This new design approach aims to create more unique, purposeful forms that break away from the standard geometric shapes I have been focused on. In addition to the aspect of appearing much more interesting and playful, I am also able to manipulate their forms to a greater extent so that they can carry out multiple functions at the same time. They will read more easily as a design for children, based on form as well as carefully chosen elements such as color and material, which intensifies the fun aspect that I have been trying to achieve.
These sketches are just initial ideas for this new concept and will continue to be advanced upon as I proceed to define specific purposes for each one of the parts. I thought of tasks such as a requirement for added head support while lying down as well as under arm support when learning how to crawl. I want the forms to have zero completely flat edges to support them; instead, carefully chosen curves and protruding “appendages” will create a dynamic support system so that each one can be rotated into a number of positions for different purposes. They will be used throughout the initial developing stages, including the child learning to turn his/her head and learning to sit upright. Varying heights and densities can be targeted as a support system as the parent works with the child on developing physically.
When I was focusing on the geometric forms, I was conflicted right off the bat. I kept on imagining them being made from that standard gym mat material and could not break away from that mental image. However, when it comes to these new, curved forms, I am excited to experiment and see how the right material can enhance the design. I will be looking into using silicone as the material due to its range of densities, ability to be molded into different thicknesses, and safe quality that needs to be key when designing for children. Removing all of the edges has already led the way towards a safer design path, so why not utilize a material that can advance on it? Also, silicone will easily lend itself to being formed into different textures throughout the surface, such as a ribbed texture and a bumpy texture in different sizes.
This sketch shows the idea that I had of being able to rotate each piece in any direction while still keeping the functions that they need:
For example, a curved U-shape on the floor can be used for surrounding support when learning to sit upright and a single part sticking outward on the floor can be used as under arm support when doing “tummy time.” The usable surfaces change depending on how the shape is positioned on the ground and a design aspect I will really focus on is how to keep it sturdy in every position.
I foresee limiting this design concept into about four separate parts, ones that work together to create a unit but can each be used as a stand-alone piece. They will subtly target different areas that need improvement and each one will be a necessary component to the overall design.
Meeting with my Advisor: Alex Lobos
I sat with Alex to explain to him how my initial tiled mat design has advanced to this newest concept idea. After going into the details of the new design, Alex told me that he really thinks that it would make the child’s tasks more reachable and in addition to that, it is a visually effective design that reads a lot more as a design for children.
He also helped me realize what I need to continue working on at this point in order to move forward. I have to narrow down exactly what the child needs to accomplish and to design shapes specifically targeted towards meeting those needs. For example, the act of pulling upright into a sitting position requires friction and softness at the base, something on the side to grab on to, and a large amount of stability in the right area. I will go through each important milestone and break them down to see how design can initiate a specific action or how it can help a child follow through with one they are working on at the moment. In addition, if a visual cue will influence the child to turn his/her head in a certain direction, a stimuli can be added for the child to be directed towards.
Alex agreed that one of the greatest limitations of the geometric forms was that they were all one note; it is difficult to ask them to do so many things at once. These new, edgeless forms are curvy, yet parts will extend outward outside of the focused mass in order to create a stable system that can support it in any position that it is in at the time.
Each form needs to work in such a way that it can be used in any direction, as though you can throw it and no matter which side it lands on, it works. These shapes, although seemingly random, will each carry out a specific underlying purpose, but will be able to work for much more than that.