Thesis project, ECAL 2021
in MASTER PRODUCT DESIGN
Teacher(s): Anniina Koivu
AUTHOR: Adam Huxley-Khng
TITLE: ON in the absence of OFFOn and off – at the flick of a switch, or the touch of a button. We are able to switch between the states of being of an object without thought, rarely questioning what makes an object ‘on’. Is it the presence of electric power? A sense of agency, or animism? What if on-ness is a state of being reflected by the cultural, rather than technological, capacity of an object – the embodiment of a moment of possibility?
AUTHOR: Alessandro Simone
TITLE: What is next?
SUBTITLE: The evolution of mountaineering and human limits
This research examines the mountain landscape in the context of the evolution of mountaineering. Starting from the activity’s origin, the research investigates the shifts in technology, mindset, and limits that enabled the transformation of a destination for challenging expeditions into a place for second homes and weekend enthusiasts. How were humans able to overcome their limits, and what were the motivations for this drive? Products and objects played an essential role in guiding the story of mountaineering from the old ages to nowadays, making the user and his/her experience safer, but subsequently opening this terrain to mass tourism. This research retraces historical events and technical innovations to better understand mountaineering’s evolution, imagining a possible approach to this form of high-altitude tourism for the future.
AUTHOR: Alexander Schul
TITLE: Visual language of sustainable design
Different “sustainable” design proposals have been made in the past decades: from (literally) green looking objects, to normal looking ones, to objects whose visual language speaks to sustainability in their own individual way. In this research, I analyse a few examples in regards to the way the visual language of sustainable products has been approached in the past, what sustainable design looks like today, as well as what it will look like in the near future. The essay is led by the question “How does a sustainable approach to an object influence its visual language?”
AUTHOR: Charlotta Åman
TITLE: Waste matters
SUBTITLE: Valorising secondary products for a resourceful future
Throughout history, humans have been expert in utilising every element of a given resource. The heritage of husbandry has been carried from generation to generation – until today. Now, we are more disconnected than ever from original assets. In present manufacturing processes, secondary matter from production is often considered as waste rather than as a resource – an unfortunate conclusion as we are running out of raw materials and landfills grow.
What does it entail to fully utilise a resource by valorising its secondary products, and how does it relate to the practice of a designer? The loose connections in manufacturing chains provide an opportunity to re-think: by considering the source, the scale and the system, design can be used as a tool for transition.
AUTHOR: Grace, Ka Yin Cheung
TITLE: Japanese miniature culture: netsuke and gachapon
SUBTITLE: Why are we so fascinated with small things?
Miniatures are smaller than a normal objects, and include small replicas or models. Miniatures are present in different cultures all over the world and throughout time. The miniaturisation of mundane objects is recurrent, and has been an integral part of the memory of a culture.
Among the different international miniature cultures, Japan has one of the most distinctive and apparent spirits of miniaturisation. To understand why people are so fascinated with miniatures, this research looks for the answers by delving into the miniature culture of netsuke and gachapon in Japan.
AUTHOR: Hsin Hung Chou
TITLE: Unpack flat-pack
SUBTITLE: The value of ready-to-assemble furniture
This research studies flat-packing from its origins in the mid-19th century to its contemporary form as one of the prevailing typologies of the global furniture industry.
Guiding questions have been: If the objective is to design and produce products from a logistical and sustainable point of view, is there any other solution to knock-down furniture? Does furniture lose its aesthetic and value in the process of being flat-packed? If the future is flat, could we make it better?
AUTHOR: Jimin Jeon
TITLE: Soft, small and far, far away
SUBTITLE: Our understanding of software
Fire is the first profound tool in human history that cannot be grasped with the naked hand. Fire was considered a mysterious or religious thing – a gift from God, or punishment. But it was also an essential tool for human evolution. Today, we have found another tool surrounded by mystery and misunderstandings: software. It doesn’t smell, make noise, or come in any fixed form. It just occasionally flickers through a screen. This new tool takes us to another world, beyond physical limitations, that no caveman could have imagined. But, first, we need to understand the nature of software in relation to hardware – that is, the tools we are already familiar with.
AUTHOR: Jisan Chung
TITLE: Assemblage in design
Assemblage is mainly considered an artistic technique. However, by reviewing works of various designers, we can see that the same technique has been used in the field of design, too. This study aims to examine the characteristics and the meaning of “assemblage design” and its potential.
Assemblage can trigger innovate manufacturing processes and create its very own aesthetic.
AUTHOR: Jonas Villiger
TITLE: About repairability
SUBTITLE: Rules, incentives and approaches to keeping things in circulation
We want our products to be durable. And, if they break or become outdated, they should be repairable and upgradeable, too. It can be a very satisfying feeling to make something work again, or to make it work even better than it did before. Unfortunately, the industry does not make this easy for consumers. Not being able to intervene when something goes wrong with an object, consumers end up simply buying new things. However, giving a device an extended lifespan keeps us from wasting valuable resources.
Starting from recent legislation and public movements that call for the right to repair, this research questions the role of designers within these changing circumstances.
AUTHOR: Julian Ribler
TITLE: The Factory
SUBTITLE: An investigation into modern design principles
The Modernist movement promoted the appreciation of the advancements of industry. Modernism went on to integrate industrial advancement as part of the fundamentals of the movement as a whole. The principle of applying an engineer’s perspective was thought to inform the practice of designers and architects. Exploring modern factory environments and investigating the advancements in manufacturing technology today can help us revise these principles and examine the changing factory context.
AUTHOR: Kwan Ming Sum
TITLE: Stagnation and innovation in the wheelchair industry
A wheelchair is an essential tool for people with mobility issues to perform everyday tasks and achieve social participation. Unfortunately, modern manual wheelchairs hardly satisfy the emerging need of a well-resolved wheelchair design. A fundamental shift in understanding of today’s needs and innovation in this field are urgently required. Given the growth of the aging population, a rethink of wheelchair design is critical.
Through conducting several interviews with different stakeholders, including wheelchair users, producers, and designers, this research aims to investigate the underlying reasons behind the stagnation in the wheelchair industry, and looks at how that might change.
AUTHOR: Maxwell Ashford
SUBTITLE: Cost-effective recycling
is the result of any recycling process. It refers to the amount of
materials from an object that can be recycled cost effectively, and is used
broadly across the recycling industry.
Objects are by standard practises designed independently from any end-of-life system and inevitably, the result is that objects cannot be effectively recycled. Historically, there has been little incentive for producers, and thus designers, to deal with the death or disposal of objects. But this is due to change, as incoming legislation from the EU will force producers to use recycled materials and create more recyclable objects. In turn, this demand will affect designers. So how can we work to create more sustainable goods?
AUTHOR: Nadav Goldenberg
TITLE: Empire State of Play
SUBTITLE: Playground design in the urban environment
How did the design of playgrounds evolve throughout history? And how does the urban environment play a part in their evolution? To answer these questions, I look at New York City. Here, we see a dense urban space for play development, with a long history of constant shifts in play ideals, safety regulations and the pioneering of playground design.
AUTHOR: Oscar Kwong
TITLE: Comfort and the curve
The curve exists in all ranges of expression, from the flamboyant to the modest. In the past decade there have been multiple studies that have set out to confirm our instinctual desires for the curvaceous shape, proving in every measurable scenario that humans prefer the round compared to the rectilinear. This intuitive response to the curve has been hard-wired as part of our evolutionary bias. The relationship that connects comfort and the curve will be the premise of this essay: from the buildings of Sanaa that employs the familiar curve, as a reminder of our connection with nature; to trace the postures supported by the comfy lounge and its intimate bond with the human body; to the conforming contours of everyday objects.
AUTHOR: Silvio Rebholz
TITLE: TV studio sets
SUBTITLE: A space for reality and fiction
TV studio sets are spatial constructions in which TV formats such as news, talk shows or game shows are produced. On these sets, hosts interact with guests, newsreaders broadcast information and hosts entertain – always with the intention of reproducing the scene on screens. Focusing on the designs of TV studio sets, it is striking how unusually shaped they are. Elaborately sweeping curves of sofas; LEDs highlighting the edges of a desk. Remarkably, these and other exceptional elements aren’t isolated cases, but repeat across shows, broadcast genres and national borders. Their similarities suggest that it’s about more than free formal expression.
What are the parameters for consideration in a “good” TV studio set? How did this unique style develop?
AUTHOR: Thomas Manil
TITLE: The typology of coins
This research project explores the history, production and formal language of coins. They are part of our lives and accompany our daily gestures. We give them, we receive them, we pocket them, or we place them carefully in a wallet. We have the impression that we know them very well, and yet, we have a hard time describing them with precision. It is an integral part of the country’s identity and embodies the link between art, design and technology. In a society that is gradually seeking to dematerialise money, the coin deserves special attention.
AUTHOR: Till Ronacher
TITLE: The robotic arm
Industrial robots have been involved in the manufacturing of products since the 1960s. But over the last decades, industrial robots have been moving out of the factories into new contexts such as architecture and design. Now, in some experimental contexts, digital fabrication is explored with the help of industrial robots. In such laboratories, the cooperation between humans and industrial robots is being investigated and applied in a design context, within which new forms and transformative design processes emerge. In this thesis, I examine some of these developments with regards to the possibilities of their integration into the design process.
AUTHOR: Trolle Rudebeck
TITLE: A writing and drawing instrument
In the age of typing, scrolling and audio-recording, cursive writing might seem endangered, particularly among younger generations. As handwriting has become more and more obsolete, it has come to be considered as a poetic or romantic act rather than a fundamental tool. Looking back to ancient civilizations and their instruments for drawing and writing, the pen’s stick-like shape has remained surprisingly constant. By looking to the past, could we predict the future of the pen?