Flashlight: 1999 - CMU Shop
For comments see the bottom of the page for my tirade on my experience with this project. Venting is good.
Oh god, the dreaded flashlight project fiasco. This project almost made me drop out of school and start my own design firm. The sordid tale must be told as a warning to other aspiring design students with a shred of self respect or creative integrity. First off, over the course of a month long project, the three teachers in a class of less than thirty kids for six hours a week, spent a total of perhaps twenty minutes with me. It all started with my concept sketches, which had a good range of ideas, and as usual twice as many as they requested. I had some simple warm up sketches, but mostly they were detailed drawings of some fairly complex ideas. The teachers have a knack for finding the stupid, simple warm up sketches and pushing for us to make those, greatly underestimating the student's ability. So I was told to do one of the simpler concepts (see stool project for further evidence against this teacher) because it was supposedly easier to make, but I decided to do the one I liked the best. For the next four days I worked on my model. A concept model of our ideas was due Monday, meaning that we just needed to roughly translate our ideas into the third dimension to better judge proportion and ergonomics, etc. But, I decided to make a working flashlight of my concept to prove to this guy that I have the ability to do whatever I can think up. So, on Monday morning I show up with a working flashlight, just to be completely dissed and ignored in one fell swoop. "I can't even talk about this" he said before moving on (a different teacher now the original asshole was out of town). No Fuck You! I spend nearly forty hours killing myself to prove to you dipshits that I am better than you, and you can't even comment on it!? Of course I said nothing, but was still avoided like the plague by the teachers for a week. After that episode, I decided to abandon that idea in favor of something they might actually talk to me about. I created an entirely new concept, the simplest yet. Using the dimensions of an existing flashlight, I made one long cylinder for the batteries and a shorter one next to that to house the lens and bulb. I made the light aperture small to suggest a powerful light source like a halogen or spot light, which made it look a bit like a microscope. At the next crit, I presented this model, and everyone seemed to agree that it looked too much like a gun, and we had a fun little discussion about how threatening some of the flashlights looked, but far too much time was spent on it. Oh sure it fits in your hand like a glove, but don't go into a liquor store with it. Jesus people, chill. I know it looks a bit like a gun. Can you blame me? I had that idea from the beginning, the teachers keep pissing on me. Back to the drawing board, again. This time I tried to de-emphasize the the threatening qualities by making the lens assembly a swiveling eyeball underneath the battery cylinder, an idea which made it more versatile, like an adjustable work light. About a week later teacher three comes by and says no. Luckily he spends a few minutes with me showing me how they want it to look. So I run with it, and in an hour I basically have my final concept. Yeah, they love it, but it looks just like the very first shitty drawing I did of a flash light way back in the concept stage. Everyone's flashlight, at least half the class, has a flashlight that is basically the same, and the teachers know it. So, to make this long-ass story shorter, I used some innovative productions methods to make my final model, things that most designers know how to do, and processes which are in fact very useful, but they don't teach because it's too messy. After nearly a hundred hours working on it, I have something that looks like everybody else's. Hum, design's a lot like math class when you think about it. For some teachers there is a right answer. I can't say I didn't learn a lot though.