Building, Dwelling, and the Cosmic Order

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This essay for Design Project I is a response to Martin Heidegger’sBuilding Dwelling Thinking“. In writing it, I drew on my previous reading of Robert A. Heinlein, for his idea of universe as art, and Buckminster Fuller, for his founding his faith in cosmic order on modern scientific knowledge.

Read Building, Dwelling, and the Cosmic Order (PDF, 60KB).

Sometimes it’s useful to be a packrat. First semester, I wrote a paper on Bucky and had made a spreadsheet of fully cited quotations for it.  Since I didn’t throw away that research, I had the necessary notes to add the paragraph on Bucky to this paper complete with quotations and citations. This saved me having to think of a new paragraph to add.

Presentation on Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Title page

In our art history course focused on furniture, we each did a presentation on a particular style or maker. I chose Charles Rennie Mackintosh because I had often heard of him but never learned much about his work.

We’d had a number of these presentations by the time I started work on mine, so I knew that I ought to spend minimal time on biographical details and focus instead on the themes in his work. I looked at huge quantities of photos, with a few sentences from the textbook to point me in the right direction, and from that developed an understanding of how Mackintosh’s furniture was filled with contrasts — light and dark, feminine and masculine, straight and curved — and how spare and Japanese it was by contrast with Victorian style.

Bytowne Cinema Moodbox

Bytowne Theatre moodbox

For this project, we were asked to visit a place with a strong character and then make a moodbox (a sort of three-dimensional display) to convey what it was like. Maryam, Candace, and I visited the Bytowne Cinema, which has some interesting Modern details, especially on the facade and lobby. It also has a very recognizable mural.

We considered what elements from the Bytowne ought to be used in the moodbox, and decided on the mural, the sign, and red velvet (for the silver screen’s curtain). We also used film and a copy of the schedule in our composition. The curls of film made our entry unique.

Perspective Rendering of a Library

2 point perspective, coloured

A colour rendering of a library that is not unpacked yet. While I understand the system for two-point perspective, I find light and shadow trickier. Unfortunately the scanner did horrid things to the shadows in the bookcases. I’ll try to get a better scan sometime.

Measured Survey of Classroom

Measured Survey: Floor plan

In this assignment from our second hand drafting course, we measured our classroom and then drew a floorplan, reflected ceiling plan, and elevations. Measuring a space is more difficult and tedious than I would have expected it to be — even a simple room has so many edges and corners and objects, all of which must be carefully located, and many dimensioned. Also, thanks to rounding and small errors, one side of a room might not add up to the other side when it is supposed to. In my 1910s apartment, I would conclude the room was no longer square, but not in a modern concrete classroom.

The Spacebox

Spacebox, overview

For this project, our professor wanted us to define a certain number and types of spaces within an 8 x 8 x 8 inch cube, by using a minimal number of walls and columns, which we could colour white or black. We needed to have at least one space of each type: large, small, overlapping, and double-height.

This is one of the projects that shows why I enjoy design so much: even though the rules of the assignment are strict, everybody makes something different. For example, mine is symmetrical, abstract, and sculptural, while many of the other submissions looked architectural.

The model is based around two intersecting cubes that form a diagonal hourglass within the implied outer cube. These three cubes are my large spaces. The rest are all defined by the framework at the pinch in the hourglass. That creates the small space, overlapping space, and double-height space.

The professor kept the model for the next CIDA review, and put it in the display case outside the Interior Design office, along with a couple other entries from the same assignment.

Eileen Gray Exhibit

Eileen Gray-inspired rug design

One of our professors had us do a poster and invitation for an exhibit of Eileen Gray‘s works, and a rug design based on hers. Even though this was the last assignment of our monochrome term, our professor invited us to pick a signature colour for the assignment. Myself, I like red.

I did my typesetting and layout in Indesign CS2, since I wanted some precise effects with colours and overlaps that I couldn’t do by hand. The typeface is Futura. The illustrations of Gray’s pieces are all done by hand, as was the assembly. Oh, the scent of rubber cement in the morning. Continue reading

The Agglomeration

Agglomeration, perspective #4 Our final project in Interior Design I was to make a construction that combined volumes, planes, and lines, and would make exciting black and white photographs, since we were still working on the theme “light as inhabitant,” with the goals of learning composition, light, texture, and craft.

Agglomeration, perspective #1Since it began with my hacking holes out of hotglued boxes of battered foamcore board, and wedging them into each other, I called it the agglomeration. The official project name “Light as Inhabitant Part Three” was much too pretentious for it then, and the nickname stuck.

Even though it was constructed entirely out of right-angled boxes and planes, the final composition feels much more dynamic than you would expect from that. Again, we were invited to craft interesting joints, and I did. Headache-inducing joints, like these multiple angled crossings and wedgings:


Research Essay: Trajan’s Column as Comic

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As I mentioned earlier, I’ve read a couple of Scott McCloud’s books about comics and storytelling — what makes a comic a comic, and how do they manipulate space and time with only paper and ink. So, when my art history textbook talked about how the artists for Trajan’s Column divided scenes, marked time, etc. I was primed to think “just like a comic.”

Since all the suggested essay topics for the course were dull to me — I’ve learned the hard way that the topic has to strike sparks off me or the essay will suck — I got permission to instead explain how comics work and why Trajan’s Column is one, despite its pretending to be a Greek frieze.

Read Trajan’s Column as Comic (PDF, 1.5mb).