How can you design a writing instrument while applying form and function effectively with emphasis on texture?
I do this project early on in the course as part of the review of the elements and principles of design. Students consider the texture of objects and how the psychology of touch plays an important role in the products that we interact with.
Their goal is to redesign a writing instrument that either possesses additional function and/or places heavy emphasis on texture.
The spectrum of completed assignments have ranged from mood pens to writing grips for people with limited hand dexterity.
Note about Materials: I have always used Model Magic for this assignment, but next time around will try something different. They Model Magic cracks very easily and the students rely on the "foamy" feel to act as the design solution. Any suggestions?
To review the elements and principles of design, the students set out to create a set of shelves for three different age groups emphasizing Line in their designs. They sketch their ideas for a 16 year-old student, a middle-aged couple, and an 80 year-old, living alone. The students are encouraged to consider how the form and function changes for each age group and how lines might have a different role for each. This project is typically the first real design project of the course and it is always interesting to see how the students deal with the parameters.
I'm coming into my busiest time of the year when all non-teaching projects seem to be needing attention all at once. In sight of this hectic time, I decided to post an older lesson I developed while at RISD.
Landscapes and Cityscapes served as an exercise based on the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Every artist has something that inspires her and often this something shows up in her work. Frank Lloyd Wright was inspired by nature, and at certain points in his life, specifically by the Prairie. Growing up in Wisconsin, Frank Lloyd Wright used what surrounded him in his designs of building and objects. Known mostly for his architecture, he succeeded in both furniture and graphic design as well. Wright was able to use his inspiration, nature, in very unique ways. He was known for designs using geometric shapes which he broke down from natural elements. He was able to envision anything in nature and turn it into a series of squares, rectangles and triangles. This process for Wright established a unity among things in nature and his designs. He wished for all things to be living harmoniously with nature. His Library Table was no exception.
Designed in 1915, the Library Table takes on strong characteristics of Wright’s beloved Prairies. The long horizontal line of the table is much like a horizon line on a farm. The cabinet that juts out from the center most resembles a barn or tree in the distance. It is a table designed for a specific purpose and for a specific place.
Since Frank Lloyd Wright drew inspiration from landscapes, the students were asked to do the same with their own projects. The Feinstein class sketched out what they might see if they look out of their bedroom windows. Some drawings were elaborate, others simple. All of the drawings were great examples of how an artist might use his surroundings in his work.
After the drawings were completed, the students then broke down parts of the sketches into geometric shapes. The shapes were chosen at random and reflected the way that Wright might have done it, if it were his own. Some students chose squares and rectangles, while others fit in circles and triangles as well. The students had to focus abstractly on this part of the project and did a great job stretching their imaginations.
For the last part of the lesson, the students designed and created a model of any object they chose. While they were encouraged to be creative with the object, most students chose to stick with Frank Lloyd Wright and design a piece of furniture. They were given a short demonstration on paper folding and the use of a paper hinge.
The Feinstein class was very successful in making their paper models and each amounted to a functional image of a three dimensional object. The final models can be seen here and are examples of using one’s visual lansdcape to create a piece of art.
I have been teaching art and design at the middle and high school level since 2006 and learning about both for a lot longer.