Pushing the Boundaries

(Reflection on unconscious values embedded in handmade crafts)

m and s
Figure 1: Marks & Spencer, 2017 | Courtesy of Marks & Spencer


As the demand of loving to change the interior atmosphere is increasing within housewives and consumers in general, trends are playing a profound role in shaping the consumer desires. From a global perspective, and as people are becoming more eco-conscious, opting for a greener, sustainable and more organic lifestyle, this in turn has led me as a designer to come up with more ethical ways to think of producing and using more natural materials and artisan craftsmanship. The handcrafted objects, ethical and sustainable products presented in the Bohemian style, the Intrepid Explorer trend or theme, which is the ongoing theme among 2017’s Spring/Summer interior decor ranges (luxford,2017) brings a feeling of exoticism and escapism to our chaotic urban lifestyles. This trend includes using rattan, salvaged wood and recycled plastics, glass and fabrics.

Personally, I believe as time passes it will become more and more prevalent, especially that inserting unusual, cultural pieces would enhance the interior space and serve as a focal point. The demand increases on the pieces that are traditionally crafted, inlaid and embedded with a contemporary twist, as Hella Jongerius and Louise Schouwenberg asserts: There is value in continually re-examining what already exists, delving into the archives, poring over the classics (2015). With a sense of nostalgia, this interior scheme encourages displaying our treasured collections from our travels. Moreover, it is a relaxed, eclectic look, can be added to and edited over time, and can be adapted without a strict, coherent theme. According to Dyes, the emphasis on individualism is resulting in the rise of trends that are anything but traditional.

Referring back to Jongerius and Schouwenberg, in their publication “Beyond the New” (2015):” It is absurd and arrogant to begin the design process with an empty piece of paper. Cultural and historical awareness are woven into the DNA of any worthwhile product. Otherwise the designer is merely embracing newness for its own sake – an empty shell, which requires overblown rhetoric to fill it with meaning.”


Picture1   trad

Figure 2: Traditional Craft Using Palm Leaves

Locally, taking an advantage from the skills they already got inherited across generations, especially when I got in touch with two different basket wavers in Saudi Arabia, they both agreed that previously it was a great source of income but then when alternative products came in, the demand for their products is reduced and used for decoration purposes only. So, the purpose of buying changed, the sales are reducing, why they are still keeping producing? The answer was it provides them with satisfaction, being able to do what they know, like and due to the social impact where they meet and work all together, it is not an occupation any more, it became more of a way to contribute and gives them a feeling of being alive.

Although those careers are close to extinction as the world may regard their vocation as dreary jobs, the younger generation refuse to adapt the same craft as a source of income. Therefore, and in order to keep it alive, I aim to change their perception, appreciate the skill they have and provide them with an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and embrace a different way of thinking. Bearing in mind the social responsibility, which assesses fair labor practices.



Final Major Project Learning Agreement (First Draft)

key aspects:

  • Introduce new craftsmen’s vision of luxury, sustainable, individual, decorative, hand-built and functional lighting units, inspired by the Arabic Culture.

Design Brief: (Adapting history and tradition to modern needs)

To design a pendant light (retail product) that develops productive families instead of being dependent on society and holds Arabs identity through the combination of the traditional weaving techniques and the use of the geometric patterns on the traditional Badu tents for a unique, valuable outcome.

The problem: is that those productive families are growing, they became widely known and wanted by foreign visitors, but their selling’s are deteriorating due to the repetitive productivity and the return does not cover the capital, therefore, my ambition is to develop a more functional product, more useful and widen their abilities to be opened to a new different market. Exploring in keeping the material itself and the process as well, but producing a new product is what I aim to.


On the left: woollen textile craftsmanship (Sadu sewing), on the right: basket weaving using palm tree leaves

­   Design Methodology:

1.      Research & Discovery (Plan): Through researching I will built up a brief reading list I aim to use and learn from, and through the process of designing I will research, observe, understand and analyse.

2.      Interpretation

3.      Sketches and Ideation (Prototype)

4.      Experimentation: combining to materials together and using the weaving techniques.

5.      Evolution

6.      Come to a conclusion

­   Focus: Developing Productive families instead of being dependent on society

·        Stakeholders: Customer segments (the scope are art collectors and wealthy customers wishing for the newest products in the market)

­   Marketing Strategy (7p’s Marketing mix)

·        The B2B Transaction Theory: Directly to retailors and selling through distributors.

·        Willing to sell in famous artistic retail stores such as Ferrious in the United Kingdom and Desert Designs in Saudi Arabia.

­   Ma Learning Outcomes:

  • Theoretical and creative ambition
  • Exploration of materials (originality)
  • Learning new skills and techniques (weaving)
  • Emphasise the Value of Craftsmanship

­   Intend to Submit:

  • Theoretical research (philosophy, concept description & brief)
  • Sketch   ideation / sketch models
  • Technical feasibility and manufacturing / materials
  • Cost (Marketplace)
  • Cad   model rendered sales poster
  • Final PowerPoint presentation and visuals
  • Final refined cad both technical and appearance
  • 3d model to support   the cad finalisation visuals

­   External Professional Collaborative Partner:

1.      Claire Norcross:

·        T: +44 (0) 785 540 8268

·        E: claire@clairenorcross.co.uk

·        W: https://www.clairenorcross.co.uk/

2.      Jane Blease:

·        T: +44 (0) 7754 908 447

·        E: hello@janeblease.co.uk

·        W: https://www.janeblease.co.uk

3.      Kasia Mackowiak

·        T: –

·        E: katiamackowiak@gmail.com

·        W: http://kasiamackowiak.co.uk/




CUTE: The Blog Summary

Developing a theoretical and practical understanding of the market needs, especially in Saudi Arabia, was the profound role upon studying CUTE values of product design. As well as highlighting and providing a clear guide on studying the production in term of the right chose of materials and manufacturing techniques in corporation with understanding and meeting consumers’ needs and wants.

As being a faculty member in product design at Imam Abdurrahman bin Faisal University in Saudi Arabia, and in term of teaching design process, technical drawings and deeply understanding the details in depth was considered as a secondary thought, we aimed to consider the market research investigate the stake holders among the segmented sample study, in order to develop a small structure about the main element to focus on while developing the concept design, without baring in consideration how it is going to be made. Therefore, I haven’t got any further experience within the real field. I was enthusiastic and eager to learn more. I was expecting the lectures rapped in a narrow range among understanding new material and considering ergonomics, but afterward it was essential and clear how anticipation and adapting those key factors to change and keep in touch with the external competitor environment as well as matching the consumer desires with the initial idea of the product.

As a result, providing what the market wants is recognised (Drummond, Ensor & Ashford, 2001). In my personal perception, I thought that an innovative product and design will have a great opportunity to attract investors and buyers in the market, but I was wrong. In fact, it need to appeal to the market place by starting to focus on the customer and user demand in identifying the product opportunities. Also, to use sustainable, durable materials was one of my main focuses on the Product Design Specifications (PDS). Moreover, I personally live in a small apartment where my neighbour’s children store their bicycles mainly in the terrace and some of them started to use the roof. 

 Figure 1: personal case study on where do     Figure 2: shows the reason why don’t the Saudi citizens store their bicycles.                      Saudis   use their bikes

Changing the community overview was my profound especially that people think it is limited in children and laborers only. As well as people would prefer to keep in mind where to store before buying.

Therefore, I decided to focus on designing an indoor bicycle rack, inspired from the traditional Middle East decorative elements, resulting with a functional and aesthetical storage piece, and focusing in considering the dead spaces in mind. But after researching I decided to design an outdoor bicycle shelter, inspired from the traditional Middle East decorative elements, resulting with a functional and aesthetical storage piece.

According to Henderson (2013) “To be successful, a company should have a portfolio of products with different growth rates and different market shares”. So, inspiring from the existing solutions, weather they serves as storage places or even function differently, such as the Lego toys, especially the mechanism of having a one unit and can be easily joined together with minimum physical effort.


Figure 3: shows how designers been inspires from LEGO.

Through the process of the initial ideas, I kept trying to design a central canopy, inspired by the Bedwen tent and the trees where it is relaxing to sit beneath it. The process of modelling using solid works but without thinking of the proportions, especially when designing with dimensions but without a figure to scale the product on, was a mistake I have been to and learned that drawing scale 1:1 is the best solution to confident the functionality of the product.


Figure 4: The design unit

According to The International Ergonomics Association, Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.

The scale of the person while using the product should be a premier, and therefore while designing the minimum width was 45cm and the whole stool width is 120 cm. Although it might be big but that is the minimal number, it can’t be smaller. That unit was the start of establishing the core idea of the concept itself, has been shown in the next figure.


Figure 5: Different arrangements using one unit, depending on the need.

So, the idea behind it was to allow freedom in organizing the pieces depending on the ambient environment the customer want to achieve. This flexibility enhances the value of the design itself as the one product may not fit all consumers. Therefore, and while developing the unit itself I considered how the kids may grow, or the number of bikes might increase. And the allowance of adding personal preference with limited effort.


Figure 6: The weather in Saudi Arabia, Source: http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/Saudiarabia.htm

Saudi Arabia has a desert climate characterized by extreme heat during the day, an abrupt drop in temperature at night, and very low annual rainfall (weather online, 2017). There for, I aimed to design a shelter that covers the pieces beneath It and protects from the sunlight.

tent 2 with shade

Figure 7: The canopy shelter.

And through the process of design, a big challenge was to keep in mind the ergonomics, by considering the minimum size for people to fit in as well as keeping the canopy above the level of person’s head. Also the materials that have been used were sustainable in first and weather resistant as well. By building a small model using 3d printer, I have discovered a major problem, where when you combine two (+) (+) or male-male joints they won’t join together. In illustration, the unit cant’ easily been combined in the “S” shape, it is only possible to combine them as “O” shape, unless flipped upside down. So, amendments and modifications has to be done, by making the joint it self movable as it is shown on the next figure.


Figure 8: A solution for an existing problem.

overall, I have learnt and increased my understanding on the manufacturing of different materials such as wood, plastics, metals, and rattan weaving which is what I would like to take with me through my final project. Through the project, I demonstrated my Architectural skills and added the product design focus of material and manufacture.  As for the final outcome of the project, I hoped that I had the potential to gather some case studies my self and take some pictures for the problem to come up with the best problem highlight, but thanks to the media and within my previous notices I think I came up with the best solution that can be used on the roofs or outside the terrace.



CUTE: Cost!

for the cost, I have compared either the price of the material in the market and added on the Labourer price or by comparing the price of what is existing in the market, such as what I have done with the Rattan chair


So after calculations, the total price for the whole set would be 1497 pounds, it might be high but it worth it!

CUTE: The LEGO Rack.. Final Render and model


First of all, I drew the proposal unit to make sure that the scale is applicable in plan and front view.

Next, I started to develop the model to a 3d form and bare in mind the user’s need.



Afterwards, I tried different combinations with different scenarios:



Therefor, this is the final result:

The Canopy:

tent 2 with shade

part 1

The chair:

The chair and the rack:

render 15render 3

The rack and the storage:

top 2

part 4part 5

Being joined all together:

part 9part 82

envi 2envi

Movie shows how the parts were joined together:

Model Using 3D Printer:


Final Poster:

final Poster.jpg

Final Presentation cover slide:



CUTE: Steam Bending, Tom Raffield

Handcrafted wooden lighting and furniture made in Cornwall


Tom Raffield is one of the core designers in using the steam bending. He created his own line and techniques just to get the shape that he want to.

Tom’s bag technique

“Creating complex 3D shapes from a single plank of wood is made much easier with Tom Raffield’s bag technique.

Whilst studying at Falmouth College, Tom realised he wanted to be able do more than traditional steam-bending techniques would allow and so he invented an innovative new method of steam-bend wood, which he called the bag technique.

Traditional steam bending sees wood placed in a chamber of steam and then removed into the air to be bent- but this method didn’t allow Tom the time to create the complex shapes he wanted. He developed a new technique using a steam filled bag on localised sections of the wood, enabling him to create bends in the wood whilst it is still being subjecting to the bending effects of the steam.

Being able to bend the wood whilst it is being steamed allows Tom to craft pieces much more slowly and carefully as the time restrictions usually imposed by the rapid cooling of the wood being are no longer a problem.

A jig system with clamps and composite straps is used to actually bend the wood, creating a space to do so within a series of scaffolding bars and thus removing the confines of shaping on a bench.

The bag technique allows the development of far more complex 3D forms than traditional chamber steam-bending, as well as enabling work on localised sections of a piece of wood in order to achieve a high quality finish, with far less risk of splitting owing to temperature change.

Tom said: “This technique is perfect for sculptures and one-off pieces but is very time consuming and therefore not commercially viable for large-scale production. It’s really an art process, enabling the artist to shape wood as you might shape clay.” (Raffield, 2017)

A look on his designs:


Gwelsen Screen

The opposing steam bent twists of English oak making up the Gwelsen Screen create a beautiful pattern revealing glimpses of the other side of the room. The combination of solid oak timber and complex, vertical steam bent spirals offers something very unique to any space.


Made from sustainably sourced English oak. Finished with a blend of natural oils to give a matt finish.


W 60 -180cm / H 180cm / D 5cm


Colour of wood may vary, this is part of the beauty of natural materials


The Skipper Pendant

A smaller version of the Butterfly Pendant, the minimalistic design of the Skipper will suit those who like simplified shapes but do not wish to compromise on quality design. The shade is made from petals of sustainably sourced ash, oak or walnut. Inspired by Scandinavian design principles, the Skipper Pendant allows the beauty of the wood to be fully appreciated by its owner.

Made by hand in Cornwall, England from sustainably sourced wood and finished with an eco-friendly, non-toxic varnish.


Sustainably sourced ash (light wood), oak (medium wood) or walnut (dark wood).

Supplied with a 2m Satin Nickel Ceiling Assembly Kit (E27/E26).


Standard – Height / 40 cm       Diameter / 62 cm.


Colour of wood may vary, this is part of the beauty of natural materials


Arbor Dining Chair

Produced from the finest English oak, the ergonomic arms of the Arbor Dining Chair have been steam bent from a single piece of solid timber. This unusual design has been created to enhance any room and pairs perfectly with the Treave Dining Table. Upholstered in wool from one of the last remaining vertical woollen mills in Britain it is available in Canary Yellow, Cobalt Blue and Islington Plain Grey.


Made from sustainably sourced English oak. Finished with a blend of natural oils to give a matt finish. Upholstered with 100% British wool.


W 61cm / D 54cm / H 72cm


Colour of wood may vary, this is part of the beauty of natural materials

CUTE: Material & Manufacture process

Sustainable Materials:

part 7.png

As we are responsible for our planet, we need to look after it and by using non-renewable fuel and materials; we are causing much more harm than was previously thought. Nowadays, we are more inclined to use materials that are detrimental to the environment. (sustainable materials, 2017)

  1. The Canopy:


A. The Canopy Slices:



Source: http://nocte.in/?product=marine-plywood

Marine Plywood, 0.6 cm thickness, 200 cm long and 20 cm width


Marine plywood is a grade of wood that has been treated to resist rotting and is similar to a treated 2-by-4 board, for the same purpose. It can withstand rigorous climatic conditions, alternate dry and wet weather. It is dimensionally stable and ideal for long lasting services. It is specially made for those areas where temperature and humidity variations are maximum.


Steam Bending:


Source: https://uk.pinterest.com/explore/steam-bending-wood/

Steam bending is a traditional process steeped in history. It was once a vital practice, paramount to the production of weapons, tools and water vessels but sadly, with the advance of technology the practice has become less common. (Tom Raffield, 2017)

Steam bending is also a low energy and ecological method of manipulating wood with no nasty glues and very low levels of wastage. (Tom Raffield, 2017)

Although Tom says: “This technique is perfect for sculptures and one-off pieces but is very time consuming and therefore not commercially viable for large-scale production. It’s really an art process, enabling the artist to shape wood as you might shape clay.” But in my opinion it can be done using the new techniques especially that this process is been used for years to build large wooden boats.

B. The base part of the canopy:8.jpg


Laser cutter:


Source: https://www.cut-tec.co.uk/materials/laser-cutting/wood-mdf-ply/mdf-ply/#.WRh00YhJZPY

Laser cutting is possibly one of the most versatile products around. It is applicable to cut components for everything ranging from a stencil to intricate decorative panels.

C: The tent above the canopy:



High quality polyester fabric with pvc coating for canopy material

Feature: Waterproof, blackout



Source: https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/high-quality-polyester-fabric-with-pvc_1429519857.html



Source: https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/high-quality-polyester-fabric-with-pvc_1429519857.html

Material 100% polyester
Width 150cm
Weight 160gsm
Technics Dyed with PA/PU coated, waterproof, FR, shrink-resistant, UV, Silver coated, printed and so on.


Thickness 0.16~0.60mm


2.   The Chair and the Rack




Available in a choice of three distinctive colors and upholstered in complimenting nautical water-repellent fabric.

Available Colors: Mocca | Pebble | Natural Cane

Source: http://statuslondon.uk/product-category/rattan-samples/

Benefits: Lightweight, flexible, comfortable

Wicker and rattan are suitable for indoor and outdoor use. made of plant material such as cane and rattan and it created a comfortable, homey look. Resin wicker is much more durable than the traditional wicker material so look for that if you want long-lasting furniture. It requires minimal maintenance, it doesn’t fade, or crack and is weather-resistant. (home dit, 2011)



Source: http://www.switch-asia.eu/news/challenges-and-opportunities-for-indonesian-smes-manufacturing-eco-friendly-rattan-products/

While looking through the different types of rattan materials,

“The rattan weave is made from 3mm round core. It is woven by expert weavers in Indonesia where the skills are passed down from generation to generation. These crafts people are widely recognized as the best in the world market.” (The garden furniture center, 2017)



Planosol Outdoor Acrylic Canvas19.jpg

Woven from 100% acrylic fibre • Rot and fade resistant for 5 years under normal exposure conditions • Air permeable • Water repellant • Excellent UV – U.P.F 50+/SPF 100 • Market leading quality and durability • Ideal for premium awning, outdoor furniture, cover and shade sail applications that require greater UV protection and will keep looking great for years.




part 5.png

part 4.png

(The box is suitable for either planting in it or serving as a storage area)

Benefits: Lightweight, low maintenance, inexpensive, stackable, available in a variety of colors

Plastic is a material consisting of any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds that are malleable and can be molded into solid objects. Plastics are typically organic polymers of high molecular mass, but they often contain other substances. They are usually synthetic, most commonly derived from petrochemicals, but many are made from renewable materials such as polylactic acid from corn or cellulosic from cotton linters. Plasticity is the general property of all materials that are able to irreversibly deform without breaking, but this occurs to such a degree with this class of moldable polymers that their name is an emphasis on this ability.



·        http://www.homedit.com/best-outdoor-furniture-material/

·        http://www.gardenfurniturecentre.co.uk/

·        http://www.switch-asia.eu/news/challenges-and-opportunities-for-indonesian-smes-manufacturing-eco-friendly-rattan-products/

·        http://www.sustainablematerials.org.uk/

CUTE: Tent Constructions

Because it is mostly sunny in Saudi Arabia and dusty as well, the need to have a shelter or a cover above the pieces of furniture is necessary. there for I looked up for different types of tent constructions and canopy structures to learn from them the joints.



One of the designs that I liked is the open-close canopy, where it serves as an umbrella and can be easily opened and closed with minimal effort.

And Last I liked the idea of covering the whole body with a light curtain, where it is semi transparent and not blocking the view, you can see through it.


Different Approaches

Asking Questions:

  • How does the light work, move, differ from day to night?
  • Colored lighting how do they affect the properties of the object?
  • How helpful are the physical properties of light can emphasize my design?

Light reflections

  • How is our vision affected by the light transparency?

Brain Storming


1st Approach



Patrick Rochon The Light Painting KATA

The Light Painting



A frame per second




L A M P – Lighting Architecture Movement Project

Designed by Alex Josphenson



Artificial Light


Day Light


Motion and Ideation:


Further more:

  • Experiment different types of lights, colors, materials.
  • Moving the light up and down.
  • Experiment more the light pack, when it collided with a wall.

2nd Approach

Fanar or Fanous



illuminant Lamp Rocket Lava Lamp


Diwali Paper Lantern


Inspired by Dutch artist Tord Boontje


3rd Approach

Hia Bia


Basket Weave

Hand Woven Lighting Inspired By Traditional Ethiopian Basket Weaving


Right: Abyssinia Single Lamps – PET Lamp


Woven Lamps


Bamboo Cloud Light The pendant is carefully handmade by Thai artisans using non-traditional bamboo


Wicker Lamps by Claesson Koivisto Rune


Designer Mia Cullin was inspired by basket-weaving


Steven Burks


Man Made Toronto by Stephen Burks


Basket Lamps Made From Wire Netting


Harriet Goodall – woven lighting and sculpture


Caruma Vase Collection Combining Ceramics And Basket Weaving, Designed by Eneida Tavares






CUTE: CAD Modeling


One of the sketches that I decided to develop is consists of a main element (canopy) and a structure around it serves as a bicycle rack and a sitting area.

sketch book-9sketch book-12sketch book-15sketch book-13

Then I started to model it using 3ds max:

I wasn’t satisfied with it so I took a step to sketch more and develop different concepts and designs for the canopy:

  1. the first aim:


2. The second aim:

3. The third aim:

Inspired from the bedwin tents.


4. The fourth aim:

canopy 1.JPG

sketch book-16.jpg

And that was the final decision :


canopy w5


Afterward I designed the other parts:

render 1render 2render 4render 5render 6render 7