Designing for Makers
— Who is behind this?
The Silk Mill is on a mission - undergoing a process of significant development to create the new Museum of Making, due to open in summer 2020. With the aim to empower makers of the future through inspirational environments for learning programs and activities.
More information at https://www.derbymuseums.org/locations/museum-of-making
— What's the challenge?
Can someone, who has never built a table, design a coffee table that can be made by other learners? Sure! In fact, I would say that this makes me the most qualified designer for the job at hand.
Let's attack this project with the philosophy of the museum in mind - THINK. FEEL. DO.
The heritage and visions of Silk Mill had to be considered at every step during the design process.
The aim was to develop a design people would love to have in their living rooms while also providing a fun, yet somewhat challenging experience of making.
Threaded features, modularity, and playful interaction were at heart of the ideation process.
Could it be more than just a coffee table?
The initial idea involved an interactive feature where the top section turns and reveals hidden storage space in the cavity of the table. This would be very much possible in a commercial setting but it is not suitable for smaller-scale projects, where the design is limited by the time and equipment of the museum and the skillset of potential learners.
How to add a little spin on this design? Just by playing around with the top sections, which have been designed to provide plenty of freedom - materials, colour palette and surface finish. Anyone can make this coffee table truly theirs.
Making a table requires a good amount of skill, to begin with. The construction of the hoop of the coffee table is one of the bigger challenges. The techniques to accomplish the desired shape can be taught in a course. As there are more ways of accomplishing the shape it accounts for various levels of experience.
This project has taught me a lot - I got my hands dirty with concrete, sawdust, and more. I played around with the CNC experimenting with different molds for the concrete, I had to improvise to bend the plywood and I went through a whole range of concrete mixes just to find the right consistency and finish. I have to say that experimenting with new materials was probably my favourite part but nothing beats the feeling you get when you can see your idea slowly coming to life.