A Mug Full of Possibilities!
This exploratory prompt revolves around creating completely immersing myself into reimagining a mug with various possibilities. This project is also a used as a means to understand and train my mind to operate in the realm of speculative design.
The thought stems from a question of how to look at everyday mundane objects more than their intended use. Honestly, a mug was the closest object at the moment that I was interacting with, plus it seemed like an interesting object to play with.
The process I followed to kickstart this prompt was by adding various other objects or functions to the mug and listing them down. This was then followed by sketching out these bizarre combinations and exploring some extraordinary speculative designs of a mug.
The aim was also to explore procreate as a tool for such explorations but I ended up going back to the good ol’ pencil and paper eventually. Another method I used for this exploration was by making digital collages.
As I reflect back on this project, I seem to have understood what not to do while being in a speculative exploratory space. I was being very restrictive with the shape of the mug and every time I stepped out of that comfort boundary my subconscious would kick in and bring back the original shape of the mug. That, held me back from expressing my explorations to its fullest extent. However, it is something I realized by the end of the project and that was valuable.
Living with a smart mug!
After the first prompt, I decided to dig deeper into creating a speculative scenario around a mug. This however was a more realistic approach that kept the mug as a mug and added more of a functional layer around it, as opposed to the previous exploration which was extremely structural.
The process started by charting out a day filled with interactions using the mug as a device to do multiple tasks. Envisioning the mug as my primary device of interaction and speculating various ways in which it worked in coexistence with other devices/appliances around me. Since I was conducting this experiment with myself, it was tailored around the way I take on tasks through the day. This smart mug was imagined with all kinds of sensors and hardware installed on it to essentially do everything a phone or smart watch would do in todays time plus more. To some extent it went beyond the possibilities offered by available technologies.
The image below shows the planned out chart for a day.
After planning out the chart, I imagined a basic screen on this mug and used Post-it notes to show the interface of the same. These post-it notes would serve as a visual idea when placed in certain scenarios based on the tasks the mug is executing. After creating all the post-it notes, the story became a lot more clear. It created a clear road map to make a video prototype showcasing how the mug would be used as a real device in these speculative scenarios. For instance, I used the mug with my ECU key-card stuck to the front to open the University doors and it had the relevant screen stuck to the other end of the mug. It was awfully convenient!
Here is a compilation video of the mug being used to do various tasks.
After spending some time with the mug, while presenting my ideas in class, it was brought up how I tend to make certain sounds while presenting. I was made aware of a part of my subconscious that stores these sounds with all the technologies I interact with on a daily basis. I registered the subtle *beeps* of devices to the louder notifying sounds *Bleep Bloop* of the traffic signals. Apart from that, I also have the urge to remember and sometimes recreate non-tech sounds like the *creek* of a door or a pebble bouncing on a marble floor. Being mildly in the music space and being classically trained as a kid probably attracts me to these.
With the thought becoming more conscious about the sounds around me I decided to collect all these specific tech and non tech sounds I come across in my day. I think this project might pivot my research in a completely different direction, however I may still be somewhere within the technological area. It’s too too to know. But I did the exploration either way.
The video below shows the sounds I collected in a day, however some were harder to catch. I wish to continue and add to this collection further.
Material Exploration of Sound
My urge to make things led me to do some material explorations of sound. This was an attempt to analyze and play with a tangible medium. I charted out the wave-forms of the sounds I collected and created 3D clay models that represented each sound.
I used traditional wave form conversions at first but they weren’t really feeling like the sounds and were rather monotonous. Instead of the traditional waveforms, I created my own versions of these waveforms and took them to the clay. Moulding the clay based on my drawing made the sounds more apparent. You could see, hear and touch them at the same time. It was an interesting way to experience these sounds by interacting with the structures.