Pratt Institute: Design for a Dollar
by Eric / May 25, 2009

Great constraints seem to trigger great creativity. Pratt students were showing off their creativity at ICFF last weekend with an excellent and refreshing exhibit of works titled Design for a Dollar. The student exercise was, as the title suggests, to design an object that could be made for the cost of a dollar. Exploring and finding different creative solutions to the constraints, the results were quite ingenious and attractive, two elements that (unfortunately) don't always go hand in hand.

The material source appeared to be the starting point; objects were either made by using very cheap and/or discarded materials or objects. From there, it was only a matter of how one gave it new life and meaning. Final calculations of the dollar value were somewhat loose, in a few instances extra production steps were underestimated (labor intensive productions or high tooling costs)... but no matter, like in all design exercises it's the process of getting down to that dollar that counts.

Crystal Chandelier by Jennie Maeri. Grown to its final size by soaking pipe cleaners in a Borax solution, the salts crystalizing to the pipe's bristles.

Drip Plate, Catherine Merrick. As production goes, this one is crafty as well; get old porcelain plates > drip wax on it > sandblast to your liking > wash wax off.

Scissors, Brian Persico. Laser cut discarded saw blades turned into scissors. I tried them out, they were surprisingly thin - low-tech elegance.

Paper Bailout Bag, Rebecca Marshall. Sexy thrifty, probably my favorite of the lot; old brown paper bags, crumpled, oiled and sewn together, with extra smaller newspaper and silk pieces for good looks (although all brown would have been nice too). Soft, resistant and water repellent.

Rope Chandelier, Amyel Oliveros. The trick is aluminum tubing inserted and bent in the construction rope. Caped with LED lights.

Three String Shelf, Lara Knutson. One string to rule them all.

Cumulus Table, Daniel Jeffries. I love the weight (visual and physical) this table carries: made of concrete, it's molded - as its foot shows - in a plastic garbage bag.

Orange Votive Candles, David Steinvurzel. I like the formal resonance of the shape of the molded wax to orange pieces. Made with soy based wax and discarded dried orange peels, the wick is actually the orange's pith running through the wax.

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