Bruno Munari 1956-68
Bruno Munari 1956-68
THE ITP TOOTHBRUSH
To design with only two materials is one of the most pleasurable activities a designer can enjoy. I wish we had a semester long class where we had to create every week a two material design piece.
For this assignment I wanted to continue working on the bubble machine, but I also really wanted to make a toothbrush.
The history behind toothbrush design and fabrication is quite interesting, and if you think about it, it is interesting that a tool that is so basic and primal can still offer space for re-design and conceptualization. From all bathroom related design (sink,shower,toilet, layout etc) the toothbrush, in my personal judgment is the only element that works as a design object.
A design probably originated from innovation and despair:
By the 1840s toothbrushes were being mass-produced across Europe, but the first U.S. patent for a toothbrush wasn’t filed until 1857, by H.N. Wadsworth (US Patent No. 18,653). In the eloquent text accompanying his patent application, Wadsworth explains the innovations in design that make his invention patent-worthy:
The nature of my invention consists in separating the bunches of bristles more than in the common brush, so as to give more elasticity and enable them to enter between the interstices of the teeth – having the brush wide that it may be imperative on the part of the patient to brush the gums thoroughly; the brush is partly circular from heel to point the more readily to fit the circle or arch formed by the teeth, and from side to side the bristles are a little concave the more readily to adapt themselves to the oval form of the teeth; toward the point the bristles are shorter and intended to project as far as possible beyond the end and at as acute an angle as possible, while the back of bone ivory or other material is thin and rounded off so as to occupy as little room as possible, and forming almost a projecting point of bristles, particularly intended to force its Way far back in the mouth between the muscles of the cheeks, and jaws, and the back or molar teeth, and thoroughly free them from impurities, and while it keeps the teeth in these places clean, and highly polished, it also keeps the gums healthy and vigorous.
Finally, I understand! After multiple interaction with the Laser Cutter, I kept on wondering why this “machine of the future” that proves to be quite efficient, sophisticated and precise, why is it that I am not attracted at all? I can see everything I can do with this machine, I can see how good it can be for my work, but still…there is something missing for me.
And, tonight after many attempts and several days of making, I realized that what I need or what I am missing is the element of TRACTABILITY. I deeply enjoy touching and feeling a material with my hands. I enjoy sensing how it transforms in my hands, how it develops, how it smells, how complex or surprisingly maleable it can be. This whole thing reminded me of a beautiful concept developed by a 1960’s Italian design group called SuperStudio. The piece was called “La Moglie di Lot” (Lot’s wife)
and it looked like the first model of a 3D printing machine, but it was placed on a dock and it seemed to use salt and water to create shapes.
At least that was my perception, then I read that the piece consisted of an iron frame with a table on which were placed four basic architectural forms constructed of salt, like a round Coliseum (see below). The frame has a taller high-rise like armature that help up plastic tubes that dripped water down on the forms. Each mass slowly disappeared or eroded into nothingness like Superstudio’s careers and hopes for radical change in culture and the architecture profession.
I decided I would use the laser cutter then to aid my bubble project. Therefore I needed to make a white pedestal and a clear glass like cube. So I could create ephemeral classic sculptures with:
However, I spend too much time making the bubble machine work that then I realize I had to modify my pedestal design to avoid leaks and other drama.
So, I decided to make a kaleidoscope:
I had some issues with this project because ideally I wanted the whole piece to be assembled without glue, but joining or even making a perfect equilateral triangle had some difficulties, then I tried making frame pieces to hold everything together but that didn’t work so well. I thought about making the inner triangles different so that they could have joints. I also wanted to experiment with the visual element, trying to think about adding an interesting kinetic design or sensors.
This project can improve a lot!
Assignment: Make multiples of something. The objects must be a multi-process piece.
Does it happen to you, from time to time, that you wonder: Why do we need more objects? I always give myself the same answer: public bathrooms or bathrooms in general need to be redesigned; along with so many other objects. However, when thinking about this assignment, I had a hard time deciding what deserves to be multiplied. first, I thought about something practical that could be done elegantly by only using 4 or 5 objects with exact symmetry. A chair for instance or a table. I even thought about a toothbrush.
Then, I started thinking about materials and space; and I thought about words that have exact same spelling (same shape) but have a different meaning (weight) and how would that work for objects. How to create a sentence with the same words but different meaning, how to find balance and symmetry with these objects?
So I researched Alexander Calder’s work, which I have loved since I discovered he made a mercury fountain.
I then decided to take 5 different materials and try my best to make exact same objects with them.
4 1/6 x 0.5 ” ellipse.
To my surprise, this particular task allowed me to explore multiple tools in the shop, more than I ever thought I used but it also made me realize I could get really good results if I had specific knowledge of certain tools. For instance: How to make a perfect circle when using metal? How to sand metal? How to calculate a weird angle? How to clamp and glue two seemingly impossible materials?
Patience is for sure the best tool at the shop!
There is so so much that I need to learn.
A1-I am so tired, but so extremely happy! Today I was able to do what I am most passionate about in life: the opportunity to create and imagine. This, I believe, is ITP’s particular magic. To exercise one’s intellectual capabilities to the fullest while getting your hands dirty trying to build and produce what your imagination dreams about, it is definitely the must effective learning experience. I began today’s assignment with, what I thought were fantastic ideas, but zero technical knowledge. It was not an easy task, but there is nothing more rewarding for an artist, than to be able to produce something you imagined and now see it in front of you just exactly how you wanted it to be. So much that one can learn from this process, not only in a technical level but also in a personal aspect. To be confronted with failure, with choices and risks. Having to deal with time and recognizing that the best tool is actually listening.
When I thought about making a flashlight, I thought about objects that people describe as needs not as pleasure. I realized that the object that I need the most is also my source of pleasure: the sun.
I was born in the Caribbean, a place where you learn that the sun is carried inside and it leads the way. Therefore my flashlight had to be a sun, a portable sun.
I did some research, and I thought about using prisms, crystals or mirrors, but I already had two salt crystals that I picked from an expedition in an island in the Caribbean. I intended then, to make a small hole trough the rocks and start the foundation for my flashlight. In the way I visited the Junkshop and found really interesting objects, which I ended up loving and visualizing immediately as the piece I wanted to create. I struggled at first letting go of imaginary sketches and coming up with new ones, but every time I took the risk, something really good happened.
I learned so much about electricity, energy and patience. At the end of the day, I produced magic, or at least what I see as magic. I was surprised by my flashlight infinite potential, just like the sun.