I think this article that I found on inhabitant.com is really interesting. 3D printing on the go – developed by a French designer and supported by crowd funding. Is this the future of manufacturing for independents and designers in this fast paced world that we live in?
Firstly I must say that I absolutely love this genre of design. As a way of inspiring and influencing students to think creatively with their design work it is brilliant. They have to:
- Explore design and product history fully to understand
- Make creative decisions about the mix of aesthetics and technology
- Look carefully at the amalgam of materials and manufacturing methods
- Be aware of the need for combining form and function in their work
- Provides for some really cool sketch, concept and graphics work
What more do you need?
I first became aware of SteamPunk as a consequence of watching some very entertaining (in my opinion) films – ‘Mad Max’, ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentleman‘, ‘The Wild, Wild West‘ and the ‘Fifth Element’ to name a few.
But what is SteamPunk exactly?
The genre seems to have originated during the 1980s and includes key design elements and influence from the areas of sci-fi, fantasy and history. My design students have taken a lot of influence from the genre, and have used that influence successfully in their A-Level design work, but trying to hang a summative phrase to sum up the movement is not easy.
Having trawled ‘t’interweb’ and looked in some books the best single phrase that sums up SteamPunk design for me is this:
‘What the 21st century thinks that the Victorians thought the 21st century would be like’
There is no doubt that the opportunity to design products that embrace this genre facilitates that ‘creative juice’ flow. Kids get it; they run with it and, to a certain extent, are not constrained over and above the historical context.
The opportunity to explore an eclectic range of traditional materials in their work (copper, brass, steel, wood….but remember NO plastics other than to create models that represent the genre 😉 ) means any manufacturing work that you do supports the theory with regard to design and making, using tools, machines and processes to fabricate their idea. Guys and girls are all motivated (jewellery, transport, fashion, tech products…) can all be tackled.
If you are looking for a starting point to kick off a project then SteamPunk is a massively fun and creative way forward.
No links to key sites on this blog entry – Google is your friend. Go and have a look.
You’ll be inspired.
For many of us, as we mature in years our ways of thinking freeze a little, and we start making decisions based on what we know works. However, if we are to stay at the top of our game and provide real momentum and development to the work we are doing we need to think creatively. It has been said many times before: don’t ask ‘why’? Ask ‘why not’?
John Maeda (President, Rhode Island School of Design) highlighted in a talk some years ago that Creative folk are the great exception to this ‘brain freeze’; they have:
“…the unique ability to live with ambiguity and to live with mistakes. Without a certain comfort level with ambiguity – an uncertain outcome – we would never experiment. If we never experimented, we would never make mistakes. And if we never made mistakes, we would never learn anything”.
The creative process of inventor and entrepreneur James Dyson is a wonderful example. Although Dyson is now one of the wealthiest men in Britain, it took him 15 long years and thousands upon thousands of failed prototypes to arrive at his first success. In an interview with ‘Fast Company’, Dyson explains:
“I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.”
As Dyson acutely observes, from an early age much of our school training encourages us to be ‘risk-averse’ by rewarding those who deliver exactly what’s expected – rather than those who try something new and dare to look foolish (take the risk). We are taught to uphold rigour and focus over play and experimentation.
However, it is these same qualities, playfulness, wonder, an element of risk and a lack of inhibition, that have fostered the greatest creative breakthroughs.
Teachers and educational leaders take note.