ali ahmed | Studio

My Heart's Vessels

2016 for RISD

Contain, in some membrane, my heart.

November 2016

Inspired by the presumably true fact that: I hope to render poetry within my design. For this reason, I have etched each verse in the bodies of this design, and as you pass on, I will guide you through that experience.

This means: this design is not supposed to be used. Rather, because of the intense intimacy this poem has with my heart, there's very little reason at all I'd want anyone to have the ability to use or understand this design. Thereby, this design attempts to break each principles of easy User Experience, and attempts to build at a difficult thing to follow, and something even harder to necessarily understand.

Concept Each vessel has one verse, and in the main body are more verses. Each verse increases in depth, and leads to an overarching statement that precludes this design. Naturally, it is unnatural to travel the way that I will guide you through each verse; you won't think that the last verse lies where it does, simply because the design (if it were physically ahead of you) doesn't lend itself to that.

Hereby, this concept also studies the motion of man as to how to keep them away from something; how to design for mal-utility, or non-use.

Concept 01

Concept 02

Concept 03 - Final Concept Study

How I Designed To Keep Secure & Unusable

1. Materials Research:

Exclusively used Axalta Materials in plastic and wood to ensure high stress threshold.

2. No Locks:

Rather than locking in the drawer with a specific, and uniquely designed bolt (as was designed in Koncept Phase 2), I reckoned that an intense interference fit on the guiderails for the drawer could suffice. That way, once the drawer is yanked out the rail design is scraped, and the ends of the rail are physically broken such that it cannot be re-inserted.

3. Vessels without threads:

Not having threads on the vessels render them a cylindrical fit that can easily slip out after long use or heavy loads inserted inside them. That's why a shallow, pointless verse is put in each of them, and nothing else is hereby contained there.


Concept 01 / discontinued

I disliked how the uniqueness in each vessel did not conform to a controlled style. Each vessel was designed such that it acted as a symbol (such as the final verse being a vessel that symbolized a motherly figure with a glass part that was shaped like an organic fetus. It expressed the fragility of the verse that was etched into it. However, an industrially designed piece should aim for user-use. The second concept takes that into deep account: in order to ensure that the user has a discombobulating experience (unfriendly), a designer must study and understand what a good experience looks like.

Concept 02 (Final)

In Koncept 2, you'll find a messy, design and movement between verses; etches that aren't quite deep enough at times, messy removals of each piece; yet, the design is controlled in its form, especially for each vessel. There isn't an overbearing concentration on ergonomics, since this product isn't meant to be held for long. There is, however, a deep concentration on things like controlled angles and ratios between cap:vessel height.

Yes, if you find yourself standing up, and oddly tilting your head to look at the screen to read the lines of poetry etched into the design, that is the intended experience.

There is no deeply social beauty, or something extraordinary I'd like you to realize off this design: merely that I've contained an etched inch of my soul into a product; and I don't quite want people to enjoy the experience, nor even have one.


Of some arduous intent I will tell to you:
So distinct in its claim: the pain
your stains

Never, from them, have I abstained;
So, in some uncultured, improper membrane,
To contain,
I would dedicate, design, your secrets…

In all their cruelty, false by amused honesty;
Just for me:
And all the while, I’ll smirk in its disdain.

And, so, my apologies to keep them in vain;
I feel so special being the only one having written your name

If anyone should find this...
They’ll know that for everything:

I am to blame.
— Ali Ahmed