Hold, Store, Display

A project to design a new method of storing and displaying an item for the Arkwright Scholarship program.

As my year group was starting fifth year of high school, Eastwood was given the opportunity to engage fourth year students in a scholarship program.

At the time, there existed the possibility of myself and the other new fifth years also being permitted to take part. Later this idea was rejected, but whilst waiting, I made some progress on the brief given as part of the application process.

The Arkwright Logo.

The brief was very simple, intended for interpretation as much as deliverable outcome, to design an object, no more than 1.5 x 1.5 meters to hold and/or store and/or display another object.

The only other requirement was that a working prototype, or at least a proof-of-concept had to be manufactured and documented.

image of an arm holder
Design Idea Two uses a micro-suction-cup material to hold a range of flat-backed items while idea one utilises a shape-memory polymer to be fully flexible in use (pun intended).

At the time, this was for me a wonderful chance to apply some new material knowledge and to express and actualise some ongoing ideas which were relevant to my work at the time. Specifically, it was at this time that I was becoming interested in the meaningful impact of product design and moving from a mode of ‘design-for design’s-sake’ and designing products to make a 50th percentile middle class suburban person’s life more comfortable.

image of a tree-shaped design
Daruma dolls originate in Japan and are used to remind oneself of a goal to be achieved at some point in the future. One of the doll’s pupil-less eyes is painted to represent the doll always keeping one eye on you to make sure you stay true to the goal. Once you have achieved the goal the second eye is painted and the doll becomes a reminder of the journey.

I tried to inject some of this thinking into the ideas by making four of them (designs 1, 2, 4 and 5) adaptable and/or modular, making one (design 3) orientated towards personal reflection and individual-base and one designed to be aesthetically contemporary but aimed at lower cost markets.

I was in the mid development phase for one other the three ideas I wanted to take forward when we were informed that the scholarship was cancelled. I developed idea five through to a prototype and may pick up on some of the others, specifically ideas one, three and five at some point as I believe there is potential in them for a unique design solution.

Lighting Exploration Project

A year long exploratory project for Advanced Higher Art & Design exploring perceptual relationship with nature through a semiotic analysis in the context of lighting design.

Art and Design, as opposed to the engineering-based Product Design, focuses less on tech-based skillets or problem-solving as it does on theme exploration and expressive content with theoretical frameworks applied. I started with a basic idea to explore the geometry and regular patterns in the natural environment, evolved from the abandoned theme of ‘capturing motion’; exploring movement in form.

lighting tests in the dark room
Images from some initial dark room experiments on form development.

This interest in geometric form in nature morphed into an exploration of what certain patterns and shapes mean to people, observing the boundary between organic form and the more geometric patterns which often underpin them and how this can be used loosely as a method to explore a broader conception of ‘nature’ and the built environment.

Given the long timescale format, I decided that I wanted to introduce a more technical element of my own accord, learning over the course of the year to use Arduino and constructing multiple prototypes and methods of lighting and interfacing with light. This foundational knowledge in code laid the path to my later interest in JavaScript and other technologies.

a triangle-based prototype
A collage of images from the ‘triangles’ development route.

One particular branch of exploration which interested me was this exploration of triangular formations. The triangle or triangular-pyramid provides a repetitive tiling structure but the angles of 30 and 60 degrees added an element of rapidly expansive complexity (akin to polygons in CAD modelling) which opened a great many possibilities in a short amount of time.

In addition to Arduino controlled lighting, polymorph plastic played an integral role in the projects outcomes. Polymorph is a polymer with properties very close to polymethacrylate that can be moulded at around 60 degrees, allowing it to be melted down and moulded over and over again. As it turns out, it also has great optical properties as well.

final presentation board
The final outcomes in various scenarios showing the Arduino controller and capacitive touch panel.

The final design was a range of units, designed to be placed apart as part of a set, which function as sculptural pieces as well as mood lighting and manipulation. The units are lined with RGB LED’s to diffuse light across their bodies, hooked up to an Arduino controller and optional control panel.

Several programs were written for different effects. Capacitive touch and proximity detection was used whereby the Arduino could detect electro-magnetic interference near a circuit and respond. Once program had the panel respond to toggle colours on and off on touch. Another detected user’s proximity to an individual unit and lit the rest up like a ‘heat map’, in response to the relative position.

The idea was that, with more psychological user research, the units could read the users mood and respond with an appropriate stimulus colour.

CCV Interface

A very early project to engineer a desk table with built in computer interface extension.

This project, developed over the summer of 2013, was one of the first ever long-form, self-directed projects I undertook. A small, movable work table with a reflected PC display extension and touch capability. It was built on the open source software Community Core Vision (CCV).

community core vision software
The main interface for CCV, on the left is the raw infrared image, the right shows the filtered image and registered touch points.

CCV is an open source software designed to interpolate data from an infra-red camera for use in this kind of project. The above image shows data from an experiment before the LED arrays were even introduced (i.e. working only with ambient IR light), already the software can detect ‘clicks’.

a disassembled and modified webcam
The final camera assembly after modification.

The device works by flooding the display sheet of polymethacrylate with strips of infra-red light via IR LED arrays. A small standard webcam is housed inside, modified to block visible light and pick up IR radiation. The IR light is even throughout the sheet until something comes into contact with the surface, at which point light deflects into the camera. The camera is in continuous use by the CCV software.

testing a prototype for the ccv table
Throughout development and testing, several mock-ups were setup to simulate different conditions such as the amount of outside light pollution and camera / projector distance tolerances.

To design the casing, I created a minimalist but aesthetic form, inspired by the set design of one of the Star Trek movies. The display is created by linear setup of a projector reflecting off a mirror. The table has to encase the projector reflection assembly and camera with minimal light bleeding in so avoiding a ‘blocky’ aesthetic was a challenge.

an exploded view of the components
The exploded CAD model, designed as a reference for the real-world build.

A full assembly was designed with a wooden frame clad in sections of polymethacrylate to give a smooth aesthetic in line with trends at the time. The table was designed with home / workshop manufacture in mind; I did intend to make it only opting not to due to cost and storage constraints.

In reflection I realised that I had, for the longest time, brushed away this project because of a restrictive mindset I was in at the time; this has no particularly beautiful renders or SQA-style presentation sheets. However, on closer analysis, I am very satisfied with how this project came out; the design was ready for manufacture, the projector camera assembly was working, acting as a proof of concept, and much was learned about electronics, interface software and engineering techniques which would serve useful later on.

Station Lighting

One of my oldest projects, done in early high school; A UX and Lighting project for use in redeveloping rail stations.

As part of the Higher Product Design Course, as with Intermediate Two, we must produce a Design Proposal as a prelude to the Design Assignment which comprised 50% of our final grade. The brief chosen was to create a platform lighting system for a fictional lucrative rail operator to use on all its station platforms with few restrictions placed on functionality and cost.

scan of project brief
The main brief with the chosen project.

This project was our first real chance to experiment an innovate as the product typology, its placement (multiple units on a platform) and restrictions placed by the brief were all very open.

Four of my original ideas were built on the premise that a lighting dimension could be built into an alternative function, that the functional part of a light is the light emitted and that the product to emit the light was merely a ‘casing’, a means to an end.

In this way, a lighting project can be thought of as a project to design a new way to achieve the generation and projection of light.

sketch of early idea for screen integration
The initial sketch for design idea two, floor directed lighting with a timetable display.

My first chosen idea was built around the idea that timetables could be placed on the ground level and used to project light along the ground. This was built on the idea that ground-level light projection was less intrusive and more ambient than excessive overhead lighting and that to build this into the platform would create a floor level intrusion. If the unit had a secondary purpose, the obstruction could be justified.

sketch of old concept
Design idea five, expanding sculptural light.

My second idea was built on the idea that a piece of lighting could be ornamental as well as functional, as most platform lighting is purely functional. The opens to emit light, transforming into a solid sphere during the day to evoke a sense of mystery and intrigue by being a piece of sculpture as much an emitter of light.

manual render sketch
The final manual render.

The final design chosen was the media display unit which incorporated elements from other ideas such as the rotating light cover from idea six.

The final design refined the notion of projecting light along the floor by emitting light directed down from the floor to about chest height allowing for some ambient spread.

Looking back on the project I am still pleased with the outcome but have some reservations about the means by which the outcome was created.

The brief’s looseness on function, cost and location allowed for some inventive ideas but none of those ideas really solved a problem. I tried to make ideas which enhanced the user experience but the lack of research to form the foundations was, in hindsight, a hindrance.

If I were to take on this brief now, I would want to do a great deal more research, finding a comparable rail operator and defining a set of problems, areas for improvement and constraints to follow.


Polymat: Kitchen Grip Assistance is a silicone grip mat designed to tackle issues involved in the kitchen where the user cannot properly grip an item which will otherwise slide about.

For the first Unit 7 project we were asked to consider the concept of a multi-generational kitchen in the context of human-centred design. Minority groups including the disabled and elderly are often if not completely overlooked in design with a great many products promising to cater to their needs being ‘gadgety’ attempts to make a quick dollar.

demonstrates the progressive steps of cooking and washing with one arm
Alex demonstrating basic cooking and cleaning functions with the main use of one arm

Less than a quarter of people with physical disabilities are born with them, working with Alex (in the images above) we explored the idea of how even a minor impairment (in his case the depleted ability of the left side of his body) can greatly affect the manipulation of kitchen equipment. In particular because a lack of ability to stabilise an item leads to it sliding around.

I became interested in the idea of onset impairment or impairments that will go away eventually (eg broken limb). The market is full of gadgets and products ranging form the genuinely innovative to the obstructive and absurd.

basin development models

I focused primarily on the kitchen sink, as washing dishes proves a key point of importance to food preparation, looking to create a responsive basin which provided variable resistance to pressure. The idea is that, where sliding objects becomes an issue, the user will simply push harder and the basin will grip the object.

modelling the silicon samples
developing CAD models of the samples I wanted to test, I was able to use a two-stage moulding process at great speed

I needed a final appearance model to communicate the idea appropriately. The silicon samples served as proof of material properties but could not be cast at the right scale within time and budget constraints. I CNC routed the model in one piece with laser cut polymethacrylate adding detail underneath. A rubber spray was applied to create the correct surface effect.

polymat model in situation
final appearance model being shown in-sittu

This idea developed into a silicone mat with a variable texture surface designed to provide a range of friction across as large a range of items as possible. Many sample patterns were designed, 3d printed and cast to settle on the optimal pattern.

model topdown view
Second Final Presentation Board

A final ‘looks-like’ model was produced largely by CNC milling, Laser cutting and painting with a silicone rubber. It was unfortunately deemed too costly to cast in the target material.

Reflecting on the project I wonder how imaginative the solution actually was. Visually striking perhaps but does it not simply add the plethora of Gadgets? Would users actually consider using it after or before impairment? Was there actually a change to the kitchen ‘System’? Did I play it safe?

This project especially was a chance to consider my position in relation to design, whilst I am more than happy with the outcome I find it imperative to recognise what this product is not, and what future outcomes must try harder to incorporate.