Tangaroa College Bespoke Shelving Project

14 lessons

Physical + Functional Properties

Ok so if we're designing a 'one off' or 'custom' storage solution we'll have to think about how this thing needs to look and work right? This lesson is about taking some time to think about the physical and functional needs of the solution BEFORE we jump into sketching and research.

Lesson menu

Equipment and tools

  • Workbook/ digital portfolio
  • Pens/ paper
  • Computer/Laptop

Guiding questions

Physical + Functional Properties

  1. At this point, you need to consider what YOU think the most important physical and functional properties of your design will be. By choosing what you deem necessary to your design (with the brief in mind), this step will help give you an outline of where to go next. 


    What are ‘physical properties’? 

    Physical properties are observable features of a product or system. These could be features such as colour, texture, opacity, viscosity etc. It is the designerly information a user might first observe from the product. 

    For example: Kōura pendant light was inspired by woven baskets and also from the curled form of the New Zealand native freshwater shrimp, kōura, which is its Maori name.

    What are ‘functional properties’?

    Functional properties are made up of areas of a product which have a specific purpose that needs to be achieved (utility and practical function). The way the user interacts with the product shows the aspects of its function.

    For example: Trubridge uses a lightweight material to make his pendant lights that is also flexible. This makes sure the product is not too heavy and helps to achieve complex and organic shapes without stressing the materials. 

    Physical Properties

    David Trubridge's pendant light 'Koura'

  2. Key Design Properties

    When thinking about the physical and functional design properties of a bespoke storage solution there should be a few properties that should stand out such as;

    • Durability (physical property)

    Your materials need to be durable and able to withstand the environment it is located in (outdoors - weatherproof/workshop - will withstand some rough and tumble behaviour). Even the most basic of storage solutions needs to have the physical capability of storing and to do that the materials used need to be appropriate.

    • User needs (functional property)

    It is important that the needs of the user are met. As well as additional requirements which are quite basic, requirements such as: unit won’t collapse; can store the required amount of items; is a functional product in the space it inhabits. Some other user needs might include: shelves that can be reached by people of varying heights. Or can it fit all different objects of varying shapes and sizes that the user may own? 

    Think about some solutions to these storage needs:

    • A system to keep all the A3 folders in DVC 
    • Organised compartments so that items are not just squished into a rack (like the chisels)
    • A system that prevents people (like all Round's chaos in T2)
    • A solution that stops people from misplacing or not returning items (like all the special pencils/ pens in DVC)
    • A solution that helps Mrs Singh in Food Technology (she has so much stuff and no where to put it!)
    Key Design Properties

Instructions

  1. 1

    Figure it out!

    Using your workbook, complete these tasks/ questions:

    • Get new definitions of ‘physical properties’ and ‘functional properties’ (you can't just believe ours!) and add to your workbook/ digital portfolio. Make sure you include the source of your information (where did you get it)
    • Re-write the definitions in your own words
    • What are the most important physical properties of any storage solution (in your opinion)
    • What are the most important functional properties any storage solution (in your opinion)
    • In general - what are the top 5 attributes that a ‘good’ storage solution for the Technology Block would need to have (e.g. durable)

Hollie's thoughts

  1. Physical Properties: 

    A physical property is any property that is measurable, whose value describes a state of a physical system. The changes in the physical properties of a system can be used to describe its changes between momentary states. 

    My definition: Physical properties are observable features of a product or system, features such as colour, texture, opacity, viscosity etc. It is the information a user might first observe from the product.

    Functional Properties:

    Function can be expressed as  a number of properties related to the usage of a product. These properties include the relationship between a product and a consumer.

    My definition: Functional properties are made up of areas of a product which have a specific purpose that needs to be achieved (Utility and practical function). The way the user interacts with the product shows the aspects of its function.

    Most important physical: I think that the most important physical properties of a storage solution would be that the materials used are durable, and will be able to withstand the environment it is located (outdoors - weatherproof/workshop - will withstand some rough and tumble behaviour). Even the most basic of storage solutions needs to have the physical capability of storing and to do that the materials used need to be appropriate.

    Most important functional: With functional properties, it is important that the needs of the user is met, as well as additional requirements which are quite basic, requirements such as: unit won’t collapse; can store the required amount of items; is a functional product in the space it inhabits. User needs might include: shelves can be reached by people of varying heights; can fit all different objects of varying shapes that the user may own.

    What do I know we need in my workshop space?

    • A system to keep 3D printing powder off of the floor of lab
    • Organised compartments so that items are not just squished into a rack
    • A system that prevents people from cluttering spaces
    • A solution that stops people from misplacing or not returning items
    • A solution that is accessible for all people (disabilities, varying height etc.)

Next lesson

3

Exisiting Product Evaluation