Fragile: handle with care

Glasrijk Tubbergen is an annual event, with several exhibitions in the field of stained glass, glass sculptures, antique glassware, glass objects, glass design and interior design. This year’s event is the 16th in line and follows the same pattern as previous years with a diverse collection displayed in various inside and outdoor locations around Tubbergen, which especially in the outdoor locations creates esoteric scenes.

This year the collection features curatorial works, pieces from an educational programme, and works from collections of artists, galleries and factories. Noteworthy in the curatorial part is the cooperation with the National Glass Museum and the Rijksmuseum Twenthe, providing a range of pieces: from thick moulded glass to thin blown glass, from modern objects to 17th century pieces.

Renowned artists, like Menno Jonker, are represented, Toin Rijven’s gallery has brought Czech glass from Jan Exnar to the table, but new artists are also featured at this event, such as Marinke van Zandwijk or students from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Click on the image at the top for some pictures from the event.

As design engineer, you always try to look for new materials and production techniques that can be applied, combined, or integrated in a novel way when developing new concepts, products or solutions. Of course, sometimes it can just be pleasant to look outside your field for inspiration. Glass is not a material you often come in contact with when designing a product (with the exception of packaging design), but it is an inspiring material to work with. Watching the glass blowing demonstration by Mark Locock for example was quite mesmerising: to watch the fluidity of the material, the transition of colours along the spectrum, the corresponding flexible work process, etc.

What stood out to me with this event, something I have noticed the previous years as well, is the lack of variety in the audience. There are only two age groups present: over 50 and around 15, the latter doing it as part of a school assignment. It is a shame there appears to be no broad interest for the event, as the wide range of objects should surely appeal to a broad audience.

Master of Science degree

When I walked out of the door of my university today, I left it no longer as a student, but (perhaps a tad cynical to say) unemployed and ready to face new challenges. In my hands a stack of gifts and papers, most importantly of all: my master’s degree in industrial design engineering (MSc.). With a cumulative total of 342 out of 300 required EC (study credits), an 8 out of 10 average for my master subjects, and a 9 out of 10 for my final master assignment, I am quite pleased with the result. Hopefully it will help me open doors and give me a chance to demonstrate my skills and prove myself.

Master of Science degree

I quite liked the master track coordinator’s explanation of his grading system for the master assignment. The grade for the master assignment is comprised of several grades: presentation, report, defence, and quality of the final design. He, an experienced product designer, explained the grade for the quality of the final design as follows: “I give a design a 7/10 if I think I could’ve done a better job; an 8/10 if I think I could’ve produced a result of similar quality; a 9/10 if I think I perhaps could’ve produced a result of similar quality with a lot of effort; and finally a 10/10 remains for a product design I consider out of my league.” – my design received the full 10/10 score.

The past few months leading up to my graduation have not been exactly easy due to personal circumstances. It all started several months ago when my now ex-girlfriend started having doubts about starting our life together, with the nearing graduation date being the catalyst for these doubts. I’ve supported her and urged her to explore those feelings, for it could not be left unresolved. As time went on, we both started to realise that she is in fact lesbian. Not an easy thing to deal with for her, so I have tried my very best to support her in this life changing realisation, losing track of myself in the process. This was last month: she has moved on now. I’ve only just begun picking up the pieces and taking care of myself.

Anyway, back to the original topic: getting used to the idea of not being a student anymore shouldn’t be an issue, as I’ve been working at Benchmark Electronics for the past two years now. It’s just a bit of a shame that due to confidentiality I cannot share any of my work of the last two years; I feel I have really progressed with Benchmark’s guidance and of course I would love to show that. Before looking for a job, I think I’ll take some time off to relax and figure out where to go from here.

Organic usability

Organic inspiration: Colani, Ross Lovegrove, Iittala

It’s almost time to head home, but not before giving you a quick progress update.

For the design I’ve been inspired by works of Colani, Ross Lovegrove, and Iittala amongst others. I believe an organic shape best fits the application and perception, and aids in the intuitive use of the product.

For the mock up I have ordered SLS (selective laser sintering) parts, which should arrive in a week or so. And via Inventables I have ordered suction cup tape and shape retaining plastic sheets to experiment with the attachments/holders. Especially the suction tape I find interesting to test: the cleanability and reusability aspects sound promising.

So in a couple of weeks I’ll have everything assembled and ready for use(r) testing!

Back at Benchmark Electronics

Precisely one year after starting my bachelor assignment at Benchmark Electronics, I’m back in the IDME department (industrial design & mechanical engineering) to start working on my master assignment. One exception though: I moved a desk to the left. 😛

To supplement my skillset based on consumer and industrial products, I’ve decided to take on a medical project. The different standards, procedures and shareholders I will encounter (to just name a few) should form an interesting learning experience.

Also, considering the duration of the assignment there’s a great opportunity to get familiar with Creo Elements/Pro, formerly Pro/ENGINEER. It is an advanced CAD/CAM/CAE modelling program that offers extensive functionality for mechanical engineering purposes and is the standard within the company. It has been on my wish list for a while now, so this is the perfect chance.

Unfortunately, same as last time, a non-disclosure agreement prevents me from sharing information regarding the project, but suffice it to say I’m excited about the project and the opportunities that will arise. 🙂

How to be a Mythbuster

On Friday the 25th of November, at the University of Twente’s 50th anniversary Dies Natalis celebrations, the Mythbusters will receive an honorary doctorate for their role in popularising science and technology.

Earlier today Adam Savage gave a lecture at the University of Twente. As an avid fan of the Mythbusters programme I was hoping to attend the lecture, but unfortunately the event was fully booked. There was a livestream available however, which was a decent alternative. It was interesting to watch his lecture: he had no reference material at hand but his sheer enthusiasm easily carried the entire presentation.

Adam Savage was clearly surprised by the effect their programme has had, how many people it has inspired. He said originally they had not set out to inspire others (“We just wanted to follow our curiosity and have some fun”). By showing how easily accessible and fun science can be, they may just have inspired the great minds of the future.

Myth busta!

The spirit of Halloween

Halloween 2011, scarecrow

Although Halloween isn’t that popular in The Netherlands (yet), it still gives you a nice excuse to create weird things. This year I decided to create a scarecrow/wraith-ish figure: I made a wooden frame, covered it with polyurethane foam, shaped it with a knife, finished it with a layer of paper mache, and finally placed some LEDs in its ‘head’. It didn’t take long to create and it was fun to use old school materials again.

To be honest I’m very tempted to uproot it and give it a new home in a nice forest close by. I think you’re allowed to be a tiny bit evil on Halloween. 😛

Catch a falling star..

One of the benefits of living on the countryside is that there is barely any light pollution, which is ideal for stargazing. It is in fact one of the darkest areas of the Netherlands, which is why there is an observatory not too far from here.

Tonight around 22:00 marked the predicted spike in meteor debris from comet 21P/Giacobini – Zinner entering our atmosphere, better known as the Draconids meteor shower (named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to fall). It was supposed to be quite a unique event with a high rate of meteors per minute. Every year I drive to the middle of nowhere to watch the annual peak of the Perseids shower, which is a great sight to watch, so I figured I’d pop out and watch the Draconids for a change.

Unfortunately due to a full moon and a very cloudy evening (including rain) it was slightly disappointing. There was a brief break in the clouds around the estimated peak luckily enough, so I did get to see a handful of meteors, but sadly it was a bit disappointing. I hope others have been more fortunate tonight.

London Design Festival 2011

The London Design Festival is an annual design event, first staged in 2003. The nine day festival programme runs from the 17th till the 25th of September and is made up of over 280 events and exhibitions staged by 200 partner organisations across the design spectrum.

Last Saturday we visited a product design exhibition at the V&A, today we’re visiting Design Junction followed by Tent London in the Old Truman Brewery, and on Sunday it’ll be the Design Museum and 100% Design. Perhaps we’ll manage to squeeze in Park Plaza Westminster Bridge’s “Travel Through Design” in there as well, showcasing the work of many of Italy’s top design companies. To sum up: design overload. :O

The V&A had an impressive collection of products, of both British and international design. To me, when viewing the collection it was like the “Past Futures” lectures by J.W. Drukker had come to life; his lectures were truly captivating. One thing the collection made apparent was how the appearance of products reflected a generation’s confidence in technology as a symbol for a hopeful future.

To be honest I’m particularly interested in the Design Museum‘s exhibition about Kenneth Grange (think Kenwood mini mixer, Kodak camera, Parker Pens, etcetera). Kenneth Grange is Britain’s leading product designer and this exhibition is his first UK retrospective celebrating his work, design journey and the role he has played in making Britain modern. It feels like my initiation in becoming part of the UK’s design community.

By the way, click on the image at the top of this entry if you want to see some pictures taken at the different events and exhibitions.

Patents and technological progress

I have been following the recent patent battle between Samsung and Apple, which to me has just confirmed how outdated and perverted the patent system is in this day and age.

Patents were meant to stimulate technological progress, by granting the holder of a patent the exclusive rights to their invention in exchange for the public disclosure of said invention. Other people could use the disclosed knowledge to further leverage technological development, but could not monetise on it straight away. This system gave developers the incentive to invest money in technological development, while ensuring maximum progress by sharing the newfound knowledge.

The validity of patents has remained relatively unchanged since the Industrial Revolution; in fact it has gone from 14 to 20 years validity over that time frame. Technological progress however moves at an exponential rate, mainly because we leverage our knowledge standing on the foundations of knowledge uncovered by the generations before us. It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to realise that the term of validity is no longer congruent with the rate at which technology progresses nowadays. In fact, it is so incongruent that patents actually hamper the rate of technological progress.

This issue is compounded by the reality that companies can trade in patents, which has resulted in the existence of companies whose sole purpose is to acquire lone patents and create a big package which they then sell off to the large corporations. Those large corporations will then utilise those sets of patents to try and block off the competition, which brings us back to the first paragraph.

An additional issue with patents is that it is absolutely pointless for an individual to protect their invention with a patent if they will not be able to afford the costs of defending their rights in court. A battle that cannot possibly be won if one has to defend it from the large corporations, as they have a lot of patience and capital and will simply outlast you – it is not about who is right at all.

As long as patents can be traded (note: I’m not talking about licensing), the period of validity remains unchanged, and the individual isn’t protected from the might of the large corporations, patents are a farce that achieve the exact opposite of why they were created in the first place.

Arduino electronics prototyping platform

Considering how often I dabble with electronics, I figured it would be a good idea to buy an Arduino. For those unfamiliar with the Arduino: it is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. I’m hoping that it will expedite any future initial prototyping and (user) testing I do. Worst case scenario: I found a new hobby. 😛

Arduino uno
On a related more rambling note: considering the trend to move from through-hole components to surface mounted devices (SMD), I wonder what effect that will have on the hobby and prototyping market. I have come across a few components that were only available in SMD form, which makes testing a bit trickier; after all you cannot use a simple breadboard and are forced to resort to etching techniques.

Youth interested in electronics may encounter a higher entry level to start experimenting with electronics and considering the general aversion towards beta courses, that is something you’d want to avoid no?


My blog describes events from my life related to design and engineering. Hopefully it will give you more insight into my work processes and personal interests.

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