Interview with designer Andrew Slade (AS), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Spontaneous | Kinetic Kontraption Multi-Functional Table.

 
 
 
 
 
 
For High-Resolution Images & More Info Visit: http://www.adesignaward.com/design.php?ID=25950

Interview with Andrew Slade at Wednesday 13th of February 2013: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
AS : Finding a balance between 'simplicity' & 'contingency'

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
AS : I wanted to design a piece of furniture that could keep up with various changing environments. The main focus was to ensure that the process of altering the configurations of this multi-functional table was as simple as possible. Achieving minimal components and making an effort to visually communicate how the joints and mechanics work were characteristics of utmost importance right from the very beginning.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
AS : It is the first piece of furniture I have ever designed, assembled, and won an award for; I am open to suggestions.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
AS : The concept described briefly in the Foreword of the 'Spontaneous Custom Design' booklet that discusses ideas of 'future use' and 'product life-cycles' began almost two and half years ago, in 2010. To be more specific to the actual table design itself, it was conceived and constructed in the Winter of 2012 and finished by late Spring. I was completing my Master of Architectural at the time and my thesis was primarily process- and policy-driven research and analysis. The Kinetic Kontraption project served as a creative outlet for me that I could obsess on a bit more with in regards to its aesthetics and craft.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
AS : The inspiration for this design came from working at a Community Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It was conceived out of a personal fascination (and challenge) to understand how 'multi-functional' and 'flexible' furniture must be designed to *truly* work for a changing public audience.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
AS : The design is not being produced or used by a company. I would like to sell or lease the production rights.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
AS : At large, it is a reaction to all the conventional 'throw-away' furniture and products we have in our world. However, I feel that most designer's probably share this ethical stance on some level. So to be a little more personal, I would say that it was designed in response to my terrible habit of always trying to do everything at once. This can sometimes lead to convoluted works, but when it comes together elegantly, it is a very satisfying reward.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
AS : There is no one 'design' I can recall having an influence on the detailing or creative decisions effecting the design; however I am very thankful for the discussions I had with various classmates and guidance I received from wood shop staff.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
AS : I would like to say it is for everyone, because all subjectivity aside I believe it can functionally have a place in anyone's home or office. Having said that, I have found it works quite nicely in smaller apartments. For example, if it is predominantly used in its coffee table configuration, it can be quickly (and effortlessly) changed into another configuration (like the display pieces) when one has guests over to provide more floor space for a group. Also, the simplicity of its design makes it easy to customize various parts; for instance, the natural wood boxes can be stained black, or painted in colour you like.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
AS : The removal of all 'tertiary' parts. In many transformable pieces of furniture there are often complicated joints that are either difficult to find and operate, use ugly mechanical pieces that are commonly meant to be hidden, and last but definitely not least, these other multi-functional furniture pieces are often limited in their configuration possibilities. The Kinetic Kontraption is still surprising me with new configurations. In fact, it is currently being used as Sofa Table in my apartment which is an unforeseen configuration that is not even documented in the Spontaneous Custom Design booklet. Visually, the design decision to remove the ‘tertiary joint’ helps emphasize the purity of both the wood boxes and metal frame materials, while at the same time, the way these materials are pragmatically clamped together devises a system that is user-friendly, adaptable, and therefore a long-lasting and environmentally sustainable for its purchasers.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
AS : Kinetic: relating to, characterized by, or caused by motion. (K)ontraption: variant of adaptation. To adjust to different conditions, environment, etc. to adapt easily to all circumstances. I am not quite sure where the name came from, but I knew it needed to be catchy if I wanted anyone to remember it, let alone hear anyone say it aloud. Hence the double 'K' used in the title.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
AS : A mixture of computer programs for tweaking and finalizing details for construction drawings; such as Cinema 4D, Revit, & AutoCAD. Not all were necessary by ant means, if any. The majority of the design was conceived by roughly drawn shop sketches which were drawn on a variety of scraps of paper and occasionally in my notebook when I was lucky. As for physical tool and machines, I used everything from table saws, planers, router tables, lathes, bisketing and splining techniques to welding, metal bending bars, grinders and drills.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
AS : The way it is put together. For instance, how the metal frame opens like a pair of scissors to accept the wooden boxes above. In addition, the fact that the weight of wooden boxes keeps the frame from moving adds to the product's success because it allows the frame to accept different sizes and orientations of wood boxes which invites the opportunity to create various configurations.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
AS : No official collaboration as it started as an experiment related to my Master's Thesis. Nevertheless, I designed this project while working as a Teaching Assistant in the Wood Shop at University and the head staff in charge of the wood shop here was a much appreciated resource of information and 'know-how'. Without his extensive knowledge of machining processes, many of the details I designed would have been difficult to achieve.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
AS : Minimal. Lo-fi perhaps. I had considered creating the profile of the wooden boxes with a CNC Milling machine (as I had been using it for other research at the time); however if I had decided to do this, I would have presumeably printed the profile out in a single day, laminated the pieces of wood on the following day, and be sanding and sealing the finished product on the third. Instead, I took on a more challenging detail that allowed me to practice with a range of machine and produce a different aesthetic all-together.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
AS : The research for this design runs in parallel with my Masters of Architecture Thesis, 'Reassessing Agency' (2012) which was being conducted at the same time. I was exploring the role that public-participation had in the architectural design process within community buildings. While most of my time with the thesis was spent exploring ways of discussing, disseminating, communicating, and generating collaborative designs processes, the Kinetic Kontraption, was a smaller, more manageable and tangible element that I could monitor and document as it experienced various users and environments. Since its construction completion, I have personally seen it used in three different ways than I imagined and am hopeful to see other configurations in the future as they naturally occur.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
AS : As simple as it may look, coming up with the idea for the 'scissor-like' metal frame was most likely toughest detail to theoretically conceive. As for the actual realization, the curved wooden corners proved to be quite an extensive process to construct; starting with laminating and paper gluing techniques and finishing off with a special jig used to pass the corner elements through router to get the 3/4" inner radius.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
AS : I was quite pleased with the final result of the product myself and wanted to see how others would react to it. I was quite pleased with the A'Design Awards competition guidelines. In fact, I wanted to document my design in a similar fashion anyway, so this seemed like a good opportunity at the time.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
AS : Technically? Tons of unforgettable wood working and welding experience. Intellectually? I like to think this process has proved something to me; that it is good to stick with my instincts and push my (sometimes overly-complicated) ideas until they reach a lucid state.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
AS : Thank you A'Design Awards