In this unit, students are investigating open source design and flat pack technology using CAD CAM technologies. At the beginning of the unit, we wanted to develop an understanding of what a flat pack design is, and how designers develop products using innovative methods for assembly. Developing a critical eye for how a product has been manufactured is an essential skill for a designer. Examining the individual components of a product and how they combine to create the complete form, can provide opportunities for innovation and exploration.
Our first goal was to look at different designs and consider their manufacture. Using a parts-purposes-complexities thinking routine, students explored different products. The challenge, though, was to extrapolate from a single photograph the components of the design. They did this through discussion, brainstorming, and sketching. Lots of debate, speculation, and sketching took place at this stage as they worked together to understand the design from limited information. The focus shifted to looking carefully at the product and considering how the various pieces were assembled, how joints were made, and elements of scale and proportion.
Next, the designs were transferred to corrugated board with the goal of optimizing the use of a single sheet of material. Here the focus had shifted to figuring out ways create the parts. After cutting, they assembled the parts for peer critique.
At the critiquing stage, the focus was on looking at how the design was assembled, and how it could be improved or modified. Using a see-think-wonder, students wrote feedback on the designs, making explicit reference to the different parts and components, and considering how the design was assembled. Throughout, the goal was to look critically and carefully at the assembled design, analyze its composition, and evaluate future iterations.
Developing an understanding of form and how pieces are connected and combined to create complex forms is an aspect of spatial visualization we have identified as an area of development in our students. Practice, application, and reflection will develop this skill and see it applied in future projects.