The Liquid State: Scenarios

After brainstorming on different boundaries, we realized that it’s difficult to isolate one boundary and work with it. If you try to address one you are in way addressing some other boundary as well. It’s like a complex interconnected system. So, we decided that we will look at boundaries from a different point of view, “A relationship between Individuals, Territories and Resources” in the City of Kortrijk.

As mentioned in the previous post Buda Island is surrounded by 2 branches of the Leie, one which is flowing calmly in its golden glory between the Broel Towers and the other one is now used by massive commercial boats with new state of the art technological bridges. Hence, the city is having three parts.

3 Parts

We propose 3 scenarios to create new experiences around to the river, in order to change it’s perception and to cross social boundaries in a playful yet meaningful way. As this residency is a social participatory experiment at its core and we want these three scenario or outcome to live even after we leave for our respective places; We aim to do this by engaging local people, skills, places, materials, infrastructure and facilities. This gives the ownership to the people as they are part of the process. 

3 Scenarios

The three Scenarios are:

  • Scenario 1

Scenario one deals with Individual boundaries, which are related to the way we humans conduct ourselves, the way we interact with others. Some times all one needs is a way to communicate or cross barriers to go from point A to point B. We create bridges as a way to do this.

To us “Bridge” is an object that represents which a way to communicate. You necessarily need no to actually cross a physical bridge to communicate. And since the rives divides the city and bridges are prominent objects in the city of Kortrijk, we want to create an installation that could be an reinterpretation of a bridge, “A Communication Bridge” on the commercial side of the river, which is being used by bikers, joggers, walkers and school students.

This installation proposes a new appropriation of this space to invite people for new experiences by connecting them in a playful way.

Scenario 1

  • Scenario 2

Scenario two deals with Resource boundaries, which are related to the resources, cause the resources can also create a divide among people, societies, regions and countries.

Welcome to Kortrijk, a beautiful but rainy city. Tired of your umbrella? Bored in front of the TV? A beautiful thing like rain can be a spoiler, when it is there around 220 days of a year. What can one do with such a resource? Can the restricting nature of the resource be turned into something wonderful? Would you like to experience something special outside?

We propose a cosy place situated at the west time of Buda Island providing a different use and experience of a rainy day. A place where you can enjoy nature at its best, among plants, breeze and the sound of water.

Scenario 2

  • Scenario 3

Scenario three deals with Territory boundaries, which are related to the way certain regions are located in space and their use.

On the historical side of the river, it feels that the time somehow stopped progressing, the water is still flowing calmly as it did ages ago. Far away from the technological bridges and massive boats. The river in the city is not used in a way rivers are used in a lot of cities. And after talking to several locals we understood the need or creating a space closer or in the river.

We propose re-create the concept of an island as a public space, a new invitation for a closer experience into nature, new perception of the river as a public space to relax and enjoy outdoor activities. The goal of this installation is to create a livable and lively extension of the river.

Scenario 3


For making these scenarios come to life we are talking to students, groups, organizations, small manufacturing setups, factories etc. We are making collaborations with various stakeholders, as that is the only way to do this. Rather than a Top to Bottom approach, we are looking the other way around. This project is a big co-creation activity and while doing this “We would like to shake and create new Liquid Social State which is organic, every flowing and a creates a network.”

More details on the scenarios in the coming posts.

 

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The Liquid State

We – Deborah, Maria and Sahil are 3 Designers with different backgrounds, bound together during 3 months in the city of Kortrijk which is divided in 3 parts by the river Leie.

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As the theme of the residency is “Enabling Liquid Boundaries by Social Design”, we started looking at what is a boundary and what are the various types and aspects. As the three of us came from different places and contexts, the boundaries were also different for us. We categorized boundaries into Tangible (resources, nature, physical limitations) and Intangible (emotional, intellectual, mental).

After brainstorming on different boundaries, we realized that it’s difficult to isolate one boundary and work with it. If you try to address one you are in way addressing some other boundary as well. It’s like a complex interconnected system. So, we decided that we will look at boundaries from a different point of view, “A relationship between Individuals, Territories and Resources” in the City of Kortrijk. We only want to keep in view the context of Kortrijk because every place comes with its own set of boundaries and characteristics.

In order to see or experience various boundaries in the city, we started talking and meeting (some happened accidentally and some were planned by Design Regio) people to know more about their lives. We met Anna Maria Cornella, a Social Designer from Kortrijk. Being a social designer and having worked with people from the city, she suggested that we have conversations with various city dwellers and also map the Buda Island (where we are staying and working). The purpose of this was to gain insights into the culture and demography and also to make the conversations we were having with people in a tangible form.

We went out to talk to people and started noting down the conversations which we were having with them. I went ahead and spoke to people who have immigrated to Kortrijk or who come to the city for work. I called these people the “Secondary Citizen” because Kortrijk is a small city which houses people from various countries, ethnicities, cultures, colors, languages, age and food. Some people are from the city, some are staying in the city for work and some come everyday for work. The stories of 6 people was put in a small booklet form, Secondary Citizen. Maria saw this in a different way, she spoke to a person and then asked for a recommendation, hence creating a human chain of conversation. Deborah interpreted the conversations with people from the view point of the objects which were around or being discussed.

After a period of observation and understanding, we realized that the river Leie was an important factor in the history and construction of the city. A century ago Leie led to flourishing of Flax trade and was called the “Golden River” because flax was used to be immersed in the water which gave it a golden color or hue and also metaphorically it had a major positive impact on the economy and well being of the city.

 

One of the other important part of the city is Buda Island (creative part, which is surrounded by 2 branches of the Leie, one which is flowing calmly in its golden glory between the Broel Towers and the other one is now used by massive commercial boats with new state of the art technological bridges. We live in Buda Island in a house which we share with artist who are doing their residence in Kunstencentrum BUDA. So, we meet and share spaces with a lot of creative and interesting people and all of them have a lot to offer and they provide us feedback from time to time. So, we are learning a lot about performative art, dancing, theater etc.

 

We are also engaging with the local schools, institutes, organizations and administration to explore the possibility of collaborations. We did a workshop in University of Gent (Howest Campus) with the students of Ellen De Vos. We did a Hackathon with the city on the project of Arc de Triomphe, which works on the message of “Give someone you do not know a gift” during the Christmas season. We met Ruben Bolwerk, which is a place at the crossroads of young people, business and art. Meeting, creation and wonder are central to the operation. We met Simon and Lucas from Lieve Zusjes- Stoere Broers who experiment in the public space, and always with their cargobikes, and also attended one of their rooftop cinema session.

 

In order to explore the relationship between Individuals, Territories and Resources, we are meeting various stakeholders from the city of Kortrijk and are proposing some scenarios which can create new experiences linked to the river and the city. The purpose of these scenarios is to create an inquire or to start a conversation or to change the perception of Leie and to cross social boundaries in a playful way. Doing this by engaging local people, skills, materials and places in this participatory project of ours.

We would like to shake and create new Liquid Social State which is organic and every flowing.

More on the scenarios in a later post.

Designers in Residence Kortrijk’17

It’s been a more a than two weeks since I arrived in Belgium and Kortrijk to be precise, for the Designer in Residence. We are a group of three designers trying to get our heads around the concept of Boundaries and the ways of making them blurry or Liquid. I’m working along with Maria Pita Guerreiro (Industrial Designer for Lisbon) and Déborah Janssens (Social Designer from Paris) for the coming three months.

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A bit on the Designer in Residence

Designregio Kortrijk invites recent design graduates from the various creative disciplines for the Designers in Residence Kortrijk program 2017. During a working residence of 3 months (September to December 2017), the three selected designers have the unique opportunity to work together on exploring social transformation through confrontation between citizens, society, entrepreneurs and education in regions such as Kortrijk.

The theme of the residency is “enabling liquid boundaries by social design”. Boundaries have become blur in society. Libraries act as social meeting places, social restaurants also accommodate childcare, young startups and concert halls are co-housing, culture and scientific research reinforce each other, etc. The permanent state of societal transformations leads to a society with liquid boundaries. In the residency program you will develop an experimental concept for those liquid boundaries by social design, exploring social transformation through confrontation between citizens, society, entrepreneurs and education in regions such as Kortrijk.

We are working out of BudaFabriek, A five-sided pavilion made from pale sandy brickwork leads inside this former textile factory in Kortrijk that Belgian studio 51N4E has converted into an arts centre. BudaFabriek houses Budalab, which is a co-creation site: an open studio containing all the necessary materials to materialize ideas. From a futuristic vacuum machine, 3D printer and laser cutter, to the most basic craft tool. The studio is open to everyone: for designers, companies, students, professionals, artists and creative, inspiring people.

A bit on the city of Kortrijk. 

Kortrijk is a Belgian city and municipality in the Flemish province of West Flanders. It is the capital and largest city of the judicial and administrative arrondissement of Kortrijk. The wider municipality comprises the city of Kortrijk proper and the villages of Aalbeke, Bellegem, Bissegem, Heule, Kooigem, Marke, and Rollegem. Kortrijk is also part of the cross-border Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai metropolitan area.

The city is on the river Leie, 42 km southwest of Ghent and 25 km northeast of Lille. Kortrijk originated from a Gallo-Roman town, Cortoriacum, at a crossroads near the Leie river and two Roman roads. In the Middle Ages, Kortrijk grew significantly thanks to the flax and wool industry with France and England and became one of the biggest and richest cities in Flanders. The city is often referred to as City of Groeninge or City of the Golden Spurs, referring to the Battle of Courtrai or the Battle of the Golden Spurs which took place on 11 July 1302 on the Fields of Groeninge in Kortrijk. In 1820, the Treaty of Kortrijk was signed, which laid out the current borders between France and Belgium. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, the flax industry flourished and remains important within the Belgian textile industry today.


So far things are going good, meeting a lot of people; visiting schools, companies and organizations. More on the place and what we are up to in the coming posts.

Making for the Real World: Harshali’s Laser-cut QuickAccess Storage Unit

Harshali

Harshali is an enthusiastically inquisitive designer. The way the world works and its intricacies fascinate her and she wants to contribute to its betterment in a meaningful way.  She believes in the collective power of people and that people are the ultimate source of knowledge, and books are the best companions. Writing is her fondest way of expression, Link to her blog. Harshali wanted to make a Lasercut Modular Storage Unit for the Recreational Space which was being set up in the studio. Everyone had to share their objects in the form of an Instructable. Harshali’s insturctable got featured as well, which means that the documentation was done in a very precise and easy to understand way, supplemented by a lot of images, sketches and dimensional diagrams. Detailed information about the storage units can be found at Harshali’s Featured Instructable. This is what she has to say about the objects she made.


With every new approach to design that I try, I am left feeling like the oblivious, fresh out of high school child that I was before I got into NID.

What if we all started making everything we use? 
With designs and instructions available on the internet, one could be empowered to make absolutely anything! In that case, the role of product designers would be to simplify the process of making for everyone and demystify everyday objects such that they are easily makeable.

Keeping this in mind, I set out to make a storage unit which was modular, easy, and aesthetic. One that was fun to make and would fit in any given space.
I wanted to keep it simple, such that it could be a project taken up by anyone without any help- and yet keep the process engaging.

Selection of material- MDF- was on the basis of lightness and durability. The joinery- interlocked nodes- allowed ease of assembly. Documentation was the most important part of the whole process- it wasn’t just about getting to the final product, but about the audience being able to understand how to make it. Compilation of all the images and text was quite a task, but the excitement of sharing with the web kept me going. Publishing the instructable gave a sense of completion to the project.

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All in all, Making for The Real World was a wonderful exercise that got one thinking about an alternate approach to design.

Kudos to Sahil and Praveen for having made this workshop possible.


Working on this with Harshali was fun, initially we had spend some amount of time to figure out the detailing of the ways to join two modules but once that was figured out, the making was easy. I see a smart designer in the making, who will fit well in design advocacy and education.

 

Making for the Real World: Archana’s Multi-functional Space Dividers

Archana

Archana Valecha is a super talented chilled designer who is into solar cooking, music, collage art and a lot of interesting conversations. She wanted to make a Multi-functional space divider for the Recreational Space which was being set up in the studio. Everyone had to share their objects in the form of an Instructable. And the one Archana wrote got featured as well, which means that the documentation was done in a very precise and easy to understand way, supplemented by a lot of images, sketches and dimensional diagrams. Detailed information about the divider can be found at Archana’s Featured Instructable. This is what she has to say about the objects she made.


The need for the space dividers was simply to create a space within a space, a demarcation. A sort of enclosure which would give the sub space a different feel. Since these space dividers were for a semi formal work space I wanted them to have a professional feel, still not letting go of the element of fun.

The use of panels for my design simply helped in blending this sub space into the larger space as it wasn’t a complete block out from what was outside of the sub space. It would let some amount of information and light pass through when inside the sub space. The use of panels also gave the design a feel of lightness which would otherwise not come across if an entire opaque material was used. the pop colours used was purely to introduce a fun element, a visual stimulant.

Multi functionality came with the fact that the dividers could not only be used to demarcate but could also be used to do other things like putting up of sheets, posit notes and other little bits on the white panels, one of which is a magnetic board. This feature gave the dividers an interactive element.

The making of these dividers was a new experience for me as I had never worked on such a large scale before. It also gave me a chance to get my hands on some new materials and understand the way they behave. The design turned out the way it is because of the underlying thought that it could be replicated by anyone at any corner of the world. Sharing to let the idea grow further was an interesting takeaway from the course.


Working on this with Archana was super fun and meaningful. I see an amazing designer in the making, who cares about people and things at a deeper level and is dedicated to the core.

Making for the Real World: Recreational Space

A team of 8 product designer started ideating on a recreational space which they could setup in the product design studio (or anywhere else). After a few hours of questioning the needs of the space, we started looking at the objects which were required in this space. And emphasis was laid on the fact that all of the objects made should be simple and easy to replicate. There were few objects which we came up with:

  • Storage
  • Space Dividers
  • Floor Seating
  • Chairs/Stools for using when ideating in space
  • Table
  • Lighting (Artificial/Natural)

The next phase was to figure out the materials, color and finish. And all this was to be done keeping in the mind that at the end of making the objects would share the same design language. Some of the materials which we shortlisted to work with were:

  • Fabric
  • Ropes
  • Wood
  • Metal Channels/Sheets
  • MDF/Plywood
  • Leather/Rexine
  • Foam

After this shortlisting we started looking at various objects for inspiration and created a common moodboard for the group with various details, material finish, colors, geometry. And eventually we realized that the 8 of them wanted to create geometric objects. Objects were democratically assigned to everyone and finally we had 8 objects

  • Aniket: Stool
  • Archana: Multi functional Space Divider
  • Binayak: Table for 3 People
  • Shubrajit: Natural Light Controller
  • Harshali: Storage/Organizer
  • Shilpa: Floor Seating
  • Vyoma: Divider/Display Unit

Once the objects were known the ideation started and all of them came up with various concepts and a display and discussion was done on each and every idea and eventually a few approaches were picked up and they begun the phase of making detailed sketches and started thinking about the material, making processes, colors, finishes etc.

After having a certain level of clarity about the objects, materials were procured from the local market and hence began their journey towards making their objects. While making, all of them came across something new (processes, techniques, materials, systems). Some of them employed traditional methods, some of them used digital fabrication tools.

These 8 guys were brilliant and it was an enriching experience working with them. Being with them was being back to the school again when I was 17. I’ll be posting their individual work and their instructables in the coming posts.

 

NID Workshop: Making for the Real World

People construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. When we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experiences, in the process maybe changing what we believe, or discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge, perception and consciousness. To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know or shall I say what we don’t know. The best way to learn is to simply start doing and tinkering the world surrounding us.

Since the industrial revolution the aim of industry has been to produce high quality good at a lower price and it has changed the very way we live our lives. Industrial Design has played a major role in making the dreams of millions and millions of people a reality. So, what is Industrial Design?

“Industrial design is a process of design applied to products that are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production. Its key characteristic is that design is separated from manufacture: the creative act of determining and defining a product’s form and features takes place in advance of the physical act of making a product, which consists purely of repeated, often automated, replication. This distinguishes industrial design from craft-based design, where the form of the product is determined by the product’s creator at the time of its creation. All manufactured products are the result of a design process, but the nature of this process can take many forms: it can be conducted by an individual or a large team; it can emphasize intuitive creativity or calculated scientific decision-making, and often emphasizes both at the same time; and it can be influenced by factors as varied as materials, production processes, business strategy and prevailing social, commercial or aesthetic attitudes. The role of an industrial designer is to create and execute design solutions for problems of form, function, usability, physical ergonomics, marketing, brand development, sustainability, and sales.” -Wikipedia

  • Is it really about the art or the process of designing manufactured products?
  • Is Industrial Design concerned about making things beautiful, low cost, mass manufactured, consumerism, and planned obsolescence?
  • Or is it something more than that, something which is more fundamental in nature?
  • Is following a predefined process (called design process a lot of time) and coming up with the product the only approach to Industrial Design?
  • In the present scenario of customized user dictated market is there actually a need to differentiate Industrial Design from Crafts?
  • Is Industrial Design about making sense of the world we live in?
  • Is Industrial Design in the present day only about making renders and intangible artefacts, which will remain just as bits of information in the system or is it about making artefacts which people can interact with or have associations with?
  • What role does technology plays in the evolution of Industrial Design?
  • What can Industrial Design take from school of thought of D.I.Y, Maker Movement, Open Source, Sustainability, Redistributed Manufacturing and Digital Fabrication?
  • Is the role of an Industrial Designer just constricted to creating and executing design solutions? Can they be a part of a bigger system responsible for knowledge creation and sharing?
  • How important is a systemic way of data, information and knowledge creation?

 

Why is there a need to get back to the roots of Industrial Design?

After the introduction of computation to Industrial Design a lot of things changed. The process started becoming digital, so did the deliverables. Instead of having real life scale models, hi fidelity prototypes, tangible experiences came the era of renders, animations, mock-ups etc. It became easy to make a change in the computer system rather than creating the artefact itself. The physical disconnect a product and the designer became wide during the designing phase. There is something intimate about an actual prototype and a digital render or a CAD model just cannot replicate that.

A shift has come recently in the way digital Industrial Design was practiced. Digital fabrication started getting attention of a lot of industrial designer because of reduction in cost. Digital design tools and techniques started to facilitate efficiency gains, shorten development times, and aid collaboration between members of product development teams. As the range of digital tools available to the industrial designer increases, the viability of a totally digital industrial design strategy and opportunities to employ the methods in design education also increases. But overall there is a general lack of use of digital design tools and media by industrial design students and practitioners.

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us”

If digital fabrication and design tools are employed with the conventional making process a new sort of Industrial design emerges which is futuristic but is still rooted in the experience and knowledge which has been accumulated over centuries by the human race.


What can Local Manufacturing do?

When you are designing something it has to be done keeping in mind the context in which it would be used. What are the local practices, materials, processes etc become important. Because of Internet access is not an issue. Everything you need is available at the click of a button; it has become convenient to buy something from another country than to buy it from the local market. But what often is ignored is the effect which is brought in when things are sourced from outside. Shipping, availability of spares, local manufacturing process and materials make a huge difference. There is a need to priorities what should be sourced locally and what from outside.

Because of the maker movement and DIY culture, small scale production by consumer’s often using peer to peer resources has taken off and is being referred to as distributed manufacturing or local manufacturing. Initial life cycle analysis indicates that distributed production can have a smaller impact on the environment than conventional manufacturing and shipping because of reductions in transportation embodied energy.
Digital Fabrication has lead to digitization of fabrication, where you don’t just digitize design, but the materials and the process. The computer program doesn’t just describe the thing but becomes the thing. So, this thing can take the local form using the tools. Example a stool in Ahmedabad can be CNC milled in teak wood which is commonly available in local market. The same stool can be CNC milled in London using Birch Ply which is common there. So, the digitized design is the common variable, rest can change according to the local needs and even the digitized design can be tinkered with the available tools.


Why should Industrial Designers practice Making and Open Source?

Maker Culture Maker culture accentuates informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and fulfillment. Maker culture encourages novel applications of technologies, and the exploration of intersections between traditionally separate domains and ways of working including electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and, mainly, its predecessor, the traditional arts and crafts. The rise of this making subculture is rooted in the phenomenon of hackerspaces emerging themselves from the counterculture movement.

Community interaction and knowledge sharing are often mediated through networked technologies, with websites and social media tools forming the basis of knowledge repositories and a central channel for information sharing and exchange of ideas, and focused through social meetings in shared hackerspaces Some say that the maker culture is a reaction to the de-valuing of physical exploration and the growing sense of disconnection with the physical world in modern cities. And Indian cities have such beautifully ingrained affordance for collaboration, making, information and knowledge sharing.

Many products produced by the maker communities have a focus on health (food), sustainable development, environmentalism, local culture and can from that point of view also be seen as a negative response to disposables, globalised mass production, the power of chain stores, multinationals and consumerism.

The maker culture is a social movement with an artisan spirit in which the methods of digital fabrication – previously the exclusive domain of institutions – have become accessible at a personal scale, following a logical and economic progression similar to the transition from minicomputers to personal computers in the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s.

In the end maker culture isn’t about robots or 3D printing or electronics or even building things. It’s a new Renaissance, post-industrial, that is led by each person and every person being fluent with the idea of meaning making, ethics, politics of technology, and conscientization. The maker culture is not about the STUFF we can make, it’s about the MEANING we can make.

Open Source Open Source refers to the model of providing goods and services which includes the possibility of the enduser’s participation in the production of these goods and services. Open participation and collaboration – which implies the vulnerability to share work in progress, without ego, power struggle, and insecurity. The core values are efficiency, and the ethics and wisdom to understand what we should be efficient about. In practice, we should strive to find effective ways to document our work – to create an open collaboration platform – where collaborators can come on boards rapidly. While it is difficult to document – the real-time, online collaborative tools (like Instructables) of the information age make it easier – and we should aim to tap these new tools to document and develop together.

Open source movement has lead to opening access to the information and technology which enables a different economic system to be realized, one based on the integration of natural ecology, social ecology, and industrial ecology. This economic system is based on open access- based on widely accessible information and associated access to productive capital- distributed into the hands of an increased number of people. Companies like Local Motors, Esty are practicing this.

A highly distributed, increasingly participatory model of production is the core of a democratic society, where stability is established naturally by the balance of human activity with sustainable extraction of natural resources. This is the opposite of the current mainstream of centralized economies, which have a structurally built-in tendency towards of overproduction.

The integration of the natural, societal, and industrial ecologies – Open Source Ecology- aims at sustainable and regenerative economics. We are convinced that a possibility of a quality life exists, where human needs are guaranteed to the world’s entire population- as long as we ask ourselves basic questions on what societal structures and productive activities are truly appropriate to meeting human needs for all.

At the end of the day, the goal of design is to liberate our time to engage in exactly that which each of us wants to be doing – instead of what we need to do to survive. All have the potential to thrive.

One really important part of Open Source is the creation of repositories which share a common language and can be replicated, iterated, manipulated by the users according to their needs and context. Hence, it becomes really important to document the process, so that it can be shared seamlessly across various platforms.

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From a Student to a Visiting Faculty

Change is the end result of all true learning.

It’s been almost four years since I took a leap of faith and arrived in Ahmedabad and jumped into the relatively unknown and under-appreciated realms of design. National Institute of Design has been my home for these past four years. I came here to unlearn and relearn and also to look at the world which at times I felt was to superficial. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my student time at NID in the place we called KMC (Knowledge Management Center, Yeah the name is a bit wacko!) and read some crazy nice stuff a list of which is available on the book list blog post, and I was fortunate enough to have come across and having interacted with some of them most humble and creative people from across the globe. People like Praveen Nahar, Shujoy Chakraborty, Vikram Singh Parmar have been really great mentors and I gained a lot from whatever time I spent with them. 

I owe a lot to two of my friends, Swapnil Vibhute and Tanisha Vernekar for being part of the Systems Design course I did with them. This single module had been a transcendental experience and something which has defined my work in the past two years.

One of the most important thing I figured out in the last two years is that there is so much power in open and collective sense making. As Christopher McCandless said “Happiness is only real when shared.”. So, is knowledge, information and resources. These things are meant to be shared and not kept captive by a few. When the entire world is starving, hording doesn’t do any good.

Studying at NID has been a very hands on, mind on, senses on experience, it is like a long drive along the hills or a beach, you come across such beautiful and life enriching things. A lot changed in me as a person on this crazy ride, I became more appreciative of the little things and realized that in the end everything comes down to making sense of the world around you and fostering relationships which are lifelong. The time at NID as a student was really meaningful as a lot of people contributed positively to it and the entire idea of working with open source systems, collaborative and personalized making had run deep within my value system. I wanted to share the same experience with others.

After convocating I’ve been thinking of doing some small workshop on getting people introduced to ideas of my thesis “Design Democracy and Tinkering”. So, I sent a workshop brief to Praveen and he was kind enough to let me take a module with the 7th semester Product Design students. The basic idea of this module “Making for the Real World” was to get them introduced to concepts like open source, digital fabrication, redistributed manufacturing, technology, DIY & maker culture, sustainability and the most important thing of documentation of work and publication. I also made a manifesto on the same principles and can be read on this link.

We tried to run an intense studio for a span of 8 days and everyone is making a real life objects and not renders. I was a mere facilitator in the process and working with the students was a really fun and enriching experience for me (and hopeful for them as well!). The course is official over, we are still in the process of making the objects. We’ll soon be sharing the workshop details and the outcome.

 

Sonic Architect SA/CDA-250 Amplifier

Amplifier is the heart and brain of an audio system. In the past I have been using amplifiers which were sourced either from USA or China. The quality of amplifiers from both the places is exceptional. But there were a few logistical and economical issues. It takes around 4-5 weeks for the amplifiers to reach and then because I make very limited number of systems I don’t have an importers custom ID. So, a lot of time the amplifiers are stuck in customs and take another 3-4 weeks for processing. I found a vendor who sells and sometimes stocks the amplifiers I was using but the downside is that they turn out to be too expensive.

I wanted to use something which was built locally (Made in India) as it saves a lot of shipping time, cost and fuel. I came across an OEM for making custom made amplifiers. I had already decided on the specifications of the amplifier, and there were a couple of option for the chipset. As I’ve built a considerable number of systems, I went ahead with a Class D amplifier setup which gives a clean sound with exceptional efficiency. These boards use the same chipset as the ones which I was getting from USA and China. The boards have been branded as well as this is an OEM product.

I was facing the problem of mounting the amplifiers from USA and China as they had the volume potentiometers soldered to the board, so placement and accessibility was a problem. The custom made amplifiers which I have, the volume potentiometer and 3.5mm aux jack are connected to the board using ribbon wires. This makes the placement, access and replacement of the board very easy. Board can be kept at one place and the potentiometer and AUX can be kept wherever is the control panel.

 

 

Specifications of the SA/CDA-250 board are

  • 50 Watt Per Channel Power
  • 20Hz – 20KHz Frequency Response0
  • 4 – 8 Ohm Impedence
  • Bluetooth 4.1 aptX Connectivity
  • 3.5mm Auxiliary Input
  • Taiwan Volume Taper Potentiometer
  • 12-24 Volt Voltage Supply
  • 2A-4A Current Supply (Preferably 2A)

 

Open Design Manifesto

manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made. It often is political or artistic in nature, but may present an individual’s life stance.

– Wikipedia

Open Design Manifesto is something which I believe and have been practicing for past 2 years. It lists down some mindsets, attitudes, intentions which are necessary if one wants to practice open design.

Poster/Card format. PDF download Link Open Design Manifesto

 

Open Design Manifesto Poster condensed.

Open Design Manifesto Poster

 

A bit on Open Source Movement

Open Source refers to the model of providing goods and services which includes the possibility of the end-user’s participation in the production of these goods and services. Open participation and collaboration – which implies the vulnerability to share work in progress, without ego, power struggle, and insecurity. The core values are efficiency, and the ethics and wisdom to understand what we should be efficient about. In practice, we should strive to find effective ways to document our work – to create an open collaboration platform – where collaborators can come on boards rapidly. While it is difficult to document – the real-time, online collaborative tools (like Instructables) of the information age make it easier – and we should aim to tap these new tools to document and develop together.

This concept has already been demonstrated in open source software and hardware. The crossover between software and hardware has lead to Open Design.
Open design is the development of physical products, processes and systems through use of publicly shared design information. Open design process is generally facilitated by the Internet. The goals and philosophy is to lead to the development of physical products rather than just software. Open design is a form of co-creation, where the final product is designed by the users, rather than an external stakeholder such as a private company.
Open source movement has lead to opening access to the information and technology which enables a different economic system to be realized, one based on the integration
of natural ecology, social ecology, and industrial ecology. This economic system is based on open access- based on widely accessible information and associated access to productive capital- distributed into the hands of an increased number of people. Companies like Local Motors, Esty are practicing this.

A highly distributed, increasingly participatory model of production is the core of a democratic society, where stability is established naturally by the balance of human activity with sustainable extraction of natural resources. This is the opposite of the current mainstream of centralized economies, which have a structurally built-in tendency towards of overproduction.

The integration of the natural, societal, and industrial ecologies – Open Source Ecology- aims at sustainable and regenerative economics. We are convinced that a possibility of a quality life exists, where human needs are guaranteed to the world’s entire population- as long as we ask ourselves basic questions on what societal structures and productive activities are truly appropriate to meeting human needs for all.

At the end of the day, the goal is to liberate our time to engage in exactly that which each of us wants to be doing- instead of what we need to do to survive. All have the potential to thrive.

Today, an increasingly smaller percentage of the world’s population is in this position.