12-Article Lin-Zombies-Hero 1-1186x667

Designing for the Apocalypse

Here at Design Concepts, you’ll sometimes hear the term “co-creation” used on a project. Typically it’s used to refer to a kind of brainstorming activity we undertake with design research participants where we brainstorm together with them, our “users,” to co-create solutions for their needs.

But in fact, we’re co-creating all the time, side by side with our clients. The names we give some of our milestone meetings —“Co-Analysis,” “Co-Synthesis”— attest to this co-creative process. While we are the consultants, our process typically and preferably involves our clients every step of the way.

A few months ago, I was able to experience co-creation from the client side of things. Along with my partner and two good friends, I signed up for a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE workshop offered by Ric Furrer at Door County Forgeworks. The idea of the workshop is for each participant to design something for the zombie apocalypse and to build it from scratch with Ric over the course of two days. The workshop is open to people with zero experience in a blacksmith’s forge. It’s pretty brilliant, really, because you can design the craziest thing, try to build it, and if it doesn’t quite look right in the end, well…you still have something that you made from scratch that could possibly one day save your life when the zombies come. So it’s guaranteed to be awesome. Plus Ric is a master at his craft. We all came out of two 12-hour days in the shop with our very own forged pieces, all with working (read: SHARP!) edges on them.

We started with rough designs, which we sent ahead to Ric so he could prep the materials we would need. I wavered between designing something that would actually be useful for dispatching zombies and something that might see more use. I opted for “practical” in the end and went with a hatchet:I tried to keep it simple, since I had no idea how or whether I was actually going to be able to make it.

12-Article Lin-Zombies-Secondary-1-1186x667
Left: initial sketch. Right: roughing out the handle
12-Article Lin-Zombies-Secondary-2-1186x667
Hammering, curving.
12-Article Lin-Zombies-Secondary-3-1186x667
Grinding, quenching the blade. Pattern and finished piece side by side.
12-Article Lin-Zombies-Secondary-4-1186x667
Waxing the handle.
12-Article Lin-Zombies-Hero 1-1186x667
Finished product.

Upon arrival at Ric’s forge, I asked Ric if I could put a hammer head on the back of the hatchet. Of course, he said. And while we were at it…he suggested adding some curves to the handle to make it look a little sexier. And (more Ric suggestions), how about cutting some facets in the handle, to both lighten it up and give it some visual interest at the same time? From bandsaw work to forging hot metal, heat treating and tempering, and grinding for shape and edge, Ric was a perfect teacher. Always patient and encouraging, having us do as much as we were able to (or comfortable doing) and somehow always stepping in at just the right time to move the piece on to the next step in the process (and probably saving the piece as well!) Ric took over when necessary, but it never felt like a takeover. Instead it felt like exactly the right time to rely on his expertise.

The weekend was a complete success. We all went home with our zombie apocalypse implements in hand, feeling ready for anything. And I came away with a tactile reminder of how great and empowering the co-creation experience can be.

2019 12 30 Article Franchino Year In Review Trends
Dave’s 2019 Year in Review
As 2019 winds to a close it’s time to make my annual appraisal of some of the more noteworthy products and events shaping world of design and Innovation. And the last year certainly saw its fair share of significant steps and missteps. So, let’s wade in with a few things I’ll remember that helped define 2019 for me.
06 Case Study Dexcom Librarian
#InstantGratification
“Wait. Is that it? Did the needle already go in? I can’t believe it!”
06 Article Corin Sewing B
The foreign language of sewing
One of the special skill sets I love being able to utilize at Design Concepts and for projects at home is sewing.
12 Article Franchino Trend Review2017
From rockets to fidget spinning: 2017 year in review
The end of a culturally and socially tumultuous 2017 and this year’s Consumer Electronics Show provides a great reason to take stock of the previous year in the world of design.
06 Work Case Study Pro Nova Jarod Steve H1
Models and Prototypes 101
Product design is an iterative process. Models are a critical part of that process.
12-Article Darley SuckUpTearDown-H1
Suck up ... tear down
A neighbor of mine left this stunning post-war (~1950) Electrolux XXX at their curb. I snatched it, immediately hoping to convert it to a table lamp. I was blown away by the industrial design and the workmanship.