Design Night – Dominic D'Andrea & Tram Pham
Nimble is a candleholder with a clever twist. The form allows candle wax to pool and dry inside the base. The flexible exterior, when twisted, cracks off the wax. The candle sits in a brass core which can withstand heat. A handle protects your hands and allows for mobility.
Dominic D'Andrea contributed original concept, industrial design, model making, pattern making and material experimentation. Tram Pham contributed branding and collaborated on the industrial design.
We want one! The judges have always been frustrated by how hard it is to clean a candle-holder once the candle has guttered out. This is incredibly functional, and does a great job of pairing a classic design with modern colors and materials. It's a fine example of simple, useful design.
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
We set out to make a candle holder that was beautiful and more importantly practical. We wanted to come up with a solution for an issue that gets overlooked: wax cleanup. Many candle holders mainly focus on the act of holding the candle. After an hour or so, candle wax often overflows and drips onto the candle holder and/or table surface. Cleaning wax is messy and annoying. Nimble solves this problem. The form of Nimble gently slopes away from the center which allows wax to pool and cool in a specific area. Because of the flexible nature of the plastic, a simple twist and the wax cracks off—simple and easy cleanup!
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
We brought practicality, form generation, material experimentation and design sensibility to the challenge. We sought to create a product that was well thought out and easy to use. Many candle holder designs are just aesthetically pleasing and drip messy wax on surfaces. Nimble looks past the purpose of providing light. It sets the stage for the next candle by making clean up easy. We also took into consideration the heat and flame at the end of a candle. A brass core (that can withstand heat until the fire is completely out) holds the candle.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
Our main interest was to create a thoughtful product for the user. We focused on a user's ability to have light and easily clean excess wax when finished. We also turned our attention to safety. Candles are not meant to be left alone, but they are often to blame for careless house fires. Nimble has a generous brass core that can sustain extreme heat until the candle has extinguished itself. We kept our assembly as simple as possible. The assembly consists of two pieces, a brass core and a flexible exterior. To simplify things, the brass core is insert molded with the flexible exterior.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
Our rigor was chiefly inspiration, material exploration and iteration. With the candle holder, we could make an impact and improvement on the design of an everyday object. Once we found a form that worked, we explored materials. We settled on a polymer that could handle the diffused heat from the brass core and could also support the weight of the candle (when carried). Extensive explorations on variable wall thickness were made to achieve a flexible structure that could provide support as well as crack off the candle wax. In the end, our efforts turned to iteration as we created 3D prints from CAD data. We used each 3D print as a prototype to test the functionality that would inform the final design.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
The true value in this design is its clever use of material. Ideally, people will appreciate the novel use of material and design of a simple, everyday object.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
With all of our self-initiated projects, we set out to discover new techniques, processes and approaches to design. We go in thinking this is a learning experience and a chance to hone our skills as an industrial and graphic designer. In that respect, it is difficult to define what we could have changed, because we really love the learning process and are open to making mistakes.