Hello Hi Reader,
Nice. Blog post number 3. Today we have some extremely juicy content to follow up from the last post and talk a little bit more about design/theory. Last week, I and my mentor was working hard to establish a strong Parti. In case you do not know what a parti is, it is the main organizing concept/thought that shapes the entire project in creative work. A parti takes shape in many forms, it may be a statement, a problem to solve, a sketch, or even an event. The value in having a parti is so your entire project will be concentrated and have meaning towards a core idea, rather than having all types of ideas mangling all over the place.
In the latest meeting with my mentor, we solidified a parti for our first project, the Birdhouse. The parti for this project focuses on the aesthetics of the Birdhouse and is created using a paper sketch. We focused on an aesthetic parti to challenge the traditional look of birdhouses to become more natural and one with its environment. Having an aesthetic parti was also better suited than a technical parti because focusing the project on improving the functions of the birdhouse was too time-consuming. The aesthetic parti is based on a tree fungus found on a hike, the form of the fungi could potentially cradle a nest at a larger scale. Therefore, we are trying to replicate this form with wood and other materials.
Now, with a solidified aesthetic parti, my next step is to chisel and refine. The design process from a parti is like how a sculptor sculpts a sculpture. The rough idea/foundation is first set, and everything revolves around it. This is like the sculptor choosing the perfect piece of stone. Next, a designer refines the bigger idea through many considerations and requirements that provide the function for the piece. This is when the sculptor takes the big block and chisels out big chunks to create the rough shape. This repeats, where the design is constantly adjusted, refined, and chiselled away until it meets all the requirements, functions well, and satisfies the original parti. Of course, throughout this process, other great ideas may pop up, and the designer may choose to take a turn on their original thought or save the idea for future projects. Some ideas are great, but they are even better in the right context.
This is currently what I am doing with my project, taking the original parti, and running it through all the requirements for the bird. I have to consider the space the bird requires, where I will place the nest, choose the correct materials for the house, will the house degrade as it weathers? Etc. These “considerations” are all thought of and incorporated into the design. Hopefully, by next time, I would have presentable plans and potentially 3D models of the birdhouse with refined designs to accommodate the needs/requirements of the bird.
During my meeting with my mentor, I found it especially great how we were able to come up with ideas during the meeting and clash them together to form potential designs and strategies for the Birdhouse. My mentor and I were also comfortable sharing unfinished and random ideas and talking about them. Because of this, we had a lot of new ideas at the end of each meeting and were able to see the project in a new way. This constantly challenged our design.
As much as I appreciate this, I could think of three strategies that could improve the quality of the meetings further. First, I think organizing the meeting and having boundaries for brainstorming are important. Currently, we are letting out a lot of wild ideas, and many of them don’t get anywhere further than just ideas. This is very good for the start of the project to build momentum and has enough content to design off for, however, when we get further and more concentrated towards a set parti, we want to focus our brainstorming on a topic for time efficiency. Secondly, I believe we can use more visuals to improve the quality of the meetings, as creating things is a very visual process, and having objects and even quick sketches to demonstrate ideas may save more time than trying to explain them with words. Lastly, I want to start taking notes of the meetings. Somewhat like the meeting minutes we record at leadership meetings, the structure of my notes includes core concepts and interesting details discussed during the meeting, so, we can trace them back to what we discussed later. Furthermore, this can also help us visualize the evolution of our ideas and learn from them and potentially recycle abandoned ideas from earlier.
For these strategies to be more than strategies, I would need an ACTION plan. First, setting goals and starting with discussion questions will help us set foot on the right track. From this point, we may get further and further away from the topic we are discussing, however, going outside of what we expect is very valuable too. The starting/guiding discussions intend to recognize the focus of the meeting. A note should be created to note down the topics we have to get through and kept visible. This will remind us if we get too far off the things we want to discuss. Secondly, as I progress through the designing progress, I will naturally have created rough plans, in both 3D and 2D, sketches and CAD form. These should be shared during the meeting to make sure all ideas are shared clearly and efficiently. Again, woodworking and form-based creative work are extremely visual. Lastly, to have a document we can rely on to refer to the topics we have discussed, I will try to take note of each meeting with the core concepts and interesting details discussed. This should be placed in the Teams channel I have created with my mentor.
I hope you continue to tune in!
All the best,