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5 Improbable Machines for quarantine living

How do you not touch your face during the pandemic?

 

There’s panic, and a lot more Don’t’s than we are usually used to. However, when we looked at this critically, through multiple lenses, taking into consideration a diversity of personas the answer to the question ‘how not to touch your face’ was simple. After deep thought and a bottom-up design process, we closed in on a few winners.  Here is the series of 5 such fully-thought through machinations that relook at our relationship with technology, our hands, our face and our hearts during #covid19

 

Introducing machine 1: THE Facecupboard

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The next logical prototype after THE Facecupboard…

 Improbable Machine 2: THE Handsmacker, aka the high-fiver, aka the gobsmacker.

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Is it a falcon? is it a drone? presenting Drone Falcons – Machine 3 in the series.

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Nothing keeps your face safe like the Rotating Cactus Glass Helmet, the fourth machine in our series of Improbable Machines that can help you not touch your face.

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For the finale, its a pant drop. Literally Self-Dropping Pants. Our least intrusive, most offensive idea so far. 🙂

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Maybe someday soon we will probably try to make these improbable machines. Till then, stay safe and think happy everyday.

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THE TIDAL EPIC: LIQUID, METAL, LIGHT

Once upon a magical moon, a ‘fearless artist’ decided to tell a story of the tides. Heart full of flowers, she needed help to make Tidal, a ‘geofeedback’ installation that bridges the gap between water bodies outside and inside us. THE Workshop stepped up to build a suspended storm of metal clouds, illuminated with thousands of LEDs that pull from tidal data and flow in time with the river. When you interact with a large silver moon-like bowl of water placed in the centre of the installation- you start to pull light towards you, from one body of water to another. This went beyond the usual

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Could we make this at THE Workshop? And then ship it across the seas to the Three Rivers Art Festival in Pittsburgh?

Challenge Accepted 🙂 🙂 🙂

From under the bridge to the outdoor structure, the final location where the installation was to be built changed , so the installation changed form, and code. Every iteration looked beautiful.

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Thousands of LEDs embedded in over 30 huge metal clouds forming a spiral vortex, code directing it as it hovers over a four-foot moon shaped bowl filled with water. Water that responds to your touch. Water that links you to the river. The LEDs programmed with over three years of the live tidal data. The patterns flowed, matching Shilo’s artistic vision. It was a great team effort making the tech happen, sensors, moon bowl, weeks of intense wiring, soldering, rewiring, testing, and all that jazz. Twas’ a fun monsoon.

Packed to perfection, Tidal travelled 13,634 km from THE Workshop, at Nagwara, Bangalore to Point State Park, Pittsburgh, USA.  Coincidentally, it was the first international build for THE Workshop. We literally had our heads in the clouds for the whole week we spent assembling it in there.

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Tidal was a massively precise build. Made possible by THE team of asskickers: Srinidhi, Juneza, Gopi, Sanjay, Purvi, Naseer, back in India, and Heather, and everyone else who helped in Pittsburgh.

Here’s the MAKING video:

 

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The finale. A beautifully interactive geofeedback installation in a giant white geodesic dome. We could say Tidal was a geostorm of a build, maybe that be a tad bit too…Cheesy?

The tide is in. Aqueous transmission complete.

 

 

 

Tidal did make some waves : Here’s what the people of the media had to say:

Tidal was made in 2017 @THE Workshop in collaboration with Shilo Shiv Suleman.

 

 

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THE grass is greener on World Environment Day

2 Locations. 5 Mentors. 1 Day. All things green. 40 cardboard boxes were packed, stamped and ready to be reimagined. This June 6, World Environment Day, THE Workshop conceptualised a hands-on experience for two of Embassy group’s tech parks in the Bangalore in association with The Fuller Life. Big ups to them.

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Manyata Embassy Business park, Nagavara and Embassy Tech Village, Devarabisanahalli. Nice to know that the people there were celebrating a day of environmental awareness, and making. 

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Each box has in it some old newspapers, a couple of plastic bottles, plastic bags and old electrical wire.

The challenge: No glue, no stapler. 20 minutes to ideate and build a sustainable product or concept design representative of the day’s theme. using all the items in the kit, including the box itself. All this with just a pair of scissors, a paper cutter and their imagination.

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Groups of 3 and 4 got together to get making. While some teams were swift to build out their ideas, others took things a level up, attempting more challenging builds making as many products as possible.IMG_20160603_133923.jpg

 What they made? Plant holders, stationery holders, a couple of funky wearable concepts, mobile cases, bookshelves, windmill, and  a compost kit.  Happy to see what some productive thinking under trees could conjure.

Guess we need a lot more of them apple trees. 

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THE HUMMING EUPHEMISM

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When we started out, we were just going with the flow. Feeling the beat so to say. People were making stuff. Some metal, some wood, some of a stranger material composition. A water can masquerades as a bass guitar. Rhythm dances forth. A spine is formed.

Metal and bow, water and void, the waterphone was a few keys to far. Yet it resounded somewhere off the Norwegian coast. Every other time a little whale would sing.

Swimming across frequencies guided by the steady beats of the cajon. A pattern emerges. Spikey little notes try to adhere. Music surfaces. Magic happens.

Fly little whale. A band is born.

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Perspective is a powerful thing

Big, small, little, large, too young, too old, dark, fair, brown, black, loud, soft, smart, stupid, from here, from there, worships this, believes that, nobody, somebody, everybody. Think Happy Everyday.

(This was the copy that didn’t make it on the final installation)

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Sometime last year we were invited to partner with the Under25 Summit to be held early January this year. Founders Shreyans and Anto were open to ideas for an installation that echoed their ideology. Woopiee! Good time for us to work with a super-motivated and socially-active audience.

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While  mining for  ideas, we realised that perspective was what one of the core takeaways from this summit.

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We jogged through some surreal illusions before deciding on The Ames room: a perspective based optical illusion room, constructed with the walls, floor and roof at various acute angles. The sum effect creating an illusion where one person standing at one corner of the room seemed like a giant towering over another person standing at the opposite corner.

So DSC_0494we got our Hobbit boots on and summoned the white wizard. The build was simple enough, a week of cutting up plywood, metal sections and the painting repetitive patterns. Sometime around the end of our build we found out our venue was on the 7th Floor terrace of the World Trade Centre. Schematics shuffled, welds broken and we had a modular design in a couple of hours.

Friends and fairy folk stopped by around midnight to help us finish up. Post sunrise, we struggled for three hours to get a little perspective up to the 7th floor. Service elevator worries, a serpentine corridor to navigate that made the task Sisyphean. 10 am, the sun blazing on the northern terrace, our semi-fatigued motley crew all paint, grease conjured up the 12 x 8  illusion in wood, metal and rexine.

 

People were curious. How did it work? What was inside ? Was there a show? Was there a message? A surprise? Selfies, videos, like like like, happy times. End of story…We were delighted that one message resonated with everyone there. Perspective, is indeed a powerful thing. DSC_0548

Video coming soon 🙂

 

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Make merry music with this interactive Christmas tree

St. Gregorios Orthodox Cathedral brings in the yuletide with light, sound and a whole lotta happy making and doing.

Sometime in November an opportunity to make something for Christmas knocked on THE door. Bam! Ideas started flowing. We were looking for a Christmas experience, not just a tree. Something people could engage with, better still if the tree could return the merry gesture.

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A re-invented, interactive light and sound installation would come to life . THE Workshop + the bubbly youth of St. Gregorios Orthodox Cathedral church, Bangalore. What we made: a 3 octave PVC pipe organ  encircling a tree made of sensory lights and 300  Asparagus densiflorus saplings (they were closest to representing the fir).

DSC_0056Over 3 weeks the 15 ft tall merry maker was made by the community, for the community. Part at THE Workshop, part at the church. Fun times. Every pipe was rigged with a sensor which sets of the lights. All synced to how the user played the pipes.

The support was overwhelming, total strangers to woodworking, metalworking and electronics, a team of 30 sawed, welded, painted and connected this tree of joy.

The volunteers took to their work like true professionals, from carrying 25 kgs of steel sections on a moped to getting their best clothes stained with christmas paint colours and even standing on rickety ladders to put up the lights on the tree. There was nothing the youth of this church would say no to. 19th December 2015, D-day for the tree to be up and running. Work was in crunch mode. Around 90 wires had to be connected to the circuitry, 300 asparagus saplings had to be potted and put on the tree, the faulty LED strip of the star had to be reconnected.

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Sleigh bells ring and  in  3 hours,  wires are stripped and connected. Plants were potted and placed and the star brightly lit up the top of the tree. All this done. Everyone jumps on the bus to go carolling at 9 sharp. What a bunch of troopers!

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The response at the unveiling was heart warming, the little elves loved it 🙂 ecstatic even ! A few threw tantrums so they could linger a bit longer at the musical candy canes. The crowds gathered to watch the bright lights dance over the fresh life of the asparagus sapling plants they adopted, the tree drew in the community with its bright, warm and green allure.

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THE Christmas tree was not about just making something beautiful and sparkly. It was about the spirit of christmas. Giving time, sharing joy, working, singing, a happy collective creating magic together.

Twas’ indeed a wonderful gesture by  the priests and the committee of the St. Gregorios Orthodox cathedral  who made this possible. Plus the support of the youth community, Mr. Thomas V.T., the Choir,  St. Mary’s Women’s League and Sunday School who helped fund this.  .

Sparkles of  smiles, music, cheer and a little a idea to nurture. That’s THE right kinda christmas. Have a merry one world.

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Text & Photographs by Reuben Jacob 

Videos will be up soon.

 

 

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How a cardboard chair travelled from Spain to Nagapattinam Tamil Nadu.

It all started with a innovatively designed chair. Not your regular plastic, factory made portable. This one could be folded up, picked up and carried anywhere. And it was made of a material we usually packed stuff in: cardboard.

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The folks from Multihabitar, Spain left us with this gem of knowledge when they visited India in February 2014. It seemed a shame to let this useful repurposing of material concept go to waste. Jose Milara saying, “architecture and design should evolve to be more social and closer to people” made absolute sense as Multihabitar  graciously agreed to shared the design and the data. Open source, that’s the future. 

Here’s where it begins: a design thinking and cardboard furniture at PRIME College of Architecture & Planning, Nagapattinam, TN. This would be the cardboard sofa’s first journey since it reached India.

We got cracking. Hired a car and hit the Tamil Nadu tarmac,DSC_0238smooth running all the 506 km we covered.   Far from the bustle of Bangalore, our destination was on the scenic but yet to develop eastern coast of India. Day 1 was a talk and introductions so we could hit the ground running on day two.

Our workshop was structured to be completely hands-on where the learning module based on engagement, experience and experimentation –– we started  with 30 students demonstrating how waste cardboard boxes don’t have to be disposed but instead can serve as useful material to create an array of items and furniture.

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The enthusiasm was infectious right from the start. Students wasted no time in procuring the exact dimensions of cardboard needed. In a matter of a few hours the students, working in groups managed to prepare the pieces that would come together to form the sofa.

It was nearing college closing time but the students determined to finish the sofa, refused to leave. We began assembling the sofa around sunset.

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With a  lot of hands and a few people yelling  ‘no that’s not how you do it!”,  we had finally assembled the sofa in two hours flat.

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The cardboard sofa could be extended upto 2.6 M when fully stretched.

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The students were overjoyed: a bout of selfies followed by the students stretching out on the sofa, slightly apprehensive of it giving way under their weight. As predicted the cardboard stood true to its structural strength when combined.

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In the meanwhile, the creative thinking workshops had students debating ideas, questioning smart cities, converging on idea, diverging on perspectives. Good stuff.

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The next day students returned with a renewed sense of eagerness, ready to build their very own sofa or cupboard or shelf. They applied the methodology from the sofa to create their own design and then build it.  A few hours of brainstorming, cutting and we had a single chair, a scaled down shelf, a stationery holder, an abstract garden seater and a ‘couple’ chair.

Their input to design and grasp of new ideas was impressive. In a matter of a few hours they were able to apply their learning to create innovative and new items using cardboard. And that’s what defines design, the localised context of a globally evolving movement. 

A big Thank You to all the faculty and students from Prime and all the wonderful architects from Multihabitar. Happy times.

Text by Reuben Jacob, Bangalore 2015.

THE Workshop: Anabelle Viegas, Craig D’mello, Reuben Jacob.

Design Collaborators: Multihaitar, Spain

Videos will be up soon 🙂

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a month in the making…

THE Workshop has been up and running for over a month. We’ve hosted a few workshops. Met some excellent people. Fun times.

We tinkered with electronics. We made music with tools. Literally.

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We had an Open Day. Met some interesting artists. We made some keychain mementos.

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We asked people for their interpretations of a box…They were really out of the box.

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Now we’re trying to have conversations with furniture. Woo Hoo.

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A fundamental step: Getting back to THE basics

Our new series at THE Workshop. Fundamentally fun stuff.

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Woah-bama: The Dudest presidential speech ever

Here’s to el-presidante Obama and his no B.S speech.

Wishing more leaders had such an evolved sense of humour.