This project explores the body as a support for other functional structures. It is heavily inspired by ergonomics and wearable architecture and looks to bring the feeling of joy and freedom during the COVID-19 lockdown to me as its wearer.
This project started the day after we were all sent home because of COVID-19.
I thought it wouldn't be too bad at first. I truly looked forward to spending more time at home and slowing down a little from our crazy, hectic lifestyle. After the first week, as my body and mind started to get used to it, I began to really miss my freedom.
Growing up in Mexico didn't always allow me the liberty I needed and craved. I love my country, but this is simply a sad truth. This pursuit of freedom is one of the key reasons I decided to move to NY, so after a few days of being forced to stay at home, I began to really feel it.
Freedom is one of the most important things we have, and as we've all have come to learn, it so easy to take for granted
The freedom we fell when we were kids
As a kid, I was naturally curious about everything. For a few months, I was obsessed with balsa airplanes and would spend my afternoon making my own and attaching rubberband-powered propellers to them. The intricacies of wing shapes and its effect on the flight time were so mesmerizing to me, so I would try many different designs and materials to try and optimize my little creations.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, it seemed sensible to try and recreate this feeling of curiosity and creative escapism.
In terms of form, I looked into wearable architecture and prosthetics. Pedro showed us a few extremely inspiring examples in class and I decided to incorporate a few elements into this.
A wind-powered wearable was the way to go
I didn't have a lot of space in my 1 bedroom apartment to fly something, and the constraints of the project brief were that it needed to be a wearable device.
Although we don't have space in NY we all have AC units, and they provide a nice steady airflow. I felt very inspired by it for some reason and decided to use my AC as my main input for the project.
Designing with materials home materials
Although suppliers like McMaster are still in operation, I wanted to use easy to access materials for this project. I wanted something that felt homey and personal, and not something that could've been designed elsewhere. I wanted to capture the scrappiness that COVID-19 has brought and rely on a 3D printer for only the necessary components.
Since I was going for rotational movement, I needed a good shaft to mount the whole thing on.
What is something cylindrical and robust that could work as a shaft and is found in every home?
Using my arm as a canvas, I started to design around it and incorporated piece by piece as the project evolved.
I built around my arm and increased the fidelity and the prototyping process evolved
Once I had a solid understanding of what the project was going to look like, I created a 3D model using Fusion360 to validate dimensions and to design the few mechanical pieces that would need to be 3D printed.
Translating a 3D file to a physical thing
Only the round pieces above were 3D printed and the rest was cut by hand. The reason why these were 3D printed is that due to the lack of power tools I had available at home, creating a round-enough mount or clutch would've been extremely time-consuming, and would take away from the overall aesthetic.
The 4 big turbine flaps were cut by hand using the measurements from the 3D model.
Taking the prototype to its final version
The device was working but the piece that goes around my wrist was very unstable and crappy, to be frank. I grabbed some chipboard that I had lying around and using the scorching technique and balsa sticks, I built a better version of the wrist support.
The final addition made the whole piece
Everything was put together and the propellers were working quite nicely, but the whole project felt kind of empty. There was nothing really going on other than a spinning turbine. I spent some time analyzing the device and got very inspired by the rotation of the shaft, or in this case, the rubber eraser at the end of the pencil.
I found ironic how air input to a massive propeller made a tiny earser tip spin.
Pairing the big turbine with the small eraser tip made me see the absurdity in the project.
I attached a small airplane to the eraser tip to highlight the absurdity and tie all the devices together conceptually.
It was a challenge to work from home on a physical project. There is no space at home to work and there are limited resources but this game the project different constraints that forced me to be creative in a different way and explore something new.
I'm happy with this little gadget. It definitely put a smile on my face when I needed it.
Thanks for reading.