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In my History of Industrial Design-Designers class taught by Bill Greene, each lecture features one important industrial designer/architect. Yesterday’s lecture was on Buckminster Fuller, a great designer who also studied at Black Mountain. While most designers of that time period were interested in cubes, Fuller loved triangles and the geometry they created. He also developed the geodesic dome (think of the giant sphere shape at Epcot). He was into practical, inexpensive transportation and shelter, and developed what he hoped to be a safer and more aerodynamic car. This car was called the Dymaxion and was extremely fuel efficient for the time period- about 30 miles a gallon. Professor Greene showed us a video of the car turning around a small radius- the video showed it turning around a police officer over and over again.
Dymaxion Car Geodesic Dome
I originally constructed my alphabet letters each on 5.5″x5.5″ squares of Bristol, but soon found that I did not like the quality that I produced. I decided to continue making the rest of the letters on the Bristol as “sketches” with the intention of making them digitally. I had not used Adobe Illustrator much before, but after spending a lot of time in it doing my letters, I feel much more comfortable using it. Making the letters digitally was much easier, as well. I could copy all of the basic construction lines for each letter, and for letters that are similar I could just alter them slightly. It still took time to fix the little mistakes I would make, like not continuing a line far enough, though. The entire project did take much longer than I thought it would, but I learned a lot through it and I am glad I completed it.
When the idea to construct an entire alphabet out of our “B” rules was presented, I immediately thought of the possibilities. I knew that the collection of letters would need a way to be held, and so I began my research into homemade books. Needless to say, this was a much more difficult process than I thought it would be. My first book is nowhere near as neat as I wish for it to be, but it was definitely a learning experience. I’m looking forward to make another book or journal now that I know a little more of what to expect.
The German company “Hansa” has designed a new faucet that features color changing LED lights that are sensitive to temperature. The color of the lights seen through the water let you know whether the water is hot or cold. It also includes precise temperature control and can be installed in sinks, showers, or baths. I hope to use this type of faucet one day, but whether or not it will become popular or not has yet to be determined.
The general consensus for group projects is that no one likes them. We all dread being assigned them, but we all know they’re only meant to help prepare us for the work force. Since we most likely won’t singlehandedly design entire buildings, collaboration is a serious skill we must master if we want to be successful. In my opinion, the most successful groups are ones who balance the workload between individuals, but also make most design decisions together. It’s important to each person to fully grasp the entirety of the project, but sometimes members focus on their assigned aspect so much they forget about the rest of the project. I think that my group, the interiors group, made a huge effort to make all of the design decisions together, when we could have broken up the work a little more. However, this did lead to each of having an understanding of each part of the project. Overall, I did enjoy this project and the opportunity to present to a client.
What if we lived in a world where most, if not all, people were nomads? If we lived in one place for a time, but the very next day we could disappear to somewhere else like we had never been there? The idea is similar to the Burning Man project, one week annually where individuals come together to experience life, living, and art in a new way. They gather in the Black Rock Desert of Navada, exist as a community for one week, (or more for the volunteers), then leave it exactly as they found it. Some design companies have been investigating the idea of portable cities, where it’s possible to create a functioning living space one day, but have the ability to pack it up and move it the next. While Burning Man is located in the same space each year, companies like Weatherhaven have dreamed up an idea where residents can move in and have fully functioning community running within days. This company desires to manufacture temporary shelter for remote conditions, making this type of nomadic lifestyle a possibility. Some investigations include, foldable apartments, foldable concrete blocks and tent cities. The current state of tent cities in the US is not good; these usually exist not because of a desire to be non-materialistic and close to nature, but because of overpopulated homeless shelters, poverty, and repossessed homes. Therefore, we must be careful not to glorify the idea of tent cities, because to many it is not a choice. Some areas prohibit tent cities, but some are forced to allow due to the current economic conditions. Many times, these tent cities do not have access to clean drinking or bathing water which can become an issue fast. If companies doing this type of research could provide a low-cost solution to this issues, then living in a tent city could become something different than a mark of financial ruin. I believe there is a lot of potential in this idea and am excited to see what it’s future holds.
Until college, I had lived in Roanoke my entire life, and I’ve been downtown hundreds of times. So I’ve probably experienced all it has to offer, right? Wrong. So wrong. While I’ve been on multiple trips downtown specifically for photography, it wasn’t until I went with people not from the area that I gained a new perspective. While I grew up thinking the Roanoke Star was a typical city asset, and that the Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) Building was just another building, I found that people see things like these special. Would I ever in a million years look at the Wells Fargo Building, something I’m so used to seeing, and think, “oh, that looks interesting, I should photography it?” Probably not. But someone on the trip thought that it was interesting and worthy of a permanence in a photograph. I know the things that Roanokers love about the city and think are special, but seeing what non-Roanokers found interesting was an entirely new experience. I encourage all of you to go into your hometowns and cities, places that you think you know like the back of your hand, and imagine you have never seen them before. What would you find interesting? What beauty have you been overlooking because of its familiarity? What are the attributes that make your area special? If you’re going to be home this summer, take advantage of the time and gain a fresh perspective. Eat lunch at the old diner on the corner, go to a concert at the farmer’s market, visit a historical museum. Fresh perspective will go a long way.
Now that our class has gotten it’s feet wet in downtown Roanoke, I want to share some of the other awesome things it has to offer! A special, fun thing is called Art by Night. I have never personally been able to go, but it’s a great opportunity. The first Friday of each month, a select number of art galleries are open late. It’s a free event (parking is free after 5), where you can experience the galleries at your own leisure and choice, as opposed to by chance or appointment. You also get the unique opportunity to talk with the artists. To check out more, here is the website: Art by Night.
Roanoke is full of unique galleries with talented and emerging artists, and the concentration of galleries downtown is perfect to visit many in one day. Even if you don’t get to go to Art by Night, still try to check out some of the galleries listed!
The Taubman Museum of Art opened in November of 2008 during my freshman year of high school. I was able to volunteer on the hectic opening day, where it seemed like the whole city came to find out what this crazy, spaceship-esque building was all about. I remember all of the controversy the building caused, from parking concerns, to the high cost, to the aesthetic impact on the downtown area. The lead architect, Randall Stout, previously worked for Frank Gehry and was trying to achieve Gehry’s famous style. The cost of this was extremely underestimated and ended up being much more expensive than planned (from $46 million to $66 million). The Museum has continued to struggle financially since then. Consultants had estimated that the museum would bring in about $745,000 annually, but in 2010 it only brought in about $110,000. I have personally witnessed the museum’s challenges. I was in the Center for Visual Arts program in Roanoke County’s Burton Center for Arts and Technology. Part of this program was an integrated Museum Studies Course. Each year, we had a different teacher due to the previous one leaving because of financial worries. The Museum had a high turnover rate of staff and it seemed like solutions could not be found. Renovations and new ideas were constantly being implemented in order to appeal to the public, but the museum is still not financially sound. Even so, it continues to bring exciting, world known exhibits into its doors to attract the public. The only problem with that is, most of the public come on Saturdays during its free admissions hours. While I can’t say I’m exactly sure why the museum chooses to have admission on the busiest day of the week free, I believe choosing another to have free admission could begin to solve their debt issue. They have also begun to exhibit regional and local artists to give Roanokers and residents of surrounding areas another reason to come visit. Despite the negativeness in this post, I really do enjoy being at the Taubman and have spent many hours there. It adds even more uniqueness to my city and its diversity. I have volunteered at the Taubman many times and regularly visit it when I’m home. I really encourage all design students to make a trip there every so often to see exhibits and spend some time at the other galleries in Roanoke.