Exercise 3

Model making to Explore Texture, Fabric and Upholstery

In the previous exercise I chose a word that describes a feeling that I would like to evoke within a space. That word was GRATITUDE and I have made an object based on this word. I have chosen 5 of the natural materials to make up my 3D object.

Feeding off the word gratitude led me to think about other feelings around this word. Spiral has a spiritual meaning that symbolises the consciousness of nature starting from the centre and expanding outward, the way of all things according to mystics. Spiral represents life, creation, birth and rebirth, evolution, awareness and development. I printed off some inspiring spiral images.

Initially I thought of making a spiral staircase. If the staircase is wrapped in natural materials you would feel the strength of these materials as you walk up the stairs, they would envelope you and make you feel secure and safe. I made some initial drawings of ideas. A spiral staircase, a dream catcher, a glove, a flower, a row of bamboo with material woven through.

I really liked the idea of creating a wall of bamboo with the materials woven between each cane.

I documented the process, firstly by drawing the gratitude symbol on the cork mat in pencil, I then used black marker to make it stand out. Next I pierced a small hole for the cane to sit in then added each one to create an arc wall of canes. I then cut strips of hemp, hessian and linen to weave through the canes creating a screen, which I then fixed with paper clips. The arc shape protects the gratitude symbol in one way but the openness of the space welcomes growth and ideas. I placed an ammonite on the mat to show the pure rawness of the limestone, a reminder of the natural elements within the design.

Once I had made this 3D object and taken the photographs outside in the natural daylight, it still felt that there was something missing. It looked too simple a design, although I did like the way the fabric was woven through the canes, I felt it was too standard and safe. I was inspired by the precedent studies of Kengo Kuma, in his designs he weaves material together to produce structures. Of the materials I had chosen it seemed the bamboo would be the most appropriate to achieve this look. I knew I wouldn’t have achieved this with the brick, slate or stone. I cut each piece of bamboo to less than 20cm and pressed them into the cork tile. I then weaved the hemp, hessian and linen through each cane, fixed at the ends using paper clips, intentionally colour coordinated.

The woven strips of material provide a screen style design, I particularly like the way all 3 pieces of material let in a little light, you can see the weave of all 3 pieces so much clearer in the natural outdoor light. I purposely placed the model in different outdoor scenarios; in the grass, on the concrete path, in front of the lavender and against the pebbledash wall. All four backdrops enhance the design and the tones and colours of the fabric.

The 3D model is sat amongst the grass, the vibrant green grass as a backdrop draws my eye to the green embroidery on the linen and the green paperclip.

In this image, the 3D model is sat in front of the lavender and on top of hamstone creating a contrast in colours, the wooden sleeper and stone to the left match visually with the top material, the hemp.

Here the model is sat on a concrete path and my eye is drawn immediately to the black gratitude symbol, the dark patches on the path compliment that symbol whilst the hemp material on the top also compliment that shade in the path.

This image is of the model sat in front of a cream pebbledash wall, the whole 3D model stands out because the wall is a neutral colour, although there is texture on the wall, the 3D model has darker tones and texture in the materials and colour emphasising the design.

Usually I would spend time procrastinating over what improvements could be made to my designs, both physically and digitally, but this project was different. It didn’t take me too long to realise that changes were needed with this design and so after sketching and re-thinking, I decided to create another 3D design, something with a more visual edge, a 360 degree aspect of difference and intrigue. I feel that I have learned so much in respect of concept ideas and the importance of going through the process of sketching that I now accept that my ideas don’t have to be the perfect end result straight away, this process takes time.

For my second design, I used smaller pieces of bamboo cut at different lengths. I glued 3 pieces together creating a triangular shape then stacked each set on top of the other, going from large at the bottom to smaller at the top and used a glue gun to stick them together. I then cut thinner strips of material and weaved each piece through the stack of canes in a less specific way. Again inspired by designers that use natural materials to create a structure led me to this design. I find this design a bit more interesting, a bit more quirky and more free flowing and organic. Restricted to 200mm x 200mm x 200mm made me consider each triangular shape and how they would sit on each other if they were the same size, I knew I wanted it to replicate a pyramid shape but didn’t want it to be perfectly formed, from every angle it looks slightly different adding interest and intrigue. Each piece is supported, but not relied upon, by the upright bamboo and with the material weaved through it changes the whole look and feel of the structure adding warmth and texture by enclosing some of the spaces within. The colours and tones of the materials also add warmth to the design. Even the glue strands resemble cobwebs on a dewy morning, another natural element to bring the model alive. Looking down through the structure you can see the dark line symbol that represents the word gratitude, an example of a spiral being the centre of all things, on this occasion it’s in the centre of my 3D pyramid stack. You can also see the waffle type weave on the fabric, the sunlight highlights this beautiful weave adding interest to the material that you would otherwise not see.

Further research led me to the explanation of the symbol GRATITUDE.

I like the idea of perfect circle being the core of the gratitude symbol with a spiral in the centre, which often symbolises many powerful concepts, such as rebirth, the circle of life and evolution, and is often seen as a symbol for change and development. As one of the oldest symbols used in spiritual practices, it also represents accepting the constant changes that life presents to you which as designers we need to embrace. These concepts are closely tied to gratitude. Gratitude is, at its core, the act of giving thanks for what you have, it prompts personal growth which is often seen as personal evolution, seems fitting for my life right now as I work through the course towards making a better life for myself. The three dots are believed to have a variety of meanings, first of which means the dots stand for taking further thought or action, for example as part of gratitude practice you could take further action by journalling to give thanks. Another meaning is that the three dots represent an infinite list in mathematical representations, in that there is always something to be grateful for. The hook at the bottom of the symbol resembles an ancient Hawaiian symbol called Makau, this represents strength, energy and abundance.

The overall 3D structure reminds me that natural materials that grow each and every day are not perfectly formed in shape and size. They are not manufactured or man made to look a certain way. They retain their organic, natural elements which make these designs much more interesting. A natural material can be strong enough to make a structure or compliment a manmade material, the natural material will soften some manufactured materials whilst adding interesting elements. All natural materials need to go through a process either chemically or mechanically to become a textile but this is done without losing character and charm.

Hand drawn sketch of 3D model using pencil and fine liner
Digital image of 3D model drawn on the iPad using Procreate

I did some further research of images on Pinterest and came across some fabulous architectural models, it got me thinking, could I create a similar style with bamboo. The bamboo canes I have are not flexible enough to create the vertical curve but by placing canes at different heights similar to this image I have designed a more interesting curved 3D object almost like the spiral pattern. I then cut some strips of the fabric; hemp, hessian and linen, also at different sizes and weaved each one through the bamboo canes pinned together at each end with dressmaking pins. It is very similar to the first model I made but by adding more bamboo canes and putting them closer together creates a more interesting shape and structure and by doing it like this it’s as though the structure is protecting the gratitude symbol but also presenting it to the viewer.

Some images of structures found on Pinterest

My influences throughout this project have come from bamboo structures, fabric weaving and the impact these materials have on our environment.

Inspirational images of structure, pattern and texture

From the images above you can see how close the weave is on the linen, almost blocking out the light, whereas the hemp and hessian lets in the light both slightly differently, mostly obscuring what’s behind it so offering privacy as well as intrigue.

I tweaked my 3D object slightly, by still using bamboo canes vertically I glued them to the cork tile but added more to the arc and used different heights to add more shape and form to the structure. I then cut different widths of linen, hemp and hessian material and weaved each piece both horizontally and vertically through the canes, securing the ends with dress making pins. I did this in a less symmetrical way, purposefully creating a more organic and natural flow to the design. The bamboo canes are placed at different heights which adds character to the structure. Each piece of material has texture and warmth that is woven through the bamboo and is both protecting the gratitude symbol I have drawn on the cork mat but also offering encouragement to become grateful not only for the natural materials we are so fortunate to have but for our planet that we are able to grow these materials on.

The 3D model I have made illustrates the feeling of gratitude, using natural materials to create a structure, a fun design full of organic features reminding me that those natural materials derived from the ground, the very ground that our planet is made up of. Whilst some naturally grown materials need human intervention, it’s important how that intervention is carried out. We need to consider the impact on our environment such as pollution by air, land and water, the disruption and destruction of our eco systems.

Photographs of my 3D model

Being grateful for nature itself helps us find calm beautiful aspects in our life that I’m sure you will agree, everybody needs at some point. Immersing ourselves in nature provides a sense of calm and helps us filter and break down the chaos that everyday life can throw at us.

Having grown up in the South West of England, a small town surrounded by villages and open countryside and although I crave the chaos of city life I always find myself retreating to the peace and tranquility of the rural life, the birds singing day and night, the foxes communicating, the wind rustling the trees, the aroma of country life, it’s in the blood! The London to Exeter train line is right on my doorstep (the sound of the train running past regularly being a gentle reminder of village life and leaving me feeling quite nostalgic) and although I have access to visit cities I’m still drawn to rural living. Gratitude, for me, is the act of giving thanks for what we have and alongside forgiveness, when it comes to design it helps us avoid errors before they occur and then in turn provides a sense of stability, I’m extremely grateful for being encouraged to learn and explore the use design.

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