Robin Howie

Fieldnotes — Week 552

This week we had a really big share on Project Playway and made great progress with Project Centurion too, a little highlight of the week was a highly masked up site visit for Centurion involving thirty meters of rope.

In the (home) studio, we got a little obsessed with obscure Japanese telephone boxes…

Loads more to explore and enjoy here:

We had a good look at Olafur Eliasson’s new major work in Chicago (and briefly imagined in a couple of years time visiting a group exhibition at the Tate where major artists displayed work they made in lockdown… warts and all).

A Tiled Wave Ripples Across Olafur Eliasson’s New Installation in Downtown Chicago

A tip of the hat to the resourcefulness of the Chip Bag project ‘A Detroit Environmental Activist is Turning Chip Bags into Sleeping Bags for the Homeless
We admired the obsession that led to this book of British Gate typologies being made (click through to see the entire thread)

We also came across this insta account of soviet architecture,

We listened to Alastair Parvin explain how pretty much everything bad in the society can be traced to the history of the history of land system… absolutely fascinating, highly recommended.

And congratulations to placement Megan Joy Barclay who along with a bunch of friends makes a magazine called 34minus1… Megan is editor and issue 2 was published this week. Check it out here…

See you next week.

Robin Howie

Mobility Wars

What we can learn from the accidental Robin Hood of mobility startups... and how we could build on the amazing boom in cycling that London is seeing after the lockdown.
Read the new Fieldnotes post over on our Medium.
Robin Howie

FF Rucksack / Prototype 2

OK, here we go… Prototype No 2 of the Fieldwork Facility rucksack! (we’re making our own perfect rucksack for design fieldwork).

We’re still in lockdown so making with what I have around the flat… today's prototype is sponsored by a good-for-nothing cheap-ass yoga matt, some floor tape leftover from the Knee High project and another month torn from a gorgeous Vignelli Stendig Calendar.

Notes —
With this version, I wanted to address some of the learnings from Prototype 1 (see the post from a fortnight ago)… so now we have revised size and capacity, less crazy gusset depth and crucially more external pockets. I’m personally a fan of quite rectangular backpacks but with this version, I wanted to soften the silhouette a bit… the base panel wraps around onto the gussets, this was meant give it a little bit of the curve but to be honest the 5mm foam yoga mat is quite unforgiving… in fabric I think it would work well… to be tested.
New details in this prototype: I’ve had a rethink on the closing mechanism of the bag… there’s now a zip enclosure to the main compartment as well as a flap… OK, so I admit its a little overkill… but here’s my thinking. Often we’re carrying lots of electrical gear in the field… cameras, laptops, hard drives you get the drift… it would be pretty abysmal if we made our own rucksacks and then experienced water damage to all our gear! The other reason is security… with prototype one, it was pretty easy to reach into the bag from the sides… especially in a crowded environment (I once saw this happen on the metro in Moscow… keen on designing out any light fingers). The flip side of this approach is it means there’s quite a bit more fabric involved… I’m not so bothered about the weight but the environmental footprint has to be considered.
Overall I’ll be honest… this bag, I quite like it! I seem to have luckily stumbled into the measurements to make a comfy fit. The strap location at the top needs a bit of work (the left strap pulls to the side). I’m also not yet happy with how the pockets and enclosing strap are configured… I want the pockets to be able to fit an A6 notebook, pens etc… but A6 is relatively tall… in this version, I think how the pockets and strap sit together feels a little awkward… and it makes a weird face too!

What’s next… well, I feel like this version could be iterated until I land on something that feels great… But with only two prototypes under our belts that feels way way to early… so in a typical form I think its time to rip it up and start again. Over the next few prototypes, we’ll try some completely different things, learn from them… and then if appropriate loop back around and apply to this prototype. Let’s see what happens though.

Side note… When we get out of prototyping and into sampling it's going to be tough to leave behind these nuts colour combinations… Already I am growing a little attached to the weird contrasts of colours and graphic assemblages… sometimes in the field, we really have to blend into the environment inconspicuously… clearly there's a conflict here! It's not always the case though… Maybe there’s a case for an incognito colour-way and then something more fun… though I’m sure I am post-rationalising here!