Friday, November 7, 2014

INDN 342: The HERD stool.

The HERD stool is a playful stool that speaks of interlocking and how a variety of different forms can be achieved with multiples of the same identical design. It encourages fun placement and constant rearrangement through its lightweight aluminium and ash construction.

While the stool works perfectly well on its own as a standalone piece, it really wants to be with the rest of its herd. The CNC routed legs bring out subtle geometries that abstract the organic forms of herd animal hooves and feet, while the CNC bent top resembles an abstracted, quirky animal caricature.

Easily moved around, the stools can take on a variety of useful collective structures, including a coffee table, a variety of bench configurations, as well as continuous angular chain alignments.

Special thanks go to:
Henrietta Hitchings, for being a patient and creative model / actress,
Enjoy Gallery, filming venue,
Tim Miller, for being a very inspiring lecturer.

The HERD stool was awarded the Henry Hughes Prize for Innovation and Excellence in Design.

Stop-motion and traditional video amalgamate to show off the playful qualities of the stools.

The variety of configurations is almost endless.

The bench configuration is particularly effective.

The hexagonal configuration is possibly the most enigmatic and beautiful.

The simple connections allow for simple re-structuring of the stool configuration at any time.

Bold colours, with bold personalities.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

INDN 342: Metal Returned

After many weeks of waiting for my parts to be made, they finally made their way back to me. Fortunately I was one of the first students to get my plans and design into Metco Engineering, so as a result, I got my metal back almost first. However, the delay meant that I had only a week until the final hand-in, meaning that the powder coating had to happen in the next two days so that I could get my photos and video done on the Saturday before the hand-in.

One thing that had to happen very quickly was that I had to give the insides of my metal collars a bit of a clean up in order to allow the wooden legs to fit into them. As long as I made them fit, it was all going to look good from here on out. One of the considerations I had to make was the way in which I was going to connect the legs to the metal. Since the metal was going to be powder coated, I decided to make the legs flow nicely into the metal, as opposed to having some sort of joining system that would impede the look of the stools.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

INDN 342: Manufacturing Begins!

Now I'm in the much more relaxed phase, where I outsource everything and then stress about it not getting done. Oh wait! That's not relaxing. That's me standing in the corner of the room shuddering in fear as I mash the screen of my phone worrying about the fact that I might graduate and have no final projects to show for it. I'm not stressed. I'm mortified.

This is my de-stress and vent zone, so to all of you who actually read my blog about my path through the design-o-sphere as I come ever closer to the point of graduating, I'm sorry about that, but this month is going to be the most stressful of my life. I don't even know what's wrong with me at the moment, it's like the final hurdle I have to cross is the most difficult one. And this last one is causing me to run into so many problems I've managed to circumvent for the better part of the last three years.

Lethargy, laziness, serious procrastination, hair-pulling stress, the works. Somehow I managed to avoid a lot of that in the past three years, but now it's all piling on top of me. But I can do it! I can face the hardest time of my life and come out a stronger, better person and a designer. It's just going to take a considerable effort!

After the reconsideration for aluminium, I went and acquired a 2.5m tube for the collars of my legs. Obviously, 2.5m is way too much for my needs, so I'll have to try and find someone who might buy some off me. The Al is really strong! I was very surprised by how intensely strong it was for the weight that it was.

In terms of timber, I bought a fair bit of American Ash ($120 of it!) for the legs. This timber started out a little bit big, so I planed it down to size. Once I'd done that, I could start laying out the legs in the space of the timber, to prepare the legs for routing.

Once I had the aluminium tubing in the workshop, I cut it into small pieces (81mm long) to make up the collars for my legs. These pieces I then chucked on the lathe and faced them off to clean them up, after which I gave them a clean up on the inside with a burr removal tool, and then a spin around the outside ends to clean them up with a file.

Friday, September 26, 2014

INDN 342: Industrial Refinement

Now that I'm finished with the process part of this big project, I have to look forward and think about how the future of this design is going to play out. I've decided I'm going to make my stools multi-coloured, as well as also rolling with the name "The HERD stool". After talking to my tutor and lecturers about the design of the stools, I decided to ever so slightly scale the top part of the stool up and make it a little more substantial, as well as slightly altering the design of the section that attaches to the other stools.

I've worked hard to get the form of the stool just right, and the redesign of the connecting section took ages to get to the point at which I was happy with it. The design now is a little more fluid and curvaceous, juxtaposing against the relative angularity of the rest of the design. The design for that section now reflects choices to make the form useful in multiple respects.

The animal-like character is starting to come through more and more, and a suggestion from my lecturer to make the connecting slot also have the potential to hold wine glasses was a good one. The slot is representative of a few things now and the curvaceous form is a way of showcasing that.

And the best way for a render to show that off is of course to do a clay render! I really enjoy clay renders. They're heaps of fun and they show off the geometry really well without distorting our perception of the form with "extraneous" textures. I think I've found my new favourite way to render. I'm still nailing down the slight material settings for it in KeyShot, but I'll get it there soon.

Today I went out to Metco Engineering after talking to my tutor. One of the most important readjustments I've done over the past morning is to actually decide to design the stool out of aluminium in stead of steel. This was done for a variety of reasons, but the most prominent was because of the weight of the stools. The steel version of the stool was going to weigh in at a hefty 12kg, while the same stool in aluminium would only weigh a mere 4.5kg. This would significantly reduce it's toddler-crushing potential if it was knocked over, as well as ensure the stools were easy to manipulate and move around.

An area that my tutor and I differed on was about the way in which the stools should be coloured. I was adamant that I thought they should be differently coloured, while he was more of the opinion that they should all be the same. The rationale for either in the context of the "herd" is fairly sound. The first way you can look at it is to say that "each stool is identical, the same colour, hence indistinguishable from the rest of the herd".

The second way of looking at it is to say that "each member of the herd is unique, yet from an outside looking form-only perspective, the stools are identical. They all want to be together and they like being connected to one another."

I also think that colour would give the stools more character, while also livening up the space that the stools sit together in.

Monday, September 15, 2014

INDN 342: Constructional!

One of the things I have to consider in my design is how the whole thing works. Fortunately for me, the way I design things and consider options is always from a rather critical "will this even work" stance, which ensures that the designs I come up with have a tendency to be relatively solid in terms of construction and how they fit together. The bad side of that is of course that sometimes my creativity ends up being a bit stifled because I can shut down ideas before they have a chance to come to fruition.

The construction drawings for this stool were really fun to generate, and I love the way that line drawings like this look. They're almost a kind of ethereal drawing, revealing hidden secrets about the design. In this instance, the area I decided to focus on for the detail was the way that the legs of the stool are connected to the actual seat construct of the seat.

Another consideration I have to make that transcends my ability to imagine how it could quite work is the way that the forces interact on the stool. As such it needs to be broken down into it's constituent parts in order to fully understand how the forces act on each other. A loading force is applied to the stool from above, which then is spread down through the legs via rigid joints where the wooden legs are encased in metal collars. These steel collars will be welded to the stool seat, creating a really strong bond. Ideally however, the collars shouldn't experience too much force laterally in a bending direction because the legs aren't bent outwards too much. As a result, the force on the legs should be primarily in compression, not too much shear or bending.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

INDN 342: A Return To Older Forms

After experimenting with the flowing metal ribbon leg idea, I decided to move away from it back to some of the aspects of one of my original designs. One of the reasons was that the flowing metal leg would have made the stool extremely heavy. I calculated that each stool would have weighed roughly a back-straining 23kg. That's way too heavy for a stool that would only be about 450mm high and 350mm along one of the rhombus' sides.

Another rationale for the form change was in order to give the stools the character that I spoke of previously. Somehow having the flowing metal "leg" meant that the character of the stool was kind of lost. The herding nature of the stools was still kind of inherent, but it definitely didn't feel as obvious. The little slot in the metal actually makes the stools feel more animal-like, especially when we consider the way in which certain herd animals interact with each other.

The way elephants hold each other's tails when they're on the move, and the way in which water buffalo congregate in close groups, both examples of the interaction that I'm trying to capture in this piece of furniture. When the furniture is finished (I want to make 3 stools), each stool will be able to connect to another stool in three different ways. Each stool will be identical in form, yet designed in a way to allow multiple modes of connection with copies of itself.

The uses of the stools are designed to be multi-faceted, both in terms of implied uses through the way the stools are aligned, but also in their inherent form. Their use could easily be as side tables individually, as well as a long bench when placed consecutively, or alternatively they could see use as a collected coffee table that could be split apart to provide multiple seating or small table options. There are many configurations possible.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

INDN 342: Render Development

After playing around with the design in the sketch process, I moved into modelling my design in 3D. The modelling process allows me to explore another dimension in a very quick and aesthetic way. This is really good, especially because I can then very easily iterate on the design further and further.

This is the first iteration of the design post-sketching. Note that the design has the fourth leg coming through the sheet metal. This started out this way in order to improve stability of the overall design, but I realised late that it wasn't very necessary. Another aspect of the design that I ended up considering more and putting some more time into was the legs of the stool.

The legs of the stool are ultimately and actually one of the most important features of the stool design. The legs allow the stools to interlock with each other, and become more than just a stool. The nature of the stools should allow for lots of different configurations, and that's really the interesting aspect about the stools that makes me like them.

One of the ideas about the stools that's come through recently is the way the stools feels very animal-like. One of the concepts for their quirkiness is to make them "Herd animals" and play on that idea a bit to get some more character into the designs. In many respects, the design of the stools reflects the way elephants and water buffalo interact with each other when they congregate or when they are on the move.

The aforementioned animals often hold onto each others tails when they are on the move or when they just want to be close to each other. The concept that I'm really trying to nail with my designs is the potential for a piece of furniture to be something a little bit more living and have a bit of character and a kind of "cuteness" to them. This way the chairs could see multiple iterations and multiple uses, encouraging users to experiment and play with the configurations that the stools can be in.

The full metal legged stools toy with the concept of having a single flowing "ribbon" of metal, as opposed to a potentially top-heavy design that might possibly not make a flowing contiguous connection to the ground it sits on. The design above looked at how an angle could possibly make the flow of the of the stool design a bit different.

This design looked at creating a another section of usable space, enabling the user to really utilise the spaces created in more obvious ways. This one could be a really cool design, however after considering the design a little bit, I realised that the design might allow the metal side to act as a spring, making it flex and bend a little more than it should really be allowed to do.