#LetsMakeWednesdays – redesign everyday objects!

July 8, 2020

Designers will often look at the things we use every day and think about them in new ways to make them better: for people, for the planet, and more!

The designers and scientists at Notpla want to help solve the problem of plastic waste. They saw that single-use plastic water bottles were polluting our environment. So, they worked together to create a water bottle that you can eat, rather than throw away. They wanted to help the environment and explore new materials, so they tested out lots of different ideas and found that seaweed could be used to hold water instead of plastic.

Watch this video to find out about how they came up with a design solution to the problem of plastic waste.

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Let’s remix an object!

Designers find inspiration in many different places, and try to come up with lots of ideas before they find one that works. Let’s start by getting creative and trying to think like a designer. Take a piece of paper and divide it into six squares. Start by drawing one of these objects in the top left box.

Moustache spoon – This Victorian spoon was made with a special guard on one side to protect people’s moustaches from getting dirty when they ate soup.

Mon Mon – The soft toy Mon Mon allows parents to keep in touch with their children when they’re away from home. By squeezing its tummy, the child can listen to or record voice messages sent on social media platform WeChat.

Mae West Lips Sofa – Artist Salvador Dali designed this playful sofa that looks like a big pair of lips. He drew a picture of actress Mae West and used his drawing of her lips as inspiration for the sofa.

Super Lamp – Martine Bedin designed this fun, colourful lamp on wheels, which can be pulled along like a dog on a lead!

Then, number the other six boxes and draw the following:

2. Redesign the object so that it can be used for something different

3. Redesign it as an item you could wear

4. Redesign it combined with another object you would find in your home

5. Redesign it so it’s made from only recycled materials

6. Redesign it for a different person, maybe someone older than you, or younger than you, or someone that needs more help to walk

Need some help? Here is an example of this project from DesignLab Nation, part of the V&A national schools programme:

Let’s find a problem we want to solve!

Now that you have started to think like a designer, let’s come up with our own problem to solve. Start by thinking about who you are designing for. It could be a friend, your parent or guardian, a grandparent, yourself, or even the environment.

Think about all the things you do every day. Make a list or draw the things you find around you at home. Can you think of any problems you have with the objects you use every day? Maybe you don’t like tidying your room, or doing the washing up takes time. Maybe the chair that you do your schoolwork in isn’t very comfortable.

Can you turn the problem you have found into a question? For example:

  • What if a chair could be made more comfortable for my schoolwork?
  • What if tidying my room could be fun?
  • What if our plates cleaned themselves after every meal?

Now that you have your question, we can design a solution to solve it!

Sketch for a Flower Kitchen – Designers sketch their ideas to help think up solutions to problems. This sketch shows architect John Prizeman’s idea for a kitchen that can move around the garden on rails, with petal windows that open when the sun is shining!

Designers sketch their ideas to help think up solutions to problems. This sketch shows architect John Prizeman’s idea for a kitchen that can move around the garden on rails, with petal windows that open when the sun is shining!

Let’s design something new!

Take your question you made above and write it on the top of a piece of paper. Now try to come up with some ideas to solve it. What would the different versions look like? Try listing or doodling your ideas while you think. Once you are done, look at your different ideas. Which one do you think will work best? Maybe you can combine two ideas to make it better.

Next, draw your new design in detail. How does it answer your question? Make sure you explain what your design is and what problem it is solving by labelling your drawing.

Show your idea to someone. What do they think? Do they have any ideas about how it could be made even better?

Make sure you share your redesigned objects with us using #LetsMakeWednesdays

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