New Making Work in Progress

New Making Post #3

After toying with the idea of cutting or lazercutting a form from a sheet of neoprene I decided that leather would be a much nicer material to create in (if not to work with). Leather is unique in that it can look simplistic and expensive when new and also ages wonderfully well, telling the stories of its increasing sentimental values embodied by it’s creases, folds and discolouration.

Can I replicate the attachment I feel to old leather boots in my intervention?

When using leather there are always ethical questions that crop up, moral qualms that some consumers will have over whether your product or service will be categorised as ethical design. Re-using old leather, though, pays no money towards livestock industry.This as well as availability to the general public were reasons for my service being built upon recycled belts.




Student Work in April 2017

The Student-run Instagram account for Product Design at ECA is always brimming with student work as-it-happens! Follow along here:

Activities Exhibitions

Further exhibitors at Major Externality Crisis

Our PD3 End-Of-Year show will exhibit work designed to address current social narratives, as well as examples of designs for those with disabilities. We invite you to come to our opening night drinks reception on Monday 24th April at 5pm in the Edinburgh College of Art Sculpture Court.


Activities Exhibitions

Upcoming exhibitors at Major Externality Crisis

A preview of some of the work being presented at our upcoming exhibition in the Sculpture court at ECA 24th-28th April. From slime mould computers to harvesting energy from waste, this is the beginning of things to come…


New Making

Ornament, Crime, and The Monobloc Chair

The Villa Müller is formed of perpendicular planes and forms; each floor suspended misaligned with another, each room not opened onto by doors and windows but instead existing as open cavities.
Constructed in 1930 to the owners of a building company in Prague, it reflects in stark white and marble veneer the principles of its architect and modernist writer of design theory, Adolf Loos.

He posits that the removal of ornamental features within design is to be the natural progression of taste; in that whilst previous practitioners would hone craft and demonstrate value through the addition of superfluous detailing to their work, the advancement of automated manufacturing removed the necessity in “adding style” – saying that it would be a waste of a craftsman’s time, as with progression, everything would eventually become unfashionable.

The central living space of the Villa Müller has walls paneled with grey marble, a brass-trimmed ash table, and silk-inlay wallpaper. Loos had made a decision to refine the experience of a physical space to it’s texturality and materiality, rather than it’s physical dimensionality. Each material’s connotations can author the same message, but without wasted labour of styling and sculpting.

Could we consider too our imminent revolution in New Making a vehicle by which to remove ornament and further optimise the lasting power of our aesthetic choices? Or, could we utilise New Making as a method by which to explore spaces in materiality and texturality without the time and waste required for superfluous stylisation of a practised craft?


Cuban designer Ernesto Oroza speaks of the Monobloc chair as if it holds sentience, existing much like an animal in the natural environment; such as that “they ramble around the neighbourhood until they get tangentially trapped inside a human activity”.

The Monobloc chair is a lightweight stackable polypropylene chair – and for the past seventeen years, Oroza has sought to document their proliferation and abuse within Cuban maker culture, most often in the form of his self-titled “Objects Of Necessity”, so named as objects willed into existence through rough prototyping as a way to solve temporary problems.

Though not everybody can agree on the exact origin for the Monobloc chair, its cultural permanence is undeniable,  arguably billions being produced and hundreds of millions in circulation, sociologist Ethan Zuckerman describes the chair as an object without context – “Seeing a white plastic chair in a photograph offers you no clues about where or when you are.”

Many design variants of the basic idea exist – and that is exactly what creates of the Monobloc such a compelling object. Each iteration costs approximately $3 to produce, affordable across the world.

Atleast within Cuba, such Objects of Necessity are exactly that – neccesary, due to decades of trading blocades with the western hemisphere, as well as lasting sentiment toward self-sufficience and anti-globalism. When Oroza talks of “Technological Disobedience”, he speaks of the Cuban culture of re-design and re-making as a political act as opposed to an artistic one – a defiance against the manufacturer’s intended use of objects and a method by which to seize the tools of production to consolidate their own political beliefs within the act of making and repairing.

It is interesting, therefore, that such “design work” is so popular outside of Cuban culture, a fetishisation of poverty’s struggle with material culture – the designs of Marcantonio Malerba, an Italian designer,  selling the below offences for $1800 on home-wares store Anthropologie.

5.5 Design Studio in France has had a wonderfully inventive portfolio history with “Objects Of Necessity”, undertaking similar design exploration in merging rudimentary objects together to form new meaning and function in a playful manner.

There is this poetic dichotomy between unintentional, necessary object design, and the purposeful, ordinary object design – and to read it is to start to grasp how complexly intertwined practical design, and social anthropology truly are.

So if, perhaps – we could reverse the thread that pulls necessary objects into being, and instead take the items we hold common and contribute universal appendages so that their usages are multiplied and renewed afresh, could we find ourselves a prototyping technique that is quick, transparent, fluid and allows us to explore objects as they would be in the eyes of a non-designer – free of CAD, Sketching, or technical drawings.

Just as much as 5.5 Design Studio’s design of a monobloc chair consists of taping two curtain rails to a found-object chair, I can use the same methods to prototype around a theme.  Could I craft a quick solution to my problem from found objects to solve my design friction, and could it then spiral me into something more prototyped, more industrial, more official? This, I believe, is the immediate appeal of New Making.


New Making Post #2


I tested what I perceived as every manner in which a bottle could be strapped to me. As well as listing all of the ways I could attach things to myself, this showed me what type of attachment was comfortable as well as the sections of the body that caused the bottle to shift more when I moved.

I used duct tape to build four separate methods of water storage, quickly testing my three main ideas for the progression of the project and selecting one to continue with. After this test it became obvious to create a pocket for a bottle to sit in.

Social Narratives

Ectogenesis, and the future of reproduction

With a large number of topics under the umbrella of genetic advancement in modern medicine coming into the public forum, questions of morality and ethicality come with them. One of these issues is ectogenesis, or the possibility thereof, and how it’s perceived. Media and pop culture have made it easier for people to imagine these technologies impacting us in fantastic ways. The concept of an artificial womb, though not possible with today’s technology, seems more like science-fiction than it should, perhaps.

Ectogenesis, a term coined by J.B.S. Haldane in his seminal work Daedalus; or, Science & the Future, refers to the gestation of a human embryo in an artificial womb. He predicted that by 2074 only 30% of births would be human births. The process involves IVF, with the fertilized embryo being implanted into the artificial womb instead of back into the mother’s uterus. Many people see it as playing god. Many more would benefit from one, were it to exist.

As Jessica H. Schulz states in her paper in the Chicago-Kent Law Review, “Ectogenesis could help those who cannot carry a pregnancy have genetic children without a surrogate and could also save the lives of premature babies.” Surely the gay community, those suffering from infertility, and mothers unable to give birth would be interested in the notion of an artificial womb. The issue is very complex in it’s social, economic, and political implications. What’s more, the importance of a physical bond between child and mother can’t be forgotten, as well as the what this would mean politically, with current views around the world on abortion and religion. 

Were you to google the topic, many of the top results question, or at least mention that others are questioning, the ethics of ectogenesis. It’s the same story with most new genetic advances in medicine. During the gestation of the first IVF baby in 1978, Louise Brown’s mother received hate mail and death threats from around the world regarding her decision to use IVF. When Louise was born, healthy and normal, it showed the world that things weren’t so black and white. 

Ectogenesis exists at a complex, highly contreversial intersection of medecine, bioethics, and reproductive politics. The advent of the artificial womb would change these arenas of medicine and debate forever, as well as the people given the opportunity to use one. In professional climates, too, where women feel social pressure to hide their pregnancies, ectogenesis would allow women to have babies on their own timetable, away from the prying eyes of supervisors and co-workers. As new data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shows, pregnancy discrimination continues to affect women in all professional fields. If artificial wombs became an affordable option for working women, pregnancy discrimination could be avoided altogether by rendering gestation and childbirth completely invisible to employers and prospective employers alike. This seems perverse, but can’t be ignored as an implication of the artificial womb.

We are currently unable to fully and successfully gestate a child outside it’s mother’s womb, and there are major advances that need to be made before we can. Much current research is aimed at saving premature babies, lengthening the time embryos can survive outside the womb, which counts as indirect research into artificial wombs. Dr. Teruo Fujii’s “womb-on-a-chip” experiments are an example of that indirect research. In July 2007, Dr. Fujii and other researchers at the University of Tokyo reported that they had designed a “womb-on-a-chip,” lined with endometrial cells, which could hold fertilized eggs until they are ready for implantation. Studies with mice suggest that the womb chip could increase IVF success rates compared to the current system (embryos held in microdroplets). Dr. Fujii next plans to test the device with human embryos.

At least 12 countries, including the United Kingdom, bar scientists from working with embryos older than 14 days. The US government drew up guidelines suggesting the limit in 1979, on the basis that 14 days marks the beginning of gastrulation in humans. It is also around the latest point at which an embryo can split into identical twins. After this time, the logic goes, a unique individual comes into being. It’s easy to imagine the floodgates opening and public perception changing once the first child is born fully independent of it’s mother’s womb.

Regardless, we are living in a time when the mystery shrouding reproduction has lifted and the fetus is no longer inaccessible.

Nature has set a precedent for incubation; birds and reptiles and their eggs. Penguins, such as the rockhopper, are hatched and then protected/ kept warm by their parents while they incubate. This connection, regardless of the egg being outside the mother’s body, is seen as vital and natural nonetheless. Snakes lay multiple fertilized eggs at a time, and stay with them until they hatch.

Though there are examples of out-of-body- incubation in nature, they are all natural processes. The idea of an artificial human womb is strange, as it’s a departure from our normal birthing process, but research brings us closer every day. Were humans to incubate their children in a similar way, would it be all that strange? If it were at first, would it eventually be normalized, as IVF was? Imagine a future where the concept of an artificial womb was not only normal, with some percentage of the population opting to use one as opposed to a surrogate mother or adoption, and the concept of your child gestating in a machine not seeming as strange as it does now. My design is a critical look at this future, in which I’ll try to depict and humanize the alien concept of an artificial womb, and how future couples could/ would interact with one. 

The artefact is meant to stir debate, through an intentionally alien look, and commercial, sterile depiction of the child-rearing process. The negative and positives of it are for the viewer to decide upon, but the artificial womb of my design is undeniably fascinating concept, and something that we may be more comfortable with as time passes and medical technology and science-fiction begin to merge into one.