Stefan De Pauw
We like the wide range of results that are possible with this simple framework that helps kids have more fun with creative play.
InsectOrama is a set of drawing templates. Children (and adults) can use them to draw imaginary creatures. Contrary to most drawing templates insectOrama doesn’t contain completed shapes but only parts: heads, bodies, paws… Of course insect parts but as well pieces of other animals and humans. By using a pencil one can trace an endless series of creatures onto paper and afterwards color them.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
I started this project early 2010. I got challenged by seeing Ponoko.com and the concept of user created laser cut items. I wanted to create something that wasn’t a final product but rather a tool that would be a starting point for others to create an unlimited number of things with. A prototype was made in May 2010 and was tested during that summer. Both children and adults loved it and I started a production. In November 2010 I launched the www.insectorama.be website (and webshop within Belgium) with a production of 100 drawing sets. Up to date, the packaging and distribution is still done by me. The greatest reward are the resulting drawings that indeed show combinations that I couldn’t imagine myself when I designed the drawing templates. My drawing toy left my hands ans started a life of it’s own in the hands of my audience, both young and old. Because of the high production costs I was not able to sell my product to stores and I created a new version early 2012. I reduced the set to 5 plates instead of the initial 6 and I also chose a new and cheaper material, PETG, because acryl seemed way too fragile for children. For packaging I changed from a cardboard box to a plastic bag with a smaller label, also to further reduce the total production cost. This new version of insectOrama and the expansion set Feathers & Fins went public in March 2012.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
The fact that laser cutting (along with other prototyping techniques) became available to the public opened up a whole new creative language. I suddenly was able to take my first steps in designing objects and being a photographer and graphic designer already I was now able to create a product and take care of all the surrounding aspects such as packaging design, website, corporate identity etc…4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
I learned a lot about plastics, production techniques, copyright issues, etc but did this only to get things done in a DIY manner. I did not reproduce this knowledge in papers or other extensive documents.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
My project is a starting point for my audience. They get a spark that triggers their imagination and can use and re-use my tool in endless variations6. Did the context of your project change throughout its development? If so, how did your understanding of the project change?
This is a pet project that I initiated and funded myself and that starts to grow bit by bit. I only do not produce the product myself: I have them laser-cut in small batches by a local company. All packaging, labeling and distribution is still done by me. This project would fall into the DIY category, as it is instructions for someone else to re-create the project. Even more than being my design, the transparent templates act like a source material for the users. The more effort they put into it, the better results they produce .By using their imagination, my audience combines the parts in an endless amount of variations and manners that I had not even imagined myself. The drawings continue to grow in the wild, completely beyond my control. More images and resulting drawings can be found at http://insectorama.be/