Thesis Weekly Blog Post#8

Week 2-5: Fabrication progression

In the past few weeks, I have tried to push myself to get my steam bending finished as soon as possible. By end of this week, I have finally finished all my steam bending tasks, in total of 8 pieces were bent, and all are now left to dry for 2-3 weeks.

My thesis chair’s head rest and bottom rail both are made of steam bent parts. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I have gathered some air dried material for my steam bending during the New Year break. Additionally, according to my digital drawing, I needed to fabricate a brand new steam box to fit 9 feet long stocks. I used water proofed plywood create multiple double layer steam boxes, and they are interconnectable and interchangeable to fit different length (The kit is also made for the studio). In the images on the left, you can see the boxes construction and steam in progress.

The second challenge was to figure out how to bend a piece at 9 feet in length. It was almost impossible to create leverage and bend it from a single end, because it will take too much space to swing a full circle in 20 feet radius. I received consultation from faculty member who was saying that I should bolt the form on the floor and bend it by using come-a-long puller. This idea significantly reduced the space and physicality of the steam bending. I was able to bolted a metal bar that has many brackets attached to on the floor, which used for changing the direction of the pull on bending tool. Moreover, I extended the bending tool with additional metal bar and attached one shackle at each end for the puller to hook onto.

Next, I created the digital files and cut bending forms and drying forms on the CNC router. As you can see in the images on the right, I laminated one layer of plywood in the middle of the bending form to increase strength of the lamination. Then I added spacers under the form and elevate the form to create the alignment between the center of the form and the hook point, which is to ensure the pulling force is in the center of the stock while steam bending.

More importantly, the key for steam bending is to control the heat. It is difficult to maintain the temperature on 2’’ X 2’’ X 9’ stock once it is being taken out of the steam box. To slow the process of losing heat and extend the time window for steam bending, I put the stock into a plastic bag, and hook the steam into the bag to keep temperature up. This technique has made the process more relax. In the video I linked below, you can see the entire 25 minutes process of bending in time lapse. Finally, I managed to finish all 8 pieces in a week; I transferred them to drying forms and secured them with metal straps.

White ash 9 feet long 2’’ by 2’’ stock steam bending process time lapse.


Thesis Weekly Blog Post #7

Design Week Reflection:

Overview:

It was very interesting to see all different kinds of design in IDS and design offsite this year. There is a Canadian trend forming up through some post-modernism influenced or inspired design. I personally enjoy to see the playfulness and creativity embedded within the projects. However, I felt a little bit of odd and overwhelmed to experience so much colorful designs in a such short period of time. I start getting some color-seeing fatigue…. In addition, a lot of products are excellent and many new student concepts could be pushed to be better prototypes. At the same time, I think many designs have not been well executed, and their functionality are questionable.

Scandinavian Design group:

April Tables by Nikari was my favorite design at IDS this year. This table incorporates visually light planar surfaces with visually heavy and bulky forms in the space to create very balanced design composition. Although there are no same shape and form are identical, the visual circulation on this piece is so strong. I really enjoy seeing three different heights and sizes of table surface working together with different heights and forms of table bases. It is a very inspirational to my thesis side table design.

The lighting piece OHM by Anony is also very attractive. Compare this light to the side table by Nikari, I think they have one thing in common, which is the excellent design execution on their composition. The direction and height change on the light is thoughtful and pleasing, and the continuity is formed by the composition and the individual detailed cutout on the light. Moreover, I believe the ratio between the covered surface and the exposed light bulb surface are carefully considered as well.

Another interesting design at IDS was the high back chair by two by four design. The chair has both Scandinavian and post modernism influences on its form; the bold shapes and organic form really make the design feel approachable and eye pleasing. During my thesis chair design iteration, I wanted my chair to be wrapped around by the cane as well, I felt the cane would create the private and coziness feeling to the user. However, I was not able to resolve the structure behind the cane to make the design wholistic. I think this high back chair is eye opener for me to reference in my future design career. Last not the least, the chair by Div 2 has a very unique color selection, but I am really not a fan of their design.

Post-modernism Revival:

There are many designs I have seen this year have post-modernism look. They come with very bold color and form, the Bookshelf by MPGMB has very well considered design composition, and it is comfortable to look at. I am not trying to criticize the Post-modernism style furniture, but I feel many of the great concepts have not been well executed. For instance, the Candy-pop table has very interesting legs, but the table top is lack of balance to the entire composition. The dancers lamp has very playful gesture, but the left light bulb is too close to the metal structure, which bothers me a lot. The Roque chair raised my biggest concern to Canadian furniture design, COFO design is currently red hot on social media, they are trying to push the manufacture of their design further; the main product they are advertising is this not comfortable chair. I believe the very nucleus of the seating design is to create ergonomic comfort, but the Roque chair back is very much against to this central theme, it is lack of consideration of ergonomic. Interestingly, I really like the Italian melton wool cloth used Roque chair, it has the texture I want for my thesis chair upholstery.

 

Here are some Interesting Concept I found during the design week.

Thesis Weekly Blog Post #6


2019 Winter Semester:

Week 1:

Happy New Year !

This is my last term study at Sheridan College, I hope I can achieve some special tasks in these coming 4 months.

The final critique in the end of last term was very helpful to me, I receive a lot of objective reflection. Based on the feedbacks, in the beginning of this new term, I need to nail down following design issues:

  1. Consider making the proportion of the chair seat a bit larger, because user will most likely want to curl up in the chair and/or sit in the chair in a couple different positions. I also realize that the edge of the seat was hitting the back of my knee, and the shape of the seat should follow the dynamic form of the chair.

  2. Consider how large the arm is at the top corner, to keep the entire design look poetic and light.

  3. Consider the weight balance of the chair, and adjust back leg location, kick back angle and seat angle, the mock up chair was a little bit tippy.

  4. Consider the under structure of the seat, try to hide the structure as much as possible, but keep the supporting strength at the same time.

There are still many details I need to retest on. My cardboard mock up chair spindles were under some stress when I was installing them, I have went through the troubleshooting in my mind, and concluded some of details may affect its misalignment.

During my mock up fabrication, I found out that the drill press was not perfectly leveled which I need to fix before going for my second mock up test. And I knew my jig was not accurately fabricated, and my parts were not perfectly aligned and positioned while I was drilling spindle holes. In addition, the drill bit was drifting during the angled drill, which may cause spindle holes at wrong angle; to fix this, I have bought the new set of brad point drill bit, and I will drill at higher RPM on my second mockup. Hopefully, these actions could help a little bit.

I am planing to research into some of the fabric company, find out the fabric and foam I would like to use for the seat upholstery.

More importantly, over the break, I have managed to get the air dry material I need for the steam bending. In the meantime, I need to figure out the method to do my actually 9 feet long ash stock steam bending. It will require a lot of force to do. One of the faculty member has suggested to do the bend on the concrete floor, use ratchet power puller to bend the ash piece from both ends. I think it is a feasible plan, and I need to do the preparation as soon as possible, because the wood needs 3 weeks to dry.

Finally, I need to start thinking about my side table design while finalizing details on the chair.

Here are some images documented the process of my first mockup fabrication, and some images of rendered image of the chair design.


Thesis Weekly Blog Post #5


Break week:

I have been very busy since the reading week. During the break, I did a lot of idea brainstorming and tried to come out interesting chair designs which not only fit my thesis theme, also aesthetic pleasing. I really enjoying the process of thinking through making; my design kept developing throughout my model making. Some of my early sketches came to real physical form, some of them did not. Images below show the process and the result of first batch of model.

I was not satisfied with the first batch of model I have made. Their forms are too literal, and lack of innovation. I spent many days experimenting and thinking about different types of forms; I have been also doing many ideation sketches based on existing designs after I went back home.

So I picked one of my initial design (design A) and put into further development by combining some inspiration from George Nakashima chairs. My development kept some of iconic calligraphic form from his design and blend with my own interpretation of calligraphy and contemporary culture. Images 1-3 below show the original Nakashima chair designs. Images 4-7 below show the process of my development on this chair design.

Although I really like this chair, it does not present the way I want to present my thesis them: serenity and serene movement. I decided to keep going and picked another initial design in to round two development. My original idea about design B is to use pre-made cane material to create a sense of enclosure and serenity while sitting in the chair. However, through my model making, I found out that I have to create frame works to be able to hold cane in place, which makes the design loses its purity on semi-transparency. In addition, I tossed the idea of making rocking chair, because its spiral head rest will create unbalanced center gravity; so the rocking mechanism will make the chair tippy.

During my design development, I was drawn to a cutlery set inspired by Chinese calligraphy; its organic form and softy flow really inspired me. Later, I spent many hours on my sketch book, draw inspiration from George Nakashima and organic form, at the same time consider what can I find from the real calligraphy writing process. More importantly, I needed to keep in mind what I want to present is a sense of serenity and movement. In result of hours of brainstorming, a evolution on my design B was born. The entire process of thinking through making was very intensive and very challenging but very interesting and satisfying. Images below show my inspiration, sketches and thinking process.

Week 8:

In week 8, I received a critique from both of thesis instructors. They both agree that design B presents my thesis theme perfectly. I agree too. In the same week, I consulted with one of our studio faculty member, he suggested to use goat skin as my chair seat upholstery to present the warmth of the chair and also use the texture of the fur mimics the texture of rice paper which ties to calligraphy. I have tried this idea on my model; but the result is not very satisfying to me, so I am still holding on this idea at this moment. Images below show my experiment with goat skin upholstery.

Week 9:

Break time for me!!! My head was about to blow up.

Week 10:

In week 10 I have also received some suggestions from outside of studio about my thesis design.

One of the advices was about leaving tool marks on the surface of wooden structure to relate the commonality of both the process of woodworking and the process of calligraphy writing. They both have characteristics of one-time work, which there is no turning back: once the wood is taken off by the hand tool, it is gone; once the calligraphy is written, ink is absorbed by rise paper, can not be altered. I do really like this idea, but the correlation on my theme is not very strong, so I am currently holding on it.

Another advice from faculty outside of studio was about the spindles. She was concerning about all the spindles are too jail like; but I replied that I will add individual different angle on individual slats, because all the spindles cross section have oval shape, and their largest face will be directed toward the person sitting inside the chair, which forms the sense of safety and serenity, because his/her view is partially blocked by spindles. At the same time, people who walk around the chair could experience the positive and negative spaces changing from spindles, which create a visual dynamic movement.

Week 11:

Images below show the process of my first cardboard mock up. I first took a picture of my chair model from top view, then input it into Solidworks to trace the bottom frame to scale, and finally cut it out by using CNC router. I was not aware about the shape of frame on my model is not very accurate, so I had very frustrating time try to trace the frame shape I wanted. In result, I have gone through 8 total bottom frame shape test. Finally, I made it! Both ends of the frame are parallel to each other, which makes my fabrication much easier…

Week 12:

Currently, I am working on my chair design’s Solidworks modeling. I have figured out the method of fabrication and prepared for my solid wood mock up. Moreover, I modified spindle quantities and dimensions on the software, tried to find a balanced point, which not making spindle look too crowd and making sure spindles blocks the view. However, I did not make individual spindle oval shape which is too time consuming. I will test them out on my full scale mock up. Further, both back legs are still under development, I will also polish them once the mock up is completed.


Thesis Weekly Blog Post #3


Week 5: Interdisciplinary Project 2018

Week 6:

After an intensive week of interdisciplinary project, I am pretty anxious about nailing down my thesis concept on time. Since the last meeting with instructor, I was still struggling to distill the essence of traditional symbolic items, because these objects will be my examples to exemplify my argument the “meaningful objects”. I was not in favor of the sketches I have drawn in week 4. Over the past weekend, one of my classmates and I discussed about our individual’s progress and theme, we were trying to help each others to further clarify in our head. we had a very interesting conversation, I realized that I would have to conclude the commonalities from the objects that I was drawn to. Additionally, I received some feedback from the instructor as shown below:

I do really like these three Chinese (traditional/cultural) objects (Calligraphy, Beijing opera, oil paper umbrella) as a lightening rod for concept development.
They each have elements that are iconic to Chinese culture -yet they are outside of furniture which poses some interesting avenues to explore (rather than the typical re-interprestations of a ming dynasty chair). Anyway -I think this is a good track for exploration. (The opera in itself may be a very large subject… whereas the calligraphy or umbrella are a bit more symbolic…. and therefore maybe more accessible as a starting point?)
— Feedback from the instructor

As mentioned in the previous blog post, I am conveying an intangible function from a tangible object/example. Thanks to my instructor’s feedback, I have expended the idea of looking into calligraphy and started to focus on the Chinese Four Arts which include Guqin(music instrument shown in image 1), Qi(board game shown in image 2), Shu(Chinese calligraphy shown in image 3), Hua(Chinese painting shown in image 4). They were the four main academic and artistic accomplishments required of the aristocratic ancient Chinese scholar-gentleman.

From my personal nostalgia, I also deeply appreciate the dream landscape of Jiangnan, China. Over thousand years of histories, poets beautifully expressed the views they seen and stories they experienced in Jiangnan. Such rich backgrounds have made the place heaven like. The oil paper umbrella is an iconic object locally (image 1 and 2 below), it perfectly capture the Jiangnan’s poetic and romantic beauty.

Serenity, quietness, and calmness are three words that I would describe 2 and 3 images above. The individual of Chinese Four Arts has completely different in its application and form, but they all require the person to be emotionally calm to learn and practice. There is an ultimate personal serenity needed to master the medium, at the same time it requires physically and psychological movement to cooperate. Further, Jiangnan’s view embodies such natural poetic beauty and indescribable quietness. I think there could be interesting approaches to them as well.

Later, I came up some sketches based on the contrast principle of serenity and movement.

Here are the ideas best fit the theme: serenity and movement. The left image below shows a rocking chair design. This high wing back chair’s exterior surfaces are covered with cane allow moderate light to come through. The enclosure look of the chair back creates the feeling of safe and quiteness, and the blackened material could also make the user feel grounded. In the combination of both form and color, the user will feel emotionally calm and spiritually serene . Moreover, I would purposely design one of the wings lower than the another one, which creates a dynamic spiral movement.

The second image below shows a side table design. I draw inspiration from the natural lili pad to present the serenity of nature. Three different heights and sizes of the table surface creates the representation of growing (movement). The last two images present different approaches to serenity.

Ideas flow after received the feedback:

Their interpretation of the relationship between calligraphy and furniture making is an eye opener for me. They both contain tangible and intangible characteristics. Woodworking and calligraphy both require extensive amount of practice to master. In detail, as a craft person, he or she has to understand the material in order to do the job; a woodworker needs to know characteristics of the woods, and a calligrapher needs to understand the ink and the xuan paper. As the practitioners gradually gain skills, the skills have become part of the their body, they start utilizing the skill unconsciously as a whole, that is when they start forming their spirtual realm.

While a person completely submerges into the practice, his or her mind is in that spiritual world, but the body is in the motion of doing the work. In the spiritual world, the person’s focus reaches the peak and emotion feel absoutely serene; his/her mind constantly speaks with the material in order to form the work. At the same time, their physical movement is in control of the rhythm of thinking. Interestingly, during these processes, the concept of time seem disappears.

Overall, these mind work processes are intangible, but the end result of the practice is opposite. In another word, a beautiful calligraphy character or a piece of well made furniture is a projection of creative thought, and it is an extensive result of thinking through making. The intangible agency transmits through the tangible project.

Later on, I have concluded the idea of thinking through making and spirital serenity. I think there are two things feeding back and forth are thinking and making, they are communicating throughout the entire work process. However, there is one only thing stay still, the emotion. It could be a very interesting approach to furniture that I am going to make. For example, a rocking chair creates a back and forth ( two movements ) physical moveablility by the rockers; and the high back wings create an emotional sense of calmness. I was also think about the spiral chair back could present the flow of the time based on the Einstein's Theory of General Relativity ( I think I have gone CRAZY here!!!).

Additionally, I was inspired by an Korean furniture maker Sanghyeok Lee (https://www.ignant.com/2016/01/06/studio-lee-sanghyeok/). I am very interested in creating a mechanism (air pressure or gears) that could make two of the lili pad table tops moved by each other. Of course, the third table will stay fixed to represent the serenity.

In the process of writing, calligraphers seem to wander in a spiritual space, which is also an expression of showing inner sensations. The rhythm of the calligraphy is created by the movements and pauses in writing. The writing of Chinese characters is a combination of dynamic and static activities. The flow and pause of the brush in writing Chinese characters form the rhythm of calligraphy.
— Siqi, D. (2018). Chinese characters and the spirit of place in China. Technoetic Arts, 16(1), pp.99-111.
1. The every ending is potentially a beginning; between the beginning and ending, the practitioner’s movement are continually and subtly responsive to the ever-changing conditions of the task as it unfolds.
2. Rhythm, movement must be felt. And feeling lies in the coupling of movement and perception that, as we have seen, is the key to skilled practice.
3. Rhythm, then, is not a movement but a relation between movements. Working rhythm goes hand in hand with concentration. An arrhythmic and distracted performance with the saw is unlikely to lead to a regular line.
— Ingold, Tim. “Walking the Plank: Meditations on a Process of Skill.” Defining Technological Literacy, 2006, pp. 65–80.

Annotated Bibliography:

1. Lupo, E., Giunta, E. and Trocchianesi, R. (2011). Design Research and Cultural Heritage: Activating the Value of Cultural Assets as Open-ended Knowledge Systems. Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal—Annual Review, 5(6), pp.431-450.

This research paper aims to give evidence to the value of incorporating culture and cultural heritage in design research, and demonstrate how the design discipline can contribute in the Cultural Heritage (in its tangible and intangible aspects, from artifacts to processes, practices and performances), through designing sustainable, socially and economically, repertories of knowledge evolve and transform the nature of cultural heritage. The article presents an experimental project” Inspired by Beijing Opera” which proves this heritage activation by design, that opens the patrimony to new interpretations without losing the concept of its traditional matrix. This paper is very helpful to guide my research method on traditional cultural heritages, especially on converting intangible meaning to tangible object. By interpretative design process, identify, clearly distill and conclude the essence of a cultural patrimony in its cultural archetype and expressed by visual form and material. The paper uses very strong example to demonstrate its opened-ended knowledge system, however its argument is only limited on the single project.

2. Bailey, R. and Townsend, K. (2015). Craft and the handmade: Making the intangible visible. Craft Research, 6(2), pp.157-163.

The article use four example to illustrate as part of an expanding landscape of both commercial and public sector platforms, contemporary applications of the handmade craft can serve to generate new experimental modes of thinking and making which not only challenge our preconceptions of what craft is, but also what it has the potential to evolve into.

3. Hue, M. (2009). Promotion of spiritual development: exploration of the self and spiritualism through the practice of Chinese calligraphy. Pastoral Care in Education, 27(1), pp.63-76.

The article argues that heritage calligraphy serves as more than a utilitarian function; the author aims to examine the cultural meaning of Chinese calligraphy and its practices in general, and specifically its connection to spiritualism. The methodologies of narrative approach and textual analysis were employed based on interviews. The article uses examples from school practitioners to raise the importance of calligraphy for spiritual development. The Chinese calligraphy and woodworking have commonality in many ways, they are both the practice of spiritual discipline. This article is a great resource for me to explore the spiritual realm and find the supportive evidence to spiritual serenity. But this article introduces the philosophy of Dao; it is a bias religious approach for some people, which is something I need to aware and avoid.

4. ANDRIJAUSKAS, A. (2016). VISUAL ARTS AND MUSIC IN TRADITIONAL CHINESE ART SYSTEM. Music in Art, XLI/1–2, pp.166-187.

This article aims to explain why Chinese traditional aesthetics is an uncommonly distinctive cultural phenomenon which created by the spiritual values of a great civilization. How did this wonderful spiritual culture form over the history? Chinese aesthetic is a result of absorbing new content in every period of dynasty; and creatively reform and evolve become ever richer and more multi-layered. Specifically, the paper discussed about the rise of visuality in calligraphy and argued from calligraphy, artist’s inner culture and individual personality are visibly conveyed. It is a great example of convert intangible into tangible, and could help me to expand and connect my idea to my culture. Additionally, the evolution of Chinese aesthetic is an interesting and historical approach to innovation and creativity, it is exactly what we are doing, making changes for the future. Unfortunately, the author only touched the surface of what I want to present in my thesis.

5. Tsui, C. (2013). From Symbols to Spirit: Changing Conceptions of National Identity in Chinese Fashion. Fashion Theory, 17(5), pp.579-604.

This article argues that the evolution from the use of traditional Chinese symbols to the Chinese spirit within the fashion design world signifies a new form of Chinese nationalism: instead of delivering Chinese culture in an explicit, direct, and exterior form, Chinese designers have switched to convey their unique “Chineseness” in a subtle, indirect, and hidden form. This article provides a great pioneer example to people and guide the direction of future of the traditional furniture making, I think Chinese furniture should not limited on the symbolic form, such as Ming Dynasty Chair etc., the power of the culture should come from its spirit and essence. I would like to emphasis this spirit by not only present the cultural spirit on the furniture also create the spiritual link between the user and the furniture. The author uses many interviews to prove the idea of from symbol to spirit in contemporary Chinese fashion design. But, I think it is maybe not convincing to compare fashion industry and furniture design.

6. Siqi, D. (2018). Chinese characters and the spirit of place in China. Technoetic Arts, 16(1), pp.99-111.

This article explores the history of the Chinese characters and the rules for creating them; then, it reports on the possible transfer of these rules and principles to the design of architectural spaces. It is trying to find out how traditional building could become contemporary without losing its connection with the past. I think it is very useful article in terms of relating architecture to calligraphy, because the composition of the architecture is just like the composition of furniture. The rhythm we see in the calligraphy is a synonymous subject we see in the balanced design. The partial of this article could relate to the idea of thinking through making in my thesis.

7. Ingold, Tim. “Walking the Plank: Meditations on a Process of Skill.” Defining Technological Literacy, 2006, pp. 65–80.

In this section of the book, Tim talks about a process of himself making a bookcase out of raw wood and illustrates three themes of fundamental significance for the proper understanding of technical skill: the processional quality of tool use, the synergy of practitioner, tool and material, and the coupling of perception and action. I really enjoy reading his idea of quality of the outcome depends at every moment on the care and judgment with which the task proceeds, which explains my nucleus professional ethic of attention to detail in every single step. He also argues that rhythm and movement must be felt, they are the keys to skilled practice. Rhythm is not a movement but a relation between movements, and working rhythm goes hand in hand with concentration. Interestingly this idea overlaps the concept of the rhythm of the calligraphy is created by the movements and pauses in writing, which is also an expression of showing inner sensations. Overall, I could draw ton of connections between calligraphy and woodwork from this article, but I also think I need to find some counter arguments against him.

8. LUCculture. YouTube, YouTube, 31 Oct. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ygne72-4zyo. Thinking through Making. Professor Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

In Tim Ingold’s speech, he argues that making, as an inherently mindful activity in which the forms of things are ever-emergent from the correspondence of sensory awareness and material flows in a process of life. In other words, making is to project the form onto the material. The theory and the mental work come before its application and execution. The creativity generates from the flow of the transformation process of material, from the movement of the imagination and sensory awareness and from the process of improvisation, thinking through making. Every object is a way station to the next one, and every thought is a passing moment in a process of thinking, which means every ending is a beginning. He uses weaving and stone as examples to explain history of material of making art in order to emphasis the importance of understanding material. More importantly, Tim believes that thinking through making generates knowledge from inside of our own practice. I think thinking and making both are ongoing activity, and there are both having correlations to the spiritual world I am arguing in my thesis, because I think thinking is psychological work and making is physical work, but the rhythm is presentation of sensation.

Interesting talk of Thinking through Making from the Professor Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.


Thesis Weekly Blog Post #2


Old thesis intention from last year: my thesis will explore how historical and cultural objects that inspire an emotional response through furniture.

Week 2:

Warm-up question:

What are some of the questions you ask yourself as you work?

·      Design has to be balanced, elegant, attractive.

·      Manage my time efficiently.

·      Pay attention to details on both design and fabrication.

·      Each step is correct, finish it in a fastest way.

Think of your work as a question. What does it ask? What does the work do?

·      How much is it? What information does it transmit? What style of design is it? Who made it? How it was made? How long it takes? What kind of quality does it have? The work should answer my identity as a Chinese furniture designer and maker who is influenced by western culture, and present the work in my design perspective and fabrication quality.

What is the question most posed by others about your work?

·      Interesting, beautiful, creative, contemporary, attention to detail, quality.

From the week 2 workshop, by proposing and answering questions, the instructor has helped me to narrow down some key words from my last year thesis proposal: culture (tradition, Chinese), emotion (feeling, personal, autobiographical, memory, experience), heirloom (timeless, passed along, quality) and nostalgia (journey, narrative).

IMG_20180926_213632 (1).jpg

I drew connections between these words, and came up the idea about the emotion response to the traditional Chinese cultural heritage in the contemporary culture and further developed into “To explore the future of traditional Chinese cultural heritage in contemporary culture”. From my perspective, there is an emotional bond to preserve heirloom tradition in cultural aspect. I believe the spectrum of the cultural heritage is narrower than historical object, and it is easier to pick and develop to furniture, because they are still existing and contain very rich history.

Concept Container

Brief:

Create a vessel which is a physical representation of either your aesthetic, theoretical framework or an aspect of your thesis.

Overview:

Students will be asked to create a physical concept of a container which will relate to either their design aesthetic, a specific theory, or an aspect of their thesis. The object must be rendered in physical materials to showcase the conceptual theories behind its form and materialities. Personal design aesthetic must be addressed in the presentation of your object. This is an exercise in time management and understanding successful deliverables within a specific timeframe. While the fabrication of the containers will be considered in the marking breakdown, it is more important to focus on choosing the appropriate materials to have a 3D example of the concept to present to the class the following week.

The concept containers will be considered for overall form and aesthetics in regard to your practice and/or thesis.

几(ji)Box. Thesis design challenge 1... "Ji" in Chinese means furniture, this design uses the simple line to represent the character 几, furniture. Material choice blackened oak and inlayed with brass.


Week 3:

Over the week, I debated between the context of Chinese traditional cultural heritage and intangible cultural heritage (https://www.culturalheritagechina.org/). Later, I wrote my thesis intention on to explore the future of traditional Chinese intangible cultural heritage (ICH)in contemporary culture through furniture.

Summary:

My concept section will be focusing on using examples to discuss the important value of ICH within Chinese culture and to answer the question of how we legally preserve these precious cultures in the contemporary world. ICHs are the forms of heirloom, as it is a Chinese tradition, how do we ensure to pass them along to the next generations. From the generation to generation, a strong emotion bond fuels the heirloom tradition, and it have made us who we are (identity). Moreover, I am going to address my perspective about the relationships between the traditional heritage craft and the contemporary craft, contrast them in the micro and macro levels. In the past decades, China have been known as the world factory, what does the Made in China mean to the ICH? I am going to illustrate and explain the relationship and differences between the ICH craft and the contemporary manufactory. As a Chinese designer and furniture maker who both educated and lived in eastern and western culture for very long time, it is very interesting for me to talk about the meaning of ICH to me and what does is affect my design. More importantly, I think culture is always changing, so does the ICH, we need to find a creative and innovative path that could keep ICH alive and change accordingly, at the same time, increase its public awareness and attractiveness within the cultural globalizing world. Finally, I will draw inspiration from iconic and interesting details of the Chinese intangible cultural heritages and incorporate them to my works, to present a set of furniture and to convey my perspective of the future of the Chinese ICH to the public.

Project Goal:

To design and create a collection of furniture that includes a lounge chair, a side table and a console table/cabinet or a screen. (The last piece may alter base on the time frame.)  I would like to explore the steam bending technique on this project and may incorporate some meta practices as well.

Feedback:

I aware about it was difficult to define intangible cultural heritage, and it is even harder to present it on a piece of furniture. I had a discussion with my mentor from outside of the program. First, we thought the idea of tangible vs. intangible is interesting to apply to the development of culture. Each of heritage object is an individual evidence of embedment of knowledge, made by individual craft person who carries intangible cultural heritage skill. Second, the skills they master was passed along by generations, and these skills are not only required psychological understanding, also physical technique practices. It is called imaginative knowledge. More importantly, the knowledge transfer is a Chinese tradition and is socially constructed by education, community, re-imagination, technology, global interaction, innovation and believe, etc. Tradition preserves and encourage the ongoing development of culture. Our conversation was effective, and I think the information he offers was very interesting. During the Thursday class, I have presented the idea of imaginative knowledge to both instructors; they suggested me some articles to research ('Making and Thinking' by Andrew Harrison, 'A theory of Craft' by Howard Risatti, and any text by Tim Ingold) and the idea of the skilled object. But my question about the argument still remain: how can I use the intangible thoughts, memory and knowledge and translating it into a physical entity?

‘the skilled object’
By this I mean
-talking about all of the histories of making that the maker must understand to be able to produce a ‘thing’
-by using the intangible thoughts, memory and knowledge and translating it into a physical entity, the craftsperson uses ‘thinking through making’ to create their designs
I feel this can hold all of the ideas that you are talking about, but it is only a suggestion..
I encourage you to research ‘thinking through making’ texts and/or ‘design as research’ which are similar methodologies in design and craft.
Some texts are:
’Making and Thinking’ by Andrew Harrison
’A theory of Craft’ by Howard Risatti
And any text by Tim Ingold
— Feedback from the instructor
This is good advice.
If Culture, Chinese culture in particular is still an important element to your thesis -I invite you to consider just the definition of Culture:
• the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group: Caribbean culture | people from many different cultures.
• [ with modifier ] the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group: the emerging drug culture.
— Feedback from the instructor

Interesting key words for the week:

Flow of skill, imaginative knowledge, reflective furniture, folks furniture, skilled objects, culture for space.


Week 4:

I told myself to step back and re-evaluate my own identity as a Chinese furniture designer; if I was going to make something I like, what would that look like. I realized that I was going for a furniture style, my aesthetic, my taste; the image dairy was a perfect example. It is very important to keep in mind to research archetypes and symbols from Chinese culture. Then, I rewrote a list of forms of Chinese culture that I like to explore: calligraphy, Beijing opera, oil paper umbrella; I collected some important characteristics been a Chinese: traditional, united/undivided, culture, patriotic, advocate peace, harmonious, interactive, history, craft, heirloom/heritage.

Interesting words for:

·      Chinese calligraphy: consistency, integrity, balance, correspondence, spacing and rhythm, skill, heritage.

·      Beijing opera: theatre, costume, technique, clothing, actor/actress, spirit, music, prop, stylist, dream landscape, skill, heritage.

·      Oil paper umbrella: poetic beauty, ritual (wedding, death), symbolic meaning (harmony), help ward off bad luck, romance, beauty, literature, endurable, handcrafted, skill, heritage.

I concluded my ideas to “meaningful objects”. The object is considered as an agent; it can transmit maker/designer’s agency and change people’s perception. Design is end result of education; because through education, we as designers unconsciously or consciously apply our own funnel theory (our own taste, aesthetic, filter) to our design. On the one hand, we as the designers/makers, share the experience and taste through the object and embodiment of search for meaning and search for beauty. On the another hand, viewers interpret design in their different ways; however, the energy embody within the object could be transferred. Overall, there is an intangible function within a functional tangible object.

I drew inspiration from heritage item such as umbrella, Guqin( ancient Chinese music instrument ), calligraphy, and Beijing opera. Here are some interesting ideas from ideation sketches:


Thesis Weekly Blog Post #1


Annotated Image Dairy

2018 Fall Semester:

Week 1:

“The New Old Divider.” Yatzer, Best of Milan Design Week 2015, www.yatzer.com/best-of-milan-design-week-2015/slideshow/77. by KIMU LAB (Hsiao-chun Ketty Shih, Ting-wei Alex Yeh, Yi-hsien Kelly Lin)   This screen design has Chinese cultural influence in it. Combining traditional Chinese folding paper fan with linear rectangle frames, two ordinary items have made an extraordinary contemporary design. Interestingly, small holes have been carefully considered in the design. This important detail elevates the elegance and transparency of the screen.

“The New Old Divider.” Yatzer, Best of Milan Design Week 2015, www.yatzer.com/best-of-milan-design-week-2015/slideshow/77. by KIMU LAB (Hsiao-chun Ketty Shih, Ting-wei Alex Yeh, Yi-hsien Kelly Lin)

This screen design has Chinese cultural influence in it. Combining traditional Chinese folding paper fan with linear rectangle frames, two ordinary items have made an extraordinary contemporary design. Interestingly, small holes have been carefully considered in the design. This important detail elevates the elegance and transparency of the screen.

 
“WU.” Flickr, The Earth Awards, Sept. 2009, www.flickr.com/photos/theearthawards/4812723071/in/photostream/. WU” is a lamp made of rice paper and bamboo to express a Chinese philosophy. “You” (something) and “Wu” (nothing) are dialectical themes in Laotzu’s theory. It allows the user to create the lamp shade freely on the basis of a bamboo framework. It is made out of bamboo sticks and covered by traditional rice paper.   This elegant light design mimics the form of a natural lotus leaf. The light frame is made of bamboo, and it is covered by traditional rice paper. Its pure natural material selection makes me feeling grounded and safe. The whole design brings serenity and comfort to the environment.

“WU.” Flickr, The Earth Awards, Sept. 2009, www.flickr.com/photos/theearthawards/4812723071/in/photostream/. WU” is a lamp made of rice paper and bamboo to express a Chinese philosophy. “You” (something) and “Wu” (nothing) are dialectical themes in Laotzu’s theory. It allows the user to create the lamp shade freely on the basis of a bamboo framework. It is made out of bamboo sticks and covered by traditional rice paper.

This elegant light design mimics the form of a natural lotus leaf. The light frame is made of bamboo, and it is covered by traditional rice paper. Its pure natural material selection makes me feeling grounded and safe. The whole design brings serenity and comfort to the environment.

 
Wang, Shixue. “Disappearing Great Roof.” Designboom, LG Display OLED Design Competition 2016, 21 Nov. 2016, www.designboom.com/project/disappearing-great-roof/. by Liang ChenWang ShixueZhang YongqiangZhang Meng from korea   The lighting installation is implemented with traditional Chinese architecture. The designer creatively uses LED lights to represent roof tiles which greatly emphasis the nucleus of the idea of the great roof. The repetitive linear sticks compose an interesting structure. It makes me imagine a construction site, and it is repairing, building or rescuing the disappearing great roof.

Wang, Shixue. “Disappearing Great Roof.” Designboom, LG Display OLED Design Competition 2016, 21 Nov. 2016, www.designboom.com/project/disappearing-great-roof/. by Liang ChenWang ShixueZhang YongqiangZhang Meng from korea

The lighting installation is implemented with traditional Chinese architecture. The designer creatively uses LED lights to represent roof tiles which greatly emphasis the nucleus of the idea of the great roof. The repetitive linear sticks compose an interesting structure. It makes me imagine a construction site, and it is repairing, building or rescuing the disappearing great roof.

 
“LEAF.” Heathfield & Co., LUUM, Feb. 2018, heathfield.co.uk/installation/view/leaf/#.W5mdO0VKjUY. By LUUM   The individual of circular patterned panels has made me recall a old object: Pushan which is made of cattail leaves. It is a great example of creating resonance between the audience and the designer. This particular design has brought out many beautiful childhood memories from me. In addition, the repetitive panels are oriented in a thoughtful composition which gives balance in its chaos.

“LEAF.” Heathfield & Co., LUUM, Feb. 2018, heathfield.co.uk/installation/view/leaf/#.W5mdO0VKjUY. By LUUM

The individual of circular patterned panels has made me recall a old object: Pushan which is made of cattail leaves. It is a great example of creating resonance between the audience and the designer. This particular design has brought out many beautiful childhood memories from me. In addition, the repetitive panels are oriented in a thoughtful composition which gives balance in its chaos.

 
Shen, Baohong. “Small Wide Chair.” Moodboardmix, Tumblr, 2016, moodboardmix.tumblr.com/post/130120780621/small-wide-chair-by-shen-baohong-u-furniture-wdh.   The chair design is inspired by traditional Chinese Ming style chair. Outstandingly, its simplicity and elegance has reflected the cutting edge of contemporary design. This design perfectly created conversation between the history and the modern people.

Shen, Baohong. “Small Wide Chair.” Moodboardmix, Tumblr, 2016, moodboardmix.tumblr.com/post/130120780621/small-wide-chair-by-shen-baohong-u-furniture-wdh.

The chair design is inspired by traditional Chinese Ming style chair. Outstandingly, its simplicity and elegance has reflected the cutting edge of contemporary design. This design perfectly created conversation between the history and the modern people.

 
Yen, Ian. “‘Float’ Tea Set.” Designboom, Designboom, 18 Aug. 2017, www.designboom.com/design/ian-yen-rethinks-chinese-tea-culture-philosophy-shape-float-tea-set-08-18-2017/.   “It moves” was my first impression to this Float tea set. Sliced tea cup design make me feel like there is a melody whispering in the back ground. This tea set is just like floating on a murmuring river, bringing a leisure and relaxed mood to me.

Yen, Ian. “‘Float’ Tea Set.” Designboom, Designboom, 18 Aug. 2017, www.designboom.com/design/ian-yen-rethinks-chinese-tea-culture-philosophy-shape-float-tea-set-08-18-2017/.

“It moves” was my first impression to this Float tea set. Sliced tea cup design make me feel like there is a melody whispering in the back ground. This tea set is just like floating on a murmuring river, bringing a leisure and relaxed mood to me.

 
Chen, Ming. “Hangzhou Stool.” Designboom, Designboom, 10 Apr. 2013, www.designboom.com/design/hangzhou-stool/.   The stool not only has a very unique form, but an interesting material application. It is made of many layers of bamboo veneers. The displacements between the veneer layers creates an amazingly transparent design. More importantly, the spaces between layer could be compressed and creates the comfortable seating area.

Chen, Ming. “Hangzhou Stool.” Designboom, Designboom, 10 Apr. 2013, www.designboom.com/design/hangzhou-stool/.

The stool not only has a very unique form, but an interesting material application. It is made of many layers of bamboo veneers. The displacements between the veneer layers creates an amazingly transparent design. More importantly, the spaces between layer could be compressed and creates the comfortable seating area.

 
Kobayashi, Yuri. “-Sui-.” New Work by Faculty 2016, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, 16 Sept. 2016, www.woodschool.org/wood-school-gallery/archived-exhibitions/61-messler-gallery/exhibitions/711-new-work-by-faculty-2017.   This design makes me feel comfortable and organized. I really enjoy appreciate design that has very simple organic form but takes extreme experience and skill to accomplish the result. Linear elements on this design provides lightness, and solid table top brings the functionality. The idea of transition from light to heavy, from transparent to solid is stunning. This is an example of my ultimate goal.

Kobayashi, Yuri. “-Sui-.” New Work by Faculty 2016, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, 16 Sept. 2016, www.woodschool.org/wood-school-gallery/archived-exhibitions/61-messler-gallery/exhibitions/711-new-work-by-faculty-2017.

This design makes me feel comfortable and organized. I really enjoy appreciate design that has very simple organic form but takes extreme experience and skill to accomplish the result. Linear elements on this design provides lightness, and solid table top brings the functionality. The idea of transition from light to heavy, from transparent to solid is stunning. This is an example of my ultimate goal.

 
“Easy Chair.” Archiproduct, Genny, www.archiproducts.com/en/products/morelato/ash-easy-chair-with-armrests-genny-easy-chair_127622. Design by Centro Ricerche MAAM   I really like the dynamic form of this chair design. A continuous arm back rest connects all the spindles together. A horizontal stretcher receives spindles come from different angles. The interesting composition of its linear elements together create a compelling focal point and an echo in eye movement.

“Easy Chair.” Archiproduct, Genny, www.archiproducts.com/en/products/morelato/ash-easy-chair-with-armrests-genny-easy-chair_127622. Design by Centro Ricerche MAAM

I really like the dynamic form of this chair design. A continuous arm back rest connects all the spindles together. A horizontal stretcher receives spindles come from different angles. The interesting composition of its linear elements together create a compelling focal point and an echo in eye movement.

 
Hwa, Bae se. “Steam 11.” Designboom, Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art Gallery, 22 Mar. 2014, www.designboom.com/design/korean-contemporary-furniture-design-bae-se-hwa-03-22-2014/.   Similar to the -Sui- table, the idea of transition from solid to transparent and back to solid is very attractive. Its organic form is very inviting, and it looks very comfortable. However, the design itself makes me feel a little bit retro and off track of idea of contemporary design.

Hwa, Bae se. “Steam 11.” Designboom, Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art Gallery, 22 Mar. 2014, www.designboom.com/design/korean-contemporary-furniture-design-bae-se-hwa-03-22-2014/.

Similar to the -Sui- table, the idea of transition from solid to transparent and back to solid is very attractive. Its organic form is very inviting, and it looks very comfortable. However, the design itself makes me feel a little bit retro and off track of idea of contemporary design.

 
NESTEDNY. “Noah Drinks Cabinet.” Dering Hall, NESTEDNY, 2018, deringhall.com/noah-drinks-cabinet.   The indent area reminds me the traditional Chinese bronze door latches. Historically, circular latch plates are often used on cabinet doors like this. The central circular indent has angle edge all the way around, which simply functions as door handle. The door curls with a small angle which infuses some playfulness to this design. Additionally, blackened solid wood provides very graphic and contemporary look to the surface. These interesting and subtle details make the cabinet stands out.

NESTEDNY. “Noah Drinks Cabinet.” Dering Hall, NESTEDNY, 2018, deringhall.com/noah-drinks-cabinet.

The indent area reminds me the traditional Chinese bronze door latches. Historically, circular latch plates are often used on cabinet doors like this. The central circular indent has angle edge all the way around, which simply functions as door handle. The door curls with a small angle which infuses some playfulness to this design. Additionally, blackened solid wood provides very graphic and contemporary look to the surface. These interesting and subtle details make the cabinet stands out.