Final Project Documentation Part 1 – Sophie Berry

The only requirement for the project was that it needed to be “a dynamic artifact; i.e. not static. It could be interactive with the environment or with people, but it could also just be changing on its own. It could serve a purpose, or just make an artistic or aesthetic statement.”

I knew that I wanted to make something that expanded my knowledge into an area I had very little previous knowledge of. I spoke to a couple of different people to brainstorm some ideas and get a clearer idea of what would both be feasible to make and what I would like to try and make. Some of the early stage ideas were a Sensor device, Dynamic wooden sculpture, Ornithopter flying machine, or Flying drone that I could model in the shape after a butterfly.

Before diving into the details of the project I explored multiple aesthetics. Some alternative aesthetics I explored were, a whimsical aesthetic where I would round the edges and brighten up the coloring of the design and a steampunk industrial design where I might use gears and cogs and a metallic patina look. 

I mocked out some project ideas to go along with those aesthetics which made the idea more realistic and tangible and gave me a better idea if I would like to pursue it further. One of the ideas was to make some sort of dynamic wall art piece. I had an idea about adding maybe pulleys, weights or gears so the wall art would rotate for longer than an initial action from someone. I thought it might be interesting to hide that behind or in the piece itself so it gave the illusion that it would be very simple then surprise you with the hidden complexity.  

Although I developed those projects and aesthetics I ended up going with an aesthetic that I decided to call the old new aesthetic. I would compare the aesthetic to being like an old well loved book. However, I wasn’t totally sure I would be able to lean fully into the aesthetic because I would like the design to remain more functional than ornamented. 

As for the project itself I chose to make a model rubber band powered ornithopter which is a flapping flying machine. The flapping feature would check the requirement for the project to be dynamic and the form of the ornithopter being that kind of early prototypes of flying machines like the flying machine design by Leonardo da Vinci or the wright brother’s flier would match my aesthetic of modern antiquity.

The research:

I had never attempted a project like this before so I thought it would be a good idea to follow the process of someone that had made a successful ornithopter. During my research I stumbled across an ornithopter enthusiast website which detailed the making, materials and history of  many different ornithopters. I decided to go with a design called Freebird because of its detailed instruction on how to start making an ornithopter ( of which I followed for most the design for.) In the next post I will go into the actual design process.



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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Josh Gregory
    April 28, 2024 8:08 pm

    Hey Sophie,
    This was fun to read! What made you decide to do something that flew/an ornithopter? Was it just something you knew very little about, or was there something more behind that decision? I liked how you got inspiration from da Vinci, he’s one of my personal heroes, so glad that he’s making an appearance in your project 🙂

  • Hi Sophie I really enjoyed your post! I liked reading about the progression you went through to get to your final idea and product and I think the final design is really cool! I am excited to hear more about the design process moving forward.


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