4.501
Creative Design Prototyping — Softness

Prerequisites: 
4.500
Required of: 
Undergraduates
Preference Given to: 
Course 4 majors and minors

Note: meeting room changed to N52 Garage Space (IDC)

This semester we will focus on the design and fabrication of softness as it relates to soft touch, soft systems, and soft form. An object soft to the touch yields under pressure or transforms though an applied load. A soft system is one that accommodates change through its flexibility. And a soft form might be supple in its shaping or subtle in its presence. Through hands-on prototyping, digital modelling, and computational analysis, we will design and fabricate hanging suspension structures from soft material systems. Implementing analog techniques of knitting, weaving, crocheting, netting, and coiling along with digital tools including  laser cutters and 3D printers, we will design and construct custom material assemblies to accommodate form and structure.

The semester is structured around three design explorations. First, each student will construct a soft material catalog [from a chosen fabrication technique]. Next, we will encode the design rules of each material assembly into a parametric model to aid in the creation of a suspension structure which precisely holds (cradles) a large winter squash. Formal and structural analysis of the structure’s transformation — from unloaded to loaded — will inform the final project, a suspension structure for the human body.

This hands-on course is anchored in physical materialization through iterative prototyping. We will utilize an array of fabrication techniques to construct custom materials, soft forms, and unique structures.

Who should enroll:

This course is open to all majors and is best suited for undergraduates interested in design and making. Knowledge in digital modeling (solids + meshes) and basic parametric tools is suggested. This course will provide a great opportunity to develop a full scale design from start to finish.

Learning Objectives:

Students will learn and develop the following skills:

  1. An iterative design process to realize a full scale project from conception to completion.
  2. A method to translate digital designs into physical, full scale prototypes.
  3. A method to design and construct soft material systems tied to form and structure.  
  1. Craft based skills and knowledge in digital fabrication tools.