New Making

Translating data into light

Solas is a paper lampshade made using recycled flyers from Edinburgh festivals. It portrays personal memorable experiences as abstract shapes and creates data driven light emissions.

Each festival in Edinburgh is very unique in its theme and spirit, however there is one issue that every festival has in common – waste. Fringe festival is constantly growing, attracting more tourists and performers each year, which leads to an increase in demand for one of the most efficient ways to promote shows – flyering. Flyering is creating an enormous amount of street litter and that is why I decided to design a product, which would encourage visitors to collect flyers in order to develop a personalised souvenir.

‘Dear Data’ by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, a collection of data driven postcards, contains series of very inspirational creative shapes and patterns, which represent simple sets of data. The methods of data collection and data processing portrayed in the book sparked the idea – how can I recreate a memory of a particular day with abstract shapes?

The first step would be to capture a variety of personal and public quantitative data. I would then assign the data to a specific abstract shape and use the numerical values to adjust its size and position. After generating multiple sets of shapes representing each day spent at the festival, I would use it as a unique personalised pattern on the souvenir.

Prior to making the data driven shapes I would need to collect personal data. After purchasing the toolkit the customer will be prompted to download a specialised application, which, given the importance of confidentiality when using personal data, will have a clear description of what the data will be used for as well as ask what kind of personal information the user wants to share. In addition, the UI would suggest that the more types of data the user chooses to share, the more detailed and sophisticated the final design would be.

I used Fusion 360 to process quantitative data and used the numerical values to adjust shapes and sizes of data driven patterns. The shapes are arranged in sets and positioned vertically on each side of the lampshade. Each set represents a weekday starting from Monday at the bottom and going up to Sunday at the top. For instance, the moon shape represents the amount of steps the user took each day, while the round shapes represent the amount of shows they have seen. The semi-star shapes represent the ratings. The more semi-stars appear around the show, the more enjoyable it was for the user.

In summary, this project encouraged me to combine handcrafting and digital fabrication as well as plan a complex user journey, involving many data collection and data processing steps. The ultimate goal of this souvenir is not only the aesthetic emission of light, but also the artistic expression of a memorable personal experience. This souvenir design can be compared to a tattoo, the meaning of which is visible only to its owner.

The Solas paper lampshade provides the user with a unique representation of a visual memento describing their journey. It reminds them of their trip to Edinburgh and also gives a pleasant feeling of an important contribution to a greener festival experience.

New Making

Intertwined Threads and Materials

During this course, my work was strongly inspired by weaving patterns and basketry making. By using colour threads and copper wire I was able explore original patterns for unique structures, which I then made using laser cutter, plasma cutter and 3D printer. 

I began my research process by looking at pottery and ceramics. I was fascinated by creative and unique forms that can be created with this craft. 3D ceramics by Oliver van Herpt were quite innovative, because his work is focused on the development of a new technique for 3D printing medium and large-sized ceramics. By changing the settings of the 3D printer, the textures, surfaces, shapes and sizes can be varied. 

I was interested in combining 3D printing and/or laser cutting with a traditional handcraft. This inspired me to create more intriguing shapes for pottery and ceramics. I then chose a form I thought was the most successful and 3D printed it. By using Meshmixer I created a ‘fake glitch’ in order to then sew up the ‘glitched’ part of the model. That first attempt of sewing up a space within the object encouraged me to test weaving on 3D printed pieces.

As I continued my exploration of pottery and ceramics, I realised that processes such as creating molds and slip casting would be very time consuming. Which is why I decided to change my making approach. I looked into weaving and basketry patterns as well as Hybrid Basketry by Amit Zoran in which the designer uses 3D printed structures to explore new ways of advancing this traditional hand craft practice. 

I came up with many ideas and sketches of frames that I would weave around with colour threads and copper wire. I wanted to make my designs practical and also encouraging me to experiment with new ways of weaving a flexible form. For instance, the spiky ends of the frame would be used to hook on the thread, while holes would help with holding the wire in place and preventing it from sliding from side to side.

I chose the forms that I thought would balance freedom of exploration and practicality well and used Fusion 360 to create construction frames for my weaving designs.

My first results of 3D prints weren’t successful, but after adjusting some of the printing properties I manufactured all of my CAD designs in approximately 7 hours. I came to conclusion, that this way of producing parts is too time consuming and decided to try some of the alternative machinery. 

I used laser cutter as well as plasma cutter, both of which worked nicely with my designs. I had to simplify some of the CAD files for the plasma cutter, but in the end I was pleased with the results.

Most of the weaving with copper was done by hand without any pliers, which was challenging. I learned that the hooks do ensure an easier weaving process and leave a lot of room for creative pattern exploration. In comparison to acrylic and 3D printed frames I found it more satisfying to work with plasma cut mild steel ones. The final object ended up having a more pleasing overall feeling in the hand because of the extra weight. It was also very flexible and resilient. On the other hand the acrylic parts were easier to manipulate and bend, while the 3D printed part with the hooks was too fragile to stretch or rotate.

Testing flexibility
Final design