DfD seminar guest speakers

Nathan Cooke – Day 2

Nathan is a design instructor at MIT. He gave us a detailed chronology of the design process.

Steps significant to this scientific method are:

1. Problem Definition
One has to identify the problem that needs to be solved. The skill set has to be within the scope of the person, else external assistance or consultation is necessary.  There has to be a ‘problem’ that already exists with a solution that fits the problem. An improvement e.g. affordability, efficiency etc. has to be made in contrast to the other existing solutions. It is also at this point that “Success” is defined; when will the project be deemed successful/complete? What is the priority ranking of the goals? i.e. functionality is way more important than aesthetics.

2. Research
Research is one of the most important steps of the entire project, where the problem at hand is better understood, its implications as well as already existing solutions are studied. Research defines parameters that determine the success of the project. Defining the goal of the project is important to be able to clearly point out the end of a project. Due to limited resources of time and money, projects have to be finished in an appropriate amount of time.

3. Ideas
The concepts and possible solutions to the problem are generated. It is usually best to indicate all the ideas, then the good/bad ones can be sorted out and the best working solution chosen. It is possible that ideas come before the problem is identified. Ideas tend to be very exciting, but they need to be narrowed down and made as realistic as possible.

4. Prototyping
This step involves selection of a most promising solution and working with given constraints and materials. It involves plenty of selection and narrowing down. A functioning prototype is then generated, or a model for a larger system designed and tested. The designer should test for durability i.e. the resilience of the prototype to repetitive cycles that may require assembly and disassembly.

5. Final
At some point in time, one has to decide that the project is complete and work with what has been developed thus far. The typical constraints here are time and money.

NB: It is normal for cycles 2 to 4 to be re-iterated for proper evaluation before step 5 is reached. Each of the steps can be considered as a tool to arrive at a goal.

Naeem Biviji and Beth Rayner – Day 3

Naeem and Beth are architects based in Nairobi who design and fabricate furniture in their workshop, Studio Propolis. Thy use CAD software in design and fabricate using hand routers and jigs/fixtures or the workpieces. We were really amazed at some of their workpieces which they demonstrated had the human touch: they do all the work between the two of them. It is usually challenging to do both design and manufacturing.

Naeem and Beth told us that raw material quality is important in achieving a quality product. Using more accurate jigs/fixtures reduces work required for smoothing. They also mentioned the importance of a communal business set-up, where resources are shared. They foresaw the state of local production being small-scale based, since start-ups could be in a conducive environment to develop and see their ideas through to completion.

In manufacturing and fabricating, it is very important to understand the working material, in terms of mechanical properties and structure, which would affect how it is fabricated and its final look.

Kenfield Griffith – Day 6

Guest Lecture and intro to Python

Kenfield Griffith, PhD Design and Computation, Dept. Of Architecture, MIT.

Kenfield mentioned the importance of localised manufacturing whereby the design of an item can be done in a separate physical location, but manufacturing is done within the workshop.

Automation can be used to increase supply in the case of demand. How can you embed technology as a solution to increase production? Think of CAD/CAM ie. In automotive and aerospace industries.

When we understand the formal rules for designing stuff, we can increase production.

Scripting is a great resource for performing repetitive tasks, such that a code is written to perform a given task, and this can be modified for other geometric shapes and quantities.

The TruthComb and Art Day 7 – Ruth, Patricia and Gakunju

We learnt about patents and registration of patents.


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