My project has come a long way from my brainstorming and loose materials into the upcycling design it is now. Below I explain my process and my goals and desires for this project and how I felt I reached my goals or not.
Reality vs. Imagined
My actual process was very different than how I imagined the process to be and also differed from the design process we created in class. I started out how I would normally begin my design process with my other design projects. I began brainstorming multiple ideas of what inspired me and how many creative designs I could make limited by the use of recycled material, but grasping for a solid idea when proposed with the notion that I could create anything I desired. Many people assume that design would be great if we had no constraints and could design whatever and however we want. After going through some design studios in college I have realized that good design generally is just the opposite. Having too much freedom makes something difficult to design, causing the final product to generally be chaotic and not read as a cohesive whole.
My project only became grounded when I established my concept and went from there. I knew along the way I wanted to design a light fixture of some sort, being inspired by photographs online and enchanted by the beauty different lights can make. I am disappointed that there can be so many lights that both perform their function as a light, but create an aesthetic experience as well. I wrote down many ideas of what I thought a light should be. I developed that a light’s function is to bring light to darkness, but the artistic flair was up to me. I have always been drawn toward the idea of not fully disclosing light, but letting it pierce through the darkness. I believe is a romantic idea coming from metaphors and stories. Some of the concepts that I nailed down through my brainstorming were nest, organic, but ordered beauty, and the juxtaposition of light and dark or shadow. I made small sketches as well to visually put down my ideas. From a vague idea of my final design I went to Resource and wandered through the aisles looking for anything that caught my eye or I thought would be an asset to my project. I returned home with a hanging garden planter and some twine. I ran into a problem trying to figure out what light to use. I found a circular LED light at McGuckin’s that I believed would work perfectly due to the reach of the light and the circular formation it was in. I knew I would need a bright light to pierce through the material I was going to cover it with and make an effect. The building part of the process was the easiest. I attached the light with the twine, knowing the twine was so small the light would appear to be attached in the planter in a nonobvious way. I collected sticks outside my house and in the surrounding neighborhoods, deciding to go with the literal interpretation of nest and considering more precedents online. My design grew as my concept developed further and became more defined by the materials I had. I have discovered through my design process in the past that the material really does limit or expand what you are able to do with the design. That was certainly true with this project. The rest of the design unfolded as I solved problem after problem of getting the sticks to lay just so and keeping the design balanced out evenly everywhere. I relied on my eye for design for the placement of the sticks. I tested the light in the dark to see the patterns it would create and my project was complete.
From the design process we created in class I varied a bit, mostly around the multiple prototyping area. I only created one design, due to time restraints and limited materials, although looking back I wish I had done more iterations. In a manner of speaking I did start with a problem, but it wasn’t a defined problem, more the problem was I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to design. From there I did begin brainstorming and conducting research. My idea phase of the process was pretty similar to the process we created in class as well as what I imagined it would be. Collecting the materials and working with what I had wasn’t a huge part of our idealized design process, but it was a larger defining role in mine. I didn’t iterate like we did in our design process flow, but went straight for the final product. In my ideal design process this would work, but I have learned from experience that your best idea is not generally the first project you make, but evolved and becomes stronger and better after multiple iterations.
This is a new flow chart of my design process for this project:
I was inspired by different form of lights at first and then the bird’s next aesthetic. These are some of the designs I based my own upcycle project off of.
My vision initially was to have a beautiful light source that displayed light around a room in an interesting pattern. I wanted to achieve an interesting shadow pattern on the walls through concealment of light. My artistic goals were to have a light that appeared the way it is described as “light.” I wanted the form to feel as though it were floating and the light were an ephemeral source that created light through nature. I wanted to create a design that was based off biomimicry and invoked a sense of biophilic design. I wanted to use organic shapes and create a sense of balance, order, and beauty, through nature, mimicking the beauty of a bird’s nest in nature.
Achievement of the Functional and Artistic
I believe that my functional goals were achieved. When the lights are off the light gives off a pleasing glow, illuminating the sticks in the design and creating playful shadows on the wall that couldn’t have been created without the sticks. I did not achieve the artistic goal that was in my mind from the beginning. I envisioned a more finished looking project with a softer, more yellow, glow of light illuminating the sticks. The light is a little harsh for what I was going to, but I was limited by my materials as stated before. I thought the empty frame of the plant hanger would be perfect for placing sticks around and giving off the appearance of floating, but it stood out too much against the sticks. It makes it appear clunky and not as light as I wanted it to appear. The LED light is not as hidden as I would have chosen either, wanting the light to be more hidden, giving off the impression that the light was floating within the nest. The aesthetic didn’t turn out exactly the way I envisioned it in the beginning, but I do believe the balance, and harmony was created through my intricate, planned placement of the sticks. It becomes ordered chaos that I was going for as well as achieving the natural, organic look.
I want to hang the lamp up in my room, allowing the light to shine down across my room at night. It is playful and fits the context of my room as well. I also see this model as a first iteration. If I continued upon my design I believe that I would build upon it and get better and better with each iteration. I want to keep it as a design study to see what could be improved in my similar designs in the future. I see it as a learning project to understand how upcycling can create new and beautiful designs with limited materials.