1) How did working through different materials help you to explore and express potential solutions to a design problem?
Each material could be manipulated in different ways, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. But combined you could see how they could complement each other to achieve a desired solution. This process of material manipulation inspired greater ideas and ultimately informed a stronger solution to the brief.
2) What kinds of information and inspiration did the different materials give you? Did you have a favourite material?
The cardboard had the strength to be able to make a three-dimensional mock-up of the idea but it was too rigid to actually give any real aesthetic design to. The pipe cleaners, however, while not being strong enough to actually make anything that could stand on its own four legs, had the flexibility to explore aesthetic expression. The toothpicks were the most difficult to manipulate, and time got the better of me, but in the end I realised if I had more time they would have been a good material to explore a practical, workable framework for the chair design idea.
I would say the cardboard was probably my favourite material to work with because, in the short amount of time we had, it was the material that best facilitated my ability to actually materialise what was in my mind’s eye.
3) What did you change along the way? What did you learn from your prototypes?
The function of the design changed quite a lot as I explored various three-dimensional working ideas through the manipulation of different materials. This ultimately changed the product proposition from the initial two-dimensional concept drawing.
Making prototypes with three very different materials taught me that design thinking isn’t just about how your concept looks, or what it does, or how it does it… it’s actually a combination all three.
4) How well did you address your user needs in the various design models you created?
Given I was designing a chair for an old man who spent most of his day in it, one of my key design principles was ‘napability’. Initially the concept was a fairly conventional reclining chair, but the process of manipulating the materials to generate this idea enabled me to explore other solutions embodying this principle, which ultimately resulted in a chair that could convert into a full bed.