Category Industrial Design

Visuals: “The Pursuit” (DRAFT)

(And I still don’t have a clear sense where all of this is going …)

Eyes Wide Open II.

Several years ago, I designed a sugar dispenser for an industrial design class.  I decided on this particular challenge after seeing just how quickly sugar poured out of a similar dispenser at a local restaurant.  Through the design process, I discovered that it was my various interests that played a key role in the final product.

Here are a few examples:

Model Railroading: Once I had a general idea for what the dispenser would look like along with the relative dimensions, I created “sketch models” which are basically rough prototypes made from various materials.  Thinking back to my model railroading days, I chose styrene plastic for later prototypes along with the final model.  Styrene is typically used for the construction of miniature buildings used on a model railroad, and I decided that the material would work well for this project.

Architecture (Core): I wanted the dispenser to be very modern looking and sleek; ultimately something much different from those you would normally see in a restaurant.  I ultimately decided to model the dispenser similar in structure to a modern skyscraper, and I chose a variation of styrene to match the building’s fascade (narrow vertical lines without horizontal equivalents).

Architecture (Supplemental): While I liked the skyscraper concept, I felt that another design element was needed.  In one of my visits to the Los Angeles area I noticed a building that had a protruding metal “screen” with large-scale letters inset within (negative space).  I decided that I would do the reverse and project letters outward (positive space).  But what letters?

Chemistry & Flight Training: Here I combined my original undergraduate goal (chemical engineering) with my flight training experience to come up with the “surface layer” that would rest on one of the dispenser “walls.”  The chemical formula for sugar contains the elements Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen.  Similarly, the airport code relative where I was living is CHO (Charlottesville-Albemarle).  Clearly, the gods had spoken.

The process of designing an object, vehicle, experience, etc. that has value in the real world takes not only solid design skills, it requires the ability to pull from multiple disciplines and incorporate those findings into something powerful.

Until perhaps now, I have always believed that my desire for knowledge was simply leading me astray from a specialization of some sort.  My experiences over the past several years have altered this belief; I now believe my innate curiosity enables versatility and a strong design sense, two things that I highly value.

While I believe that specialization in a given field and/or domain is in my future (that was my original goal all along), I envision staying “plugged in” to just about everything and anything that interests me.  It’s these interests that will continue to play a key role in my technical and creative development – the combination of which will continue to grow beyond what I’ve accomplished to date.

 

Eyes Wide Open I.

I recently signed up to become a volunteer at a local hospital.  One of the many requirements to participate in such a program is to ensure you have been suitably vaccinated and aren’t subject to any serious infections (e.g. measles).

Now my second time in the hospital in less than a year (this time on purpose), I made a point to again survey my surroundings.  In particular, I took a closer look at the heart monitor adjacent to where I was sitting along with the tools the nurse used to take blood from my arm.

Here are a few things I noticed in just 30 seconds:

Center of Gravity: The monitor rested on a short pole connected to a set of wheels that were arranged in 90 degree angles to one another.  What was interesting about this is that the pole was lowered approximately two inches so that its center of gravity was lower to the ground.  This allows the unit to be moved much more easily and rapidly with reduced risk of toppling over.

Robust Power Cord: The end of the power plug was larger in size than a standard power plug.  This allowed the cable to be removed from the wall with little effort, allowing for rapid transport to different locations within the hospital.

Protection: The needle that was used to draw blood from my arm had a plastic cover that was attached just below the collection tube.  After the blood was drawn, as if reading my mind, the nurse rotated the cover (using one hand) until it snapped in place, completely protecting her from the needle end.

Color: The unit was a bright blue color, making it much easier to spot in case of immediate need.

One of the main reasons I mention this experience is because one can find any number of design strengths or opportunities in virtually any situation.  While I have not had the need to use a heart monitor, I could still glean a few key design traits from the device that I could, in theory, use in future designs of my own.

Nurses and doctors who use the device on a routine basis may skim over what I’ve just mentioned, and instead highlight other traits that are more familiar to them.  For example, they may comment on the size of the display or the height of the actual unit; traits that I would take for granted given my lack of experience and exposure.

A good designer is always taking in the world around them to see what’s working and what’s not.  Similarly, design elements used in one situation or context can be employed in an entirely different situation; it just takes knowledge and understanding to enable the transition to occur.

In my next post I’ll give a real-world example and go a step deeper into this cross-pollination concept.

 

Designing the Future

“I think the old definition of designer-as-problem-solver is a bit limited: here’s a problem over here; there’s the solution.  The problem isn’t static.  It’s moving.  It’s a living organism.  To think you can simply ‘solve’ it is ridiculous.  Rather, you need to negotiate it.”

- Allan Chochinov, Designing the Future (Metropolis Magazine)

Directions.

Take a look at virtually any career guide and the underlying message is “consistency” and “traceability” – i.e. does your career tell a story?  Does it show a clear progression and overall strategy?  Are you building to some higher goal, or just going from position to position?

In my particular case, it’s a combination of both:

There is an article in a recent issue of Forbes by Tamara Warren that showcases Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles.  Mr.Gilles is a talented forty-year old who has had a clear sense of what he wanted from the very beginning and has since risen to the top from his early beginnings at CCS.

 

I have always dreamed that there would a day where I would find myself in similar shoes. The work and personal sacrifices I’ve made will have paid off.  I will be able to thank everyone who believed in me since the beginning and I’ll be able to finally tell myself that “I did it.”

In some ways my abilities are like a river – some parts of the river are fast-moving and accelerate my progress in ways I had never imagined, while other stretches are dead calm leaving me to wonder if I’ve reached the end of the journey, but I don’t think this “river” has an end.

While I don’t have the benefit of a linear career path, I have many other qualities and talents that continue to open doors for me even today and will continue to do so in the long-run.

Ralph Gilles is a beacon for what’s possible.

ID: The Vitra AC4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration: DRIVE.

Ever since I became interested in concept design in 2006, that interest continues to expand through the work of talented concept artists across the world.  One artist and designer who I have learned from via Gnomon DVDs, and met briefly at the Art Center College of Design, is Scott Robertson.  Late last year, Scott released a new book called “Drive” which includes a wealth of new and unique vehicle concept sketches and renderings.

Here’s the official description from the Design Studio Press site:

DRIVE features Scott Robertson’s very latest vehicle designs intended for the video game space communicated through skillfully drawn sketches and renderings. DRIVE builds upon the success of his prior two vehicle design brooks, Start Your Engines and Lift Off. Featuring four chapters, each representing a different aesthetic theme, Aerospace, Military, Pro Sports and Salvage, conceptual sports cars, big-rigs and off-road vehicle designs are beautifully represented through traditional and digital media sketches, and renderings.

This is definitely one I will be adding to my concept art collection very soon.