Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Thesis Update #6

By Nicholas Ouellette

Haha fooled you! This week is actually not another thesis update due to the lack of adequate information to portray in a blog entry. Next time though, we will get back on track [or at least I hope so, if not I am going to be in rough shape]. So, instead, this week I am going to talk about a few other side projects I have had to work on for other classes that have been going on this semester also. The first project is a chair that I was instructed to recreate for my independent study furniture course. The image below is of the Red and Blue Chair designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1917. The chair consists of a seven square cross braces flanked by 6 square posts that hold up a simple rectangular back and seat. The chair was originally constructed of unstained beech wood and was later painted in the early 1920s. The effects of the color scheme made the chair seem to almost disappear against a black wall and floor of the house that is was placed in. The object of our project was simple: take this chair and place your own spin on it.

 I went through a number of concepts and ideas when trying to design my own chair. I looked at different ways to design the legs and seat and the connections of the two pieces. Eventually I came to the concept of designing the chair to have a stark contrast between the rigid members of the chair structure and the components that would make up the seat. I originally designed the chair to use round dowel rods that would be grooved out and slotted together to give a larger gluing surface and more strength. The dowel rods were replaced by square members in the end due to the lack of my ability to cut the grooves to match and it was proving to be a larger issue in the end that I was not willing to work towards to get right. The seat and back was going to be made of rope that I would string around the cross braces. The braces would have to be lathed to ensure that the string would stay in place will I strung it through the entire chair. Other than the string, the chair for the most part stayed the same, there were a few minor tweaks that I made to the dimensions of the chair so that the string would stay in place and it would go the entire length of the seat back instead of stopping in the center of it. You can see in the images below a few different angles of the chair that I took once the project was completed. I chose to keep the poplar wood unstained and the rope to be black so that I could again emphasis that stark contrast I was hoping for in the beginning.

 The next project I would like to talk about it I just finished last night. It was a built piece we had to construct for my global traditions in architecture history class. We were instructed to find a piece of eastern architecture, whether it was a construction element, detail, model, etc. and make it ourselves. For this project I chose to do a Japanese shoji screen light fixture. In Japanese culture, the shoji screen is used in homes as well as other aspects of architecture as a screen wall, window, or door that separates spaces and creates private areas. They are constructed of a wood frame that contains a translucent paper in the middle to create the screen element. You can see an image of one below.
For my own design, I wanted to take the concept of the screen and turn it into something a bit more functional. Not that a screen isn’t functional, I just don’t have much of a use for it so I decided to make a light fixture instead that I could keep on my desk in studio or at home on a nightstand. Similar to the chair, however, my original concept and the final product are a bit different than what I had envisioned. Originally, I wanted to use Japanese joinery to create the structure for the lamp, nothing too crazy, but something other than the standard 45 degree angle corner condition. Unfortunately, in the end, the joinery was going to take too long to construct and I ended up using a much simpler method of joining the structure together. Either way though the main concept of the shoji screen was still intact. I made a simple design that would wrap around all four sides of the lamp and cut it on the laser cutter with holes so that I could screw in the panels and change them out if I wanted a different design at a later date. In Japanese culture, rice paper is normally used to create the screen element of the shoji screen, I do not have access to that however so I found some vellum at Hobby Lobby that I used and it honestly works just a well. There is still a good amount of light that comes out of the fixture and it is frosted enough so that you do not see a hard outline of the bulb. Overall, I think the project turned out fairly well, you aren’t going to be able to light up your living room with the thing but it works well as a nice ambient light for your house. You can see a couple images of the light below of it both on and off.

I hope you guys enjoyed this brief break from my normal thesis updates. I am sorry again I do not have enough information to keep you guys up to date on the progress I have made, but there just is not as much that I would have liked to have done at this time. There will be plenty next time do not worry! Have a good couple of weeks and I will talk to you all soon!

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