Frank Millero, the chair of furniture department at West Elm. I had a meeting with Frank last Friday Jan 30th 09. During the meeting we talked about my thesis project in terms of recycling idea and my thesis design. He told me that I should find a consistent supply waste in order to keep designing around the material for a commercial project. It is also interesting to design from the material itself. Scrappile is the company producing composite material which I can take a look see if there is anything overlapping with my thesis project. He mentioned an interesting point that a design aesthetic from the material itself which is in my design principle as well. Future Perfect is the design store in williamsburg that I can check out for further inspirations. Domestic aesthetic is the company produces small wood project. Citi log is another company that relates my thesis project They collect waste wood from city trees. Local material is good; local value, how to create value is important. Turrmai sales reclaim woods which is good for material source finding and testing which I can find interesting elements from the history in the reclaim woods. Be aware if the reclaim woods have paints on them because they might have lead on them. There are organizations can test reclaim wood for you. Again consistent waste material is important. Weekly or monthly and transportation are important for me to receive my materials. Waste match. Org is part of the city sanitation system where am I getting material from people who want to get rid of those materials they don’t need. Bart Bettencourt is another designer I can interview. Let the material let you alone throughout the design. One of the thing he suggest me to be aware is the idea to be modular. They is a certain population that they really want things to design for them and resolve, and there is a certain population that they want to build everything themselves. So, I really have think who my target audient is. Or, there is maybe something more in between. For example, something can be offered in a finished way or more open ended way. He thinks if it just an open ended way, I might limit my target audients because some people might be overwhelmed that they have to build the chair by themselves. For instance, Ikea has a lot of knock down furniture because of the idea of do it yourself. Another thing to think about is the fordable furniture like a fording chair because in New York City, people have small apartment that they might not need their furniture all the time. So, it is nice to have something you can collapse. It doesn’t need to be modular but flexible in that way, so that can be another opportunity. He suggests me to explore more in the world of space saving furniture because he saw an article that there is not really a good fording chair in the market. He also suggests me to create some kinds of prototypes to test with people, so I will have better idea of the assembling process. He said I can try to test people with an instruction and my design to observe how long and how difficult people can build a chair or table. There are two kinds of research: one is quantitative research where you learn from the numbers of results, and there is also qualitative research where you just try to get to the next step like interview process and product testing where you are going to get a lot of qualitative information. So, I can bring those information into next step. He brought up the issue of safety too, but he this that’s resolvable. Danish from Denmark is the design for children furniture. I can also research on children furniture in flat pack. Keep in mind what my design brief is like. For example, how to utilize those materials and who my target audient is. Make sure I have a list about my design brief where I keep my criteria for the design I want to accomplish, so whenever I evaluate my design I go back to the list if I have satisfied everything. I can also combine my design with other materials like cushion, hardware or metal. So, I should be opened up for other materials not just wood. But, I can still try to just use one material to see if I can design something just out of one material. I also need to think about the end life of the product. What if there is a damage of this product. Where can it be repaired? What this product going to be or where. If I use multi-materials, see if there is a way to disassemble it, so I can reclaim the material. For instances, separating the metal from the wood is another thing to keep in mind. He told me MDF has toxic material in that like formaldhyde. But he told me there is also a formaldhyde free MDF. He also suggests me to keep in mind that by adding sawdust with other materials is adding another step into the making process which also coasts energy. But, he told me I might be able to find the third partner to work with if I want zero waste. For example, I can find a third partner to collect those waste I create like sawdust just like I collect reclaim wood from others. In that way I create a system that has zero waste.
After he saw my models, he likes how my design comes from the material. Cutting woods by hand, there is a tolerance, but nowadays in industry, we have great technology to help us to cut things out very precise.