Visual Communication & Design Thinking

A glimpse into the U-SOA through my eyes.

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    One Semester's Worth of Exploration: Final Jury

    Joachim Perez
    Dec 16, '14 7:15 PM EST

    (This is only a fraction of the work from the semester long project)

    This semester has drawn to a close, with the final review happening yesterday afternoon.  Over the course of the semester, the students were engaged in masqueraded mini-design exercises that secretly showed them how to draw, sketch, use 3-D software, some adobe software, while gaining experience using our laser cutter and CNC machines. The goal of the course was visual communication and how to express their ideas, but also the analytic exploration that got them to those ideas.  

    (Opening remarks for the jury)

    Their final review was made up of all the work that was accomplished during the past 3.5 months, from sketches on trace to finished plywood cut models.  All of it was on display for the jurors to understand. Students began the course documenting a mechanical object that had at least two moving parts, using only what they saw and what they could feel.  They took an "old fashioned" approach by shunning rulers and measuring tape, and using dividers to find the proportions of their objects.  Objects were then described in their drafting, by using different line weights to explain motion (closing, rising, twisting, turning, etc..).  Littered along the way were smaller homework assignments analyzing Palladian buildings in an effort to further understand proportioning systems and hidden geometries.  
    (The seat and the object that inspired it, the wine opener.)

    After a few weeks of that, it was time to push them into the digital world.  As a test, they were given photographs of digitally fabricated toys, made up of only a few pieces.  With the skills they had learned, they were now responsible for the reverse engineering of these objects based off of, again, what they saw.  The weapons of choice included combinations of Rhino, SketchUP, AutoCAD, and Adobe Illustrator/InDesign.  

    (student's had to construct a quick portfolio that explained their course trajectory for the semester)

    Figuring out how the toys went together showed them the importance of craft and construction, which lead to the final project: an abstraction of their mechanical object into a type of seat.  The objects were analyzed for their movement capabilities and how to take that which is kinetic into something that appears as static as a seat.  For me, the joy was seeing the different results and thought process of how these new seats came to be.  It was even more fun when everyone agreed to develop them at a larger scale using the CNC machine.  In the end results were wildly varied, but enough process sketching was used to allow the juror an understanding of the student's thought process.

    (One of the presenter's, Carlos, talks about the different motions within his object)

    Next semester this blog will focus on undergraduate studio work, sophomores to be precise, as they look at structure for the first time, so perhaps I'll have to rename this blog. In the meantime, my mind is still fresh on these projects.  I'm very happy with most of the production that came out of this group, especially since they come from such different backgrounds (many have never even drawn or used any of the technology covered in class).  I've already begun tinkering how to improve the course in year's to come, but I'll save those details for later.

    (Nora, needed more than one board to display all of her process work)

    See you in the New Year...

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About this Blog

This blog gives a sneak peak into the architecture world at the University of Miami. What began as an experiment following one group of incoming graduate students through their first semester of design, has morphed into a window of the school of architecture through this professor's eyes. I will try to post as often as possible.

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