SVA IxD TOTEM
At the end of my first year of graduate studies at SVA I was asked by the director, Liz Danzico to create a totem commemorating the 5th year of the program.
The brief: "...the department needs a totem that can help celebrate the accomplishments of faculty who have been with the department for five years... Create a beautiful handcrafted totem that represents the work the faculty have put in over their five years with the program. Something they will want to keep and display."
I was the only designer and fabricator on this project. I coordinated with Liz on direction, but carried the project out completely on my own.
Neither I nor Liz wanted to create a chunk of engraved glass meant to sit on a desk, only to be used as a paper weight. As faculty in a program of interaction design I felt that the totem needed to be more useful or an object simplified to its pure form. I considered the objects that normally sit in an office that could be made more beautiful or symbolic; something that would be seen and be used.
To me, a door stop was the perfect answer to this search. Upon discovering the quote that would eventually be printed on the totem's box, I new it was the right fit:
"I notice that if you have the door to your office closed, you get more work done today and tomorrow, and you are more productive than most. But 10 years later somehow you don't quite know what problems are worth working on; all the hard work you do is sort of tangential in importance. He who works with the door open gets all kinds of interruptions, but he also occasionally gets clues as to what the world is and what might be important." - Richard Hamming
I chose two different types of wood, one light and one dark, to create a variety among the totems. Using a traditional wood shop as well as digital fabrication tools, such as a laser engraver, I created the shape and personalized initials of the totem. I backed it with rubber, printed the quote, and cut a custom box to encase the final product.
The final form of the totem can either sit on a desk, commemorating the achievements of each faculty member, or be placed under a door to invite interruptions, interaction, and "clues as to what the world is and what might be important."