Over the last three years I have developed my understanding of my practice, I now see my work as largely research based with physical outcomes. The research aspect of my practice is focused around computational design through algorithmic design and digital manufacturing techniques. I use natural studies and patterns as inspiration for my designs and then try to mimic the conditions that create these phenomena within computational
design. I also recreate natural processes such as evolution as design tools, which allow me to sift through the large number of outcomes of an algorithm in order to find the best designs. I believe that this method of design lends itself to digital manufacturing due to the subtle complexity of the designs which are produced. This complexity would mean making the design by hand would be either incredibly hard or sometimes impossible. Sometimes the designs I produce will require me to develop my own tools in order to produce functional versions of the design. For example a design of a lampshade I produced
last year requires a 3D printer which is much larger than those I have ready access to, therefore I developed my own printer which to meet these requirements. I see this side of my practice is very important because it allows me a greater understanding of the tools and processes that I use, which in turn influences my designs. I think by having a developmental or research attitude to both these aspects of design will allow me to push thethe boundaries and I hope that the outcome won’t be the only useful aspect of my work. I am particularly interested in the emergent design and parametricism as I believe they are at the forefront of modern digital design and use them as guides for my own work.
In terms of research so far I have been looking to particle physics for inspiration. This research harks back to my a-level physics in which we would look at the diagrams that came out of the bubble chambers which were early tools used to detect particles.
I liked them because although they look entirely random and chaotic, they are in fact predictable and with a little background knowledge easy to read. The causing factor for these patterns is magnetic fields, so I have started developing algorithms which mimic the effects a magnetic field would have on a particle however I taken out the decay effect on particles in order to develop more fluid patterns, with the aim to use these patterns in order to develop a piece of furniture.
Initially I was interested in designing a large scale piece such as a pavilion, as a following on from the collaborative project I was involved with at the end of my second year, however I was advised that I might be able to produce a better outcome with through prototyping and testing, and although I might be able to do scaled down tests, ultimately the first full scale test would also be the final piece I produced. I think this is good advice and although in the future I would like to work on this scale I have decided to adjust and design a piece of furniture. I am also researching different manufacturing methods. I am interested in the idea of producing a piece out of fibre glass using robotic milling in order to create the shape out of polystyrene and then lay the fibreglass over the top. I am split on this technique as it as the digital manufacturing side which links itself well to my practice, however ultimately it has to be finished by hand. I am not necessarily adverse to this combination however I think the outcome needs to justify the means so to speak. An alternative method I have been looking at is Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) this is a very new and experimental technique and as such would fit well with my practice. The technique uses a robotic arm and an advance MIG welder in order to 3D print metal, it can easily produce large objects and is a relatively cheap technique when compared to other metal 3D printing techniques, however as it is so new and experimental there are very few places offering it as a service, the main being MX3D who are based in Amsterdam which would cause its own difficulties in terms of shipping and working with the company in order to make sure the design was produced in the way I envisaged it.
I think that I need to look into more manufacturing techniques as my design work develops however as I said before I try to uses these two aspects to inform each other and as such I feel it would be hard to decide on a manufacturing technique so early in the design process. Parts of my feedback were also linked to the manufacturing processes I was looking at. I was advised to consider what effect I was trying to get out of the processes I was looking at and consider the limitations of these in terms of longevity of the design and productive. For example I was made aware of the fact that fibreglass designs rely on an incredibly high quality of surface, and even slight damage to this surface can easily ruin the design. I think this longevity aspect of a processes is something that I don’t consider enough, and is something that I really need to pay attention to more in the future as I think a lack of this consideration would lead me to design objects which wouldn’t last and would become more throw away, and I am aware that I’m not design for a cheap market so this wouldn’t be acceptable
Through this project I hope to develop my computational design skills well as my knowledge of manufacturing techniques as they are going to be integral to me achieving both my long term and short term goals within my practice. As an ultimate goal within my practice I want to set up my own studio which is focused on developing new techniques of design and manufacturing much like The verymany or Joris Laarman Studio. This includes possible developing design software’s, I like the idea of developing designs from the bottom up and as such developing programs would become an essential tool. However I think there are many obstacles standing in my way of achieving this goal, firstly I lack the knowledge required to run my own business. My internship over the summer did allow me some insight into the complexities of running your own business as I was involve not only in design and research but also I looked at methods of making the manufacturing sides of the business more efficient however this was only a glimpse into what it you need to do to run a business. I think that before I start my own practice I would like to become a researcher within a university or design group, I am particularly interested in the type of research coming out of Harvard GSD’s Robotic design Group, or the University of Stutgart’s Institute of computational design. However these jobs tend to require that you are able to teach within the university which would require me to have a Masters degree. In the short term I aim to go on to do a masters focusing on computational design and the inclusion of technology within manufacturing and design. I have found masters around the world including at Harvard GSD, IAAC, The architectural association and Carnegie Mellon, which I am in the processes of applying to. These are incredibly competitive courses and often ask for more professional experience than I have at the moment as a result I am also preparing for the idea of working for another year or two and applying again for these masters. I have been offered a research and development role within the company which I did my internship at and would be more than happy to go back as I feel the skills I bring are useful and the research I would be conducting is really interesting. At the moment however my short term future seems to depend heavily on whether or not I get into a masters this year.