* Kinetic Product Design

Since 2011, Ben Hopson has taught classes in Kinetic Product Design at Pratt Institute and at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD.)  With a focus on physical prototyping, aesthetics, invention, and usability, students are introduced to theories and techniques of Kinetic Design.  The course begins with introductory exercises and culminates in a longer design development of a kinetic product concept of each student’s choosing.

Initial exercises such as the Cube project help introduce elementary mechanical model making techniques.  Hinges, linkages, and joints are used to animate foam compositions according to a set of guidelines.  Among the issues being explored in this assignment are direction, pacing, hierarchy, and character.

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Another introductory exercise is the Golf Ball project.  While also initially cubic in form, these designs must conceal and then reveal a golf ball in some way.  Students are free to approach the problem however they like as long as the box moves in at least 2 distinct ways.  The variety of mechanical solutions becomes very broad and the class’s internal catalogue of spatial movements and model-making techniques expands.

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With some experience under their belts in kinetic sketch modeling techniques, the students move on to more concrete product concepts.  They begin with rough models to explore several ideas and then narrow their investigations to a single design direction.  Iterative model making techniques yield increasingly robust models before resulting in a single final model.

Here are some examples of early exploratory models of kinetic product concepts:

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Here are a few final projects:

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