An enticing element of casting methods for me has always been in its replication. These materials may be more commonly used in much smaller scale prototyping and more finely detailed objects that plaster and water would likely break under, such as in the creation of mechanical components, prop model-making and prosthetics. As well as this, they offer great experimental methods for exploring ways to present models with surface texture and ‘landscape’ elements because of this. Additional elements like fillite and metal powders may be used to provide the intended effects of rust or uneven surfaces for example.
These experiments used a ‘laid up’ method of creating a silicon rubber mould from a clay object. I also began to play around with placing existing objects within the model to test how they would be reproduced when the casts were complete, making sure to avoid undercuts and gaps in the clay.
A plaster ‘case’ in built up over the dried silicon rubber to form a base in which to secure and pour the resin when dry. A few drops of thixotrope is then mixed with the resin to help solidify it as it pours into the mould, followed by layering fibre glass over and painting the resin into the mould to layer and strengthen the cast.
Once the cast is dry the silicon rubber mould allows for relatively easy removal provided there are no undercuts.
Our initial impressions as we approached the so-called Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to begin our design exploration and intervention back in March, were mostly of confusion. Pleasure, we thought, is not something that we could easily associated with this space. The term carries a certain value that is not often used lightly, and when it is, it connotes feelings of joyous experiences and having a deep feeling of it at that moment.
The sky was grey and the green space that seemed planted incongruously to the looming office buildings above seemed only to serve as the walkway for commuters going between Vauxhall and Westminster over the river. It’s heritage however, we later found to be the perpetrator for the title which had originally been given to the gardens in the late 17th century. A place of flamboyance for the wealthy and a pool of entertainment, now gone and tucked away (we began to uncover) in the seemingly quiet corners of the park that opened up the delights of these experiences for all types of people.
The emphasis here was on us to ‘work out’ this space and design for these curiosities that we would come to discover more about, as we began asking questions of how this location fit within the networks of what we consider ‘pleasure’ in the modern day, and what it has meant, and what it may mean.
Our drawings, photos and films allowed us to focus on a number of key architectures that we felt were important in getting further insight into this, which would then form the plans for a 1:25 scale model of the area and a presentation of our findings to a group of our peers. The models seen here are crafted in cardboard and mod roc – a decision that would create plain ‘canvas’ surfaces on which we could project our video footage along with our audio for the purpose of presenting these narratives. The three building – the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the Tea House Theatre and the Vauxhall Arches offered three distinct ‘routes’ into presenting our understanding of how pleasure was being experienced in the present. One such story was of an unnamed MP who frequented the Tea House Theatre (a venue hosting a menagerie of tea and cake by day and performances and poetry readings by night). This MP has been known to fall asleep in a ragged chair in the corner of the room. It was just these sorts of narratives that would drive deeper insights into how we could tell the histories of this location and bring our audience to the attention of the life which it still clings to.
Experimentation with mechanical joints with rivets and box bending aluminium. This object was designed with the intention of proposing a containment vessel to store personal digital information using a unique ‘fingerprint’ style code. This was based off the original 16th and 17th century iron and wood strong boxes used by the upper classes to store physical possessions.
I have yet to explore further how these methods of constructing in metal may be re appropriated for design involving circuitry or objects in motion. They made me think initially of works by Bruno Munari or Jean Tinguely.
With issues of the ecological being addressed and reflected upon in design practice, these experiments heating and compressing thermo-plastics highlights the relative ease that such materials can be recycled and used to drive further outcomes with an appreciation for how we source and re-purpose them effectively. Recent ventures have seen designers largely in the furniture and fashion industries capitalise on the growing concerns of ocean plastics. Adidas, for one, have spent recent years reclaiming plastic from the oceans in the production of their sports wear, using the waste for the reproduction of synthetic fibres 1, while Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros designing for product and public space have considered the potential for using algae to create starch for bio-plastics 2.
There’s something quite liberating about a process that becomes virtually exhaustible. The application of the right amount of heat and pressure to these thermoplastics and you have the potential to develop numerous possibilities. the functionality of these objects at this scale becomes apparent with the intention of crafting and moulding the object, in the example above is my fabrication of a rather obscure yet undoubtedly usable bowl. At larger scales it becomes once again a malleable piece able to be refined for the production of furniture and tiling. This is where greater understanding of the role of the designer in intervening in these possibilities becomes even more necessary as a part of education, and should delve into not simply the reasons for why it is necessary to ‘reduce’ and ‘recycle’ but also how and at what points alternative thinking can stimulate these changes.
As any art form grows space for the artist to to express themself and throw their energy into every waking minute of it, Vogue is the vehicle through which (originally) the LGBTQ+ community found their intervention. It is not a single entity that can stamp a label on the outward appearance of the artists, nor is it purely the embodiment of one particular set of poses – imitating a gesture from the glossy covers of Vogue…does not make you Vogue. So let’s say that I don’t sketch out what Vogue is, but draw around the vessel we are going to call ‘Vogue’ all of the elements that we as human beings value as being part of our right to emote, create and share. Within some of these entanglements will be sincere desires to be released from oppression, perhaps from society or within the self, which transforms itself very organically into the powerful motion, extravagant style and respect for one another in the shared pursuit of empowerment. Considering this, perhaps we are all in some small way ‘Voguing’ throughout our everyday lives, making concessions and sacrifices in the attempt to reach something more, all of us in some way crafting and moulding our identities to express our worth and value. There is no set standard for what Vogue can be, only the wish that it remains honest.
Such as I wrote in early February when nearing the completion of this project. from going from point 0, knowing hardly anything about the subject we had begun studying, to being encapsulated by its potential. I felt this to be a highly engaged and empathetic few weeks. ‘For the love of…’ asked us to immerse ourselves with a specific group (in our case, those involved in the Voguing/LGBTQ+ community), participating in the lifestyle and trying to gauge how far we could really experience what it was to be part of a culture that we had no real prior experience of.
We quickly became aware of the sensitivities surrounding the community. Voguing takes root in the black/LGBTQ+ underground of the 1970s/80s, and stemmed from the similar forms of body motion and expression that were being publicised by the original ‘Vogue’ magazine. Through discussion with people living this lifestyle, we built up an understanding of how the community offers liberation and protection to those who would otherwise be outcast and often without any other form of support structure, manifesting itself in the form of ‘houses’ with a family consisting of a ‘mother’ and sometimes ‘father’ of the house . In the present it continues to gain attraction, whilst it had also been largely popularised and brought into the mainstream by pop culture. This project highlighted something important about how we, as designers, gauge sensitivity while pushing how far we can explore potential openings to intervene in when working within networks of various kinds of people.
One of my roles as part of the photo shoot was in setting up the lighting and projection seen in the background as part of our exploration of how we could find a way in for ourselves to understand the similar aspirations and motivations of those involved in Voguing, specifically in this case, embracing of fashion styles and the acquisition of a ‘celebrity’ lifestyle.
Community-filled adrenaline supported by movement, the underground vogueing scene has been the outlet of many queer people’s lives since the 80s. Self-expression fills the room as the dancers finesse their outfits and personal features against their opponents throwing shade. Using a sequence of motions, the dancer can illustrate their current emotions effectively with ease whilst not having any judgement from anyone around them. This performance provides a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community and anyone who chooses to join in. Going to one of these classes and even gay bars, the atmosphere is welcoming and accepting. The aggressive difference between nightclubs and these balls and bars depicts how corrupt our society has become. Having random people dance with you just for a dance and rather than just wanting a one-night stand, illiterates the importance of voguing as a dance style. It has managed to make the performer feel empowered about themselves and to flaunt what they have in comparison to their partner.
A number of artists and designers have exploited the potentials of working with inflatable structures. Artists such as Tomás Saraceno creating spheres that regulate the pressure of the air and stay adrift by “air heated by the sun during the day, and by the warm air generated by the Earth’s infra-red radiation at night.”1 Or Kurt Pershcke’s ‘RedBall Project’2, which squeezed itself in between the narrow streets of cities from Barcelona to Sydney.
This group project saw the creation of our own inflatable structures using polythene sheets and air fans. These were then inflated together in the warehouse space seen above. Initial designs originated from a process of drawing from existing interior spaces and prototype modelling these in cardboard to test the most practical structures…
…followed by the cutting and piecing together the individual sheets of polythene after scaling them up by 10:1.
I and a group of my fellow design peers were approached by the Goldsmiths drama and theatre society and asked to design and build the stage set for their performance of the musical ‘Our House’ – the Madness inspired performance. With a 2 month deadline the group set about on the fabrication of a playful and easy-to-assemble wood and cardboard set that would be structurally sound enough to support the actors over the course of 3 nights.
My main task as part of this production was in the design and construction of four doors which would complete the aesthetic of 1980s Camden, while also being used as metaphor for the various character arcs and alternative personalities that drive the story. The doors were required to be movable and able to open on both sides in order to contrast these alterations in character and set the undertones for the scene.
The challenge of having these doors function and be transported on stage was met with the creation of four wooden frames fitted with dowels slotted into the cardboard. This allowed for a lightweight method that would not put strain on the material and allow the actors to perform their more raucous scenes with ease.
Photography work experimenting with coloured gels and LED lighting to enhance the appearance of these otherwise mundane objects.
Similar methods have been applied here using a black back drop and light box. I always found something particularly fascinating about how lighting and colouration can inspire architectural arrangements. The design process may often become more engaged and driven by the fictional narratives of these objects in this way.
I developed a great love for the collographing process during a point in my Foundation year. I began using it to experiment with the different ways of representing an architectural space, as well as using the layering of textures to build up a depiction of interiors and exteriors as a part of that.