Shaping up

25th January 2008 at 00:00

Fun is a good starting point in design. Let pupils have a scribble before they create, says Katy Robinson.

Most young people put function before form. They come up with a product and then they try to make it look pretty. But sometimes it's fun to turn that theory on its head.

Start with a huge piece of blank paper and give everyone in the class a pen, pencil or crayon. Then you can enjoy a crazy few minutes where everyone makes random scribbles, without thinking too much. It will look a mess, but among all the scribbles there will be lots of 2-D shapes, made entirely by chance. And some of those shapes will be beautiful.

Ask everyone to choose one shape that interests them. Let them play around by stretching or rotating it. Then get them to turn the 2-D shape into something 3-D. If they find the sketching hard, let them model it with Plasticine. Eventually, they will have a shape they love.

Then ask them to think about function and imagine a possible use for the shape. It might be anything from a Sellotape dispenser to a new-look MP3 player.

I used to be a toy designer, and found it useful to work in this way. I'd come up with something that looked great, then work out a use for it. Sometimes you have to let your imagination run riot.

Katy Robinson teaches at Archbishop Sancroft High School in Harleston, Norfolk. She is one of the Design amp; Technology Association's New Talent Group for newcomers to the classroom with a fresh approach in Damp;T.

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