Twist Form

Completed: 2018 | Course: Products Studio I | Skills: physical modelling and prototyping, sketching, mechanical interactions, form

Given rubber bands, we were told to explore different possibilities for interactivity. We first created different interactive objects using rubber bands to drive the mechanism. After settling on an interaction, we explored different forms to house these interactions that would not only be comfortable to hold, but would also indicate to the user how the object is supposed to be interacted with.


I first experimented with multiple different rubberband mechanisms, some that could be pushed, other that were twisted, others that acted more like a switch. In all my early mechanism, the rubberband's force was being applied directly against the hand's motion.
About midway through my experimentation with mechansims, I began trying to experiment with interactions where the rubberband was pulling along a different axis than the user. My first attempt at this featured a folded cardstock object that the user would push. The cardstock would pop back into its original shape when released, actuated by a rubberband on the underside of the cardstock that would pull in horizontally, pushing the center fold up when it tightened.
My next iteration featured a wood piece that was pushed and pulled horizontally by the user. The piece had notches in it, which would pop a dowel attached to a rubberband up and down. This produced a clicking sound while pulled. I really liked this interaction, so I took the same principle and experimented with a couple other motions: another push/pull, just held a different way, a switch-like interaction, and a twisting interaction. The twisting was nice because it didn't have a beginning or end, it could be used continuously. I sketched out schematics for these mechanisms as I was trying to create them in order to plan out what I was putting together.
I liked the twisting, but I wanted to make the clicking mechanism in it more prominent, so I made another version. The new version featured deeper grooves on an inner wheel, and the inner wheel was also made from basswood instead of balsa wood. The new version (which ended up being my final) was also significantly larger and looked the same from sides (I wanted to emphasize the fact that the interaction does not have a real beginning or end).

Final Interaction

Taking into consideration the final and second-to-last interactions, I made a number of sketches exploring possible forms to house the interaction. I considered objects that sat on a table or a wall, objects that were held in one hand and twisted in the other, and objects that were twisted with both hands. I figured that items held the same way in each hand were the most visually pleasing and served the concept behind my interaction the best.
I began working on the physical models by gripping clay to see where fingers would come into contact with a basic cylinder. Using these clay forms, I began experimenting with different geometry to fit to the grip. I found that hexagonal shapes struck a good balance between being a good shape for the hand and being visually simple. I also found that sloped shapes fit well.
With vertical edges, though, there was little indication as to how someone was supplosed to interact with the form. Taking this into account, I twisted the edges of the form so to indicate a rotational movement.
After settling on this object for the twisting pieces, I experimented a little bit with size and proportion before making my final model.

©2019 Sebastian Carpenter