Guerilla Furniture

I moved into a new unfurnished flat a couple of months back and thought that this was the opportunity to build furniture which would cater to my specific needs.

I came across a book by Will Holman called Guerrilla Furniture Design (How to build lean, modern furniture with salvaged materials) two years ago. It stated four values which made a lot of sense to me and they are:

ECONOMY: Each project is an exercise in material, visual, and fiscal efficiency, built from the by-products of the modern consumer industrial complex. A guerilla designer should maximize resources, minimize waste, and leverage available assets.

HONESTY: Materials bear a patina of time and marks made by the passage of human hands, thus communicating their history and potential. A guerilla designer should obtain material honestly and treat it respectfully, avoiding elaborate ornamentation or obscuring finishes.

UTILITY: Furniture is a functional art meant to solve a number of mundane, practical problems. A guerilla designer should strive for ergonomic, stable, structurally sound solutions.

BEAUTY: Beauty is, of course, subjective and elusive. However, if a design is spare, honest, and useful, it often ends up being beautiful by nature. The guerilla designer should develop coherence of form, color, craftsmanship, and conceptual idea.


I decided to make a table, bookcase, bed, chair, stool. I started looking at various types of furniture which people had done. I was also inspired by Ben Uyeda‘s philosophy of using materials which are readily available and not to get too much into joineries. I also wanted the furniture to be flat pack to an extent so that in case I need to shift my house I can take the parts apart and move them easily.

I made a couple of sketches then moved over to CAD to get a rough idea about the proportions and aesthetics of what I was planning of making. I thought I could make it out of Plywood or Pine and I started inquiring about the price and specifications from various timber seller in Ahmedabad.

And it was one of the days that I had gone to buy some metal with my friend Somil that we spotted a shop near Mehndi Kuwa which seem to have huge planks of Pine. We made a stop and got into the shop and it was a Pine wood paradise. Ramesh Bhai, the owner of the shop gets huge planks of pine which are used by shipping industry for. Most of the wood he has is New Zealand Pine which is already seasoned and pressure treated and hence wont warp over a period of time. He sells it by kilogram which when compared to buying seasoned pine is super cheap. I got back home and started making a list of stock which I needed to make the furniture.

After two days I was back in Ramash Bhai’s shop and ended up buying around 150 Kilogram of wood which was then moved to my house using a handcart.

Pine Planks

I started working on a lot of pieces simultaneously. I was making them whenever I was getting time. It has taken around 2 months to finish the loft bed, media console/bookcase, easy chair, Table. I’m planning of making a few stools and a low workbench as well.


The first thing I started with was a loft bed. Since I was a kid I wanted to have a loft bed and this need to have one in the present house got amplified by the fact that the builders who are making flats now a days don’t understand the concept of having a store room, they think that we Indians have started practicing the art of minimal living and just live with a suitcase of clothes.

So, I made a couple of iterations of the bed in CAD and decide to make one which would be around 45 inch high and would help me store most of my things under it. The initial plan was to have a table next to the bed which I could use as a step to get on to the bed but I dropped that plan and decided to use the crates I had as steps.

I started building the bed out of 2″x6″ 8 feet long pine planks. I made a quick frame using a finger joint which I made using my circular saw and compound miter. I used screws to fix the frame. Then I split a 2×6 into 3 pieces which I used to make a centre and side supports for the slats.

Loft Bed

I got 1/2″x3″ teak beading to make slats. I cut these to the required width and fixed it to the side and centre supports using screws.

In the meanwhile I made the legs of the bed using 2×4. I screwed two 2×4 to each other to make an L cross section which makes it really strong and rigid.

I bolted the legs to the frame using 3 M10 nut bolt and some screws. And also added cross members for stability and rigidity of the structure.

I need to attach a curtain around the frame.


I make audio systems (Sonic Architect) and have a couple prototypes with me and I use some of them from time to time and also a Audio Technica vinyl player. I also have around 100plus books with me which because of moving were in a box for a couple of months. So, I thought I’ll make a media console/bookcase for the speakers and books.

I had to glue four huge 8’6″ long pine planks to get a wide board. I used dowels and glue to join two boards to each other.

As I don’t have a thickness planer I had to use an angle grinder with a flap disk to sand these super massive and heavy boards. As sanding with an angle grinder can create a lot of fine dust, my building guys suggested me to move to the basement of the building where I would not disturb anyone and also not make the entire staircase covered in saw dust.

Console

Once the sanding was done. I cut 2 pieces each from the two boards which were to be used as two sides and two vertical partition.

I had to free route rabbet and dado to fixes the vertical parts. I used dowels to align the panels and then used 2″ long screws to fix the book case and then used some of the cutoffs to make the legs.

As these were rough cut boards the front of the case was not entirely flat. So, I glued teak beading on the front and then flushed it to the panels using a flush trim bit on my router.

I oiled the front of the book case to make it look more rich. It houses a lot of books, my current setup of Audio Technica LP60 vinyl player, Bookshelf speakers, some old prototypes, a couple of toys and lights.

Console


I wanted to have a chair which I can just use to relax, listen to music or read. I wanted to have a hybrid of a lounge chair and a deck chair. After making a couple of CAD variations I decided the form and made a cut list.

I used 2×4 pine planks for making the space frame. I used screws to assemble the entire frame. And then sanded it using the angle grinder.

I wanted to stain the frame cause all the furniture was turning into this yellowish white pine. I used black oil based Taralac stain and the frame came out super nice. Then I finished the frame using Lineseed oil.

I used 1/2″x3″ teak beading for making the seat and back rest of the chair. I countersunk all the screw holes so that the screws don’t damage the clothes or poke. I screwed in all the slats and then stained the first two slats of the seat and backrest black. And then I oiled the entire chair.


I had started working on the table when I started the bed. It took the most amount of time cause I was finishing the chair and console in between.

To make the table top I glued together 4 pieces of pine using glue and T-Bar clamps. Once the glue had dried I sanded it using the angle grinder. The table top had a lot of holed and cavities which I filled with the sawdust and CA glue.  I chamfered the bottom edges of the table using my router and chamfer bit. I sanded the top again one last time.

I applied a coat of Lineseed oil and then furniture wax on the table top and let it dry.

I thought of a lot of ways to make the table legs. I thought that I’ll just make a very boxy frame and fix the top, I though I can get tapered legs turned and can make a mid century style frame. Maybe cause I couldn’t decide what sort of frame I wanted, the table took the most amount of time.

So, I finally decided that I’ll use rectangular sections as legs and will fix them at an angle from the table top and not as a boxy setup. I split two 2×6 cross section pine and made an apron and leg assembly.

To give it a light appearance I fixed the apron at an offset from the table top bottom side. This also helps in managing the chords on the table. I’ve also attached an spike stripe on one of the leg.


The next thing I need to make is a stool which I can use to work on the table. Right now I’m using a bamboo stool. I still haven’t decide how the stool is going to look. Once that’s done, maybe I’ll finish it in a couple of days.

I also want to make a low workbench, which I can used for leather working, woodworking and eating food.


There were a couple of things I learnt in this process of making Guerilla Furniture

  • Things take time and it’s okay to be slow. As I was making the furniture for my own use I wanted it to be done in a very specific way and that took a lot of time to figure out. And as I was also working with material which was huge and bulky, I couldn’t sustain working very regularly. There were days when I was sanding and in the evening I could not feel my hands and arms. I understood that I’m not in a hurry to finish anything and I’m the client so let it happen at whatever pace I can manage.
  • I didn’t try to control things or materials too much and perfection was not one of the biggest criteria. Though the end result looks and functions absolutely well, I didn’t want things to be as precise as it was in the CAD file. I did most of the work on the fly as I didn’t have the tools to make micro adjustments. And in the process figured out that things are going to deviate from the original path and it’s okay if they do. We have to do our best to reach where we want to while embracing the uncertainties that come our way. This not trying to control things did not affect the attention which was given to every detail.
  • Our cities have huge potential to support whatever we want to do. The only thing we need to do is to go out and seek what we want. Because I stepped out and found a place which offered me the same material and that too salvaged, I reduced my expenditure by almost 40%. I met wonderful people like Ramesh Bhai who are helping people reuse and upcycle materials. I bought a couple of tools from local tool and hardware store and in the process came to know what all was available in the city. Ganesh Tools in Biscuit Gali was the store from where I got T-bar clamps, chisels etc. You need to step out of your circle and see what the world has to offer.
  • I generally don’t post stories on Instagram. But this time I thought I’ll share the process of making the furniture on the go. And in doing so, I ended up getting a lot of suggestions and messages from people who were following my profile. Also a lot of people asked me where I got the wood from. So, for once the social media was helpful in giving and receiving information.
  • Making this furniture also helped me connect more with friends. While I was making this, my friends who are in Ahmedabad were following the progress and asking me what stage I have reached. And once the media console was done we started screening movie at our house and the setup is pretty nice. So, we make food once or twice every week and have a group of friends come over and watch movies, play games.
  • I have been making furniture for some time now but this is the first time I did so many objects together and also the scale of things. These sort of activities make you humble in a way as you are making things which are bigger than the normal product design object scale. Also it makes you appreciate people who are doing the same sort of activities. You come to know the handwork and effort is real when it comes to bespoke objects.
  • You need to have really sorted and fundamental information sources. I have been watching Jimmy Diresta, Ben Uyeda, Ishitani Furniture, Mike Montgomery, Chris Salomone and a lot of other makers. These guys have been a source of inspiration, information for me and over the past couple of years have built an understanding of how things are done. A lot of time it seems to an outsider that making things are easy for me, but that’s not the case. It seems easy because I have spent countless number of hours watching and learning from these guys and training my brain about how to use a specific material, which technique to use, what tools to use etc. So, behind every functional, aesthetically pleasing, highly detailed object are countless number of hours spent in research. I’m deeply indebted to these guys for helping me in making things seem simple.

You can check some of the furniture on my Instagram handle or see them personally if you are around Ahmedabad.

 

What I learnt by Making a lot of paper Hydrangea

I have been on and off origami for a couple of years now and I’ve achieved a fair amount of dexterity when dealing with paper. I’ve been particularly interested in geometric folding which is mostly a tessellation of similar elements either repeated over the entire sheet of paper or similar elements cascading on top of each other.

I was making Muiras, inverted pleates, waterbombs, all sort of repeated pattern and creating some of my own fold. Then I came across this very interesting channel on YouTube called HappyFolding (Sara Adams). I saw the Hydrangea fold (Created by Shuzo Fujimoto) video, which was brilliantly done. I was a bit apprehensive when I started the fold as it involved pushing, pulling and folding paper on itself. I had done these sort of processes on paper earlier but not on a single sheet of paper in one particular fold.

I started with a fairly big (A3 square) tracing paper and heard Sara explaining and demonstrating the fold. One thing which I would recommend a lot of people who are trying intermediate level of folding is that if they are watching a YouTube video, then reduce the speed of the video to 0.75 times if the pace seems to fast. It helps a lot as you can actually get a decent pace and match the instructor. The first ever Hydrangea I made took me around 45 minutes and it came out pretty decent. I used a rosewood folder and a modified stainless steel dental pick (a wooden tooth pick’s blunt end can be used as well).

First Hydrangea

I became more curious about this absolutely amazing cascading tessellation as it could go on growing in the levels of petals until it became too small to fold and collapse. I thought that lets give it a try and make the smallest one I can. So, I sat the next day and made one which was 4.5cmx4.5cm and felt really good and thought that even smaller ones could be done. It took me around an hour to make this 4 layer Hydrangea.

2nd Hydrangea

I became more courageous and adventurous and thought that it would be really challenging to make something which is under 1cm when folded. Hence started my obsession with making a sub centimeter Hydrangea. I took steps to do this. I moved from a 2.20cm to a 1.4cm, 1.4cm to a 1.10cm, 1.10cm to 0.85cm and finally from a 0.85cm to a 0.75 cm.

Webp.net-gifmaker

All this while I was experimenting with various types of paper to get the one which can be used to make the tiniest Hydrangea. I used rolling paper and tracing paper for making the 0.85 and 0.75 respectively. Making the smaller ones took a lot of time as i had to extend the working and dexterity of my fingers to a pair of tweezers and picking tools.

Tools

To make the 0.75cm Hydrangea I used a square sheet of tracing paper approximately 1.5cmx1.5cm. As such small scale, paper behaves in a totally different ways. The crease lines become so small that it gets difficult to distinguish and then on top of that the first collapse is the most difficult cause you need to use around 6 to 8 of your fingers and paper this small cannot be so easily manipulated. It was one of the most challenging and delicate thing I’ve ever made in my life. I wasn’t afraid of tearing the paper, I never had that fear as I knew I’ll start over again and try once more.

While I was reducing the scale of Hydrangea, I was actively posting my progress on Instagram and Facebook, a lot of people were really encouraging and some of them even messaged saying that they believed that I can make a sub centimeter Hydrangea. It was really nice of them to put their faith in an unknown person.

After I got done with the sub centimeter Hydrangea, I started folding other folds on smaller scales and it was interesting to see that I started using the tweezers and picks as an extension of my hands and it became easier as I made more and more folds.

One day I thought let’s try making a big Hydrangea with as many layers as possible. I picked butterpaper as I wanted to have translucency in the model and to be able to see various layers when kept in front of light. I ended up making a 8 layer 25cmx25cm Hydrangea. I found making the bigger one far more difficult compared to the little ones I did before.

After a few weeks I thought that now it’s time to make a tessellation of a tessellations. I started looking at high density Hydrangea. One day I started making crease patterns on my own and tried to make a grid of 2×2 but made a mistake, but the mistake also turned out to be a nice hybrid pattern of square and stars grid.

I found a pattern for tessellation in Shuzo Fujimoto’s book (Japanese instructions) and got down to making it. I used tracing sheet to make a 4 layer 2×2 Hydrangea tessellation and this endeavor took me around three hours.

2x2 Tessellation

This gave me a bit of confidence on making a tessellation and my next big plan was to make a 5×5 one and I again picked tracing paper but it was a bad choice. When you try to fold and collapse 25 hydrangeas simultaneously then a paper like tracing sheet might not work as it’s not stiff enough to create a crease memory. I took around 6 hours in folding the crease pattern and then trying to collapse it. But it didn’t work out. I thought maybe it was me being over ambitious in trying a 5×5.

Failed Tessellation

In the meanwhile I came across this beautiful black paper which could hold creases very nicely and not tear at the same time when folded multiple times on the same crease or when being pushed or pulled. I thought this is a good paper to try a tessellation’s tessellation. I made a crease for a 3×3 grid this time and this time the paper was just perfect for the application and it took me around 4 hour and I ended up with a 3 layer 3×3 Hydrangea measuring 8cmx8cm.

3x3 Tessellation

I still hadn’t given up on my challenge of making the 5×5. So, one day I sat and made the crease pattern on my favorite unknown magical black paper and tried to collapse it. It took me a total of 5 hours to make the basic 1 layer 25 Hydrangea tessellation. I was so tired by the end of it that I left the pattern untouched for another 10-15 days. It took me another 11 hours spread over two days to make a 3 layer (middle Hydrangea being 4 layer) 5×5 measuring 12cmx12cm. This has been the longest (duration) single piece of folding I’ve done in my life and it was worth doing.

5x5 Tessellation


There were a couple of things I learnt in this entire crazy process of getting curious about a fold to a sub centimeter to a large one and finally a 16 hour 5×5 tessellation. Some of them might seem philosophical but they make sense (at least to me)

  • Origami makes you really calm as you are dealing with a medium which is fragile and resistant at the same time. It teaches you to deal with things which could have contradictory characteristics in a very calm manner. I’ll make an analogy of “Responding” rather than “Reacting”.
  • It makes you a patient person. You cannot rush into making the fold as one wrong move could end up puncturing the paper and lay waste to the effort you had put. Things take time and you need patience to go through them and it’s fine if you take your time.
  • Things might seem crazy but if you can keep calm and have patience, you can break the crazy things into deal-able chunks of growing complexity and deal with them one by one. I moved to the sub centimeter and the 5×5 Hydrangea in a evolutionary way and not in a brute attack mode. I built the complexity and dexterity of my hands and brain to deal with the crazy task of doing 16 hour long folding.
  • There are a lot of good people around who share common interest with you and they will encourage you and put their faith in your capabilities. Times when I thought it might not be possible to do a fold, someone sent me a message or told me that they think that I can do it. And this made a lot of difference.
  • Personally origami gets me into a state of Flow and engages my brain and mind. So, a lot of people who find getting into flow difficult can try out origami and once your flow is maintained you can shift to other activities.
  • I experimented with a lot of papers, plastics and structures. Now, I know what sort of paper will work for what sort of folds. So, doing experimentation is really important if you want to optimize and enrich a process.
  • I made a lot of bespoke tools for doing origami, which would otherwise have never happened because there were times when my fingers were too big for the size of the sheet. So, making your own tools is a crucial part of experimentation.
  • I think (or would like to think) a lot of people got interested in origami after I started posting the pictures. Some of them had been doing origami but had stopped and some of them tried it for the first time and were delighted beyond measure.
  • I made a point of giving Hydrangeas to a lot of people. At one point, I was folding around 4-5 Hydrangeas everyday and giving it to people. They were so happy to get one. So, one motivation to get started with origami is to give it to others and to see them smile.

It was an interesting time experimenting with this ONE beautiful fold done by the great Shuzo Fujimoto. I’m deeply indebted to him.

You can check some of the folds on my Instagram handle or see them personally if you are around Ahmedabad.

Summer Time Studio

A lot of people ask me what I do. And I generally tell them that I’m an unemployed Maker, who likes to make and learning new things and help others make and learn things.

So, in the beginning of May’18 I along with two awesome makers Mayur Bhalavi and Divleena made a pact of making new things and learning from each other over a period of two months before Divleena starts her school again. We unknowingly ended up setting up an ad-hoc makerspace in Animation Studio, NID.

Summer Time Studio

We made a list of some things or areas we wanted to work in. Some of them were:

  • Woodworking
  • Leatherworking
  • Paper based object
  • Concrete casting
  • Epoxy based experiments
  • Crochet
  • Textiles
  • Plastics
  • Basic Electronics

We have almost covered the entire list with a few exceptions which we are going to try out in the coming week.

We were experimenting with paper based leather and origami when we made the plan of starting the Studio. I was trying to make some wallets and stationary organizers out of real and paper leather, while Mayur was experimenting with weaving the paper and making wallets. Divleena was doing crochet at that time and she found an empty amazon box and ended up using that and making a container which was a cross over of corrugated cardboard and yarn. And she also made a couple of origami earrings.

 

Divleena continued with her crochet work and made ear rings, headbands and belts, while also learning a bit of woodworking and made a small box with highlights of threads on the lid. Mayur started an ambitious project after being inspired by the work of Dave Hakkens, He started collecting waste chips, namkeen and biscuit packets and started making strips out of them and weaving them. He then fused it with thin LDPE sheet and made a sheet big enough to make a bag. Then he combined this sheet with paper based leather and made a gender neutral tote bag. During this entire time I doing origami, building new prototypes of audio systems, wooden pencil boxes and experimenting with wood forms and finishes.

 

While we were doing all this we were letting others use the tools we had and helping them make things they wanted. We were also watching a lot of making videos and learning new stuff. I was also showing Mayur and Divleena around the city and going to places where things are made, repaired and sold. We bought a few new tools and got a lot of old ones from Sunday market. We bought metal, wood, clay and all sort of random stuff.

 

As a lot of people were leaving for their home and they had a lot of leftover material. Some of them were kind enough to give us a part of it. We salvaged two cushions, one mat, one woven bamboo lamp shade from the textile department and set up a small cozy place in the animation studio. Divleena started doing macramé and it was so fascinating that we also joined her and made a curtain using yarn we found for the small space. We bought light bulb and installed it inside the woven bamboo lamp shade. The place was looking really pretty.

 

We went to Geetamandir one day to get wood and found really interesting beading which had a beautiful chevron pattern. We ended up buying around 200 of those small beadings and some thicker ones for making patterns with wood. Mayur started making a sleeve for his macbook, a hard drive case and coin purse using the same technique of weaving plastics. Divleena started exploring paper based leather and made a sheath for her scissors and she did a box with wood and paper and then two pouches using paper and felt. I was exploring the beadings and making chevron, herringbone and some other random stuff.

 

We saw some amazing paper marbling videos on YouTube and we decide to try it. We got ourselves the supplies and tried our hands. I had previously tried marbling and it was Divleena’s first time. It gave us some interesting outcomes. We were also doing some watercolor and illustrations in between. We also tried our hands on wood carving and our good friend Rai gave us her cool wood carving tools. We want to experiment with it further.

 

We set up a space for 4-5 people in animation studio using discarded AC packaging and it was super duper fun. We setup a small temporary space for 4-5 people using discarded AC packaging boxes which we found in the trash. Setting up the space was super duper fun, everyone got involved. The space is being used by everyone who sits in the Animation Studio.

 

Lately Mayur has been doing origami and making Master Yoda and all sorts of birds and animals. Dave is also doing some origami, I’m exploring Hydrangea a bit further and made a tessellation of 9 Hydrangeas. Divleena is also doing some amazing Millefiori and making some trippy psychedelic stuff and she recently finished a box in which she used thread and stitching technique to hold pieces of wood together. I’m making new prototypes of speakers using beading and patterned wood.

 

Next week we are going to try concrete casting, setting objects in epoxy and we are making some headphone splitters, LED reading lights and some more stuff.

Summer Time Studio outcome

Rai helped us with clicking pictures of the setup


What did we learn by doing this small experiment of ours?

  • We never had any concrete plans or ideas. All we wanted to do was learn something and to try out things we never did earlier. We let our moods and interest lead to the things we wanted to explore. Some days we’ll come to the studio and be like let’s make boxes and in a few minutes we would be in workshop helping each other figuring out how to make boxes. And because we saw each other doing interesting thing we didn’t procrastinate.
  • We were not afraid to ask each other how things work and could they teach and explain what they were doing. One day Divleena started making the macrame curtain and it was so fascinating that we couldn’t resist ourselves and left the things we were doing and started making the curtain with her. We didn’t let our age define our knowledge. There was no hierarchy in things.
  • You need intention and drive to do things and some time doing something and setting an example is far more important than talking about ideas and philosophy. There were times when we were making things and people who were using the studio will pass by and stop and ask us about what we are doing and a lot of times they ended up sticking around and making thing with us. Wood carving, marbling and macrame are some of the examples when people came and tried things and the happiness and little joy these activities gave them was worthwhile.
  • The desks where we sit some time became a meeting point for people. They’ll get things they are making and show it to us and we would talk about what was happening with us. We spoke to a lot of people we had never talked earlier and we came to know that they know a lot about the things we were doing. We ended up exchanging tools and books.
  • Tools are important but their dissemination is far more important. We saw that if given access to tools, people can do some wonderful work and come up with different uses of the same tool which we initially didn’t know. A lot of people borrowed leather making, wood working and crochet tools from us and made stuff.
  • You don’t need a fancy set up to make stuff, you need right set of people, mindsets, attitude and behavior to do meaningful things. I have worked in a couple of makerspaces and noticed that they are too tech intensive and people boast that they have this tool or the other but there is nobody using them. We realized that with access to whatever small number of tools we personally owned and which were there in the student workshop, we could make a lot of things.
  • You don’t actually require a permanent physical space to do things. We moved around almost every two week from one place in campus to another. The three of us being around each other was more important than having a permanent space. We got so comfortable working with each other that we sort of know what the other person needs.
  • Having positive and interesting people around is important whether they are making things with you or not. They contribute a lot by just being around inspiring you to do things. We had Rai, Muntah and Somil around us doing their own things which were rarely related to our work but their presence brought a lot of good vibes. Rai with her smile and beautiful sketching made us feel humble, Somil with his knowledge about wood and materials enriched the things we made and Muntah with all his energy, music and architectural work gave us new insights.
  • We built a lot of stuff for others without thinking that we were putting in our own personal time for making things which would be used by them as well. The AC box space was one of the thing we did, people take a nap there, some watch movies, some play games and some just find it interesting that they end up going inside it and them come out with a huge smile on their faces. Maybe these smiles are far more precious and satisfying then getting money for doing some mindless job.
  • There have been times when one of us or two of us or even all of us were down. We gave each other space to deal with things they were going through but we made sure that we would have at least one meal together. We have been roaming around Ahmedabad doing Tripse on my bike (I know not strictly legal but we don’t cross 40kmph). I’ve been around Ahmedabad for past half decade and know a lot more places than Mayur and Divleena. Taking them to places like Noorani Bara Handi and watching them turn joyful after eating green chicken or laccha falooda near Ellis bridge was priceless. We made a lot of new friends in the city, there is a soda auto shop which is parked near AIMS hospital making awesome fresh lime juice and a lot of different stuff; We’ve been going there regularly and if sometimes only one of us will go there, they end up asking where are the others. They smile when they see us coming to their auto. Making these connections is something which is important to the three of us.
  • There were a lot of things we did which were not related to making. There was one thing which was a constant in these two months, whatever we were making or doing all of it was a fun activity. Being in workshop, sourcing material, doing tripse on bike to have meals, watching stuff, pulling each others leg. All of it was fun and it wasn’t a task for us. We saw a lot of movies, videos, heard a lot of new music, exchanged a lot of music, made new friends over the mutual interest in certain type of music, liberated some people (mostly Divleena) by letting them have DJ duty with my speakers. We also played a lot of weird table tennis with a ball which our friend Patil made with plastic packaging stripes.
  • We have been open to others about our learning and helping them in doing their work. Some days back one of the security kaka saw an origami spiral and was fascinated by it and he came one hour before he closes the studio and sat with Mayur and learnt how to make the fold. It was really a proud moment when people who haven’t tried certain things come ahead and take a leap faith to learn something new.
  • And I think we to an extent made a lot of people feel comfortable with the idea of making things on their own and facilitated a few people to get into making things which were outside the curriculum.
  • The most important thing to remember is that making is about making sense of the world, not about the “stuff.” Making connections and making meaning are the true results of making.
  • There is power in participation, co-creation and openness. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. Design is of the people, by the people and for the people.

To conclude, I think that if people are given a chance to make connections and do things they can do wonder and come up with amazing things.

At the end of the day, the goal of making 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.

And if the system is not accommodating you then go around the system and make things happen, sometimes you need to rebel and take a stand for the things you hold dear. 

“Here’s to the crazy ones”

Heres To The Crazy Ones

Image source: Le Monkey House


Some behind the scenes stupidity.


 

If you like any of the objects and want to know more about them the let us know. Or if want one to be made for you, that could be a possibility.

The Design Jedi of First Order of The High Council of National Institute of Design Vijayawada Part 2

The next three Jedi have shared their work on instructables. These put their head and heart into making these objects.

 

Making a laptop accessory box for yourself. Tanya was facing the issue of space in her laptop bag and the pouch which she used for keeping her laptop accessories. It is not only very bulky but also takes up a lot of horizontal space rather than vertical, hence making it difficult for her to carry all her stuff in bag. So, She decided to make a laptop accessory box which would use the vertical space of the bag as well as not be bulky. She used Leather and Teak Wood for making the box.

The TUKI stand is a guitar stand inspired by the beak of the Toucan bird. It is portable and can fit inside a guitar cover easily. You can carry it with you whenever you want and can put your guitar on it instead of leaning it against a wall which might cause it to fall. It is made of scrap packaging wood (pine wood) which is easily available anywhere, but you can also make it in teak or any other hard wood. The design was inspired by the toucan bird to give the stand a character. The toucan bird’s beak shaped design signifies a strong and rigid structure.

Medzer is a medicine organizer kit which aims to make the accessing and knowing about medicines when needed, a very easy task. Because many a times, it’s emergency, it’s important that your first aid kit is neatly organized and easily accessible to everyone. Medzer consists of clear slots so that you can know and see each items location in the kit instead of digging through a box of messy supplies. As easy to refill as to sort through, it’s very informative and portable too.

The Design Jedi of First Order of The High Council of National Institute of Design Vijayawada

After doing two intensive workshops with the crazy bunch at NID Paldi, I was asked if I would like to go and met the crazy folks at NID Vijayawada. After teaching at a design school with six decades of legacy, it seemed like an interesting opportunity and experiment.

National Institute of Design, Vijayawada is a design school in VijayawadaIndia. The Institute started functioning on 7 September 2015. It is currently being run in its transit campus at Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. The institute functions as an autonomous body under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

I was asked to facilitate the 1st Industrial Design batch of NID V, who are in their third year right now. So, before I started there was a bit of a pressure to be teaching the first ever batch of a design school, as these guys are going to set benchmarks for the institute and the future students. The workshop was on the basis of “Making for the Real World”, which was done at NID Paldi. I call them the The Design Jedi of First Order of The High Council of National Institute of Design Vijayawada

Jedi of First Order

 

I had no clue about how the institute was, what sort of resources they have, how the students were, the skill level, the exposure and also what were they looking forward to. When you have to facilitate 18 people on a one to one basis, it’s important to know they ambitions and aspirations.

We started the two week workshop by informal introduction and then each one of them was asked to tell someone who’s work they appreciated and why. Some usual names were there and some unusual ones as well. Then I shared what was the intentions of the workshop, a basic introduction to making, open source and digital fabrication was given to them.

As the institute is working from a transit campus it didn’t make much sense to get these guys to make objects for the studio space only. I asked them to pick ten things they would like to work on. These could be things they need in their day to day life or something which is missing. Everyone put up their list on the softboards and we discussed as a what each student should be making. Once the domain was decided, these guys got down to do online research and look at similar objects and come up with a reference bank and then start ideating on the basic form factor.

Everyone had to come up with multiple concepts and then all the concepts were discussed collectively and changes were suggested. The next phase was to develop some of the concepts and make quick lo-fi prototypes and see how things look and feel.

While all this was happening we were discussing open source, making and consumerism etc whenever we got time. And we also screened Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware by WIRED to give the students the idea of what is happening in the world in terms of manufacturing, engineering and design. This one documentary ends up opening a lot of people’s eyes about manufacturing, making and open source.

These guys were progressing by making more detailed plans and models of the objects they had picked and we also started talking about the materials and processes which we’ll be using in making. And while all this was going on we reached Friday.

We also planned a basic introductory electronics workshop for the students over the weekend. For this two special guests Jon Rogers and Jens Alexander arrived to NID V on Friday evening. We introduced them with Arduino boards and got them to tinker around with basic output components. Within a matter of three hours the students were making LEDs blink, servos move and buzzers beep. It was really impressive. We had a small demo party in the courtyard.

We spent the entire next day working with Arduino and also introduced other output and input components. They had to come up with different stories using the electronics and it was really nice to see these guys who had never worked with electronics coming up with brilliant ideas and stories. And on Sunday we had a small feedback session with Jon and Jens sharing what they could do in future. Everyone had a really nice and eventful time during the weekend.

 

The next week everyone shifted to workshop and got into making their objects. A lot of new tools, processes and techniques were introduced during the time spent in the workshop. Everyone was in a state of flow and doing really nice work. By the time the week got over, most of the prototypes had reached functional stage, they required some aesthetical tweaking like painting and finishing.

 

And on Friday evening we sat down to discuss the learning we had over the past two weeks and also to critique each others work. One thing which was common among everyone was that they knew what their friends were doing as they were sharing their work and progress with each other since beginning. A lot of people got to appreciate the scale of things, some got to learn how important and critical are measurements and dimensions. For some it was just a reinforcement of the idea that they need to make more.

I was really content by the end of the workshop as everyone had outdone themselves and put them in a spot where they gave their best to learn new things and from each other. That’s the point of design to an extent, to make people believe that they can change the world by taking small steps at a time.

Some Folks

 

I’ll share the work of few of these Design Jedi in this post and will write a few more posts with others work in future.


The X-tool is a neat substitute for seating arrangements at social gatherings. Light weight makes it easy to move and re-arrange. Combine the Xtools and create a large table like structure for playing board games etc. The structure has been planned in such a way it creates minimum wastage and can been carved out from a single plank of wood. The three components have been ergonomically designed for 95 percentile.

 

It is a sitting and standing table which involves various functionalities, that can accommodate 4-6 people to sit or stand.

Ready to activate classroom /office /workshop /dining, Table Z offers the core sit-stand features and functionality that help support positive performance, collaboration and a good posture.I liked the idea of a table with a metal base and a wooden top that would have two different heights making it a multipurpose table.

The main intention to make Table Z is to avoid back stress and add movement in the body by making the users standing and working as well making it different from the traditional working space.

 

POP lamp made using Plaster of Paris and old plastic bottles. It provides a soft glow that blankets your space just enough for you to function without causing a harsh glare.

 

The Young Designers of PDUG’15 Part.2

An enthusiastic bunch with a lot of energy and some time super sleepy. This post shares the work of the next three young designers.

What do you think of a modular furniture that becomes a table or a personal seating space with one flip? Pieces and puzzles is what this box is inspired from. Take the modular piece, slide it in and it becomes a cushioned seating. To make it a table, simply slide it out, flip horizontally and settle it on the grooves. Cushion flips beneath as you flip the piece and you get a table to work on.

A lot of materials gets wasted each time we make something. Instead of wasting these materials , what if we can reuse it ? Material Box is an easy to make box , to dump extra materials , so that you can reuse them again. Can be put in the workshop as well as studio.

Ever felt like taking a power nap in the middle of the work but couldn’t find a proper place to straighten your back? Meet SleepTab.
It’s a two piece furniture specially made to take naps in the studio which when stacked becomes a low lying table and helps save space. The furniture looks like as if its stitched from the side view and has a quirky criss cross shoe lace weaving.

 

The Young Designers of PDUG’15

I got back to facilitating the product design students of National Institute of Design Paldi again for a two week long course on Making and Tinkering. This time the young designers were from sixth semester. An enthusiastic bunch with a lot of energy and some time super sleepy. In the course along with making, we discussed ideas about open design, digital fabrication, consumerism and the bigger role of a designer.

Initial ideas

We took the product design studio as our context (Where), and started looking at things and objects (What) which we wanted to incorporate to make it with the intention behind (Why) picking the object. It took a while to figure out these things. Once a particular path was picked the ideation process started and which further led to making of small scale prototypes. We discussed everyones ideas and everyone critiqued each others work and added and subtracted a lot of details from the prototypes.

Next phase was to finalize the form factor and then getting to the workshop to start building 1:1 scale working prototypes of the objects. It took some time for the young designers to figure out things. And during the entire phase of prototyping a lot of new techniques, tools and processes were introduced.


After the prototyping got over then next phase was to work on the aesthetics and add colors and finishes. The next task was to put all the objects in the studio and start testing and using it. This leads to them getting real world feedback on their objects and also leads to validation whether their ideas work or not. If not then what do they need to do in order to make. They were also documenting there work and process and wrote instructables. I’ll be sharing their instructables in this post and the upcoming posts.

Check out the work of this crazy bunch.

A little bit of greenery can liven up any room. But you may not really have the space for a few plants (or the time), so here’s an easy to make vertical frame to hold your plants and a simple watering bottle.

Can’t find pins when you need them?

Do your sheets get damaged due to board pins and staple pins? Is making sure your paper is straight a pain? Do sheets keep slipping out of the board pins? If these things about your display board do bother you, ‘P(A)INLESS’ is your solution.

Build a set of units which can be joined to create simple anywhere furniture. The individual units can be connected together to form stools, benches and small chairs for kids, etc.

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.