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Most Outlandish Watercraft – Materials and Prototyping

by Jacob Peel, Karim Hassanein, Sophia Austrins, Kirsten Heming, Elyssa Kelly

The Big Float is rapidly approaching, and the Bora crew has been busy. As an informal LaBoratory initiative, we’ve approached this Outlandish Watercraft challenge as a means of supporting Bora’s culture of making, the integration of craft and technology, and our belief in the power of “artful moments” to bring joy, wonder and delight.

In keeping with this spirit, we also wanted to explore rapid prototyping and materials research, engaging in a self-directed “do-learn-adjust” process. This has enabled us to continuously adjust our design in response to the results of each iteration, and we’ve been able to incorporate happy accidents instead of viewing every surprise as a setback.

To kick off this project, those of us who were most interested gathered in a small group and began brainstorming. We talked about inflatables, fabric and textiles, technique and form. After some quick precedent studies, we hosted an open conversation in our design lab, soliciting input and critiques from anyone in the office who wanted to contribute. We also managed to recruit a few more participants, landing on a healthy mix of seasoned Bora veterans and fresh-faced, passionate newbies.

With less than two weeks until we set sail, time and cost are our biggest constraints. We decided that we needed to pick a material and let it drive our design, without completely prescribing a particular solution. It has to be affordable, flexible, buoyant, fun to look at, and ideally, something that can have a life after the float.

What material could possibly check all those boxes?

Pool noodles. Lots of them. Stay tuned.