Sunday, 3 February 2008

Potato clocks.. yeah!!

An example of an object which feeds from an unusual resource is the Potato clock. Clocks which run on potatoes may seem like a bizarre example of what is always available in ‘Innovations’ magazine, but this type of energy supply could be quite useful for charging a parasite. The potato provides enough energy to power quite a small circuit and usually charges something that runs on little energy.
By considering the objects which could successfully run on this type of power gives the opportunity for designing objects which could partially feed from them. It begs the question ‘How many potatoes to power a tv?

Anti-homeless design.....what!!!

Anti homeless design has recently become common. The idea has sprung from councils wanting to change the urban environments to prevent the things that they deem anti-social happening. From railings which prevent climbing, spikes to prevent pigeons resting, bumps to stop skateboarding and now design to stop homelessness!

This type of design seems very extreme and controlling over society and how we behave. Barriers becoming more common and examples of barriers which are now made to look aesthetically pleasing are now noticeable. From forming spiles to stop people from resting on guttering to the metal bumps inserted into low walls to prevent skateboarding, formed into flowers or miniature objects.

These types of prevention gives a designer the opportunity to do the opposite. You could rebuild onto the barriers and prevent the preventor. Would this encourage another continuation of designs to prevent the preventors of preventors?! Imagine the step ladder to help you climb over spikes or a roll out smooth surface to allow skateboarders freedom in the urban environmnent. The possibilities are definitely there.

Second Aids

A ‘Second Aid’ is an interesting term used by some designers for an object whose purpose is to attach to another, and in doing this is intended to improve or complete the other object. These objects aim to stop the negative reaction a user has to something which seems inadequate or doesn’t work as it should. The second aid is there to mediate between the object and user and enable them to keep the object and improve its use.

Objects like this tend to be advertised as ‘objects to make your life easier’. They are designed to fit snuggly onto the host and address different needs which cannot be addressed by a single object.

Examples of second aids

One of the problems with second aids is the constant reminder they give to the fact that the hosts original design is not perfect. Through my research I came across the concept of the Helfershelfer: a helpful object applied to another helpful object which is applied to second aids. When thinking about this idea I realized that the value of a second aid could be quite low. When you consider the object on its own without the host it seems quite a useless object. The second aid cannot operate without its host whereas the host still remains something even without the second aid.

I did an experiment to test how many objects I could come up with to attach to a pencil in ten minutes and I came up with 26 objects which would seem complete without the pencil!

Synergy- in relation to my project

In a relationship where one objects feeds off energy or a resource, it is not always negative. Occasionally it may be beneficial for the host or not affect it whatsoever.
This can be related to another scientific term called Synergy where two or more things acting together create something which only can be created with these things working together. For example where, one person alone is too short to reach an object above them and so is the other person. If the second person sits on the firsts shoulders they become tall enough to reach the object. The product of their synergy would be the reached object.

When thinking about the relationships within Parasitic design I have considered the question:

Am I a Parasite of the objects I own or are we partners of a synergetic experience?

As parasites can be related to many objects in different situations I think about how I treat everyday objects. This way of thinking relates to the system of subject- object interactions. Using the relationships of subject - object I can think about how I relate to objects. For example if I were to think about my mobile phone.

Object - Object The relationship between the two phones.
Object - Subject The relationship between myself and the phone.
Subject- Object The relationship between the phone and myself.

The phones relationship is mutual communication between each other. I connect myself with it to make calls and use it regularly. I get resources and benefits from it through using it, but does it benefit from our relationship? This made me think about the idea that without my need for the phone it would not exist, so this is what the phone benefits from me. My ownership allows the phone to become parasitic to me, I carry it around and it becomes a permanent fixture to my life and my environment. This circle of relationships also contains an outside entity which is the phone company which benefits from mine and the phones relationships


Scott Amron the designer behind the company ‘Dielectric’, has come up with an unusual concept for his designs. He has created a number of insulating objects which plug into an electrical socket. The collection do not conduct electricity but instead encourages the user to reduce the amount of electricity they consume. The objects range from a shelf, a hook, a chair to a handy place to hold your toothbrush. The socket acts as a strong attachment for each object. This experiment comes from Amron himself being an electrical engineer, and creates an amusing use for an existing object. The idea of using a socket as a form of attatching an object could be taken forward as an idea for parasitic objects.

USB Parasite

An interesting example of parasitic design has been created by Moixa Energy Ltd which has designed a battery which recharges on a USB port on your laptop. This seems to be one of the the most useful examples within the current craze of ‘USB gadgets’. Rather than a useless ‘plug in race car’ or ‘miniature musical keyboard’, this enables the user to ‘steal’ energy from their computer and by doing this ‘provide consumers with better solutions for their mobile or home power requirements that are more usable, economic and environmentally friendly’. This is an interesting mode of energy transfer and there seems a lot of possibilities with similarly actually useful and well designed objects.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Finding Parasites & Icon Magazine

Looking in the environment around me introduces lots of small objects or entities that attach themselves to things.

By collecting these images it helps find inspiration for finding contexts for my project.

Rus found this article in Icon magazine. The existing table has to be slightly adapted to accomodate the parasite drawers which is an idea which I haven't really looked at. I had come up with the idea of objects that attatch and materials which invade as seperate ideas. Combining both of these ideas is quite interesting.
I wonder what the table will look like with the parasite drawer removed? This is something I need to consider - Do I want my parasite to be permanent? If I were to create an object that needed to be screwed or slotted in (with a slot I or the user had created) it would be interesting to make the screw holes or slots functional or aestheticly pleasing, allowing the table to unaffected when the parasite is removed. But if the parasite is permanent this wouldn't matter which changes the outcome of the objects I design.