Exercise 1: Sketch Designing

Following on from the research task: what it looks like or what it is, in the form of a video lecture, I have sketched designs of my fitted furniture. I noted from the video that it can be easy to understand what an object is just by looking at, but to understand how it is made you need to pick it apart, you need to see detailed drawings to fully understand how it is fixed together. It is really important when designing a piece of furniture, that as designers, we explain why and how certain pieces work together, we can produce drawings to communicate our ideas.

I chose to design a piece of furniture that will fit in an ensuite bathroom between two chimney breast stacks. To communicate my ideas i have made a few sketches. These sketches show how I have developed my design. I have looked at different styles of legs and how they may be fixed to the cupboard. In the summer of 2021 I visited the London Design Festival where there was a display of beautiful colours and patterns from around the world, I have taken inspiration from the Islamic patterns, they are beautiful and intricate. I have sketched a few different patterns that would work for my cabinet design.

I have also looked at how the drawers will be put together, the dovetail joint is a seamless connection. There are so many ways of displaying a sink bowl and the taps that sit on the sink. My sketches show those variations and a side elevation showing how the drawer and cupboard would look like inside.

Having chosen my site for the design, I’m familiar with the space that I needed to fill, that was the easy part. I also had a fair idea of the amount of cupboard and drawer space that I need to accommodate the toiletries. The existing sink and pedestal is at a good height, so the measurements are very similar.

I originally thought that at the smallest point above the sink maybe I could fit a mirror, but I have since realised that the space is fairly narrow and we would have to bend down to look in the mirror, not ideal! So with this in mind I think a few shelves would be perfect, I would like to follow the pattern design at the top as well as the bottom, that way they will tie in together nicely, but I’m not sure if this would work or even be possible.

With this design the user will still be able to enjoy the red brick on both sides and between the sink area and the shelving above. I think that the cupboard design on the fronts will add style and fun to an otherwise plain piece of functional furniture. The design style is so different to the backdrop of the red brick wall, it will compliment the red brick shape, it will offer a decorative style to a rectangular block wall. I have designed the piece of furniture to have that instant impressiveness and by adding a textured pattern design to the door and drawers fronts it will not only offer style but texture in a very traditional style bathroom.

I also need to take into consideration the brick wall and how to treat it so that it’s waterproof because the bathroom will produce steam when the shower is being used and there will inevitably be water splashes from using the sink. I will need to apply a brick sealer product that will soak into the pores of the brick, this will seal the bricks but will also act as a prevention of the natural brick dust. I’m prepared for the bricks within the recess to be particularly uneven, so I will fit battens of wood to the walls to make a cupboard frame and then add patterned wood to the front, which will make up the doors and the drawer. So basically there won’t be cupboard sides or a back but the frame will be strong enough to carry the sink, the frame will sit within the recess so there will be no need for sides. I will use the required size of batten for the frame which the cupboard doors and drawer front will be hinged onto, also taking into consideration the size of the hinge for the size of the door. The hinges need to be strong enough to hold the doors and the plywood fretwork. Here are some image examples.

Here are just a few examples of hinges and fretwork that can be used in my design

I’m very keen to source the doors and drawer front from another piece of furniture, maybe salvage a few pieces to bring the fronts together in one design. This way I’m considering sustainability and if I use the carcass of the door and drawer front I can then add the fretwork to the inside and then apply another layer of plywood, painted in a funky colour, to the back of that. This way you won’t see inside the cupboard itself. I’m not keen on seeing cleaning products each time I enter the bathroom, the fretwork can be the standout piece with coloured wood as a backdrop. I have created a 3D image of how the fretwork, frame and plywood would look in the style of an exploded diagram. It’s in greyscale but gives you an idea of how the pieces would fit together, pinned by nail tacks. Drawing in this way also gave me time to practice technical drawing in Autocad and in 3D.

When I first thought about putting furniture into the space I was very much drawn to Edwardian style cupboards, their warm tones and chunky style appeals to me, but after sketching and researching patterns I’m finding a patterned fretwork style frontage much more appealing, especially for this small space. I like the idea of sitting the sink partly in the top of the furniture, hence the reason for a less deep drawer. This way I can have more cupboard space below bringing a little more height to the sink within the space, this also means the hot, cold and waste pipes can be hidden behind at the back of the cupboard. Within this design I can also include sustainability, which is very important to me. There are so many unwanted cupboards to be found in junk yards and emporiums that I feel I could reuse the cupboard fronts and once I’ve got the correct measurements I can source them fairly easily. Even the wooden framework could be up-cycled from a second hand unit. By sourcing a second hand cupboard is helping reuse furniture that could potentially go to landfill and it’s also helping a small business survive this fast fashion world we are currently living in.

Reflecting on the design process, once again, it reminds me how important it is to sketch out ideas. What a journey this exercise has taken me on, pulling all of my knowledge and learning together to create my own design. The sketches are still fresh in my mind, I just kept adding ideas to them, this part was so much fun. I can honestly say that at the beginning of this exercise I was not expecting to draw so many little ideas. I am still drawing inspiration from exterior sources, whilst walking around my local town over Christmas I was seeking patterns and colour to bring into my design. I am now looking forward to putting all of my ideas into an organised format for the final exercise.

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