Saturday, January 16, 2010

Scaling it up

This is my project from my first quarter as a junior. The assignment was to design and construct a privacy screen or room divider. Easy enough right?
Actually, it was really, really hard. As an exercise is simplistic design, we were urged not to make up an excuse for our design by giving it multifunctionality; shouldn't have to justify its existence by serving another purpose. The challenge was to display this minimalist philosophy in an elegant way.
My design ended up being heavily inspired by my graphic design courses, as I became interested in the simple mathematical aesthetic about typographic compositions. In essence, letters, the basic visual and structural building blocks of verbal and written language served the same purposes, physically, for my screen. I used .125 anodized aluminum, laser-cut from 3 patterns designed in Rhino.
Though some may find the 3-panel screen design safe and conventional, I think it is simple and appropriate, and at the same time flat panels speak to the 2D geometry of typography. As well, a screen need not be an obstruction, but it should enhance the environment, or create a new one altogether.
This brings me to the biggest challenge-- the joinery. I needed twist, an example of engineering that was neatly integrated into the overall design. I ended up building magnetic hinges from 3" cow magnets, folded my own aluminum brackets over them, and used aluminum binder posts to fasten them. These magnets allow a user to rearrange and construct a screen of whatever length or composition they desire. The polarity of the magnets permit a vertical flip of any module (similar to certain letters: b/d, a/g, etc). The polarity denies the user a horizontal flip, and to avoid confusion in this case the user only needs to match up the joinery on both sides of the screen to ensure a magnetic bond.

This has been a very long description for what happens to be my most intuitive design yet. Funny how that works...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Boredom can be a beautiful thing.

Within just a few days of returning home for the holidays, I found myself extremely bored. No more early wake-ups or firing on all cylinders through the night... Although I loved sleeping in every day and gorging myself on delicious home cooking (as well as plenty of holiday sweets). Many of my friends had not yet come back, or even finished school, so I decided I had to give myself some work to do. So, I asked all of my friends to send me good photographs of themselves for me to do a digital portrait for them. I flew out of the gates by cranking out 5 on the first day. Production quickly trailed off, and I still have a few more to do before I retire this project, but I'm happy with my progression. I learned a lot about discerning colors among tricky context differences, and rendering reflected light. I've done 16 of these since I started a few weeks back, and these are some of my favorites:

All of these portraits were first sketched free-handed and then painted from reference (no tracing, paintovers, or eyedropping). I used only 1 layer for the sketch and a second one for the paint. Took 40 to 90 minutes (if I got caught up tweaking brush options for the hair) each.

Thanks to all of my friends for helping me out and encouraging me!