Design Process, the Beginning

The first project asked us to draw inspiration from a number of sources. Memories of the beach in Key West drew forth the ideas of “slippery”, “jagged” and “exposed”. Using those concepts, I cut and manipulated a single sheet of paper with regulating lines. An area of the paper near the bottom edge had some interesting regulating angles that were perfect for a void full of “jagged” points. Sweeping above that space, a wave-like curl was the perfect place to site both “exposed” on the broad face of the wave and “slippery” sliding off the apex onto the “jagged” space below.
Our trip to the Cumberland Plateau highlighted some of the more interesting aspects of the local geology, including the steeply angled layers of rock, the result of an upthrusting of the ancient seabed to form a dissected plateau. In fact, these rock formations gave me my guiding concept for stage two of the project. When dissecting is used geologically, it means a break in the rock along natural lines, so I wanted my volume to be closely aligned with the existing regulating lines yet be distinct from the rest of the elements on the page. Primary regulating lines guided the placement of the volume’s longitudinal lines and resulted in a form that resembles two abutting rocks. Secondary regulating lines visually connect the volume with the paper wave and rocks. Also, as the wave rises from the surface in the lower left and climbs to the upper right, the rock volume also rises from the ground plane in the same direction.
The rock volume also connects visually with other spaces around it. Directly to the left, another rock volume rises above the surface along the same regulating lines at the same angle as the larger plane of my volume. Like the underlying structure of the Plateau, our combined forms give the impression of deep, subterranean connection. When seen from the side, the neighboring form’s angled arm is framed between my two top planes like a mountain ridge in the distance.

Natural shapes and forms of rock and water informed the overall design and the final design feels organic. Natural forms continue to inform my design ideas. I don’t want to recreate a beach or a mountain, but the feelings, the forms, and the meaning of those places make sense together.

In terms of process, I really enjoyed making models, despite some frustration working in a new medium. The ability to change one aspect and immediately see the result was exhilarating. Also, the fact that each iteration was highly impermanent gave me courage to try lots of new things without worrying about showing my sketches to anyone. It was difficult to be as deliberate as I needed to be in terms of angles and edges, but I believe further work with models will make it easier. In general, this process felt more playful and creative. Modeling also helped me see in three-dimensions. This will be a technique I use again.