Monday, December 31, 2012

Alex Shayler

Alex Shayler is a young artist who I had the chance to interview a while back.  Here's what he had to say.

How would you describe your work?
I work in pen and ink and my drawings are straightforward and powerful.
What first made you interested in illustration? 
I started doodling in my school sketchbook and my art teacher, Mrs. Colburn, was very helpful and encouraged me. She told me to watch me a television programme, The Pacific, which was about the war and I really liked the drawings used in the credits. I wanted to do something similar but I wanted to make it a bit different. Just black and white and just with pen and ink. I think people were shocked when they first saw my drawings, and this is what has made me carry on as I like the reaction.
What inspires your drawings? 
My mum told me about my great-great grandad, who died during the first world war, and that's mainly what inspired me to draw military subjects.
What do you want to do with art in the future? 
I love drawing and I am very happy carrying on with what I do. If I could have a job drawing full time that would be my dream.
Personally, I know very little about the military and that whole realm of experience  so I've seen very little art relating to it.  I love how Alex uses silhouettes to show his subjects.
I'd like to thank Alex for his time, and I hope to see more work of his in the future!

Also, 2012 is very nearly over.  I'd like to send a huge thanks to everyone who supported the blog over this year, as we're just starting out.  Thank you for reading and telling your friends.  Here's to a great 2013, everyone.  Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where do Eames Lounge Chairs come from?

They come from here.  I got to take a look at the Davison Plyforms factory as a part of my model making class this semester.  Davison Plyforms is the factory where all the Eames Lounge Chairs are made, which is really exciting!
 They're all molded from the same form, then cut into different shapes.  This makes manufacturing less expensive, because they only need to make one set of molds for the plywood, and only need to have one machine to apply pressure to it.
This is what the machine looks like before it presses down the plywood.  I forgot how much pressure is applied, but it was a huge amount.  These chairs aren't the Eames lounge chairs, but the Eames ones use the same machine, with a different form.
As it's pressing on the plywood.
And when it's pressed down all the way.
This whole thing is just so cool!  It makes me want to rig up some molds and request veneer samples from somewhere, and see what I can make.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Beautiful Objects: Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

 I recently had the chance to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where I saw their exhibit, 'Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Bivouac', which was amazing.  Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec are brothers who run a design studio together.  They've done work with companies like Vitra, Kartell, Ligne Roset, and Cappellini.
The first part of the exhibit features their sketches and a wide range of their products on display.  Throughout the exhibit, their designs are used to display their designs.  Instead of using white pedestals, or generic shelves that one might find in an art gallery, every shelf has been designed by Ronan and Erwan Bourollec.  The dividers used throughout the exhibit were designed by them as well, and they're a modular system, attached with tabs and bands that hook together.
In the next portion of the exhibit, there was a table with several iPads, showing some of their work, and how some concepts were developed.  It was a nice looking app, but I think that wasn't the most effective way to show their design process.
 This is their Ovale Collection.  I love the clean feeling, and I love these forms - not quite regular, but perfectly smooth and organic.
And this sofa?  I've mentioned before, these sofas are my favorite sofas that exist, but I had never seen them before this exhibit.  I saw them, and I sat on them.  It was magical and perfect.

Monday, December 17, 2012

LEED Gold certification in KCAD's Federal Building

The Federal Building at Kendall has recently been certifed to the USGBC's LEED Gold Level.  This is fantastic for the school and for the whole of downtown Grand Rapids, particularly because of the adaptive reuse process applied to the historic Federal Building.  The building served as a courthouse in it's previous life, and will be the future home to the Wege Center of Sustainable Design at Kendall.  Using an existing building conserves our architectural past, and is more sustainable than building an entirely new structure.  The federal building has been renovated to include recycling and composting containers, efficient lighting systems, and low-emitting materials and adhesives.
I'm excited to be a part of a school that's dedicated to a sustainable future of design, and I hope this will lead to a greater awareness of sustainable issues amongst design students.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Why Publishing needs Design

Photo by Livy Hoskins
Publishing has a Design problem.  Big D Design, systems design, design thinking, all of that.
We're at a weird spot in which writers don't need publishers in the same ways that they always did.  Forty years ago, writers needed publishers.  Publishers took care of everything, they read through slush piles to find great stories, they worked with writers to make their stories perfect, they promoted and distributed those stories, in bookstores.  This worked really well for most of the twentieth century.  Without a major publisher, you couldn't show a story to anyone except people you know in real life, and anyone they might happen to show it to.  Self publishing would have involved you, writing your manuscript, having a friend edit your manuscript, then finding someone to print and bind it, and you, trying to convince people to buy it.

And then the internet was a thing that happened.  E-books became a thing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

User Interface Design: Focus

I first wanted to create a tool for writers.  After researching tools that currently exist for writers, I realized that distraction is a huge problem for writers.  Not just writers, either, it's a problem for a lot of people while doing computer-based tasks.  People may be motivated, but they seem to be easily distracted by the other things they can do while on the computer.  People know that they will become distracted, but in the moment, they do not prevent it.

Interior Design: Work 76

Architecture: Cherry Street Park

For this project, I worked with Christina Cardendas.  We planned a renovation of Cherry Street Park in Grand Rapids.  It's a fairly small park and whenever I pass by, it's empty, except for people occasionally playing tennis or basketball.  There's a tall, chain-link fence around the whole park, which makes it feel less-than welcoming, and the fence hasn't been maintained very well - there are spots where trees are leaning on it.  There's also a building in the park, which seems to have been built as a house, but is currently being used by the East Hills Neighborhood Association.  At the back of this building, facing most of the park, there are public bathrooms, but they've been locked whenever I've visited.  Overall, the park feels neglected.

Furniture Design

 For this project, I worked with a group of five other people.  We each took on an aspect of the design to focus on.  My focus was usability.  We decided that we wanted to create contemporary furniture for a family with small children, probably in a smaller home.
To research this, I took to twitter and asked parents of small children about what they look for in furniture.  Stability and durability were the top things that they looked for, as well as things that were difficult for a child to tip over.  For this audience, usability requires that furniture be sturdy, comfortable, and very resistant to wear and stains.  We avoided glass and delicate fabrics.  We also tried to avoid sharp edges and make furniture multi-functional.  There is storage in the coffee table, the sofa, credenza, and chair.  The sofa also folds out into a bed for overnight guests.

Digital Foundations

In my digital foundations class, we learned how to use Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator.  For a final project, we compiled all of our work from the class into an interactive PDF.  The interactive features work well on my computer.  However, when I upload it to google drive, they stop working.  You can see it here in non-interactive PDF form.

Lessons Learned

For my industrial design project in Introduction to Design, I designed a kayak.  Remember that post over the summer, about kayaks? That's what I went off for this project. I had the solution in my mind, I knew what the perfect kayak would be like.  I was really exited when I first started the project. I was going to make amazingly watertight hatches that would be flush with the rest of the body, and a seat made of Aeron-style stretched webbing with thigh support so your legs wouldn't be sore.  The cockpit is small, so it's watertight and warm, perfect for open water with big waves.
That pattern of elastic straps on the hull?  That was going to be a logo for the whole brand.
This kayak was going to be great.
However, my thinking was all wrong.  I had the solution in my mind, I knew what the perfect kayak would be like, and that was what made this terrible.  There wasn't research. There wasn't brainstorming.  There wasn't technically design at all.  My "process" here was essentially "Have a plan - sketch out plan." There was no creativity.  This wasn't good.  I realized this fairly early on in the process, but failed to adjust my course of action.
This was terrible.  I would consider this to be a failure.
I am so glad that I did this.  This project taught me how important process is, and how much it matters in producing a good design.  I am so glad that I experienced this failure.
Fail hard.  Fail early.