Priti Pandurangan

It has been a week of exploring material futures, tutorials, and refining ideas towards the development of my thesis proposal.

As an experiment for my thesis study, I undertook a personal sensory walk in Bermondsey Spa Gardens to better understand the complexities of detecting and recording new sensory experiences.

In the workshop on material realities, we looked at themes such as to what extent is information ingrained within our daily environment. Within this framework, the Ikea KALLAX shelving unit was utilised as a subject of analysis. I began with a careful examination of the shelf's characteristics and several pertinent questions emerged: What species of tree was used in its construction, and where was it sourced from? Which specific forest did it originate from, and what were the natural conditions of the tree's ecosystem? These inquiries stimulated a deeper reflection on the intricate relationships between materiality, environmental impact, and design practices. As designers, how can we leverage these relational dimensions to craft data experiences that are more dynamic and impactful?

The dent on the shelf prompted my focus on the vulnerability of trees. The Beech tree's bark, which was used in the shelf's construction, is particularly delicate and prone to scarring. Due to the environmental conditions in which the shelf exists, any dents or damages are irreversible as the wood lacks the ability to self-heal. The dent on the shelf served as a 'portal' for visualising the cyclic and self-healing processes that the wood undergoes in its natural habitat.

The design of the radial visualisation drew inspiration from the cross-sections of a tree bark. Data depicting the volume (measured in metric cubes) of Beech trees used was scaled and mapped onto the radial rings. The motion of the rings is synchronised with ambient sounds of deciduous forests.

In the weeks ahead, I aim to further develop this project by exploring ways in which the data experience can be integrated seamlessly within the shelving unit.