Unit 3 of the course was certainly different from what we expected. The world pandemic was a not negligible element that clearly changed the goals I had set for this academic year.
In order to have a clear vision of my path in this unit, I decided to retrace the path I had taken from May to September in a temporal line, unlike the way I had structured the two previous units where, in the first unit, I had divided the path I had taken into subject areas, while in the second unit I had followed a scheme of questions provided to us in order to be able to analyse our work.
- 1 (May – June) Lost
The unit started when we were already in quarantine for at least two months now, time had passed quite quickly, between the strange sensations of the historical moment we were living in and the preparation of the delivery of unit 2.
My project, and I with it, found so much of a hurdle that we had to face in order to proceed in the situation we were in.
It was two months of complete displacement, waiting for news of what would happen.
However, this period was very important for my personal and professional growth, and I have learned a lot by looking back over the following months.
Waiting for something out of our reach to happen doesn’t bring any benefit; thinking about what we don’t have and how things went badly and unlucky, much less so.
It has been two months of personal growth, the project was marginal in my thoughts but in my own way, and with the few tools I had at home, I worked something out as time went by.
The steps taken for the project were minimal, because there was a desire in me not to resign myself to the possibility of returning to the workshops, to continue what I had in my head and in the programme and for which I needed specific equipment.
My professional growth during this period was therefore outside the academic field but it was personal. I understood more about myself and how I found a way to let off steam.
I recorded a vocal diary during the whole quarantine especially during the most difficult moments and now I continue to use it to be able to say out loud thoughts that I don’t want to keep inside and, in some cases, also moments of happiness and change.
I have understood that physical activity is good for my working and professional condition because to think and work by hand you need to have a free and active mind and, personally, I can reach this state as much as I let off steam physically.
I have learned to be with myself and I have understood how much count for me sociality and the possibility of having people to talk with who have the same interests as me. How the virtual cannot fill this lack. Human presence and the exchange of ideas are perhaps the thing I miss most of all.
- 2 (July) The bottom and the renewal
July began by touching the bottom in complete darkness. It was precisely that moment that gave me the opportunity to understand that I had to make a change in my situation and that I could no longer wait for this university situation to resolve after the constant postponements of a return to the laboratories which, punctually denied, had made me slip into a situation of complete discouragement and mental insecurity.
So began my personal and professional rebirth and I decided that I needed to find a place where I could start making again, a place where even with few tools I had the space to find myself.
I had been locked in a room of 5×2 meters for too long.
The search for the right space led me to a non-profit association “Art Hub Studios” where there were spaces available at an affordable price and that I was able to pay with the part-time work that I had found as a graphic designer in the meantime and, most importantly of all, with my small new studio I would have access to a small ceramics and wood workshop.
So I started making a small lamp with an emergency exit sign that I had found and a small piece of terracotta that I had brought home before the quarantine began.
It was my emergency exit.
The first work in my new studio, the pleasure of getting my hands dirty.
From this moment on I started to see the light again, a light that was still intermittent, dark and light that gave space to each other, oscillating between the mood variations dictated by the small changes and the backward steps I was taking.
Seeing an empty space and starting to fill it, equipping it with things found in the street.
This was my professional growth in July, having the ability to start from scratch and where I had left my ideas. So I also resumed working and thinking again about my project which, for months now, was no longer part of my primary thoughts.
A new family event brought me back down in the dark, perhaps still too fragile to keep my mind clear and rational thinking, so I decided to go back to Italy to face what was happening but still stronger and more aware of myself than I had been at the beginning of July.
So I understood from this month that the sooner you adapt to the current situation the sooner you understand how you can change the direction of events that you do not like.
- 3 (August) Back on track
A return to Italy that made me regain my energy and find the calm to face all the problems with the thought that they must be solved.
The first thing I did back in Milan was to go to Turin to pick up my 3D printer from my friend who had used it in the meantime, so that I could start prototyping to continue my project.
With many interruptions in July I started to model 3D the base of the Nissen lamp, so that was the first model I printed even if with some problems with the printer because the fan was not working and the material available was very little.
I printed the first model, so I continued to 3d model the joint in Rhinoceros so that the two parts fit together and close well.
At the same time, I started looking for the right light bulb for the project and selected a type of G9 after visiting several light shops in Milan.
Even the simplest things like finding the right light bulb could be somehow challenging and, in a moment like that, can even give a strange satisfaction when you finally find the proper one.
Towards the middle of August, there was the communication that he could return to the workshops to finish the work started before March.
So the time came to make decisions on how to make the best possible use of the situation.
I defined my collection of lamps based on the 2 porcelain Parian casts I had made so far and on which I decided to concentrate without thinking about the parallel experiments I was carrying out before, like the thermoplastic road marking.
I returned to England even though the problems in Italy were not over but the strength with which I returned impressed me, I felt again myself. I was full of energy and desire to be able to work and express myself again, with the happiness of having that little studio where I could work and express my ideas.
I began to test the bulbs that I had bought in Italy, the effect with translucent porcelain was what I wanted, satisfaction gives the soul motivation and one pulls the other.
The darkness was a vivid memory that gave me the strength to run even further away, the fallout was increasingly distant and my mind was active again.
The woodworking was initially complicated because of the very few tools available by hand, but when I managed to get into the small workshop of the association the time to cut the thickness of my wooden slab went from 40 minutes to 2 minutes.
The importance of having the tools, how to use them, in the order in which to use them and for what purpose it saves time and effort. I almost completely finished the model until I realized that I had to change the size; it was not a table lamp nor a floor lamp and in addition, since my purpose was to do it in one piece from two slabs of wood joined together, there were no slabs of wood the size I wanted. So I started again.
I was feeling alive, with a purpose, myself. At last I could look back at what had passed with an analytical eye, without falling back into it and being overwhelmed by instincts.
A mentality of facing the problems that I think I have learned with this experience and from which I hope I will be able to benefit.
- 4 (September) The final
With the regret of knowing what was lost in the months away from the workshops, we went back to the university with the program to finish the things we started despite the fact that there were only 2 workshops available, wood and digital.
My intention is to complete the two lamps and to do so I had to adapt the final results of my work.
The ceramics laboratory is closed because they are doing some work but, fortunately, I had access to the kilns where I have my studio to prepare the final models; the foundry and the metal laboratory are closed as well.
So I thought of printing in 3D the prototype of the base that I wanted to make in bronze with a filament that resembled as much as possible the colour of the bronze itself to simulate the final Nissen Lamp.
The second machine available is CNC cutting to make the Barrier Lamp that I redisgned. Providentially I contacted George to prepare the cutting files and arrive prepared for the appointment, he showed me great willingness and with many changes and details to calculate, we arrived together with the way to perform the cut which, however, we have not yet been able to achieve because the preparation of the file was complex and it will be performed the day after the delivery of this document. The cut will be made on two Iroko boards that I bought once we have determined the feasibility of the cuts.
This is one of the things I appreciate about my work: the collaboration with the technicians. By clearly explaining the intent and understanding the technical limits of the machinery we can get to do complicated jobs that are the goals that make us evolve and improve, both for me and for them.
In cases like this you don’t have to strain time and, even if I don’t meet the final deadline of the unit, I am happy to have programmed it in the right way. This delay is also given to an inconsistency of reprogramming time to finish our course, as the assessment is before the end of the time allowed to complete our projects.
In any case the important thing for me is to be able to finish at least one prototype the final way I designed it so that I have something complete to present once the course is finished.
Parallel to the realization of the CNC cutting file, I made the first prototype of the “Siren Lamp“. Although I already have in mind some modifications and improvements to make on the first prototype realized, I’m quite satisfied with it.
The Siren Lamp has been set aside in my priority list for a long time and, thinking back to the way I wanted to create the base, I was very conflicted as I had difficult ideas to implement in such a short time.
So when I looked again at the photos I had taken I suddenly realised that it was practically ready, so I just had to think about how to create the lamp holder and the locking system.
In just one day on the way back to the laboratory I made the first prototype for delivery and, immediately afterwards, I will change some of the details that came to my mind during production.
So I decided to give a name to this small family of objects taken from the urban environment: Urban Domestication.
For now, therefore, three different lamps are part of this collection, two of which have the same porcelain part.
The name aims to resume the connection between urban and domestic space by introducing the expression “domesticated” to represent the change made on urban forms adapted to the context of private space.
I intend to continue with the other products, inspired by the same context, I had started and thus add them to this family of objects for domestic use.
We have reached the final point. I cannot deny the bitterness of how the academic year went, in which I had high expectations in terms of experimentation in the university workshops, the final production of my work and the creation of a network of professional and non-professional connections.
In another way, it was a year that made me grow a lot personally, in which I was able to understand that what I want to be and how I can make the most of myself.
I have learned about myself and how I want to improve, how I want to continue my professional career and the strength of my technical skills.
I see my future as a professional with a desire to continually take on new challenges, coming out of my comfort zone, learning from collaborations with specialist craftsmen and those who are willing to share their knowledge and, I will always be ready to share mine.