Design & Color, Winter 2017 week 8

The eighth session of the Design and Color class for Winter 2017 was held on Wednesday, February 22. We shared the last collection of cardboard creations, discussed the results of the last assignment Find A Design Need, viewed another slideshow of What ifs, and had a guest visitor, Valérie Richter, who shared her explorations in color relationships.

Class recap – some key ideas

Critique – On a Roll

We began class by sharing our final round of cardboard roll creations, which included people’s further development and exploitation of earlier designs. What stands out most about the designs are the ways in which students have incorporated many different techniques and tips that were shared in class. Dick commented on the process of synthesis, and how it utilizes the process of ‘What if?’ Research and exploration are an invaluable part of the process in problem solving, and looking at what other people have done can create ‘a-haas’ for further exploration.

Dick pointed out that the first step of this assignment had been to identify all your options: what are the inherent qualities of this cardboard roll, and what can be done with it? We found out we could cut it, weave it, slice it, paint / dye it, wet it, bend it, etc. This basic question opened the doors for all sorts of explorations, and the results were far better than anyone could have imagined. Many of the resulting designs were also based on identifying a need, such as an eyeglasses holder, or a way to keep salt from clumping up, or containing wires or electronic device chargers.

Dick spoke again about heuristics, and how important it is to be able to identify your thought processes. As he said, “How many of us are really aware of what it is we’re doing?”. As an artist, it is crucial that we recognize consciously what it is we are doing while we are doing it. If we are not aware of what we’re doing, we risk falling into an artistic rut, or not being able to clearly communicate our message to others, or both. By identifying our conscious patterns and framework, we stand to be liberated as ‘educated people’ aware of our options.

Critique – Find a Design Need

The class shared their answers to the last assignment, Find a Design Need.  As could be guessed from the subject, each participant had a personal answer to what they found to be a problem in their lives. The answers ranged from large-scale projects (designing and building a robot, urban planning) to small-scale design needs (lighting for an art piece, recreating a quilt, how to make the perfect egg sandwich). Here is a list of what we heard in class:

  1. Needs a robot for kitchen help, entertaining (like a butler), doing house chores, etc. Has to be portable, efficient, and multi-talented
  2. Sliding induction burners – concerns: venting, space, aesthetics
  3. Colored lights to place behind decorative wood carving – thought of using thin silicone pads, hearing aid batteries, LED lights
  4. Weed control – wants something biodegradable, made from recycled material, and has to be aesthetically pleasing
  5. How to stop a water bottle from rolling inside the car – used Velcro straps and discovered various anchor points inside the car
  6. Wants to mount silk cocoons / silk squares, and wants mounting to disappear – how about using plexiglass, pegs, magnets, wire, etc.
  7. Would like to recreate a quilt that went missing, and also a device to help incorporate all that she has learned in this class so that she doesn’t go back to her old habits
  8. A solution the traffic problem in Paia – solution includes a town redesign, with various facilities for business, education, and tourism
  9. Designing a better egg sandwich so that the egg fits on the English muffin – solution was to cook the egg in a ring so it matches the shape of the English muffin
  10. How about a left-handed bar scanner at the airport, since the current design is meant for right-handed people and is cumbersome for lefties

It was an enjoyable and sometimes hilarious conversation, and it was fun to hear people add their own “What ifs” to other people’s ideas. Dick reiterated that this class was more about process over product, and that the essence of all we learned goes back to using and incorporating the 6 phases of problem solving in our own lives.

And what is the most important phase? Dick reminded us, “What are the givens?” Learn to recognize and identify your preconceptions before beginning a project, and you will uncover more possibilities than you initially imagined. As Dick put it, “A lot of people don’t recognize their problems; they keep stumbling over the same stone in the garden.”

He also cautioned us to give ourselves time to work and explore and play: as he has said before, if you don’t like to play, then you shouldn’t be an artist. “Give yourself the opportunity to let the subconscious work on it”, and also give yourself permission to be frustrated, confounded, or stymied in your creative work – the answers won’t always come easily, and learning what doesn’t work is just as valuable as learning what does work.

Guest visitor: Valérie

To show us a successful result of what happens when we don’t give up on our what ifs, Dick had invited a visitor, Valérie Richter, who has been working on color mixing and the tri-hue watercolor technique for the last couple of years. She shared with us her recent work, including more stripes and explorations with landscapes and flower studies. Dick spoke of her work as a shining example of what happens when you stick with a project and don’t give up when faced with frustration. Please see this post (Valérie’s stepping stones) to hear about her journey in her own words, and this post from Color Relationships 1, Spring 2016, for more information.

Video: Red & Blue are not primary colors

This video demonstrates the principle by which the rich variety of colors in relationship Valérie achieves are created using only the three primaries, yellow, magenta, and cyan. (Stripes start about 1 minute in.)

Class photos

Class materials

Dick’s last slide show of What if images came with this statement and question, “As artists, we have choices. The DNA of our art – does it come from our core beliefs?” Something to think about as we end this eight-week session.

Presentation – Final What If?

Additional / supplementary materials

Dick asked the class to watch a recent PBS Nova episode, The Origami Revolution, before today’s session. It’s no longer available online, but here’s the description:
The centuries-old tradition of folding two-dimensional paper into three-dimensional shapes is inspiring a scientific revolution. The rules of folding are at the heart of many natural phenomena, from how leaves blossom to how beetles fly. But now, engineers and designers are applying its principles to reshape the world around us—and even within us, designing new drugs, micro-robots, and future space missions. With this burgeoning field of origami-inspired-design, the question is: can the mathematics of origami be boiled down to one elegant algorithm—a fail-proof guidebook to make any object out of a flat surface, just by folding? And if so, what would that mean for the future of design? Explore the high-tech future of this age-old art as NOVA unfolds “The Origami Revolution.”