The last time I spoke to you, dear reader, I had been delving deep into the re-concepting of my BBC table design after our reminder that we may have missed the brief and to buck our ideas up. We had worked as teams to start afresh and see what happens. My team came up with a design that was epic. The shame is that the design was by one person only so I couldn’t continue with it. Darn. I did come up with one concept that I liked, which I couldn’t present on the day – modelling issues – but I did manage to speak to Steve Thompson and Richard Morris about it. I spoke previously about this, but for a recap:
Imagine a cube of marshmallow with a belt around the middle. Loosen the belt and mallow sits lower, tighten the belt and it stands tall. A height adjustable table. Boom. Richard liked it, Steve liked it, I liked it. Groovy times. Now to sketch and further develop this.
I worked further on this principle of an object that looks like something unusual but can magically turn into a table of various heights at the push of a button. Like a slap in the face, it hit me. A crumpled piece of paper. What if my table looked like a crumpled piece of paper that had fallen off a script writers desk? What if it looked like an actual page of text or an image from a TV show that had been crumpled up, and the only way to see the full page is to ‘uncrumple’ the page; or, raise the height of the table? Fireworks are now going off in my head. I love this development. Further discussions with lecturers, and more highly positive responses. It needs to look so simple from the outside, hiding any complex mechanism inside. Tricky.
With pen in hand, I sketched my crumpled piece of paper table, onto a piece of paper, on a table. Meta? There genuinely must be something wrong with my brain.
In my research, I came across this beautiful material: Wood Skin, a fabric core wrapped in triangles of wood, allowing it to crumple and flex in all sorts of shapes. This is what I need to use on the outside of my table. It has a hard surface on the outside, which can be made flat at various heights, but will crumple up to a random shape. To the laser cutter!!!
After a long time watching the laser cutter chop out (seemingly) a billion triangles, and possibly shortening my life by a few years from the smell of burning wood, I have my wood, now I need the skin to stick it on. A slip of fabric later and here is my woodskin prototype.
It was okay, but the glue I used wasn’t strong enough nor the gaps between the wood enough to allow it to flex fully. Stage two was a bit more successful:
With the skin pretty much working, it was onto the mechanism inside for the model. Let me tell you folks, this almost drove me insane! I looked at springs, origami, push latches, bicycle pumps, ants-in-a-bag, just to get that crush and un-crush motion for a scale model and boy, was it not a success! One of the most time consuming efforts went on the fire in frustration (true story). So I stepped back; keep it simple. I crushed up some paper, made simple card springs and folded a non moveable origami shape just for demonstration.
Sixty Seconds of Pain
Having spent so much time trying to make a working scale model, I had left myself no time to explore easier options before our presentation with Angela Gidden, the Design Consultant for the BBC. I had to be bold rather than have a working prototype to show Angela; pitch liked I’d never pitched before. I started by saying what I thought the BBC stood for and what they wanted – innovation, something interactive and new, not off-the-shelf – and then said I propose a table that looks like a crumpled piece of paper…and put a crumpled piece of paper in front of her! Seriously, what was I thinking? Angela is an MBE and I have just put down a crumpled piece of paper in front of her as my proposal. I might grab my coat now. Hold up, the paper has not just bounced off my head in response. This may be okay. Angela said that it was a bold design, that she understood the idea and liked it. That is was an art piece, more than a functional item. WHOOP! That is exactly what I was going for! I am a genius, give me the prize now, where’s my champagne….sorry, you have more to say? Oh. “I can imagine several of these around the building, but it would also need a sister piece, smaller in scale, that would work alongside this item; in the same geometric style.” S**t. Angela is more than correct in what she said, but I don’t need more work to do!
Back to the drawing board…again
With Angela’s advice ringing in my ears, and Richard confirming that she did really like my design, and I do need to develop my idea into an additional product, I had to don the headphones and get sketching…again. What is the core shape of my design? What core component can I take forward that relates to my crumpled paper idea and this sister product? Tringles. Although I went triangle blind many weeks ago, I sketched more and then, by some luck or mis-firing synapse, I came up with this:
It folds into any height table, is an artful looking piece and, the lower the table is folded to, the longer the top becomes and the easier it is to pull towards you in lower seating environments. Is this a sister piece or a new idea? It can be made more geometric, so it could be both? Am I full of ideas or can I not come up with one I ever stick to? Am I a commitment-phobe? Is this table design number 4 or simple 3.5? How many question marks are too many? Speaking to Richard, he loves the idea. More development needed….although, can this idea be made even more simple????????????????