Drawings, Models, and Virtual Reality
I conducted an experiment by creating scale models, virtual models, and full-scale mock-ups and then seeing how the conversation changed in discussing the design of the cafe chair. I also brought in about 40 artists and designers from 8 disciplines to explore where they saw if VR could contribute to their work. Wonderful discussions, and virtual reality has since become a valuable tool for me as a designer.
I found that it was much easier to talk about specifics with tangible models. A good deal of time was spent talking and looking at each other and less time looking at the object. The discussion was more concept driven that touched on the object. The discussion in virtual space was the opposite. It was more focused on the object and less on the concept. Nearly no drawing was done and less time was spent interacting with each other as one person was wearing the headset. After some initial discussions I made a loose full scale mock-up. That full-scale mock-up birthed six ideas as variants after discussion with others. I decided to build then in Rhino and t put them all into virtual space. It took a total of about 40 minutes to make the new models and evaluate at full scale. It was immediate and wonderful.
Having a full-scale tangable mock-up changed the conversation dramatically when using in tandem with my virtual mock-ups. We were able to speak intelligently on a specific scale and I was able to make decisions that could be implemented into the final object. When working on small screens there are some things that are difficult to know how it will actually look. Sometimes by placing tape on a object to represent lines, or block off certain parts can help understand changes and can work as a shortcut without having to make another model.
I had found in the part that small changes tend to get lost in VR when looking at designs on their own. But when it was accompanied with a tangible model suddenly there is a connection with the real and virtual world which changes the conversation. The process was more moving in and out of virtual space to look at both the real and virtual object. As a result I think I got better feedback and was able to try out many new ideas resulting in a better overall design in a shorter amount of time.
Redesigned VR Headset
I found myself taking the headset off and on which was a hassle. It was nice to lift up the headset and look at the people I was working with to chat for a moment. The headsets now are designed to put on and stay on. So I took cues from welding equipment that is easy to adjust, and wear for long periods of time, while also being easy to move between views.