Sustainable Aspects Of My Previous Projects

I revisited some of my projects from last year, and considered the areas in which I had succeeded in taking a more sustainable approach to design.

Portobello Road and the surrounding area was allocated as our project site. We were asked to find an area of investigation. Influenced by the hustle and bustle of Portobello, the vibrant colours, and the eclectic mix of objects and cuisine that fills the streets at market times, My focus was on the senses, and I was exploring the ways in which design could awaken our senses, and in turn enliven our daily and spatial experiences.

Project one was entitled “Sensory Mapping”. Whilst maps are generically reliant on vision, I wanted to create a map that would offer a visitor to Portobello a new and alternative experience of place by placing an emphasis on engaging with sound. This began with a series of drawings that recorded my acoustic experience whilst navigating the site.

ImageImage These drawings were very personal, but undertaking them was incredibly rewarding and created a completely new experience and understanding of Portobello compared to the previous visits I had made. I wanted to visitors to Portobello to share this rich experience, and devised a series of maps, void of visual or written information other than the very basic road layout, which users could use to create their own “Sound Maps” by recording their interpretation of the sounds that they experienced.

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This project did not require an abundance of materials. It relied simply on paper, a little printer ink and a pencil. I created a spatial experience, which puts into practice some of the ideas about Reducing The Need To Consume.

Leading on from this project I began to explore another sense, touch, which was an interesting area to explore in relation to spatial experiences because it is rare to find descriptions of place that include what could be physically felt. I became interested in the idea of “Sound Synesthesia.” I worked to translate the sounds around Portobello Market, in combination with it’s visual impact, into a tactile source of information. This sensory information has been layered onto one surface, building an indulgent pattern, and came together to create “sensory wrappings”.

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ImageI developed these wrappings into envelope like objects, their scale developed to make them small and intimate enough to be held and explored with the fingertips- the most sensitive part of the body to touch. This acute tactile experience is combined with sound responsive drawings and graphic notation that aim to evoke visual experience of sound. The curved corners are intended as guides, helping the user to navigate their way through the flaps, and experiencing the layers of information.

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I think this project succeeded in for-filling some of the ideas within the Ted Ten because one surface was used to build a pattern, using only ink and embossing, which uses no extra materials. The objects were designed to be memento’s of a visitors trip to Portobello, something that would be kept for a long time and treasured. Being made mainly of paper the objects were easily recycled.

The final project leading on from my exploration of the senses involved working in a group, and developing a “market stall”. As a group we harnessed my ideas around the senses to design a stall that was engaging and interactive for the user. We wanted our stall to be efficient, and designed it according to our needs. This meant it was only about 1.5m tall, with a depth and width of around 0.75m.  The stall may have been built a lot smaller than general stalls but we did not want to use more materials than we needed to. As a group we discussed the essence of Portobello road, and how this could be captured in our stall design. We thought about the markets and antique shops, and decided to source old objects that were perhaps no longer that desirable, and re work them for use within our stall. This meant we reduced waste and saved using new resources.  We found a broken wooden seat and an old suitcase.

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Our final stall was almost like a game, or an exciting vending machine. Once a customer had chosen their product, they would need to “process their order” by cranking handles, rotating cogs and navigating flaps.

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Looking back at this project I recognise there was so much more that we could have considered in order make our project more sustainable. Learning from the Ted Ten I can see that we could have:-

-Ensured all the materials that we used were either second hand or off cuts, and really pushed the idea of recycling old objects further.

– We could have looked at alternatives to using acrylic for the cogs and inner mechanics of the stall. Perspex can be hard to recycle and often contains toxins. Simply by sourcing more sustainably produced material that was easy to recycle would have been an easy solution, with no aesthetic detriment.

– We made the stall for a one day set up at Portobello market, and did not consider what use the stall could come to after this. Perhaps we also used too many materials for such a short use, and could have designed using less. When people came to our stall at the market, they were intrigued and loved using it. One gentleman said “I want this in my house! let me buy it from you!”. Perhaps we should have passed the stall on to him so that it remained in use and could become a longer lasting object.

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