DIA Live Design Competition 2016

I received this email and decided to take up the challenge:

Do you love the thrill of a concept in creation? Are you tempted by the drama of design and the taste of victory? Does DI-BOND and all the creative opportunities it holds have you high fiving and high flying?


Your only limitation is your imagination, the product sheet size and the twist….
Designs will be constructed at the event in front of our live and, no doubt, loud audience! Entrant’s designs will be CNC cut by our fantastic event supporter Creative Cardboard and arrive on the night for live assembly within a maximum 1 hour time frame.

Anyone and Everyone Can Enter
From students to industry leaders, and all design enthusiasts in between. You can enter as an individual or in groups of 2 or 3.

A quick info session introduced me to the Dibond material and what a CNC router could do:

My initial instinct was to make a drawing board, because the material was so light yet sturdy (and that’s what I really needed), but I tried to stretch myself toward more creative ideas. Two keepers were a life-size paper-doll and a customisable children’s lamp – the latter of which I continued on with.

After drawing my heart out, I had to figure out how I would actually make the thing so I employed my manual drafting skills from first semester to work out the dimensions of the rocket ship:

Once I had the basics, I drew the plan up in illustrator so I could make little tweaks and pump out a bunch of models until it was just right.

Finally, I had a friend help me convert my illustrator file into a solidworks DXF file for submission. (This was a huge pain in the arse and when I was required to resubmit with some changes later on, I was very thankful that I’d had a few solidworks lessons and could redraw it natively.


After submitting the dibond layout, I relaxed for a while and caught up on my uni assignments. It was pretty hectic and I soon had to get all my other components together.

As well as the dibond rocket, I had to get a lamp base, light bulb, fasteners, magnets and construct the perspex base and resin topper that would join the whole thing together and allow light to shine through.

I originally wanted to 3D print the topper, but was convinced to try a more complicated method by the digital workshop technician, Shane. He introduced me to the jewellery workshop tech, Steve, who taught me how to do moulding and casting. It was an excellent week of learning new methods and materials and I was so pleased at the slightly opaque yet glittery product I wound up with at the end.

Finally, the night arrived:

Matt was the one who helped me with solidworks in the beginning, so it was fitting that he be the partner to help me build the thing on the night. I discovered that we do in fact work really well as a team. Even when shit was hitting the fan, we were still keeping calm, cracking jokes, and cheering each other on.

We were the least-experienced entrants in the competition, so with any pressure of winning out of the picture, we got to solve problems, learn a bunch, and make a thing that was actually pretty cool:

The red glow is made with lighting gels from my past life as a filmmaker. I cut them to size so they were interchangeable. The top, middle and bottom were each held together by magnets to make changing of the bulb and gels easy. Although we used rare-earth magnets, which are really strong, the number and placement of them weren’t quite strong enough to hold it together were it to be knocked over – so not ideal for a kid’s bedroom after all.

I was surprisingly pleased with how well the different lighting effects worked though, and everyone really loved the idea of being able to draw on it – a few spectators added their own art.

The manager of the workshop at my uni won first prize with his lotus lamp and a pair of stools and a table won second and third places respectively.

It was cool that familiar faces were there to judge, participate and spectate. It ended up being a really fun night.

And I still got to make my drawing board with the leftovers:



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