Fabrication Research by John Thornton – Notes

  • Thornton, John. “Fabrication Research.” Design Through Making 75.4 (2005): 100-03. AD Reader. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ad.111/abstract>.
    • Thornton, formerly of Arup, reconsiders the notion of fabrication research as an embedded aspect of practice and reminds us of its value as a stimulant for creativity.

“I have always been more interested in research as a tool to develop a particular design than in ‘abstract’ research, so perhaps a better title would be ‘research through fabrication’.”(Thornton, 101)

“it can be difficult to carry out physical research, as opposed to a desk study, because it takes time and money, even though the cost might be a small part of the project cost and should anyway be set against the reduction in risk and savings that arise from the research. Inevitably, without the reassurance of research, the design must be more cautious.”(101)
While research can be costly, the cost is usually offset by the monetary savings, risk mitigation, and the confidence to produce a bolder novel design.

“the best designers know how things work, how they are made, how materials behave and their qualities.”(101)
Knowing how materials behave can allow a designer to produce a simpler, more appropriate solution to design challenges.

“We joke about solutions looking for problems; however, new ideas often come from making new connections, and the wider our exposure to sources the bigger the data bank to draw upon.”(102)
New methods won’t solve a specific problem, but they are added to the “data bank” of methods and information so that designers can draw upon them later.

“you learn from the ‘failures’ perhaps more than from the successes because when it goes wrong, you find out why, yet when it goes right, you never really know how close you were to failing.”(102)

“We are probably not aware of all the inputs, or their importance, at the beginning; rather they come to light as we work”(103)

“Advances in analysis, visualisation and manufacturing techniques, and the electronic links between them, now allow us to construct forms, details and variations that would have been impossibly expensive a few years ago.”(103)

“The danger is that computer power triumphs over design and takes away the need to simplify, rationalise and understand the material.”(103)
This is why I will begin with empirical physical tests on sheet metal to understand the material and how it deforms.

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