For Monday we need refined drawings in perspective, top view, side view, and section views as well as material samples and models.
I was a little disappointed in class with my drawings today when I realized that I really did not draw enough detail to explain the forms, but with practice I’m sure I’ll overcome my inability to understand the three-dimensionality of a tea cup – right?
David also mentioned that we should find other products that we feel represent the three words we’ve chosen for this project, and ask other people if they match our words. I’ve been browsing the interwebz and found a few things on Domus Int. (thanks to Kim posting a link on her blog) that I like.

fresh = new, modern, re-freshing
quirky = just a little bit different, odd – but not awkward
honest = pure form, and good materiality

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full steam ahead!

This semester seems a lot more intensive in a much shorter amount of time than last semester. I am both excited and thoroughly nauseous about how busy I know I will be for the next for months. I hope that I get more accustomed to this switch in sleeping schedules so that I can manage my time more efficiently when I am done with classes, because as of right now I’m running out of steam too soon after I’m done with “school” and need to start in on my ‘school work’.

I’m really glad with the three words I picked for this project – fresh, quirky, and honest. I want to create a set that is modern, a little bit unique/cutesy/”different” from normal sets that are just aligned along a straight vertical axis, and honest both in form that is pure, simple, and bold with clean lines and in materiality that is natural and simple and true to itself (i.e. not trying to make something forced out of metal when wood would do). I made a mood board last night out of magazine cut-outs (it has a lovely arts&crafts feel). I like how David summarized my board by calling it “nature pop” – which was in line with my intentions of making something fresh, new, layered and natural.

We have to draw FIVE WHOLE, COMPLETE, DETAILED concepts with material call-outs and perspective and sections and etc. for Friday which is a difficult challenge, however I’m really glad that we seem to be stressing the importance of doing the same, if not more, work at the beginning of a project than at the end when it gets stressful and impossible-seeming.
I did a lot of brainstorming and word associations today to figure out what I really want to “say” with each separate concept; I tried to lay down rules for geometry and materiality for each “set” so that they would be distinctly different.
I’m also pretty inspired after a trip to Ikea to look at material choices and shapes for their mass reproduced dinnerware; some of their plates are SO flat!

I really enjoyed the exercise we did at the beginning of class today – David told us all to sketch a dinnerware trio in 15 minutes, then he mixed them up and passed them back out to students that hadn’t done the original drawings and asked them to present the drawing as if it was their own concept. Doing the exercise taught me some important things
1. I am good at BS-ing [which I like to think is due to the poetic “writer” in me that knows her way around metaphors and symbolism]
2. Details really ARE important in product sketching! Who knew!
3. How to draw those curvy lines that show form without making them look silly (the name of which I cannot currently remember, which, in turn, makes me feel silly)
We also did another interesting “real life” exercise during which the person sitting in front of us named a designed object (guitar, chair, toaster, laptop, etc.) and we had to sketch it in 30 seconds on a white board in front of the rest of our classmates. In regards to that exercise, I need to stop panicking around people when I draw because it just makes my sketches wayyyy worse and stop drawing spatula stools because NO one would buy them.

And as a last note before I go to bed, I am really glad to be back in studio and surrounded by classmates and a teacher that all seem genuinely interested and enthusiastic in what we’re doing. It’s comforting to know that we all have the same general goal of becoming better – in whatever capacity that applies to each individual. [Awww! Just a little cheesy!] [But seriously.]

(ps. get the title joke? because we’re doing cups, and cups can hold hot drinks like tea which have steam. Ha-Ha!)

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re-hash, re-search

I was wondering why it was taking me so very long to research things about induction charging, coils, etc. for the Final Project in my Materials class which is essentially a BA addition to my future [haha NEAR future since I was hoping to make one by next Friday, etc.] portfolio/resume deal and an assembly guide to how my Second DVA Studio Project (you know, the ‘Serenity Stones’ and ‘aging in place’ solution) would realistically be produced and assembled in REAL LIFE and I realized the reason it is taking so long is because I never actually technically figured out all the details when I did the project. Hmm. Whoops. I just remember thinking “Yeah, induction charging is wireless, cool and easy. Sweet.” and just sort of hand-waving the gesture out of the air (and out of ignorance. d’oh.); not my best move ever. But a really good recent move on my part? The killer sentence at the beginning of this blog. Word.

But really, it’s not so bad since I’ve been in the library waiting to plot for 4ish hours and just got done, so I had some free time to kill that I wasn’t spending sleeping… [PS. I’m a big fan of late-night bad grammar, and excessively strange punctuation PPS. I’m giving myself an award for not only A.) my longest blogged sentence ever ((see beginning of blog)), but also B.) the most creative and well-tagged blog post to date ((see end of blog {as in right below the end of this}))]

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getcho bike onnnnn

I’ve been stewing over bikes for a bit. Not in a angry, mean kind of way – more like a warm, happy, chicken-noodle-soup-kind-of way. The idea of biking is really great; you have the opportunity to pollute less while keeping yourself in shape (bingo! double sustainability points!). The reality of biking is not really great [at least not in ATL]. Ted did a presentation on how he’s divorced his life from a car, which we had already talked about previously – but I thoroughly enjoyed his point about ‘every trip begins and ends on foot.’

Allison, Chris and I have been doing a lot of work and I’ve been way too lame to write about it. The three of took an adventure to Cabbage Town to see if we could find commuters in action – we got a little lost [no blaming me; I wasn’t driving], but it was a really interesting side of Atl that I hadn’t really seen before. We also stopped in Little Five and talked to two different skate shops and a bike shop about the pros and cons of how they get around the city ((some people like how crazy and risky it is to get around on a bike/board, some wear helmets and some don’t, etc.)).

Another important point of our research was experiencing riding a bike in the road first hand. Allison and I borrowed some mountain bikes and took to the road [at night. in the cold. in freaking Atlanta]. We road from M street to Northside to 10th street up to State where Allison turned left and I kept going for a block because I wasn’t listening, then down some other road by the townhouses near Atlantic Station, and then up that hill [we walked. whoops.] to 17th, and then a couple blocks down 17th street to experience how it felt to ride in an actual ‘bike lane’. Riding with Allison really helped me feel a lot more brave; having Chris follow us in his truck helped way way way more. I think we topped out at about 12mph – which would get quicker over time. Part of the difficulties we experienced were due to being out of shape and not having been on bikes in a long time. I have a bike of my own that I NEVER ride – it actually holds magazines in my apartment and looks super cute – and part of that is the type of bike it is + the fear of having to get my out-of-shape-self out in the freakin’ streets to ride it. Basically, riding that bike in the street with Allison has changed my perspective quite a bit. Bikers are killer. I mean, really, people that bike around campus are ‘bikers’ – but holy crap. To commute all over the city? That’s so extreme and brave – especially in the crazy, unpredictable weather. One of my friends said that riding a bike is like being in a convertible, and it lets you see things that you don’t usually get to experience in a car. So true – if I hadn’t been fiddling with my helmet, that ride would’ve been extra awesome. Feeling the wind and the wobble of the bike while trekking around is really liberating.
But how on Earth are we going to get more people out there on bikes the first time? That’s exactly our design problem.

Since realizing that we want to solve the ‘confidence’ issue of getting people out on bikes the first time, and making sure they stay out there, we’ve gone through several different product concepts. Some strayed from products into more advertising/promotional situations, and others into really rad concepts like ‘Aggressive Biking School’. After brainstorming some more, and really defining down what makes or breaks ‘confidence’ we’ve decided to create a sort of ‘Biker’s Buddy Bag’ [but much cooler than that]. One of Allison’s original ideas involved putting a map onto a bike seat, since there’s no need for anything more than a bike when you’re commuting [all about the bare essentials], but seat terrain + small surface area =/= as useful as we had hoped.

DVA got us into contact with a local bag/wallet designer, Malcolm Fontier, who was sooo very nice and talked to us for a long time about design, stitching, manufacturing and manufacturing drawings, conceptualizing, research, and benchmarking. It was really nice to get some real-life feedback and talk to someone that creates bags for a living. I also personally enjoyed being able to hear how what Leffler teaches us in Materials class really does matter when you design stuff. [Malcolm’s stuff rocks – he doesn’t use leather (instead its plastic-coated-canvas), he was featured at the ID exhibit at MODA (, and I want one of his bags in the sweet blue color he has (so worth checking out)] [His ‘smallest wallet’ is ingenious and I’m a proud new owner 🙂 ] Allison, Chris and I recently went to Dick’s Sporting Goods [I had never been in such a large Dick’s before – the one in Buckhead has three freaking stories, and the one in my hometown does not] to benchmark one-strapped bags. We found some by Nike, Jansport, and North Face and they all had a lot of interesting info to offer. I’m pretty partial to the Nike Team Training Mono in M-L because it’s strap is so ingeniously shaped and padded which makes it CRAZY comfortable and it’s uniquely shaped to fit better on one’s back; I’m not, however, a fan of the lame ‘girl’ colors in gross ‘coral’ and ‘cherry’ [give me electro inspired colors every day, thanks]. I’ve been trying to get rid of the itchy urge to go purchase said Nike bag and take to the streets on my bike – or maybe I’ll just have to do it one day. I think I could make it down North Ave and onto campus…

Anyhoo, we’re busy working on bag details as we speak. I’m *pretending to be busy* looking up how colors affect visibility [night vs. day, distance, etc.], as well as what materials we might make our bag out of *while writing this giant blog*. I have to go grab some samples at Joann’s tomorrow before studio so we can decide on what we want – or at least start figuring it out. We forSURE need to make the bottom of our bag waterproof since this bag is geared towards teens and early twenty-year-olds that are commuting to school and similar activities. I’m excited about the progress and design decisions we’ve made thus far, but I am beginning to get nervous because our model is due this coming Wednesday and we have so so much to do. Yikes. Good thing we have all weekend, eh? Or at least all weekend after BANGARANG. Perhaps I’ll ride my bike to The Loft? Perhaps.

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“Marilyn Monroe is dead”

I’m brain-blocked.
Digging this stuff I found, tho
1. a shelf system that also doubles as a ladder/step-stool deal
2. & 3. sweet wood and metal bracelets

Materials class kinda got me down today since Leffler started the class by telling us that “when” terrorists strike again, all of us ID kids will need new careers. I talked about it a little with Jes at dinner, but I don’t feel any better. Design is so subjective and so overlooked. It’s frustrating when people try to tell me that all I do is doodle and that my major is silly [or they make it seem that way when the guffaw at projects].
They clearly don’t understand how industrial design impacts the world.
Remember the dust-buster? The easier-to-hold Gatorade bottle? The Studebaker Avanti?
You’re welcome.
So I guess what it means to be a designer is to understand that we are everyday superheroes, and that we do have the ability, power, and responsibility to change the world – but we have to understand that not everyone will appreciate what we do for them, and that our work will often be behind the scenes and almost unaccounted for (but probably remembered years after we’re gone, like some of the great artists).

I know people think they know what it means to have studio, but they don’t.
And I don’t care how many freaking lab classes you take, or what it was like for you in college, or how HARD it is for you to sit on a couch and write papers; what we do is just different.

I still don’t have a ‘direction’, but I feel like I’m finally creeping towards the edge of something more concrete somehow.
I am tired (and apparently whiney).
I want to do a thousand things at once.

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