Philip Murray – Lead Designer, Kim Willoughby – Analog Research Lab, Dublin – (Screen-print Expertise), Scott Bombs, Analog Research Lab, San Francisco – (Graphic Design)
Design Challenge and Design Ideas
Facebook’s Analog Research Laboratory required a mobile unit, nick-named the ‘Art Cart’ that could be easily moved and set up at events within Facebook’s offices and campuses around the world. The main feature of the mobile lab was a silk screen-printing station for printing t-shirts, tote bags and posters with the objective of getting participants to have a go at this manual printing process. When not in use it was suggested that it double up as an information stand displaying products and carrying information about the Analog Lab’s activities and facilities. All the associated paraphernalia for a screen-printing station as well as other activities such as badge making were to be housed within the Art Cart. In addition it was to have the facility for interchangeable signage to be seen from a distance and thus announce the presence of the Art Cart and in turn the Anaolg Lab at events.
How the brief was fulfilled
The art of silk-screen printing, that being hands on, tactile and almost anti-technological was reflected in the design approach to the Art Cart. In collaboration with the Analog Research Lab design and studio team, this highly utilitarian object with its multi functional requirements was consolidated into what is affectively a wooden box on wheels.
Prototyping and feedback with regard to all aspects of DIY screen-printing was critical in achieving the best results in the design process. Through this method we not only resolved known problems; like how to stop the squeegee from falling off the screen when the screen is in a 45-degree position to unknown problems like introducing a micro registration system for the artwork via an adjustable platen.
Reflecting the use of plywood and the utilitarian aesthetic of the Facebook office architecture, the Art Cart was made almost entirely out of 18mm birch ply. This robust material was pushed to its limits to meet all of the briefs requirements, illustrated best in the design and construction of the pop-up signpost and its detachable extension. With a square profile made from two layers of ply, the main body of the pole was housed in the Art Cart when stowed away. The detachable extension pole fixed to the main pole, screwed in end on (like a snooker cue is assembled) gave the sign pole the height required thus meeting the brief.
Other notable features included an open-faced top drawer giving the user ease of access to a paper supply for printing. A worktop that flips over to reveal the screen-printing workstation; a simple screen holder to keep a screen in an up position when placing and removing t-shirts etc. a pegboard for product and info display, a heavy-duty large push and pull handle to manoeuvre the cart with ease.
Fallowing on from the design and prototyping process, two Art Carts for the Dublin office were put into production with the proviso they were working prototypes to be road tested before further Art Carts were commissioned. In doing this the second batch of Art Carts, for London and Stockholm were tweaked and additional features added.
Contributors: Kim Willoughby, Analog Research Lab, Dublin, (Screen-print Expertise) Scott Bombs, Analog Research Lab, San Francisco, (Graphic Design)