Live Design 2017 (The Prep)

Another year, another wonderful competition. I’m calling it wonderful now because the submission is finished, but I was cursing everything just moments before handing in the file. The event takes place later this month. If you’re unfamiliar with Live Design, check out the event details online, read my blog post from last year, or come along and spectate!

The material for this years competition is Smart-X. It’s kinda like foam-core, but completely made out of polystyrene in different densities. I went on a recce to scope it out and made notes for my team, which you can read here.

We started a pinterest board to brainstorm ideas remotely while my teammates were overseas and then met up to refine them. Our final idea tried to utilise all the best qualities of the material; it’s waterproof, it’s recyclable, light and strong. There was an interesting pathway to get to this concept, but it somehow became a recycling bin for beer bottles, with some fun interaction. The bin can be emptied and reused, or the whole thing can be recycled. As a bonus, it stores fresh beers for refilling. We thought it would come in handy on the night of the event, as most spectators enjoy the judging with beer in hand.

My teammate, Emile, is a gun drawer. Seriously, check out his work. As soon as we’d come up with the idea, he sketched out these gems:

The three of us (including Justin) modelled the design in CAD, developed a cut plan and laser-cut a three-tenth scale version.

There were some initial issues with the complexity of the build, but the real problem was that it didn’t work at all.

With the goal to move the bottles from the top to the bottom of the bin in a fun way, we developed multiple iterations. It became clear that trying to force a bottle to roll in an ordered way (after being dropped into a slot by an inebriated human) wasn’t going to work. I tried a version with rotating flaps, that would allow the bottle to drop all the way to the bottom with a few spinning obstacles on the way. This was the only one that worked.

We weren’t satisfied that spinning flaps were enough of an interaction to be fascinating, so we stepped it up a level and decided to turn it into a game where success and failure came into play.

I tried a couple more iterations to try to get the mechanics working and then Emile hit us with some style:

The final hours were a tumultuous sequence of events, but we got in a cut plan we were all happy with. We didn’t have time to test the final version, so we still have a lot of work ahead to check it and come up with workarounds we can apply on the night of the build, in which we’ll have 50 minutes to assemble the final working product.

We approached this from a product design perspective, but it’s open to anyone who wants to have a go; designers, visual artists, and everyday punters with a creative streak. I thoroughly recommend anyone have a go. After all, it’s cheaper to participate than to spectate!

Wish us luck!


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