Art School: Semester 5, Week 15 — Design

Design class ended on Tuesday. We hung the show, and I have pictures of everyone’s work. I must apologize, though, because some of the photos are less than stellar. I tried, but apparently I wasn’t paying enough attention to the camera as I was taking them.

Anyway, here are a couple of shots of the exhibit we setup:

Some of you will recognize the hallway where these are as the same place that the lamp show we put up last term was displayed. Good catch, if that is the case. And good memory!

No, we did not name the exhibit, though “Stool Samples” was suggested as a possibility if we’d done so. (Not by me!)

The instructor wanted simple displays — just three or so images of various kinds: sketch, computer generated rendering, and a dimensioned drawing — on the walls along with our names. To that we added the best model we built, and the actual stools we created.

Here are photos of everyone’s displays:

You can see from those the very different approaches we each took on this project. To make that even more obvious, here are close ups of the end products:

This is Johnno’s box/stool/shelf/bench combination. The three parts insert into each other in such a way as to create a box, but they can be setup in various other orientations to create the other functions. The instructor was heart broken about the coloured stripes, though. He wanted plain wood.

That’s mine, about which I have already said plenty in prior posts.

Johnathan’s stool. It’s low and has 14 legs. I think he was second off the CNC machine with cut wood, and he actually got his finished before I did, so I think he was technically the first to finish.

This is Marc’s low bench. There are threaded rods tying it together, and this is one of the designs that really embodies the ideas behind working with a CNC setup to produce repeated forms. It’s quite stable.

Yu Ming’s ceramicly highlighted stool, with 16 (or 32, depending on how you want to count them) legs. He wins the leg count race, and he also gets the award for most difficult different material to include, since the ceramic pieces were hand made after the wood was cut, and clay shrinks in the firing process.

That’s Heather’s work. She also used threaded rods to put it together, but hers is larger than Marc’s, so she could get fewer pieces in the allotted amount of wood. Heather also gets the award for most difficult joinery. Note the puzzle piece shapes you can see in the frontmost piece. They are half the thickness of the plywood, and given that the CNC router wasn’t fully tuned for this project, the amount of hand work needed to clean them up and make them fit was huge.

There’s another photo related to this piece towards the end of this post.

Cory’s stool is tall and makes lovely use of angles and negative space. It looks more precarious than it really is as a result.

And finally, Madeline managed to create both a chair and a footstool with her wood by keeping them tiny. She, herself, is pretty tiny as well, so it makes sense. Hers is assembled with dowel, though, not threaded rod.

The instructor wanted us to sit on our stools to show they could support our weight. That was an interesting thing to watch, as it included things like this:

Heather sitting — carefully !— on her stool for the very first time.

A few of these had no issues with use and/or weight. But others were a bit “entertaining” in that regard. Heather’s was interesting because of the joinery holding the wood pieces together, and she was really cautious about sitting on it the first time. There was a lot of laughter about these tests as we went through the crit.

Honestly, though, everyone did amazingly well with their designs. Clearly they can all be improved upon in various ways, and if we were in industry we’d do another few iterations before settling on a final design. We’d also have a fully tuned up CNC system and access to more wood if needed. But working within the constraints we had, the class produced an interesting range of stools that highlight both the possibilities in even simple furniture design and the huge variance in how different people approach these kinds of problems. We were also the first class to use the CNC, rather than regular shop tools, and that added various wrinkles to the process that had to be worked out.

Unless something odd happens, this will be my last design class at Langara College. I am saddened by that. If I ever have a shop I may see about getting a CNC machine of my own. There is a lot of fun to be had with it, and the ability to produce truly custom and unique furniture for a given spot in a house is an interesting possibility that I might take advantage of.

One last design related note: last week I asked for suggestions for names for the stool and the lamp from last term. A few people made suggestions, and here are the results:

The lamp is named Judy and the stool is named Elroy. Those of you whose brains work in the odd way mine does are now stuck with the jingle from the early 1960’s cartoon show The Jetsons, because those are the names of the two children. George and Jane are the parents, Judy and Elroy are the kids, and Astro is the dog.

Meet George Jetson.
His boy Elroy.
His daughter Judy.
Jane, his wife.

You’re welcome.


Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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