The Rainy Parasol Installation

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

We propose a cosy place situated at the west tip 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.

Rainy Parasol Context Sketch

Scenario 2 seemed easy on paper but it took a lot of time and trials to get it done as it had a lot of component.

It rains a lot in Kortrijk and sometimes the rain makes the day seem very dull and grey. We wanted to use this rain and create a space from where people can appreciate this resource. We wanted this space to be a shelter during the rain and also be in an open space. We started looking at places which offer beautiful view of the city and found the vegetable garden maintained by VELT on the tip of the Buda Island to be an ideal place. We spoke to Frank and Peter from VELT about the idea of the parasol and they really liked the idea.

We wanted the Rainy Parasol to be a place where people can come and relax and enjoy nature among plants, the sound of the water.  We also asked people about what they would like to do on a rainy day, a lot of them wanted to watch movies, some of them wanted to be outside without getting wet and to feel a sense of warmth. Even on a non rainy day, just get your camping chair and enjoy the view. We also wanted to use the rainwater collected to be distributed to the plants. One more idea which we really wanted to incorporate was to give a feeling of warmth whenever it rained and to create a glow around the parasol. For that we thought of using lights which only work when it rains. And these lights needed to be off grid as there is no power source in the vegetable garden.

We started looking at ways to make the parasol, which was in simple terms, a funnel collecting water but at the same time big enough to provide shelter. We reached to Ronald from Industrial Design Center Howest to give us some leads on people making parasols, fabric structures etc. He gave us a few leads and we got down to writing to these people to help us or collaborate in making the parasol. One of the firms we got in touch with was Nomad Concept, an architecture firm building tensile fabric structure. We went to meet Amandus, an architect and head of Nomad in his Antwerp office. We saw some of the work he had done and it was really inspiring and nice. We hoped that he could make a structure for us but unfortunately the timing didn’t work out.

We thought that we’ll build the parasol on our own using metal tubes and sheets, but one day when we were out to buy material for the island we found a drying rack in Hubo, which was close to what we wanted to build as a structure. We started looking at ways to modify it according to our needs.

The installation had various sub assemblies. A brief description of them is given.

Drying Rack

The drying rack is like a giant inverted umbrella with 4 spokes made out of U shaped aluminum channel. The span of the spokes can be increased or decreased depending on where the central hub is on the pole.

Rack

Textile

The next crucial part of the build was to find a fabric which was waterproof and strong enough to withstand rain, sun and wind. We went to a lot of stores looking for fabric and had a really hard time finding one which met our size and colour constrains. In between we found plastic sheets used in shower curtains and tried to make a rough model of the water collecting part. Then after the prototype was done we got waterproof fabric from Euroshop, we cut the fabric to dimension and then got it stitched from Roos (Bolwerk). The water collector is composed of 4 pieces of waterproof textile stitched together and fixed to the parasol. The water collected by the textile is directed to a water storage mounted on the central pole. Textile

Light

As the light system had to be off grid we thought of using a windmill along with solar panel, but it was turning out to be too costly and there were some practical issues with installations of the windmill. Then we thought of using solar lights which could be activated with a switch. For activating the lights we thought of various ways. Initially we thought that we can use water as a conductor to close the connection between two wires to activate the light. That idea didn’t work perfectly as the resistance of water was too high. Then we started looking at sensors and thought that it was too complicated to repair them in case something goes wrong.

Then we finally decide to use a mechanical switch which gets activated by a container which gets filled with rainwater. We got solar lights from Brico and modified the circuit to only work when it rains. Max a volunteer at BudaLab helped in hacking the circuit to work with the end-stop rather than switching on automatically when the ambient light gets low. All the lights were chained to a single end-stop switch. The solar panel wire was extended and the switch was also connected to the lamp with a long wire as they were mounted at different places. Everything was sealed with silicon and hotglue.

Light

Water Storage

We needed storage also to collect the water which was being collected by the parasol and then divert that water into the containers through pipes. For the storage we found a waste bin in Brico which was fitting our size constrains. We also tried out various pipes but eventually settled on radiator pipes used in houses. We made a 6cm and three 1.5cm holes in the bin to fit the radiator pipe and the central pole. The good thing was that the pipes also come with brass connectors. So, it was easy to mount the pipes on the water storage.  Water storage and the pipes were painted white.

Water Storage

Water Containers

After a lot of searching in stores and online we finally found the containers which we wanted to use in the installation. We got the containers from a store in Paris. The containers have 3 holes on the top from which they can be suspended. We got white rope to tie the containers and also some pulleys to pass the rope and connect it with a counter weight and switch. A 2mm hole was made in the bottom of each container to let the water drain.

Water Containers

Central Pole

The height of drying rack was short. We got a new metal pipe in which the rack’s central pole could slide in and the two are locked in place using nut and bolt. The parasol will be put in the soil using a screw anchor. The pole and the screw was painted red.

Central Pole and Screw

Switch and Pulley

The end-stop was mounted on an L bracket along with a pulley. This pulley was connected to one of the buckets which when filled with water moves a counterweight up and triggers the end-stop and switches on the lights.

Switch and Pulley


 

The step by step process of assembling the parasol is explained using CAD sketches.

Parasol GIF

The four corners of textile container were punched and metal eyelets were put in them. Textile was connected to the rack’s U channels using nut and bolts.

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Next holes were made in the U channels for mounting lights. Lights and the solar panels were fixed to the channels using zip ties. The wire from all the lights had to go to the central pole where the switch was to be mounted. Again zip ties were used to attach the wires along the channels to the central pole.

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The L bracket with the pulley system was mounted on the pole using a M10 hex head nut and bolt. The end-stop was fixed to the bracket using zip ties and hot glue. Two other pulleys were mounted on the pole 120 degree from each other using M10 nut and bolt.

 

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Parasol Switch Assembly GIF

The water storage along with the containers was slid into the pole and ropes were passed over the pulleys and connected to counter weights. The L bracket had two holes from which the rope passes. One end was connected to the container and the other was connected to the counterweight. The end-stop was mounted in such a way that when the counterweight go up because of the bucket getting filled with rainwater it pushes the end-stop and the lights go on. The other two containers were also passed over individual pulleys and then connected to a single counterweight.

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This entire assembly was then inserted into the 6cm central pole. The water storage was fixed to the pole using a ring fastener and silicon was put to make it waterproof.

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The assembled parasol can be put in a garden using a screw attachment which can be driven into the soil and then the central pole can be inserted into it and fixed into position using a bolt.

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The Talking Bridge Installation

Scenario one deals with Individual boundaries, which are related to the way we humans conduct ourselves, the way we interact with others. Sometimes 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 a way to communicate. You don’t necessarily need to actually cross a physical bridge to communicate. Since Leie divides the city into three parts and bridges are an important and  prominent objects in the city of Kortrijk, we wanted to create an installation that could be a 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 way to connect people and to let them communicate in a playful way.

The Talking Bridge

There are a lot of bridges in Kortrijk, some are old, some are new and some are in the pipeline. Some of the new ones have been made using advance engineering and manufacturing. So, when we started looking at individual boundaries, we started thinking of how to transfer information or matter from one end to another. We thought of making an actual bridge initially, it’s good that we changed the plan; otherwise the residency would’ve never got over. Next we started looking at things metaphorically and in an analogous way.

Deborah had seen an acoustic mirror (they are like dish antenna) in the Science Museum of Paris. So we thought why not create a playful installation which explores the idea of communication. And this was in contrast to all the advance technology which was used in the bridges. Acoustic mirrors are analog objects which can transmit sound from point A to point B in a concentrated manner. No technology is involved in them, it’s just physics.

This was only the foundation of the installation. We went to Paris to try them out and also some other installations associated with sound. The experience was very fascinating and fun and the most critical thing in this was that you cannot see the person to whom you are talking. There is an element of mystery and fun involved when you talk through these mirrors. It’s a playful interpretation of a talking bridge.

There was also a thought behind this installation, it was to trigger in people the curiosity to try something which doesn’t fit in their usual surroundings and be anonymous.

You could use the bridge to beam a song to the other side, or tell a story or to simply say Hi! How not to have preconceived notions about the person on the other side! They could be old/young, rich/poor, white/black/brown, tall/short, thin/fat or anything.

The most difficult part of this installation was to actually make it. As the mirrors are in particular geometry (parabol) and are big in size it was difficult for us to make them on our own. We started looking at websites which were selling dish antennas. We found a lot of them but most of them were not the size we wanted. We met Ronald again for help regarding this and he suggested that we meet Matthieu, an alumus of Howest who works with composites and has a small company called MAT2 Composites. We met him in his setup and explained the idea of the acoustic mirrors to him. He told us that he can try but they are going to be expensive.

MAT2 Studio

In the meanwhile we started looking at other companies outside Belgium selling parabols. We found a few and started writing to them. Most of them didn’t have the geometry (prime focus) we were looking for. Things with Matthieu didn’t work out because of his prior work. We found a seller in south France who had two 180cm diameter prime focus parabols. We made the order and had to wait a more than a week to get them delivered.

Once it arrived, we realized how big they were, we were really scared that they might not work. And once we put them to test and they worked, Maria and Deborah started jumping with joy!

We got hardware for making the stand for them and also some paint to make it blend with our theme. The step by step process of assembling the Talking Bridges is explained using CAD sketches.

Talking Bridge GIF

The first step was to make a stand for the Talking bridge. For this two 80cm long 1.5cmx3cm rectangular iron profile were welded to create a cross as the base.

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Next a 120cm long 6cm diameter metal pipe was welded to the cross. Two 1.2cm through holes 10 cm apart were drilled near the top to on which the parabols mounts were to be bolted.

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Next we put a 15 kg weight through the pipe and onto the cross to add stability. This weight is used for putting garden parasols. a 6cm hole was drilled through the weight to make it go through the pipe.

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Then we mounted the parabol mount on to the pipe with help of hex head M12 nut, bolt and washer. We added washer as the internal diameter of the mount was 9cm and the pipe dia was 6cm.

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Then using 8 round headed M5 nut and bolts we mounted the parabol to the mount. The bolts were all painted white and the nuts were all painted red to match the colors.

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Making the Structure of Another Island

Getting the pontoon from Nieuwpoort was one thing and making an island (or dock) is another thing. As mentioned in the previous post, the idea of the island was to provide a cosy and intimate setting and not something huge. The pontoon which we got from Nieuwpoort was 8 meter x 1.7 meter, which frankly speaking is a bit difficult to handle and we needed a crane and then a form lift to maneuver it. And as it’s made using a super dense tropical wood, it’s really sturdy and heavy. We had to think hard in how to use the pontoon to its full potential.

Initially the size we decide was to be approximately 2.5 meter x 2.5 meter. But the pontoon was no where close to the dimensions. We thought that we can use the two sections of 1.7 meter x 3.4 meter to make a square, but that was too big and difficult to manage. On inspecting the pontoon further we found that there is a way to get the original dimension of 2.5m x2.5m, the underside of the deck had three long wood beams running across the lenght. If we use one section of 1.7m x 2.5m and we cut the other section into half and still use the two beams we would have a section of 0.8m x2.5m. So, finally we got something close to the 2.5m x 2.5m dimension.

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We laid down the two sections together and used oblong metal connector plates and Hex head M10 screws to bolt down the two sections. We used 5 pairs of connectors and 5 Hex bolts to connect the two sections.

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After the two sections were connected, to strengthen the platform we added transverse wooden beams using reinforced angle connector and Hex head M10 nuts and bolts.

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The structure was further reinforced using the C section metal cross from the pontoon.

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Then we flipped over the platform and sanded the side wooden beams and transverse panels and unscrewed the decking alternatively and planned them using a power planer. The planed decking was realigned and re-screwed to the wooden beams.

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We made 4 custom T Section support braces for metal cube structure by welding a square cross section tube to a 3 cm metal pipe. Two through holes were drilled to mount these braces on the decking.

Support Brace

We drilled a hole 10 cm apart from the edges in each of the corner decking. Then these deckings were unscrewed and the T section support braces were inserted through the holes and were fastened to the decking using two Hex head M10 bolts. The Decking with the braces was re-screwed to the platform.

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We started assembling the metal pipe cube structure on the side. We used 2.5m long metal tubes to make the structure. We made a square frame with a plus using metal pipe connectors which had bolts which can be fastened with an allen key.

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We put four 2.5m long metal pipes in the four braces on the corner decking.

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Using long ladders we mounted the pre-assembled metal square frame on the four pipes and using a mallet we drove the pipes in the connectors on the square frame and fastened it using an allen key.

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The next part was the most scariest part during the build. We had to lift the entire platform with the metal cube structure and put it on top of the floater. As we couldn’t just slide the fork lift under the platform and then put it on top of the floater. We clamped the decking of the platform to the forks and then maneuvered it on top of the floater. The platform is heavy and to do it in this was really nerve wrecking. The platform was bolted to the floater using angle connectors and Hex head M10 nuts and bolts.

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Stevan and Steven at Bolwerk really helped us a lot with moving the sections and bigger bits of the island and also with the fork lift. And because of some really heavy duty tools in Bolwerk, we were able to put the structure of the island together. Planing and sanding of the decking and side was one of the most physically demanding thing we did. At one point of time it was difficult to push the wood through the planer as it was really dense, we didn’t have the energy left to do it. But somehow we managed to do it.

You can see some of the timelapse of the various stages on our instagram handle.

This is how the basic structure of Another Island was done. There are a few final details to be added. More on the island in the coming posts.

Getting Started with Another Island

Scenario 3 was one of the most ambitious of the scenario we were thinking of creating: A floating island.

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.

We started looking at ways to make one or to buy some parts in partial and made our own. We spoke to a lot of people, read a lot of information available online, instructables, forums. The very basic structure of an island consists of a platform and buoys.

We started what the island would offer, what kind of activities could we do it. There was one thing which we were really sure about, we wanted the island to be very open and versatile. We had done some workshops and asked from people what would they like to do and along with those ideas we thought that the island can serve various purposes. It can be used for relaxing on a sunny day, a small party, a concert or even a romantic dinner. We started thinking about ideas.

Few Ideas

We decided that we want the setting to be cosy and intimate, so the island couldn’t be really big. We wanted it to accommodate 4-8 people at a time and not more. After the initially ideation we started looking at ways to do it, we wrote to a lot of companies to help us make it. And we also started looking at places nearby which offer any activities related to water. Simon from Lieve Zusjes- Stoere Broers told us that the old pontoons at the Nieuwpoort (a coastal city 70 km from Kortrijk) are being replaced and there could be a possibility of getting one from there.

We headed to Nieuwpoort in search of the pontoons and found the contact for the company responsible for taking care of the replacement and we also met Maarten from VVW-Nieuwpoort Euromarina. We setup a meeting with the contractor the next day and when we meet him he offered us a pontoon for a certain amount. And then we spoke to Maarten, who offered us one of the pontoon for free, as they were going to put them in scrap anyways. We were super happy and excited to get the pontoon for free. The only thing which we had to figure out was to transport the 1.8 meter x 8 meter to Kortrijk on our own. We planned of cutting the pontoon in parts so that we can transport it easily.

We got in touch with various companies offering mini trucks on hire and we found one which was 4 meter long and didn’t require a special driving license. We got to the Truck renting company along with a few tools to chop the pontoon in half. Deborah was the brave one to drive as she has a valid European license. It took some time for her to get used to the truck but the drive was easy.

We reached Nieuwpoort, met Maarten and got down to the task of disassembling the white float and cut the pontoon in half with a jigsaw. Some people from the club helped us get the parts of the pontoons in the truck with the help of a crane. We set off for Kortrijk with our truck. It took us around 90 minutes and we reached Bolwerk, where we were to build the island.

In Bolwerk, Stevan and Steven helped us unload the pontoon. It took us some time as they had a fork lift and it was raining as well. After unloading the pontoon we went back to the truck renting service to drop the truck.

Over the next few days we went to a few hardware stores looking for the other materials and supplies we needed for the island. We visited Hubo, Brico and Leroy Merlin and found the things which we were looking for.

 

More on the building process in the coming post.

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.

 

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.

LOGO

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.