Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Project 2 - Upcycling

E-waste (electronic waste) is a huge and rapidly growing problem in landfill due to the rapid rate at which technology in computers is being superseded, and the old technology simply thrown away. It is estimated that the US produces 50 million tons of e-waste each year, including 30 million computers. One of the issues with e-waste is the amount of heavy metals it pollutes landfill with. In the US 70% of heavy metals in landfill come from e-waste. The Environmental Protection agency estimates that only 15-20% of e-waste is recycled. This is the statistic I set out to change.

When given this brief the problem of e-waste quickly came to mind as an area that could be interesting to look into more. When I actually began to pull apart discarded computers I could not help but notice the interesting colour and patterns on the mother board and circuit boards, I was immediately drawn to their aesthetic appeal. I also thought that it would be quite ironic to make something for a computer out e-waste. And this was where my initial concept was born, to turn mother boards and circuit boards into a geek chic laptop case.

My initial idea was mould the boards into the shape to fit around the laptop, set them in resin and join the two sides with a zip around the middle. This had a few issues. First the issue of resin, it is not only dangerous to use but also harmful to the environment, which defeated the intensions of the brief. The second being that the boards are made out of a number of laminated layers, which really didn’t work in terms of heat moulding, as well as the fact they contain flame retardants.

I changed my concept so that the boards where fastened together with very small rivets. They where coated on the outside with a clear lacquer to protect the user from any heavy metals left, and this inside padded with foam and felt to protect the laptop. The handles are made out of reclaimed seatbelts and the whole thing held together by hand sewing in a zip and heavy duty fabric. The resulting product being a protective laptop case for both the laptop and the environment. This specific prototype designed to fit the 13” MacBook Pro.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Design For Life

"Design For Life" is a reality TV series on the BBC. It is much like Master Chef, but designing instead of cooking. The judge on this series is world-famous designer, Philippe Starck, who brings 12 hopeful British designers to a school of design in Paris. Contestants are voted off by Starck based on their design concepts and progress each episode.

This TV series is very beneficial for an industrial designer to watch for many reasons. The first is that it gives you a first hand view of the design process. You see this whole process for each of the contestants, from being given the brief to the final presentation. This involves seeing how different designers negotiate their way through this process, and the successes and failures of each contestant. As an industrial designer it is obviously important to have a sound understanding of the design process, so much so that it becomes second nature.It is therefore very beneficial to watch other designers and the processes they use to help you work out what works well and how you could use this yourself.

Another reason this TV series is very beneficial for industrial designers, especially student designers, to watch is purely to see Philippe Starck. Being one of the worlds most famous designers it is fairly safe to say that he knows what he is talking about when it comes to design. It is therefore very beneficial to listen as he talks about design, whats good whats bad, what works what doesn't. It is not very often that an industrial design student can watch a design develop from concept to final presentation, with Philippe Starck there to comment and judge throughout the whole process. This is a wonderful insight.

This TV series also gives a bit of an insight into the world of design. The design industry is very different to any other industry people go into. For a design student it can be hard to know what to expect once you leave the sheltered environment of uni and into the real design world. I think that in this sense this TV series can be very beneficial to design students to give them a taste of what to expect once they graduate.

I was particularly challenged when Starck made the point that there are too many products in our world. There are products always being designed that society does not need. Why should we design this products? This really challenged me to not design for the sake of more products, but to design so we have more products that we actually need.