A Military Iron: Concept Development

This assignment is about creating a commercial steam iron within a stylistic context. We drew from a hat one of four themes:

  • Luxury
  • Athletics
  • Military
  • Sci Fi

I instantly had ideas for sci-fi and got really excited by this prospect. After picking our theme and assembling into groups, I was really glad to get military. Each group was encouraged to narrow down into a subset of their theme, but sci-fi had to specifically choose one film to base their concepts on, whereas my initial idea for sci-fi was based on a book.

With my sci-fi hopes dashed, I tried to steer my military ideas in the direction of high-tech, elite, stealth, dark stylings and was fortunate enough to have a group that was in the same frame of mind (or at least very agreeable). With this sub-theme, we would avoid all the grungy, bulky, rough, dirty connotations that come from the military – something I thought was important when designing a product that people rub on their clothes.

We went through a couple hundred images and collectively narrowed it down to a small collection with which to base our drawings.

We also conducted research around usability, point-of-sale, and interaction elements.

After presenting, we refined our mood and theme boards and started drawing concepts.

A commercial texture board is much more efficient, but in a pinch, sesame snaps do a bang-up job!

Initial concept development:

We’ve been asked to make foam models for projects in the past, but this is the first time we’ve actually been taught how to make them well. Andrew gave us a demo for how he’d make an iron and we got to inspect some stellar example work.

  • Start with 2 blocks and glue together so you have a centre line to work with. (or cut your block in half and glue it back together)
  • Use “insulation panel” foam. It’s extruded rather than expanded so has less bubbles and is much smoother and easier to work with.
  • Use a double-bladed saw or a box cutter. You can achieve really smooth cuts with simple tools like this and a delicate sawing action.
  • Don’t try to take off too much at a time. This way you’ll avoid drag.
  • Cut your sandpaper into circles to prevent the sharp edges from digging into your model.
  • Glue some sandpaper to a block and rub it against more sandpaper to get rid of the sharp grain.
  • Spray adhesive is a great way to get a thin, even coating of glue that is easy to cut through and can peel away if necessary.
  • Adhere elevation views to the top/bottom, front/back and side of a straight-edged block. With spray-adhesive, it’s easy to peel these off and stick them back on again elsewhere.
  • Bandsaw straight through the foam and paper for each profile, taping back together on each run. (Or laser-cut around paper). After the final run, you should be able to pull the centre form away from the rest and it should resemble your design.
  • Andrew took off the side view and re-stuck it onto the diagonal. I’d’ve used an auxiliary view to get a more accurate result with this.
  • Use a drill to put in holes in order to start carving the handle. Use a hacksaw with an acrofile blade. Put it through the drilled holes and you can accurately and cleanly cut a hole for the handle.
  • Use a sharp blade to start carving in the finer details.
  • For chamfers, measure lines from the edge and then cut between them.
  • For fillets, use dowels that match the radii of the curves in the design.
  • A punch from Bunnings works a bit like an apple corer. You can cleanly cut round shapes away from your foam or cut them out and add them in as buttons etc.
  • Use spack filler to fill in gaps.
  • Mix metho and spack filler (not much metho) and paint it onto the model to give a strong, smooth all-over finish.
  • Enamel paint will eat into the foam. Acrylic/water-based paint is safe to use. If you want to create textured patterns or deboss text for example, you can mask out your graphic design and spray a clear enamel paint which will eat away the foam in a controlled manner.

After presenting my initial designs, I was encouraged to make my iron more active, more aggressive. I realised that approaching the design as a dynamic, active, intentional creature/device rather than a static military-themed drawing would make for a much more interesting design. I started exploring tension, intent and mood much more in depth. This informed the shape of my iron much more than referencing existing products.

I’d also been very worried about skirting too closely to sci-fi. My lecturer told me not to worry about that. That sci-fi draws from everywhere and there was bound to be crossover everywhere.

Final concepts:

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 17.27.25

Everyone did a really great job on this assignment. We compete and push each other and inspire each other and share ideas and get advice from the students in years above us. It’s a really special environment to be working in. This is what I love.

My presentation of the final concepts went really well. Having been through the process I did, I was able to talk with confidence about all of the choices I made in the designs.

I also learnt how important it is to have good, clear drawings and faithful models. It’s really difficult to talk about what works and what doesn’t when half of it is abstract and not fully represented.

I’ve been directed to go with a combination between concepts #1 and #3. Mostly #3, but with the vents, bulk and aggression of #1. First of all, there are to be no horizontal or vertical lines across any plane. The 3rd one is also currently too slim, lanky and interested in speed, rather than tension. I can incorporate the rattlesnake cord of #1 if I make it much bulkier, like a scorpion tail. I’m not sure exactly which handle I’ll go with yet, I have lots of ideas to draw already.

A refined concept and foam model is due next week. Thereafter, I’ll be building an appearance model from life-like materials! 😀

Stay tuned!

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