The history of materials used in design is important in looking at how the design world has evolved.
- Materials are the fundamental building blocks of culture, they're so fundamentally important to us that we use materials to describe the eras of time. We talk about stone age, we talk about bronze age, we talk about the iron age, and it's reference to what we were doing at those times. If you look at the stone age, in some parts of the earth it was 1.3 million years or so, and you look at the that they had to do with just that only and only material, whether it was creating tools to help gather, or help tools to make tools, or the help tools that were used for hunting.
They managed to take that one material and create a society and a culture based around that one material. And then in the later years, you find that, through the bronze and the iron ages, that we were able to evolve those tools and make more tools, now we're essentially getting a few more materials into the library of offerings here, that they were able to make things, tighter, faster, better, lighter, stronger and that led to cultural and society growth in agriculture and travel and other areas, that helped us become who we are today.
If we fast forward to things that we look at, or things that we see as what's going on today, say silicon for example, silicon material led us to creating the physical microchip. The microchip then became what we call the information age. And so, the information age gives us again what we take for granted today that allows us to communicate and use our smart devices, that we can't live without and look at how getting to Mars and these other areas now anticipating that we're going to go with these materials.
So, what we want to talk about is, what if you only had to deal with one material yourself, if you were just to focus on designing one product, with one material, or several products with one material. What would it be? How would you do it? What would it look like? And, pick for example bamboo, if you're going to look at bamboo versus other woods, there are different rules that people would put on you for that type of wood, or that type of material.
And, bamboo might be hard to bend one direction, but okay in the other direction, and you have to figure out how to make form, how to make it three dimensional, how to make it soft, how to make it flexible, and you have to go through all these processes and some people say, well bamboo's not good for them. But, you'll figure it out, you'll look at ways of making that one material do things that nobody ever thought it would do. Another good exercise is to be look at is things like cardboard, cardboard is a very difficult material to manipulate at times, so how would you make three dimensional objects, how would you curve cardboard, how would you make structure out of cardboard and how could we revolutionize cardboard to make it better eCommerce packaging solution, so we could get rid of some of the multi layers that we have in that.
And if you really want to challenge yourself, boil it all the way down, and maybe something microscopic. For example, here beside me I have cellulose, and cellulose, it's cellulose fiber, and if we look at cellulose fiber, it's our most organic, natural polymer on the planet. And, it's abundant in everything from trees, to plants, and you'll find this in... you can even find this in ice cream, it helps the ice cream maintain a body, when it melts, so when it... so when the ice cream gets warm it doesn't turn into milk, or a milk shake immediately.
It keeps that body and that's the cellulose that the ice cream manufacturers put in there. Another thing that you might see is in grated cheese. When you go to the grocery store, the grated cheese, when you grate cheese at home, it clumps together it goes back into a block, pretty quickly if you were to grab it or squeeze it. But the grated cheese in the grocery store stays loose right? So they put a little bit of cellulose on that and it keeps it from sticking, well in this case, what if you made a product, or a line of products, out of just cellulose fiber? So often when we start a project out we have a thousand of materials that we'll consider and we have so many available to us that we'll skip over some materials just because we're just jumping to the finish line too quickly.
So that's why I wanted to focus on just one material, it might be compromised in the initial thought but what if you took it, with compromises and all, and see how far you can take it. So if we look again, back to our ancestors what they did in the iron age, in the iron age, they didn't understand all the sciences originally behind metals at the time. But they knew by simply, folding it or hammering it, and continue to hammer, that the metal actually got stronger. They didn't know that the molecular structure was changing, and that's why it was getting stronger, they just knew that when they were hammering it was just getting stronger.
So the knowledge that, by hands on, they were able to carry that into making better products. And so, rather than jumping into, just picking something in the finish line, throughout the thousands of materials that are available to us today. Take one, push it, go beyond, and see what you can make of it. This cellulose fiber, it might not look like something that was going to be strong, it doesn't look like something that may be light weight, that in certain circumstances, and it might not look like it might give you the beautiful form you're going to look for, but try it and see what you can do with it.
The movie we're going to show right after this one is going to be a product that we designed using exactly this, so we took the cellulose fiber and we did processing and new ideas, and form development and come up with an idea just using cellulose fiber to make a product.
- How the five senses influence design
- Finding inspiration from nature
- Creating a product from a sustainable material
- Practical application of automotive design
- Product and transportation design
- Custom materials for manufacturing
- Reviewing options for custom materials
- Labs that create custom materials
- Exploring new applications of product materials for product design