Tuesday, November 11, 2008


So...I'm behind. I've been focusing on my ID project this past week and haven't gotten very far on the tea kettle. Basically I have a few forms (which I haven't scanned and the CGC is closed) for two concepts. Here was the problem statement from my design brief:

Create a tea kettle the brings the serenity of the chado Japanese tea ritual into the modern home. The kettle will function as the boiling mixing and pouring device; it must be elegant, functional, easy to use and create an emotional connection with its users.

My two basic concepts involve boiling the water so that it rises through the leaves and into the upper part of the kettle for pouring (this is a process common to coffees and espressos.) The first concept is a simplified, anthropomorphic form that seems to bow to the users. I have been exploring different types and placements for the handle that accentuate the form and emotional impact of the kettle.

The second concept involves either bowl or cup-like forms that seem to be stacked precariously. The water/tea may rise and fall to different levels as it fills and overflows the bowls

Where I really feel like I need help is with my HP Computer. Here is what I turned in as my final "C" concept:

The frame is a single sheet of aluminum that has been die cut and pressed with bamboo fabric covering the rest of the case area. My design focuses on overtly selling the actual computer as sustainable. Bamboo fabric is instantly recognized as sustainable due to bamboo's incredibly fast rate of growth. Also, Aluminum is highly recyclable, and by using only an "exoskeleton" rather than a full case, there is a material savings of over 60% (not to mention the advantages over molded pieces.)

Other than the styling of the monitor and keyboard, the only feature I am struggling with is the connection between the monitor and the unit. The screen is a 22"transparent touch OLED that slides from an upright to a lowered position to facilitate using the touch feature (reduces arm fatigue.) OLEDs are incredibly light while remaining strong, and see no problem in the monitor being attached on only one side (in the rectangular cutout on the left of the front of the frame) as it is always resting on the desktop. Tony disagrees...strongly.

After talking with Sam last week, I proposed that the bottom of the screen be beefed up visually by widening and thickening the bezel at the bottom to give it more visual weight. Still no good for Tony. I then proceeded to show Tony Sony's new OLED tv which uses a hinge that is incredibly similar to mine:

He still wasn't buying it. I love the idea of giving the consumer something that looks a little fantastic, and I am convinced it will work. Tony's suggestion of adding a leg to the other side takes too much energy away from the main unit, which must be the focus of the computer. I'm thoroughly stumped.


Michael said...

Interesting problems. Let me think a little more about it and get back to you tonight. If you can prove it can be done through existing products, I would worry too much about the hinge detail.

The one thing you didn't mention was how this computer was sustainable. Keep that in mind as you continue to refine. I spoke with Peter and his team is really interested in hearing about this aspect of the project, so don't let it go by the wayside.

Michael said...

In terms of the tea project, I would also look into some simple, round symmetrical forms that are reminiscent of japanese culture. Without seeing them it is hard to say, but the bowing form and "precarious" form both sound metaphorical. As a counter, you should experiment with something extremely simple and visually quiet.

Michael said...

Ok, final thoughts on the computer. First, I see that you've called out materials as your method for sustainability. This is good because sustainability is complex and so consumers usually define that to themselves as "natural." Continue to refine this story so that it makes sense for the consumer and for the HP business.

I would focus now on details of the product. Make this computer the best looking computer you've seen - sustainable or not. For instance, look at alternative layouts for the disc drive and ports, the logo (it seems large and oddly placed), textures and finishes. Can you refine the forms so that the stamped and folded metal can be more beautiful?

Thickening the bezel is the right level of detail to be thinking at right now, so continue on this path towards refining the aesthetic design. Go through it with a fine tooth comb (this is where illustrator comes in handy).