Building a Model
Easy, Contemporary Feel
In between semesters, I wanted to build a large-scale model. User research led me to see there was an opportunity in in-home hydroponic devices. Further analysis indicated most users wanted to grow a large variety of plants which would require a device with a large volume. This criterion is what I was looking for. However, budgetary constraints at the time did not allow me to build rapid, one-to-one scale prototypes. So how do I develop a working model without iterating through large physical models?
I started the project with user interviews. I visited people and used their kitchens to test a volume I made using long dowel rods and paper. I also asked them about their aesthetic preferences. Next, I compiled a set of images that represented the users’ responses. Then, I used the interview results to sketch different models and features. Finally, I went back to each user with a set of sketches to narrow down the device’s overall look and feel. Once five of the six users agreed with a general direction, I set to make a half-step working model.
I selected MDF and styrene as the primary materials due to their low cost, clean look, structural strength, and ability to be easily carved. Because this is a large appliance with a sizeable unsupported overhang, I used MDF as the principal support on the front and back of the device. I used Styrene sheets as the primary cover due to their flexibility. All accents like chamfers, contours, and buttons were 3D-printed to save time. Finally, I placed all internal components for lighting behind the button assembly. I created this half-step working model only with lighting elements to explore how the full-spectrum light affected the room’s environment. More importantly, I wanted to research how the user was affected by the intense light.