Task: For this project, teams were given the task of designing a radio that made use of sustainable materials for use in the developing world or off-grid.
Additionally, the product would need to be inexpensive to manufacture, easy to transport and distribute and made of sustainable, recyclable materials.
The 'Accordio' (see left) is an solar-powered AM radio designed for the developing world. Its form for the developing world. Its form is inspired by the accordion, and can be easily closed or extended to charge the batteries or change the quality of sound.
Teaching Focus: The intention of this exercise was for students to gain experience in specifying and selecting inexpensive, recycleable materials and hand-crafted modeling to produce a working prototype. For this working radio, the assigned team chose easily obtainable and inexpensive cardboard and cardstock.
The results of this experiment made an honest depiction of the perceived qualities of paper as a modeling material. For instance, the natural tendency of paper to fold and crease lent itself to the creation of a bellow or accordion-like section which when unfolded unveils an array of solar panels. The action of unfolding is also acts as a natural, inviting affordance for opening the radio.
In addition to the functionality, I was also pleased with how the students applied paper in other components. The front and rear fascia of the radio have utilized weathered cardboard to contrast the coated bellows.
One challenge that was surmounted was how to create the grille using paper. The students at first conceptualized perforating a sheet of card or paper. Through my suggestion to ideate more, the team came up with a weaved pattern, similar to vintage radios. Not only was this more attractive, it was a more robust solution.
Above: Rendering showing material details of the speaker. The further enhance the wave-form, the students applied stain to the wood in a gradient fashion, with the darker tones in the middle.
Above: Three-Quarter view of radio. Students created an intricate weave of paper strips to create functional grille that resembled fabric radio grilles of 1930s.
Above: Radio in closed position. The compact footprint allowed for easy storage and shipping.