Collaborative Project Blog


Week 1:
Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead
This first week started with a class talk about personal strengths to offer in a collaborative situation, as the final task of the project is related to collaborate in designing a way for new visitors to access the the medicinal plant collection at Chelsea Physic Garden. We wrote rules for a prefect collaboration and we underlined what are the things to avoid. The personal pitch was slightly more difficult, at least for me. I'm not really into talking about my personal strengths or what I may be helpful with in a group project but I tried anyway. I also honestly mentioned that I can be lazy and sometimes I can have my head in the clouds for whatever reason. Luckily that did not seemed to bother the partner I ended with. After that we participated in our first task: collect samples of lived life from the Elephant and Castle shopping centre. The task seemed quite generic (and therefore complicated to get at first) but in the end we tried to catalogue particular categories for every photo we did until we achieved a quantitative number of documents that represented how humans behave in relation with a common place and with common objects.


Week 2:
Strawberry Field Forever - The Beatles
The week started in a fantastic way as we finally had the chance to visit the garden. I must say it is an amazing place, hidden from the concrete jungle of London but still located near its hearth. The guide made us look all around the area, taught us about the history of the garden and the important role that it assumes still today. As we spent the day in the garden we decided to focus on a specific area and the one related to traditional medicine seemed perfect to us.  We mapped the place, took some photos and started to think how we could improve it. The place clearly had a theme in mind, with explanations of general medicine across the years and interesting quotes on tags spread around the flowers. However, the problems were evident as the historical quotes were really small, unenthusiastic, and difficult to read. Another problem was the fact that this is not the best period to look for flowers or fruits, so a lot of the area dedicated to the plants had a general sad brown color filled with nothing but topsoil. It’s almost a shame that curious facts about how people used plants to cure themselves are displayed in the worst way possible. So the task of adding a more positive, interesting and fun aspect to those informations was almost mandatory.​​​​​​


Week 3:
Nature_1 - Muse
This week is all dedicated to the research. We discussed in groups about what could be an interesting way to engage new audiences to visit the garden, to advertise their workshops and above to let people discover a new passion. We looked at a few projects including some gargantuan architectural and botanical domes as the Eden Project in Cornwall or the Dutch pavilion proposal for the 2020 Expo at Dubai. Both of those structures are incredibly functional in combining a specific needed climate for the plants, an outstanding structure fulfilling for the human eye and an incredible proof of how the coexistence of humans and plants can create something beautiful. As the project moved along, however, we scaled our ideas and started to think on a more personal level. We focused on a connection between technology and nature and how those two can interact to produce positive results. Tele-present wind made us reflect on flowery installations enhanced by the harmonic movement of a mechanical device. Hydrophytes made us witness the creation of an entire new plant species, a futuristic and aquatic one, trough the power of modeling software and multi-material 3D printing. The ideas were there. We just need to pick up the best one.


Week 4:
Lemon Tree - Fool's Garden
One of the most influential designs we looked into is undoubtedly the digital cauldron present in the Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library. Even if somehow unrelated to our topic, the cauldron succeed in the task of making the user feel like a wizard, as your duty consisted in mixing different ingredients in the right order and with the right quantity. This simple premise alone was effective enough to made us think at an engaging and attractive working table where the user can experience as protagonist the way ancient civilizations used to make medicines, potions and lotions across the centuries and across the globe. So I started to work on the physical model starting from a simple pestle and mortar experience. The first drafts of the table had more of a chemistry taste as I did not know how plants based medicine are exactly made. We then  we decided to contact M. Henirich, a professor at UCL specialized in medicinal plants for a better understanding of the infusion process and a general assistance on the design. My tasks consisted in positioning and finding the perfect place for every tool present on the table (tools that my partner carefully searched for rightful representation), beside producing an interface for a display that would show and help people through the whole process. After we added elements and defined some roles the apothecary table started to come alive.


Week 5:
(Nothing But) Flowers - Talking Heads
One of the most influential designs is undoubtedly the digital cauldron present in the Harry Potter exhibition at the British Library. Even if somehow unrelated to our topic, the cauldron succeed in the task of making the user feel like a wizard, as your duty consisted in mixing different ingredients in the right order and with the right quantity. This simple premise alone was effective enough to made us change the whole explanations tag idea and replace it with a more engaging and attractive working table where the user can experience as protagonist the way ancient civilizations used to make medicines, potions and lotions across the centuries and across the globe. So I started to work on the physical model starting from a simple pestle and mortar experience. After we added elements and defined some roles the apothecary table started to come alive.
The first drafts of the table had more of a chemistry taste as I did not know how plants based medicine are exactly made. After some consultation with my partner we decided to contact M. Henirich, a professor at UCL specialized in medicinal plants for a better understanding of the infusion process and a general assistance on the design. As he seems far away from ever replying we started researching and designing on our own. My tasks consisted in positioning and finding the perfect place for every tool present on the table (tools that my partner carefully searched for rightful representation), beside producing an interface for a display that would show and help people through the whole process. In the meantime Patrick started imagining different kinds of workshops related to the main eras of herbal medicine, from Sumerian to Egyptian to modern times