Understanding context

Throughout this unit I have been working on a bench design as a hypothetical commission from Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield. Due to the need to make my design site-specific, my contextual research has been essential. I started b

A Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth at YSP

A Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth at YSP

y researching the sculpture park it’s self through a visit and online sources. This allowed me to get a sense of the scale of the park as well as the type of sculptures exhibited with its grounds. On my trip to the park I took photos of the sculptures in the park as well as parts of the park itself, this allowed me to document the layout of the park and also it’s scale. I also researched the ethos of the park which was fundamental in designing an object that fitted in. The ethos of the park was to

display works which challenged and informed amongst other things, as a result I wanted to use my skills in generative design to challenge the traditional idea of a bench. After my research at the park I decided to research some of the artists whose work is displayed within the park including Joan Miró, Andy Goldsworthy and Nigel Hall. I was particularly drawn in by the forms by Barbara Hepworth, in her “Winged figure” sculpture as well as her “oval sculpture 2”.  I used profiles and outlines from these sculptures which I then manipulate to create my design.

This has been one of the biggest influences on process however my research into generative design using the Algorithms-Aided design book by Arturo Tedeschi. This book has helped influence both my ability to manipulate objects as well as make my designs physically realisable. One script that I found particularly useful was the ability to use graphs to influence the scaling of an object. This also fitted in with the ethos of the park as it challenges the preconceived view that if an object’s influences are heavily based within mathematics then it’s form must be quite angular and geometric, however by using a sin graph I can create a very flowing organic object which is fundamentally mathematical. As a result the object fits within the context of the park far better than if I had ignored this factor. I have learned a lot about the importance of in this research file, for example I spent a lot of this unit struggling to create starting forms for my design, however I now realise this was due to a lack of research and as a result in the future I would need conduct greater amounts of research at the start of the unit in order to develop designs efficiently. The research in creating algorithmic scripts has also allowed me to really start developing my own scripts and I have a greater understanding of how the logic works within the program.

Another important form of research for me was looking at other practitioner’s place of work. I visited Joseph Hartley’s studio. Although my work and Joseph’s are very different there were still parts which were applicable to my work and it was interesting to see what it would be like if I started my own studio. One of the things I found most interesting was when Joseph started talking about how he was working on lots of different projects simultaneously. Currently we only ever work on one project at a time so it is easy to forget that this is not possible when you are rely on your work as a source of income. Also from researching other practitioners CVs you realise just how much you have to be working on at one time. This has made me realise how important organisation is to make sure you meet the briefs for each piece of work and the deadlines set by the client. Also joe was talking about sourcing materials, which again is something that is easy to overlook when you are in university and you can get all the materials just from the workshops however when you are operating under your own practice you have not only have to find the materials you have to also look at where you are sourcing them from, especially if any part of your practice is centred around sustainability. This being said I still think at some point I would like to set up my own studio, however I would like to get some experience working in one before I did so.

I have also learned both through research and design work, that for me to fit in within the field of design I want to I need to further develop my computation skills. When I look at work by Marc Fornes for example I realise that although I have developed a lot in terms of Generative design skills, there are still large parts I haven’t even touched on and these parts would allow me to create designs that currently I couldn’t start to draw. Also some of the skill I need to learn would allow me to test my designs and optimize them which could lead to more efficient uses of materials or objects which a more structurally stable.  I think these skills will become more necessary as I move on to designing larger objects. However I did create a script which would slice up forms into sections which could then be laser cut and then would slot back together. I

Test models from sectioning script

Test models from sectioning script

was really happy with the result from this test as it showed that I had developed my skills in scripting and it was also an essential skill for this unit as I want to employ the same technique to create my bench.  There are a couple of changes i need to make including having the parts labeled and these labels laser etched onto them as this would make it far easier to assemble however apart from that it has the script worked perfectly.

The feedback I received from our presentations was very helpful, at the time I was struggling to come up with an initial starting form which would be relevant enough to the park. I had tried drawing shapes from the photos I had taken at YSP however the forms I found always felt a little arbitrary and I wanted something with more grounding. The advice I received was to look at the sculptures made by the artists in the park, and pic features of those which I could then apply to the generative scripts I was developing. So using this advice I have looked in more depth at sculptures by Hepworth and Miró, and used aspects of the two Hepworth sculptures as my starting point. I think this way of thinking is something I need to apply to my design process in the future, as taking the advice has resulted in much better idea generation. This advice has also made me realise that in the future I sometimes need to step back and look at my project in a wider context rather than being very specific from the start.

Bench form finding script with some sectioning

Bench form finding script with some sectioning

I was advised that it was okay if I didn’t end the unit with a full scale prototype however if I can I still aim to make a prototype as I will learn about the structural and construction requirements of making large objects which I just won’t learn through making a scale model.  I was also advised to go into the workshop and try to find starting forms though modelling with clay or foam modelling.  I did take this advice and try however I struggled to find any forms I was happy with partly because I found the foam modelling quite difficult and frustrating. From now I aim to use the scripts I have developed to resolve my design, I will do this by altering the parameters of my scripts so that I can experiment with the form until I am happy. Assuming this happens in time I will then make my design in full scale

The project so far has taught me about the importance of identifying your designs destination and the context of that. Before now I had never really thought about designing for a context which meant this project has been a bit of a shock. I have found it harder than I thought I would to make my design site specific however through going through the project I have learned a lot about this. A mixture of research and project developments through modelling, affirmed my motivations for using generative design and modern manufacturing processes.  As a future practitioner I would like to initially work for a design studio or company possibly whilst doing freelance design work on the side like Oleg Soroko. However for me the ultimate goal is to set up my own studio once I feel I have learned the right skills necessary to do so.

In terms of my future practice I feel that my main drive behind my practice is to create designs which may not have been possible before very modern technologies or techniques, whether that is a process like 3D printing or, using generative design processes. I am enjoying working on a project that is site specific however I would also be happy working on more commercial design which can be put into production.


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