Colour me Pink or else Render me Useless

The visionary impact of a solid, well executed rendering is not to be understated. A good render is what gives life to an otherwise lifeless, motionless line-drawings. It’s what sets apart the great from the mediocre; the aspiring artists from the production-lined illustrators and the heartened designers from the lacklustre doodlers. I believe in bringing that life to my images, my drawings, my Photoshop sketches or any other kind of line-work I do. And I like to believe I’m good at it (but lets not dwell on my brilliance).

Scratchboard Technique

From a young age I’ve been privy to artwork and decent decals on paintings. When travelling abroad, (think: Irish family, two kids. Where else, but sunny Spain?) my brother and I used to get these paintings done for us. Just on the side of a busy street or in a park these artists lined up along the way to craft images from spray-paint cans, canvases, knives and their own skill and ingenuity. I’m not one hundred percent sure but I think it’s called ‘scratchboard’. Anyway they were always incredible. They made these vast landscapes of trees and animals, intergalactic oddities and well-worked imaginations of the solar system and its planets. They were truly beautiful and often done only in one colour (along with black). This, at my young age, was where I learned of the brilliance of a good render.

But as time goes on and people like these artists begin to push themselves, the ideas just got bigger and better. There are great examples of sidewalk renderings spread throughout the world.  They encapsulate imagination, vision, style, colour, vibrancy and life all in one. The drawings are done on the ground in chalk. Slowly, layer by layer, the colour is built up until the pathway is covered in a sublime achievement in artwork rendering. The ones below from New Orleans and Madrid, respectively are single-view renders. The idea is that they only look perfect from one angle and distorted at any other angle. Some are beautiful and quaint, some are loud and obnoxious while others are interesting and topical. They one thing that they are not is lifeless.

Waterfall Wonderland - New Orleans

Reebok 3D Street Art

And so the natural progression from here is physical graffiti. No, not the super awesome Led Zeppelin kind, the kind you find sprayed on walls and tattooed on your idiot friend’s shoulder blades. It is an often beautiful artwork form that lends much of its influences from rendering. The importance of relaying a message, the need to vibrancy and the need to be seen (or heard) are key characteristics that the two share. However, and sadly, graffiti is much too often blamed for violence, degradation of societies and general lawlessness. It is an absolute crying shame that the incredible pieces around Limerick City (namely the Dock Road ‘wastelands’) are painted over and destroyed with a common shade of peach. Banksy on the other hand tries his (or her?) hardest to keep the fire going.

Banksy

Sums It Up Beautifully

And to finish, here is our render. Not quite in the stylistic brilliance of Banksy or the excellence of the street artists, but it is a collaborative effort and yielded an incredible amount of fun.

Now Accepting All Awards and Accolades

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Hacking away at Limerick City

I’ll reiterate here what I said I liked about this module at the beginning of the semester; it isn’t predictable, it keeps you on you toes and it challenges you. All of these criterion were included in our “Design the City” task for week 4. We were taken into Limerick city, away from the comforts of the studio, away from the handy tools, the layout pads, the pens, the papers and the people we know. So yeah, that kept things interesting and got us thinking on our feet. The whole point of our excursion was to study the environment, take in the locals, the structure of the places, evaluate what’s there and what’s not and come up with a solution for whatever we find.

Chicago's "The Bean"

Countless cities across the globe have sampled this culture of using what they already have on the landscape and simply making it better. It can be a complex set of circumstances that yields a design solution, or a minute change that alters the way the public sees something. An example of these is “The Bean” in Chicago’s Millenium Park. A highly reflective, highly polished metal structure in the shape of a bean which has drawn the attention of the public beautifully, as well as encouraged other aspiring designers to emulate its form and take the idea behind it a little further.

"Jelly Baby Family", Marble Arch, London

Some more fun examples that I’ve seen myself are “The Jelly Baby Family” set up in Marble Arch in central London. Simple, colourful, vibrant and a little bit of fun. I personally loved the idea that the city of Las Vegas, Nevada used for one of their hotel / casino complexes, The Stratosphere. Check out the video to see the 3 theme park rollercoasters they’ve shoved on top of a skyscraper….yep, skyscraper. It was such a fantastic experience and an incredible, exciting use of limited space in a city such as this.

A more interactive design hack for a city appeared in Barcelona a year or two ago. Granted it was part of a mobile network advert, but it still drew a crowd and showed great creativity. The designers took the popular (and by popular I mean extremely addictive) android game “Angry Birds” and scaled it up. It sat in the middle of a plaza in Barcelona and allowed great interaction between the oversized game and the community. I feel they are the best design solutions, the ones that can inspire and involve all.

Log / Bench

So for our design hack, we were given a small stretch of road and a riverbank walk on the outskirts of Limerick. I was kind of glad though, because every other team had a section of the concrete jungle, while we were the only group with a bit of scenery, some green. And we approached it in that manner by evoking the scenes of the city from afar. By the river we decided on installing benches that would fold away. When away, they looked like logs that would blend into the landscape and when open the allowed for comfort and relaxation. So from here we decided to make picture frames, or rather, kitchen windows in the trees that allowed the person relaxing to look out at the city. From differing angles the user would see different views of the city.

Elevated View of Scenario

View 1 from Benches

But we also had another idea, for joggers / runners / walkers. From the angle of their eye line (i.e. standing up and not sitting down) they would only see out into the river at close range. So why not give them something to look at too? A floating flower-bed was our solution. Connected to the land, they could just float around close to the bank and provide some beautiful scenery. A more interactive design solution to promote the city’s beauty from the outside. Like I said, I believe those are the best hacks, the ones that inspire and involve.

View 2 from Benches

Aerial View