Sunday, March 31, 2013

INDN 252: Advanced Designs

So, after creating the first, preliminary form, I went into Solidworks and starting to abstract the concept of the design. One of the things that kind of stuck with me since the dissection is the fact that the different bones in the knee don't actually interlock at all, unlike mechanical joints. The joint is actually only held together by the tendons that literally strap the joint together.

So, the form that I decided to experiment with is a form that uses an incomplete ball and socket joint, allowing for excellent control, while still maintaining a certain sense of disconnect and the ability to pull the bones apart.

The first form I experimented with is this one, which explores the double orb form that would fit into a double socket joint for joint to work. The reason why it has a double orb form is because the joint needs to not move in more than one axis. This will ensure that it won't wobble in any other way when it's connected.

That form I then refined into this form, which incorporates a sort of "rail" into the base, so that the knee cap can roll around the bone. Another element that I've incorporated is a cylinder that decreases in radius as it goes around the edge. This will mean that as the knee cap rolls around the joint, it will move into the joint a bit, re-creating the similar element of the real knee joint.

This is the bottom half of the joint, which I kept in a similar style to the top half. It provides the cupping action, and will be secured with tendons to the top joint. I wanted to have minimal material here, as it will be the point doing most of the movement. For now I haven't added any points of connection for the knee cap, since this is just a rough model, so I'll just being gluing the tendons to the "bones".

This knee cap is just a small exploration of how the piece could move across the joint. I want the knee cap to be one of the main features of the joint, so making it a bit larger may be important for the final model. It doesn't quite stand out enough for now, but that's what development is for.

To experiment with how assemblies work, I decided to put my piece together and see how it could turn out looking like a whole piece. It definitely still needs a lot of work. I applied different metal materials just so that the different pieces were clear enough to differentiate. The tendons are obviously missing, but I haven't thought of the best way of putting those into my Solidworks models yet.

Onwards and upwards!

Friday, March 29, 2013

INDN 211: Metallic Conditioning

So, it's time to move into the lathe work, as I've been holding off on that for as long ass I can. I know the form that I want to create, and it's finished on Solidworks now.

This was the form that I decided on, back when we had to do sketch models and renders. One of the things I decided on for this form is that it was slightly too fat, and for an elegant corporate gift, it needs to be a bit slimmer and have more of a fluid, natural shape.

Image acquired from:

Since I want to achieve a bright, polished look with my metal, I decided to go with an aluminium bar, similar to the ones seen above. I'm working with a 50 mm bar I got at the Massey University shop (Shamelessly passing myself off as one of their students to access their shop!). The bar was 230mm long, so more than long enough to get my model done on our CNC lathe.

This is look at the technical stuff  on Solidworks. After much worry about tool selection, I managed to produce something that was going to turn out as something. The program we had to work our way through was an absolute nightmare at times, but ultimately I ended up with something that was going to be possible to make.

A little 3-D Print of the shape I'm going to be creating!

I blitzed through it all to be first in line to use the CNC lathe, and thank goodness I did, because that list grew extremely quickly. Once my model came out of the lathe, it looked a lot like a small, thick spear, as I hadn't had it chopped off yet. After deliberating for ages, I jumped on the metal bandsaw and cut the top piece off my model, at a different angle to the one I previously planned, because I decided I wanted more of the overall form visible as a whole.

This is the total shape, with the top sitting in its place, slightly lop-sided, admittedly. Once I bandsawed the tope section off, I filed it down, allowing for the shape that I needed to be made to fit the hole that I drilled and filed.

This shows the shape that I have drilled into the slope of the top, where the top section can then sit. The hole in the top I drilled after the shape was dissected, so as to preserve the top piece. The bottom piece I then also polished, so as to achieve a mirror-finish, something I'm sure I'll revisit  as the project hand-in date draws nearer.

Keep an eye on more to come!

Monday, March 25, 2013

INDN 252: First 3D Printing Experiments

As I'm slowly developing an idea of what I want to do for this project, it's time to start exploring the possibilities of the 3D printers and the program that we use to facilitate their production.

The program that we use for computer-aided design in this sort of field is Solidworks, which is both fantastic and an abomination. I kid. It's actually pretty fantastic. I kind of had an idea in my head of how I could do a basic knee joint, so I started rolling with that. The basic concept of the joint was a simple angle joint, since I didn't want to over-complicate things and jump right into the deep end.

The most important bit of my motion is the knee cap sliding back and forth over the other two bones, so capturing that was very important. For this model I also want to make sure that there is a restraint on the motion of the knee, just as there is in real life. Moving the bottom half of the knee beyond the knee cap is not possible in, so why should it be possible in my model. I decided the easiest way to allow this model to be assembled would be to split it into 4 pieces and then glue it together.

So I went ahead and printed the object, and then stuck it together. The way I had designed it facilitated relatively fluid movement, as well as actually working. The sliding knee cap worked quite well, but I still need to add the rubber bands to simulate the tendons. The tendons will allow the joint to be constrained, as well as making the knee cap slide in the way that it should.

Next, I'll be looking at how I can connect the tendons, as well as looking for a more advanced design.

INDN 211: Thinking Organic

One of the things I need to give some thought is what plant I want to put into my gift. I feel this is a pretty important consideration, as what plant I use will define the contrasts in my gift, as well as define how the gift is taken on board.

If I were, for example, to use a red rose plant, I might be sending the wrong message in my gift. What could be rather interesting would be if the plant were a bit messy and a bit incoherent, while the sculptural form itself takes on the guise of high class.

This juxtaposition could definitely work in my favour, and choosing a cute little plant to intersect with the high class feel of the vase/pot would give that sense of a need to protect the plant. Part of the theme I'm going with for this project is that I want the receiver to think of the gift as the suggestion of a relationship, a relationship-to-be in a way. Therefore the growth of this plant would harmonise with the growth of the corporate relationship.

Another method to decide and define the culture I'm trying to come from is my choice of plant. Since I'm aiming to come from a personal background, my current home being New Zealand and all, it makes sense to choose a plant that can exemplify New Zealand.

Image acquired from:

A logical choice of plant would of course be the fern, since it is used in logos that we slap on almost anything NZ these days. It's been suggested as a sigil for an NZ Republic flag, as well as plastered onto countless sports teams. Sadly, my model won't be big enough for a proper fern, but a small one might work.

Image acquired from:

Sadly the beauties shown above won't fit into my little vase, but what will very much successfully fit is a smaller cousin of theirs. The plant I have in mind will definitely still be an NZ native, so that it remains in keeping with the extra element of the New Zealand culture that I've decided to incorporate. I found just the plant the other day. And it is ridiculously cute.

Image acquired from:

Isn't it adorable? This little baby is what I have in mind for growing out of my little corporate gift. It will juxtapose the harsh, cruel world of the corporate with a small plant. The plant will signify the growing relationship between two corporate giants, in such an innocent, profound way. That is what I'm trying to go for. That is what I'm trying to achieve.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

INDN 252: Further Explorations Of The Knee

So, after deciding to do the knee for this 3D printing focused project, I decided to start some work on abstracting and understanding the concept of the knee further. My first task was not to come up with wild abstractions of the knee, but rather start off with the actual structure of the knee and work forwards into the gaping abyss of abstraction.

As I said, I started off with the actual simplified structure of the knee, and then slowly progressed into something, that while still bearing resemblance to a knee , was definitely NOT a knee any more. One of the architectural precedents I looked at for inspiration on this project was Santiago Calatrava, who designs inspirational pieces of architecture which draw definite parallels to the human body as well as other natural forms. The various buildings often have an extremely futuristic feel, with the large use of white, as well as often pseudo-structural-aesthetic cladding.

Image acquired from

Having realised that I needed to start advancing on my design and creating some physical mock-ups of the joint as well as looking to how I could possibly abstract the joint. After having sketched the joint, I was fairly familiar with it, so I decided to move into plasticine and model the joint in a basic way that worked with my understanding of it.

Having the plasticine models of the bones is really really useful, as it allows me to get a perspective of the scale of the model, as well as to have a 3D view of the bones. 

Next, I'll attempt to do some basic Solidworks designs and get some 3-d printing going.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

INDN 252: Project 2 Explorations

So, now that the second project is well and truly pouncing on us, I decided to grab it by the horns and do some work on getting some idea of how the joint I've chosen works. The joint I've chosen to pursue and understand, ultimately developing a model based on an abstraction of; is the knee.

After doing my dissection on the cow's knee, I am completely fascinated by the structure of the tendons, bones, and ligaments that make up this magnificent joint. Enabling us to walk effectively and efficiently, it is one of several keystones that makes us human. Without it, we would not be walking, or running.

Some of the concepts that I came up with prompted me to have a really good, in-depth look at the bone shapes of the knee, because in this section, I was very much drawing off memory. Which, as we all know, can lead you astray to a degree.

This drawing of the knee is far superior, and shows much more realistic detail for what I need. I drew this using an x-ray and several diagrams as a reference. I tried to dumb down the knee to the much basic elements, and then connected it with the most crucial tendons/ligaments.

Can't wait to develop this further!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CCDN 271: Assignment One: Tools for Investigation – Assessing and Critiquing Sources

Norman, D. A. (2004). Emotional design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. New York, USA: Basic Books.

Starting with a fierce grounding in design psychology, Norman’s book analyses the way we look at the everyday items that surround us. Norman encourages us to think about the attachments we build with our mundane possessions presenting both a stark criticism of poorly designed commonplace objects, as well as a heartfelt call out to everyone that has precious simple possessions.
This source is relevant to the first topic of “the everyday”, as it looks in depth at the emotional connection people establish with the objects, as well as the significance of the effect of the design on that connection. The relevance is also inherent since Norman looks at the defining differences between a possession and an object. Emotional attachment to everyday things is generated through a range of elements, including the design of the object itself, as well as other crucial elements.

Yao, M. Z., Rice, R. E., Wallis, K. (2007). Predicting user concerns about online privacy. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(5), 710-722. doi:10.1002/asi.20530

With the propagation of the internet continuously expanding, the need to study the way people feel about their online privacy grows ever larger. The ASI’s study explores this concern, while also seeking to understand the human need for privacy, as well as investigating the concept of self-efficacy and whether the internet needs to be regulated.
The investigation is extremely relevant for the topic of “Google Warming”, if maybe a little outdated at about 5 years old now. It has a lot to say with regards to not just privacy concerns, but other relevant lead-ins to the topic as well. The exploration into the primal need for privacy is particularly interesting, as it looks at it from an evolutionary perspective, a refreshing perspective to say the least. The text also reaches an extremely appropriate conclusion, that the concern about online privacy is not a unique concept, but rather an old problem that has manifested itself in a new technology.

Walther, B. K., Philipsen, H., Agerbæk, L., Wildermuth, N., Løfgreen, L. B., Grønning, A., . . . Pilegaard, J. (2010). Designing for Critique, Designing for Reflection. In T. B. Jacobsen (Ed.), Designing New Media: Learning, Communication and Innovation (pp. 75-110). Copenhagen, Denmark: Academica.

The chapter in this book deals with the notion of critical design being neither art nor traditional design, but more of a splinter cell of design, seeking to amaze, raise awareness, and provoke people. The ideas presented challenge our idea of what is normal and what is strange. Løfgreen seeks in his chapter of Designing New Media to find a universal definition of critical design, while at the same time creating a deep rift between the understandings of what design is versus what art represents in a societal context.
The relevancy of this source has to be partially unearthed to be properly understood. Looking at critical design via a psychological perspective, it grants insights into the way critical designers think. The concepts often deal with elements of life that we find to be embarrassments, and seek to pose questions like “why do they need to exist?”.

Buechley, L., & Perner-Wilson, H. (2012). Crafting technology: Reimagining the processes materials, and cultures of electronics. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 19(3), Article No 21. doi:10.1145/2362364.2362369

Buechley & Perner-Wilson present us with an extensive background on the development of craft, which is nowadays almost synonymous with DIY. The article discusses the physical and mental experience of designing and creating using the skill set that crafts generate. The article also includes surveys with craftspeople, and also incorporates a look at the psychology behind craft, as well as what it means for society as a whole.
This source discusses the gender stereotyping inherent in the history of DIY/craft, as well as bringing the nature of craft to the page. Craft is an extremely individual, creative industry, fraught with problems of its own, separate from those of high design. The evolution of craft into a “makers” society is very interesting, as it shows a move towards industrialisation, despite the very essence of craft being anti-industrial. The article explores this movement in-depth, drawing intriguing conclusions.

Monday, March 18, 2013

INDN 252: A Dissection

Everyone in my class just recently had the good fortune to be able to do a dissection, an incredibly useful and interesting opportunity. My group got the opportunity to dissect a cow's knee, which was absolutely fascinating. Getting a chance, as a design student to tear apart an animal joint to look at the way it works and use this knowledge for your designs is an opportunity I highly doubt I'll ever get to have again.

Warning, all of these photos following show the cow's knee being dissected. If you are a little squeamish, I recommend skipping on to the next blog post.

The parts that I found the most fascinating were the way the tendons bound the whole knee together, and the way they weren't attach, but were fused to the bone. It's impossible to distinguish the two of them. It's (coming from a design background, so do not take my words as the reality; these are merely my limited understanding) as if there is no boundary between the tendon and the bone. They meld in the way that few things do.

The cow knee was given to us sawn off above and below the knee, and at first it was not immediately clear which side of the joint was the front of the knee. Bending the knee was impossible, so that also didn't give any hints. We had to delve deeper into the structure before any understanding was possible.

Some of the most fascinating stuff was the smoothness of the bone, and the way the two bones fit so perfectly together. The knee cap, seen top right, fits and slides beautifully (yes, beautifully) along the upper knee bone and had extensive tendons and sinews connecting it to the surrounding tissue and the other bones.

Once I had severed some of the constraining tissue, I was able to manipulate the joint as shown above. What we see is the tissue containing the knee cap and fat sliding across the upper knee bone, the femur (assuming the bone is called the same thing for cows). It's not immediately clear what the knee cap is there for, however it looked like it was re-directing some of the force and impact of the weight around the joint, as well as protecting it.

Another excellent example of fantastically different tissue was the cartilage that sits in between the femur and tibia, which formed a disc that essentially provided the lubricant and the shock-absorber for the joint. Another thing we learnt was that the blood diffuses from the surrounding tissue into the cartilage, because the cartilage doesn't have any blood vessels of its own.

So, overall, a very interesting dissection, providing very valuable insights for the second project. Updates on that coming soon!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

INDN 211: Sketch Models / Realising Potential/ Final Form

So, now that I have my form sussed, I can start making iterations of that form and come up with some clever slight variants of the shape. Since I want to keep the see shape consistent across all the forms, I really just want to manipulate the exterior of the shape mildly. 

This first sketch model was to get an idea of scale. It's something that could very comfortably sit in your office on your desk, right next to your other awards, and still look appropriate. That's the look I'm going for. Something that is classy and the right size. Not too big, not too small. It still has a function to fulfil, so I can't neglect that.

These two concepts here are experiments on the idea of making the seed into a sculptural element too. The seed can sit on a table and look pretty, while still being functional. The left form is simple and experiments with a simple idea, where a hole is let into the top of the form, so that the plant can be harboured on the inside. I then expanded on this idea and made the vase into a flower-bloom inspired form, making sculptural "lips" on the form, suggestive of petals.

A third idea that I came up with was the idea of something much more interactive, where the receiver has much more control and input over what happens to her or his plant. The idea that I had (illustrated in the plasticine above) is that the form has the capability of opening  and being closed, thus limiting the amount of light available to the plant and therefore it's growth.

This concept has a huge element of interactivity, which I believe will make or break this project for me. Giving the user a sense of control plays to the idea that the user is God for this plant, and has the power to create and destroy, which is synonymous with the concept of the relationship put forward to the receiver. The receiver has the opportunity to either nurture or destroy the relationship and the plant.

Moving into Solidworks, I started working on perfecting my form. One of the elements that I have to make sure stands out is the form flowing into the more obviously machined part of the vase. The natural curves need to harmonise with the harsh edges, making them make sense.

The first version of the form that I experimented with was the baseline seed shape, chopped off at the top to permit the drilling of the hole, while also allowing the plant to have a spot. The form has a vase-like form, while still maintaining a definite link to the natural. One of the edges at the bottom has a sharper corner, but I actually quite like that, as it gives the form a bit of a logical connection to the machine it was created by.

I tried to simplify the lips/petals of this form to make something a little more elegant. The form remains the same, the silhouette remains the same, however, the form has a much more definite link to a flower bud in this form. The form would almost have a much more suggestive form with regards to the sprouting plant. The plant growing out of the top is a much more logical extension of the form than in the previous form.

The top section of this model would be fully detachable and allow for complete removal, but could also be slotted into a small hole left on the main segment, so as to allow for the top piece to be attached at an angle. This interactivity would make the object much more personal and precious, as it adds an element of selective nurturing to the whole gift.

I find myself drawn to the last of the 3 designs, purely since it is much more interesting, and could incorporate a very interesting element of materiality to the project. If I used two different materials for the project, or even just treated one material in two different ways for the different sections, it would add a very interesting juxtaposition into the mix.

Friday, March 15, 2013

INDN 211: The Continuing Curve

One of the things that I think will decide the success of my project as a gift will be the actual silhouette/form/curve, as this will define how the user/receiver perceives the item. If the gift is given the wrong form, the perception of the object could possibly gravitate away from what I want it to be.

Image acquired from:

One of the things we need to realise is that seeds actually have a very irregular shape, even within species. The inherent natural randomness is part of what defines the genetics of the seed, and as a result, the plant that grows from it as well.

So, I wanted to look for inspiration on my seed-form. Some of the seeds I looked at (pictured above) inspired the various forms below. One of the critical elements I had to remember with these forms is that they would all be rotated around the central axis, so I couldn't do anything irregular per se. I focused on a relatively mathematical approach to the curves I could use, as when you pare it all back, everything is ultimately just mathematics. Even natural forms can be reduced to mathematical formulae if you go far enough. So most of the forms here are easy to complete using bezier curves.

I looked at various gourd shapes for inspiration, but decided that most of these weren't very elegant, and the form that I want to end up using has to be the very pinnacle of elegance and sophistication. It's going to essentially be a flower pot, so I need to make sure it's something special.

An idea that I stumbled on that I ended up really liking was combining the elements of a machined aesthetic with a natural form. The seed form that ended up liking the most is the shape 4th down, and then I combined it with hard, harsh edges to make the last path. The form is a very obvious seed form, and extremely natural.

Now, to start making some sketch models!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

INDN 252: Final Biomechanics

For this section, I adopted a unique aesthetic, and went for a very interesting split of the images. I sought to make sure that the areas of interest on the skin were highlighted, while still allowing the viewer to maintain an overview and understand what was going on.

I also wanted to maintain a position that was very much about observing the body and the movements it makes, so I wanted to make the graphics very exploratory. The white points denote the location of specific scientific points on and around the lips, including muscles, skin points and oddities. I also used those points to show points of interest during the motion.

I used extremely subtle writing on the left side of each image to look at the muscles and points on the face that had elements of control on the expressions.


Aggressive. Challenging. Primal.

Creative. Sonorous. Cheerful.

Strange. Funny. Silly.

Calm. Inviting. Friendly.

INDN 252: Final Anomalies

Done! With the first section. I've created a sequence of images, which with a little help from some subtle graphics achieve the feel of an alien landscape.

I tried to focus on different elements in photos, taking two photos of odd forms, as well as odd things that were more aesthetic and two-dimensional. Overall this forms a coherent series that I feel very much encapsulates the ideal of the alien landscape.

I went with a very subtle aesthetic for the graphics, making sure to let the photos shine through as the primary focus. And with that introduction, I give you, my weird and wonderful body!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

INDN 252: Revamped and Refocussed

So, after my reshoot, I did some work on the photos. Some of them were simply infinitely superior to the previous ones, due to my knowing exactly what I wanted to achieve, and my partner Chris being very skilled in achieving that.

I took my tutors comments into account, and adapted my photos slightly to achieve a better result. One of the aspects I focussed on heavily was the amount of negative space I wanted to work with. The main reason for this is that I really want to enhance the alien landscape imagery, and working with the negative space allows the image to convey a sense of space and sky.

Image of Gale Crater by Curiosity, Image acquired from:

I drew a lot of inspiration from the images of Mars taken by the various rovers. The landscape feels so alien and yet so close to us at the same time. I tried to replicate the feel of the strangeness of the Martian landscape through a combination of strange, closeup, unrecognisable but strangely familiar forms.

For this image, I wanted to reverse the shadows I had previously, so as to give the form a more believable grounding in a natural geographical form. The shadow creates more depth in the image, allowing us to see into the form, making us form a 3-D scape in our minds that shouldn't work.

The darkness of the skin in my pigeon chest allows for some great shots, especially when used in strong combination with the negative space. The dark centre draws the eye, while the even darker nipple provides a point of reference for the viewer.

I still can't quite get over how weird this skin looks. So mottled and transparent, letting all the veins show straight through the skin.

INDN 211: Looking At Form

After analysing the corporate culture I want to aim my gift at, I've decided that I need to look at what my object should be inspired by, more than other things.

Since I'm trying to go for something that encourages growth and the evolution of a relationship, looking at the organic seems a logical conclusion. When we think of growth, a plant seed is almost the quintessential concept of that ideal. Nothing really grows in quite the natural way that a see does. So using a seed as a precedent for my design seems exceedingly logical.

My next step was to look at what the design would actually be. Since it would have to be functional to at least a small degree, I felt that it could be something that isn't completely a functioning device or gift, but rather something that both represents and harbours the idea of growth.

What if my sculptural item both was and harboured/protected the seed? As in an actual seed. That would put my item in the realm of something useful, namely a plant pot / vase. The plant could grow out of the top of the "seed" and would be completing the growth of the "seed".

Allowing an obviously inanimate object to flourish and "come to life" would be a very abstract way of creating the metaphor of the seed. Next, I'll have to make the item an elegant gift, corresponding with the nature of the corporate culture.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

INDN 252: The Face In Motion

 The second part of our project for Physiology is to study a specific part of the body and the motions it has the ability to carry out. Veering away from the alien landscape concept, I decided to study the movement of the mouth and it's surrounding area.

I decided that the best way to study these motions would be to take 4 sequential photos, so that then I have something to work with that has enough flow. I wanted to capture the expression on the lips in motion, looking at the movement of the skin and the lips, primarily.

The first motion sequence that I decided I would do is a whistling motion, one that looks at the lips curling inwards, pulling the skin around the cheeks quite taught. This makes for a sort of constricted lip band, with interestingly tight skin structure.

This is sort of an under-bite expression, which my sister and I call the "piranha". It involves pulling the bottom lip back, baring the teeth at the bottom of the mouth and making an interesting circular shape at the bottom corners of the mouth.

This one is really simple. Just a simple, basic smile. My smile is a bit strange though in the sense that it is oddly lopsided and asymmetrical, which makes for quite an interesting motion of the skin. The skin forms severe smile lines on one side on my face, while the other side of the face is relatively untouched.

By far the most aggressive of the facial expressions, the baring of the teeth is very extreme in terms of the facial warping it creates. The teeth are fully exposed. The lips pull at the way back, creating intense wrinkling in the cheeks.

Now to come up with some nifty little graphics!