Tag Archives: project

Utilize Part 1

via flickr

Elissa and I have been working on a project for the last few weeks we’re just wrapping up now. We’re calling the project Utilize. Since I’m about to sum up the past 15 or so weeks, I’m going to have to do this in installments.

We were inspired by Kudzu, which is an invasive plant. It was brought to the US in 1876 to the Centennial Exposition at erosion cover and livestock fodder. In the 30’s it was being subsidized by the government, and planted all over. By the 70’s Kudzu had grown out of control and finally in 1997 put on the Noxious Weed list by Congress. So, needless to say, Kudzu is crazy and smothers anything in its path. It’s super prevalent in the South due to a “perfect storm” of growing conditions, no natural enemies and negligence. Kudzu requires constant harvesting to control its rapid spread.

However, Kudzu is a super awesome, beneficial plant too. Its edible (full of nutrients – something like 24% protein) and has uses medicinally. It can be processed into an ethanol, paper and even a fiber for weaving (which is why we love it). Kimonos in ancient Japan before they found Silk worms, were made of Kudzu.

We found this great book that has sort of been our bible for this project. Sadly its out of print but available on google books.

Any way, Liss and I found some really great people in the South to collaborate with and/or advise, befriend, inform, help, etc. us. Thanks to conversations with Crop Mob, Kudzu Kollege, Elsewhere Collaborative, Jay Gamble, Alix Bowman and her Goat Patrol ,Junco Sato Pollack (Kudzu/Fiber artist) and other various community organizations we met along the way, we have forged on to create something we’re both really happy with and can really apply and adapt to any invasive plant.

In a time of depleting natural resources, there are many under utilized and unwanted resources. By collaborating with available communities to utilize abundant “waste” materials (Kudzu in this case), we can help control devastating invasive plants while building a healthier relationship for the community and its local fauna.

We worked along side sustainable eradicators (controlling without chemicals) in North Carolina to eradicate and harvest the vine. We did this on Jay’s land, practicing surgical root crown removal. Strategic grazing would probably work just fine too. Basically, land is fenced off and goats roam and eat up the Kudzu to kill it. The last thing they go after is the vine itself which is the piece we need to make the fiber. If processed correctly, the length of the vine is the length of the fibers you get out of it. This is all I can handle right now. Stay tuned.

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Back to the future…

Classes have started back up again and I’m as busy as ever. There are some really cool, interesting projects I’m working on right now that I can’t wait to finally post about.

Our design theory class has begun keeping a blog of our responses/thoughts/concerns to articles we’ve been finding. We’re trying to find out who we are as designers while becoming more articulate along the way. We would love to hear other opinions are get feedback on our writing, anything to fine tune our styles.

Our senior class is also working on a multidisciplinary project right now. We’ve synced up with multimedia seniors and the first and second year industrial design grads to tackle real issues for real clients. I’m working with a group aiming to help the UArts finance department more efficient, for lack of a better definition. It’s been fascinating so far, getting to know the people involved. If you want to follow this project, you can check it out here.

In our Professional Communications class we’ve been learning graphic techniques to further our communication skills. We’re currently working on a video project/advertisement.

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Better Silverware Screen Images

These detail photos RJ took of the screens while I was still making them. They’re better at showing the screen than the photos I have below. I’ll show them again when they’re installed. More photos of the screen on my flickr.

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Stacker Nightstand/Side Table

Stacker 1:4 Scale Model During winter break I began designing a stackable nightstand or side table for small spaces and frequent movers. I want the legs to be sturdy but easily removable if the user was moving it would take up less space. I realized however, people rarely take their furniture apart once it’s together. So that is no longer a priority, but still on my mind. The original design also had a back “pocket” meant for cable management. I also took that out in the more recent redesigns to make the whole piece more minimal and require less material. I think the resulting product is very elegant. I’m very open to critique.

As it stands now, the table would be made of 3/8″ with 3/4″ Birch Ply legs. The model is Birch Ply. I love the way the layers look on the drawer face. All my early sketches and renderings were of various woods and Plyboo. The legs still need to be extend wider for more stability.

Stacker (first design), Plyboo and brushed steel

Stacker (first design), Plyboo and brushed steel

Deconstructed for moving

Deconstructed for moving

Close up of the outlet compartment in the back

Close up of the outlet compartment in the back

Newer Stacker design

Newer Stacker design

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Current projects

I lost the charger for my camera battery and finally accepted I won’t find it. The new one will be in the mail within the week. However this means I have really poor photos of the work I’ve been doing. I’ve been able to take quick shots before my battery dies. Hopefully these photos will do the projects some justice.

I finished the welding on the silverware screen for a bahdeebahdu client a few weeks ago. It just needs the finishing work done. I’ll try to get better photos next Thursday. The following are some process shots.

Sky teaching Kevin and I to weld

Sky teaching Kevin and I to weld

Process: Still adding flatware to one of the panels

Process: Still adding flatware to one of the panels

Process: Still adding flatware to one of the panels

Process: Still adding flatware to one of the panels

One of the finished panels

One of the finished panels hanging in storage.

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Gardening in the city?


This semester is over and I finally found a free second to post on my group’s FarmPhilly project. Stay with me, I’m about to drop an entire semester into a quick post.

The promt for this semesters work was urban farming/urban gardening. We broke up into six teams to tackle the topic from all angles. My group focused on growing vertically. In today’s economy the necessity and popularity of growing your own Victory Garden has become increasingly important. We were designing for everyday urbanites who want to grow but are limited in space. We developed two finished products by the end of the semester.

The first project we conceptualized is a cinderblock cast with a growing surface into it. There is still more development that can be done with it and we’re looking forward to continuing this idea. It was our favorite concept and the one which saw the most positive feedback during critiques. We made a 1:2 scale model for this concept.

cinderblock - early sketch

Cinderblock Model EmptyCinderblock Full

The second project was a system of modular troughs that could be mounted to the side of an existing wall or cast into the mortar or prefab slab depending on the construction method while building. The trough originally would be infinitely extendable as long as the user had the two end caps. However, we decided to go with separate, self contained boxes in the event someone wanted to be able to move their plants around after they were mounted, there wouldn’t be a mess of dirt and tangled roots. The angles of the box allow for sunlight to better get to the plants under the box or sit nicely on surfaces. The final product would ideally be rotomolded and the bracket would be die cut steel.

For more info on our progression and how we arrived at our final products AND to see the other groups, checkout FarmPhilly.com.

Mounting the Bracket Brackets Planting Context Planter

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Urban Gardening

Somehow gardening follows me around. I’m currently working on two projects involving growing in the city. One is our studio project, my group is involved with making urban gardening go vertical. We want to make it easier for urban dwellers with limited space or a concrete backyard to have their own Victory Garden, an increasingly popular revival. To learn more about the project and classmates projects, check out FarmPhilly.com.

I’m the president of our school’s sustainability initiative, Remedy, which strives for smarter lifestyles on campus. We’re working on building a roof top garden on one of our school buildings, the Gershman Y. Although we’re currently fighting through the bureaucratic system, we have a lot of support from the school. I think we all thought we’d be up and growing by now but now we’re hoping to be open by next fall.

future location of greenhouse

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