*ding*. Model’s done.

I’ve been working furiously for the past couple of days finishing up a 3d model for the project in Miami. It’s a basic model, looking to define space and function and making sure all programmatic needs are met. There’s a couple of small changes that I still need to make (discovered after the fact, of course) but they are minor, and I should be able to get them done tonight with little problem.

One would think it gets easier from here, but actually it only gets harder. The next thing I’m going to do is make a small PowerPoint presentation to go over all of those programmatic needs and where they’ve been met by design, and how the design concept fits into all of them. Actually, that part is also easy (just takes a little time.) Where it gets harder is once that’s done- which is making the project fit the budget. THAT’s hard. This part is easy.

But now that I’m done with the furious Miami model making at the moment (DGD is brought to you by the letter M today, apparently), I realize my house is a mess (well, I knew that the last time I tripped over something.), I need to do some work on budgetary planning for a project in Los Angeles (don’t get excited, LA people- I’m not coming out there.), do some knitting, do some software tutorials for some of the various programs I’m working on, and work on my submissions for the DesignBoom Swarovski Crystal contest.

Speaking of contests, the Designer of the Future 2008 awards were announced yesterday at Dezeen.

Though I didn’t win, I’d like to thank everyone who nominated me- that was very kind of you.

The comments over there (and there aren’t many) would indicate that most people aren’t thrilled with the results. It’s all so subjective, I can’t even begin to get myself involved in that. However, with no offense intended *in any way* towards Max Lamb(whom I don’t know, so this isn’t about him personally- Max, if you’re reading this, congratulations on your win), I have problems with that bronze chair in terms of the method of its creation (again, this isn’t an issue of aesthetics. ) I can absolutely guarantee that I have (significantly) more bronze casting experience than either the designer or the judges here (really, unless someone else has worked for a foundry for several years, they can just take a step back now.) I don’t care what it looks like- I care that the process used to make it was absolutely toxic(more so than regular casting), and there are ways to get that same effect that would have been less so.

(for the link phobic- this is the chair in question)

Bronze Poly chair, by Max Lamb

At a time when the industry is working so hard on issues of environmental concern and sustainability, it bothers me that this particular example is being shown as something that is given awards.

And now, I’m off with my camera. The Bus Stop Magnolia is blooming.

Permission to sit.

So I’ve been working on this idea for some furniture lately. I know a lot of people get their ideas through sketching. Sometimes I do that, but a lot of the time I do it with photography, because I am more comfortable with my abilities with a camera than with a pen most of the time.

Last week I went to Harlem to shoot a series of photos of a friend of mine in order to get some ideas together for this project. I had seen an image of a chaise a few weeks ago that had me thinking about the positions people sit/lie down in, and how those could be abstracted in order to make furniture out of them.


We got to talking about how we’re gotten to a point where people almost fee like they need to give themselves permission to sit in a comfortable position, since we spend so much time sitting in ways that have been designated as “appropriate”. I’ve been thinking about that and wondering if it’s true. How many people are comfortable sitting the way you’re “supposed” to on seating furniture? Does the furniture influence how you sit, or do you sit that way while fighting your furniture?

I don’t know which it is. Maybe it’s both. I know that if I continue to abstract some of the positions, I get interesting furniture. So far, I have a loveseat, a corner piece, a chaise and a chair.

I think that’s a nice little collection. It may or may not go anywhere. I have a lot of things I’m working on right now, so I don’t feel a lot of pressure on this. But the exploration is important, and I feel good enough about the results to go on to the next step and start abstracting forms out of this by sketching over the images to get generalized shapes and concepts.

So the process moves along. Some ideas you keep, some you chuck. I’m going to keep with this one for now. But before I go back to it, I have some sketches for the Miami house to do, and to make a foam core model of the chair I’m planning to prototype. And there’s always more knitting to do.

So much for a narrow focus.

(Y’see this is why it’s a problem.)

Because this post is all over the place.

I entered the DesignBoom/Swarovski Crystal product design competition yesterday. Sadly, that’s pretty much all I’m allowed to say about it in public because of the rules of the contest.  Stay tuned, sports fans.  Oh and please, don’t talk about the contest with me here (beyond the usual generic comments.)  You can always contact me via other means if you need to know something.

I also registered to attend this year’s ICFF here in NYC.  This would be my first time going.  In previous years there was always something that screwed with the scheduling and I couldn’t make it.   Hopefully the registration goes through smoothly(nope. I have five days to fax them a crapload of stuff. Damn it.)  and I’ll be able to give everyone a full report of all the interesting and inspiring things I find. I assume they will let me in with Ye Nikon o Wonderment, but  I suppose I’ll find out (and not the hard way, cause I am *not* traipsing all the way down there for them to fight with me at the gate over my damned camera.)  I also want to scope it out because I am strongly considering exhibiting there next year with one of my own furniture pieces.
Which I guess means that now is as good a time as any to talk about that.  I really like designing furniture.  I tell people all the time, and this is the absolute truth, that I design furniture because I hate shopping.  I would rather design it myself than have to shop. I also find that a custom solution is very often the best one, but mostly I just hate shopping *that much*.  (Yes, I know I’m anti-social. I’ve been told.)

I admit, when I went into design school I had no idea that I’d wind up being the kind of designer I am when I came out the other side.  I do think I was more prepared than most of the people that were there with me, since I’d been working in the industry (just not as a designer) for so long before I decided to just go under the rock to get my most recent degrees.   And I’m grateful that my department chairman was (and I have no doubt still is), a sadistic, brutal, workhorse of a person (whom frankly, I adore to bits- you either love him or you hate him, and I think he walks on water.)  because I do believe honestly that he made me a better designer (even if I did tell him to go fuck himself on a regular basis for years.  He got used to it.  Yes, I know I’m anti-social. I’ve been told.)

Anyway, back to furniture. See, one of the problems with being as introverted (not shy, just introverted) as I am is that you often have an exposure problem. Unfortunately, the meatspace world still overwhelmingly works in favor of extroverted people, and I promise I’m never going to be one of them. So you may do a lot of really good work, but no one ever sees it because you have to deal with all those people, and you’d rather eat ground glass than have to do that on any given day.  It takes you a little while to find a series of coping mechanisms so you can interact on that level.

I have finally worked it all out to a point where I feel comfortable looking into getting at least one of my furniture pieces prototyped.  There’s a steep learning curve involved, but fortunately I know smart people who are able to assist.  I’m going to try to get the simplest one done first, since simple means less likely to have some kind of serious problem.  So, fewest materials, easiest construction.  Fortunately, it is the kind of piece that would fit in quite nicely at any ICFF event, so I am going to try to work it out somehow.

The first thing I looked into was getting a patent on the design. It may be that I wind up sending the design out overseas to be prototyped, and I really, *really* would like not to run into 40zillion of my chairs on sale on Canal Street before I ever get the original prototypes back.

Fortunately,  I know a smart person at the patent office, who kindly looked into it for me,  and told me that the expense wasn’t worth it- that the only way it’s honestly worth it is if you have the money to actually sue if the patent is violated, and patent suits are super expensive.

Well, poop.

My personal familiarity is with copyrights, not patents (I used to be a musician- I was smart enough at the time to take a course in copyright law.) So, my understanding now is that though the images of my chair are protected under copyright(and they are.), the actual physical product wouldn’t be. The expense of all of this now clears up a lot in my head about the proliferation of knockoff designer furniture out there. Now it all makes sense.

So I suppose the first steps are to find out what materials are most appropriate for the finished product (who knew there were so many kinds of rubber?) , and to work out making what I suppose could be called a pre-prototype out of “some other material that I can put together in my house”) in order to work out the engineering- how many pieces the chair will need, how it should be put together, etc.
Maybe I should do it in miniature first. That sounds less daunting. I see injection molded plastic and tool dip in my future.  Also, gathering a bunch of stuff to prove my credentials to the ICFF.  Bleah.

Come on. Really?

Every so often I get shown something in the world of design that confirms that P.T. Barnum was right. There really is a sucker born every minute.

In this case, the sucker would be whomever decides to fork out a whopping $6,592 (no, seriously.) for this:

are you kidding me?

From  the retromodern site:

This fabulous stainless steel chair allows you – the user – to ultimately determine the resulting aesthetic by literally banging and hitting the form into the shape you desire. #50 in the edition is currently in stock for immediate delivery.”

Oh I’m sure it is available for immediate delivery.  Because first of all, you can buy a steel cube and a 20lb sledgehammer for a hell of a lot less than 6500 bucks.  And second of all, if “the user” ultimately decides on the resulting aesthetic, shouldn’t the manufacturer be paying them? That means *they’re* designing the chair, not the person who laughed their ass off after they came up with the notion “I wonder if we could actually sucker people into this one….”

And not for nothing, but I can design a more interesting chair from parts I buy at the Container Store.  Just sayin.

I also notice this design came out in 2000 and they still have some of the “limited edition” pieces remaining.

Somehow, I am not surprised.