Tanya Lipscomb

Tea Kettle Case Study

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2009 at 5:12 am
When presented with the challenge of designing a tea kettle I felt that looking to the culture and customs associated with tea drinking was the best place to start. Tea has historically been linked to Chinese Zen Buddhism and I wanted to include philosophies of Buddhism as well as the complementing philosophy of Feng Shui. As I researched these ideas I began to understand that they held many common beliefs, such as encouraging open space clear of clutter to help the mind maintain openness as well as to facilitate a positive flow of energy as well as honoring the elements of nature. This idea became a critical aspect of my design.

I decided that a self heating glass material would be most appropriate for my tea kettle, so that it would maintain an open appearance, both by being physically clear and by being cordless eliminating the need for yet another cord in a world frequently cluttered with devices that must be plugged in.

Feng Shui focuses on the subconscious associations that we make between materials and the elements of nature. Glass is representative of the water element and allows us to the see the element itself as it boils in the kettle. The focus on the water element is appropriate for a tea kettle because of the importance it has in the process of tea making.

Feng Shui also places heavy importance on balancing the elements. The element that is said to balance water is wood, so I felt that incorporating wood into the design would be appropriate to the philosophy as well as  an elegant solution to sheltering the user from the heat that would be present on a glass surface.

During this process I also studied the way shapes are said to influence the flow of energy to determine the appropriate shape for my tea kettle design. Cubic shapes are said to allow energy to cycle through an area, increasing the benefits to health and wellbeing said to be brought on by Feng Shui. It is also important to not be in contact with sharp corners facing toward you as an individual because of the way that they cut the energy around them. This lead me to a cubic design with rounded corners on the outside to create a positive vessel for energy in the home.

Once I had thoroughly researched tea’s origins and the ideals of the philosophies surrounding it I came up with some sketches of what the tea kettle should look like and began looking into the materials available. I was able to find a glass material that is self heating due to metallic rods placed at two edges of the glass which energy is transferred between heating the entire glass surface, while maintaining a transparent appearance. I then designed the handle area of the kettle to be within the shape of the cube to maintain the simple aesthetic so encouraged by Feng Shui and Zen Buddhism. I created a handle out of wood as well as an area of wood against the glass so that the back side of a user’s hand would not be heated by the glass area.

Once I had decided on a sketch, I began to model the product in Cinema 4D so that the kettle could be viewed from all angles and truly envisioned as a three dimensional product. During this process I showed my progress to classmates as well as my professor and took their ideas into consideration as I revised my design in a three dimensional environment. Ultimately I ended up with many views of my kettle in a kitchen environment so that it would be easy to envision a kettle such as this in your environment.

When presented with the challenge of designing a tea kettle I felt that looking to the culture and customs associated with tea drinking was the best place to start. Tea has historically been linked to Chinese Zen Buddhism and I wanted to include philosophies of Buddhism as well as the complementing philosophy of Feng Shui. As I researched these ideas I began to understand that they held many common beliefs, such as encouraging open space clear of clutter to help the mind maintain openness as well as to facilitate a positive flow of energy as well as honoring the elements of nature. This idea became a critical aspect of my design.

I decided that a self heating glass material would be most appropriate for my tea kettle, so that it would maintain an open appearance, both by being physically clear and by being cordless eliminating the need for yet another cord in a world frequently cluttered with devices that must be plugged in.

Feng Shui focuses on the subconscious associations that we make between materials and the elements of nature. Glass is representative of the water element and allows us to the see the element itself as it boils in the kettle. The focus on the water element is appropriate for a tea kettle because of the importance it has in the process of tea making.

Feng Shui also places heavy importance on balancing the elements. The element that is said to balance water is wood, so I felt that incorporating wood into the design would be appropriate to the philosophy as well as  an elegant solution to sheltering the user from the heat that would be present on a glass surface.

During this process I also studied the way shapes are said to influence the flow of energy to determine the appropriate shape for my tea kettle design. Cubic shapes are said to allow energy to cycle through an area, increasing the benefits to health and wellbeing said to be brought on by Feng Shui. It is also important to not be in contact with sharp corners facing toward you as an individual because of the way that they cut the energy around them. This lead me to a cubic design with rounded corners on the outside to create a positive vessel for energy in the home.

Once I had thoroughly researched tea’s origins and the ideals of the philosophies surrounding it I came up with some sketches of what the tea kettle should look like and began looking into the materials available. I was able to find a glass material that is self heating due to metallic rods placed at two edges of the glass which energy is transferred between heating the entire glass surface, while maintaining a transparent appearance. I then designed the handle area of the kettle to be within the shape of the cube to maintain the simple aesthetic so encouraged by Feng Shui and Zen Buddhism. I created a handle out of wood as well as an area of wood against the glass so that the back side of a user’s hand would not be heated by the glass area.

Once I had decided on a sketch, I began to model the product in Cinema 4D so that the kettle could be viewed from all angles and truly envisioned as a three dimensional product. During this process I showed my progress to classmates as well as my professor and took their ideas into consideration as I revised my design in a three dimensional environment. Ultimately I ended up with many views of my kettle in a kitchen environment so that it would be easy to envision a kettle such as this in your environment.

Pictures coming soon

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Project #1 Case Study

In Case Studies on September 6, 2009 at 12:27 am

720 Media is a firm located in Colorado Springs, that specializes in Web Design and Marketing. I liked the idea of working with 720 Media on a case study, because I was interested in all the socially responsible projects they have worked on. I was also interested in speaking with a woman in the field, the founder, Taa Dixon. She was kind enough to discuss with me a pro-bono project they are currently working on for Colorado Springs Indian Center.

Taa feels strongly that it is important to give back to your community, and tries to do so where she can. In her spare time she runs websites to benefit the local community such as SpringsBusiness.com and the website for Colorado College Business and Community Alliance (at tigerbca.com), which helps local businesses and graduates from the local college, her Alma Mater. Her business also reflects these values by working with, and sometimes providing discounts on work for socially responsible organizations. She tries to connect her clients in ways that will be mutually beneficial, such as pointing out local organizations she has worked with on her websites and twitter.

Working with Native American organizations is a cause that she feels very strongly about, and is something she has done in the past. Prior to starting 720 Media Taa organized a nation-wide Native American Junior Golf Initiative. This group is committed to teaching Native American youth leadership through the game of golf, in keeping with the tradition of games as a learning tool in Native American culture. 720 Media decided to work pro-bono for this particular organization because one of the members of Colorado Springs Indian Center is  a previous client of 720.

The focus of this project  is creating a web presence, to get the word out about the organization allowing for distribution of newsletters and information about events as well as a way for donations to be made to the cause. The group is hoping to build a new facility and would like for the website to help them get more attention and funding from the community.

Pro-bono projects have a slightly different process than the paid projects at 720 Media.  The groups assigned to the project and the internal documentation remain the same. Like a paid project they presented 3 mockups to the board, one of which they decided on.  In terms of fun, she said she is excited to be helping out (and therefore finds herself working on it after hours more than she normally would) but other than that it is not that different.

The process has been different in terms of timeline. Normally they use a very aggressive timeline for a paid project, but they have given themselves about twice as much time as normal, although Taa contributes some of this to the slower process of approval with the organization’s board. For a paid project 720 Media normally maintains, populates and markets the websites that they build for a client, but this process will also be different for the pro-bono project. They will be training members of the Colorado Springs Indian Center to use content management system to populate the pages of their website and maintain the site themselves. When creating the mockups, the firm considered the difficulty the group could have maintaining the site, and gave them options to make maintenance less involved.

Taa expects that the effects of this project on the business for 720 Media will be purely positive. The firm is including a link to the 720 website on the layout so that potential clients will be able to find out who created the site. Taa is also aware that the board members are involved with other organizations and companies, and expects that 720 Media’s performance will encourage business based on personal referrals.

Taa says that the main challenge of this project trying to maintain a single point of contact within the board, that provides the feedback from the group rather than multiple, conflicting points of view from the different members. The firm will see the project as a success based on feedback from the organization, and based on the ability of the organization to quickly add their content and get the site up.

The process is not yet complete so I am not able to post a link to the site but here is an image of the mockup that the group thought was best for their site:

design_sketch

Interview Results

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2009 at 8:22 pm

They are doing the pro-bono project that 720 Media is working on is for a Native American group, who has a member on the board who was a previous client that 720 had worked with, which is how they found this project.  Taa also said that she had worked with Native American groups in the past and that is was something she had been passionate about before 720 Media.

They are building a website for this group, which does not currently have a web presence. The plan is to have a site that allows for donations, marketing, newsletters and an event calendar among other things. The group is currently looking to build a new facility, which they are hoping that the website will be helping them to accomplish.

In terms of the paperwork required for a project like this nothing is different internally than it would be for a paid project, but there is not contract, because they are not being paid. They have not done many pro-bono projects in the past so it is a little new. She said that they have previously given discounts to deserving organizations in the past, however.

In terms of the number of people working and resources on the project, it is the same as if it were a paid project, but they gave themselves about twice as long a timeline to get things done as they normally would. They also normally do the maintenance of the website, but for this group they are not doing any of the content or the maintenance. They will be training them to do their own content management to minimize the amount of work that 720 is responsible for.

Taa said that she found herself working more hours after work than she would if it were a normal project.

She expects that any effects that this project would have on the business would be positive. They will be placing a link to their site on the site that they are designing so that people will be able to link back to them if they are interested in the work that they did.

They will be basing their success mostly on the approval of the design and the organization getting the content added quickly.

She has had a challenge working with the organization to provide one point of contact .