Experiences/discoveries/learnings @ NYC/SVA/PoD/MFA
Course: Making Studio
Instructor: Becky Stern
Assignment: Design an object that utilizes both an LED or EL element and fabric
The light-up hand warmer for cycling is my first project using EL wires. I took interest in experimenting with how this light technology could be applied to an activity that I do almost every day. I was not at all familiar with EL wires, so I chose a medium — a woven hand warmer — that would allow me to easily and quickly get more comfortable with them.
The construction of the light-up hand warmer is very simple. I purchased an EL wire starter pack from Adafruit. (Adafruit also carries many other colors; I chose red to match my bike and because red is a universal color for warning and stopping). The kit includes an EL inverter with a built-in battery compartment that also conveniently has a plug, so it can directly connect to the EL wire without additional soldering. As a bonus, the inverter has selectable modes of on, off, and fast/slow blink to conserve battery.
In order to concentrate the visible light of the EL wire, I threaded it through the sleeve’s woven fabric and bent it into a spiraling rectangle. The wire’s stiffness pulled a bit against the softness of the sleeve, but in general the wire held its shape relatively well without distorting the hand warmer too much. When the EL wire was completed, I clipped the inverter to my jacket’s sleeve and pulled the hand warmer over my gloved hand.
I was pleasantly surprised when I tested the light-up hand warmer on the road. First, because I had left no open ends of the wire exposed, I was able to avoid any snagging when I put on and took off my backpack. Second, the EL wire was more than sufficiently large and bright (I hope) for drivers to spot it when I extend my hand for an upcoming turn or when I’m gesturing to slow down. The blinking modes came in handy, as it is then less likely to blend into the bright lights of New York City. However, I still identified several key design areas in need of improvement:
Overall, I am happy with the way the hand warmer came out as an exercise in getting familiar with the nuances of working with EL wires. Given more time, I would love to explore:
NY Times article features Englishman Alan Dudley’s unique collection of animal skulls and skeletons. The complexity and beauty found in these skulls are truly humbling and inspiring to me as a designer. My favorite bit from the article:
“Springhares and rabbits have very large auditory bullae: it’s said that the chamber enclosed by the bullae resonates perfectly to the whooshing sound of a downward-swooping owl, alerting the rabbit to dive for its burrow and live to enjoy another day.”
Class: Systems, Scale, and Consequence
Instructor: Richard Tyson
Assignment: Visualize “Divorce” as a system
Background: In the beginning of this course, we students were tasked with identifying “designs of the most consequence”. Once everyone had presented his or her own findings and perspectives, we voted and tabulated a general consensus of the designs we found most interesting, so we could then explore and build an analogous system. My team of four (Clay, Sam, Zena, and myself) chose the wedding ring as an artifact of human creation that we thought had a great potential for further understanding.
The wedding ring is, of course, a symbol of the tradition and institution of marriage. We researched the history, customs, cultural differences, and (primarily American) statistics of marriage. We then identified divorce as an aspect of marriage that is rich with opportunities for systems thinking intervention. In order to identify these points of intervention, however, we must first visualize divorce as a system so we can best pinpoint the areas of significant need and begin to understand the consequences of our interventions. The image above is the culmination of our two-week-long determination of divorce as an internal crisis within society as a dynamic, cell-like system of interconnected influences between individuals and social groups.
Course: Affirming Artifacts
Instructor: Allan Chochinov
Assignment: To seek inspiration from a randomly disposed of item and rapidly prototype a design.
Eers Sound Amplifiers
The Eers Sound Amplifiers were inspired by an item that I have come to take granted in daily life: the bendable straw.
Randomly choose a photo of a classmate’s two-week trash collection, analyze its contents, hypothesize the personality of the owner, and guess his/her identity.
Description (in the form of a haiku)
Diet coke, yogurt
This man has few life’s worries
This person is likely Matthew Barber.