My name is Michael Webber. I am currently in my fourth semester at the Academy of Art University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree, after a long hiatus in a career as a professional bicycle mechanic. I always appreciated well-crafted and expertly designed components, and the detailed processes that go into them; especially those items that are evidently sustainable and long-lasting. I entered the industrial design program from a life-long interest in learning more about the fundamentals of design: how the objects and the systems of our lives are made, how we interact with them, and how they benefit society at large. Applying real-world experience to my education has been especially interesting. I am integrating natural intuition with new tools such as 3D modeling and video editing applications. I am looking forward to broadening my experience by contributing alongside other professional designers in the field.
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The 'Pelago Platform
This collaborative project was exciting as it was not only a team effort, it was also sponsored by Autodesk and Oru Kayak. The team chose the name Whalebone as an homage to the materials used in the early era of kayaking when the Inuit of the North used natural materials like wood and whalebones to construct their vessels. We thought it apt to pay this respect as it is not only a look back at the sport's heritage, but also an innovative view forward, as Oru Kayak has done regarding their choice of materials like coroplast.
The initial design objective was to research and submit design proposals for new gear [accessories] that complement Oru Kayak’s existing product line, customer lifestyles, and overall company mission; all while incorporating Autodesk’s generative design modeling tool. My product concept is a part of a system, one that strives to bring paddlers together to inspire new members to join in the activity of kayaking. I was initially inspired by imagery I found in my research of hundreds of kayaks protesting arctic oil drilling in the waters near Seattle. Imagine being able to join, or build, that community feeling without the need for civil disobedience? That excitement is what inspired the direction of a platform add-on to augment a paddler’s on-the-water activities—best utilized when more people have a platform to build a larger cluster of kayaks.
This is where the ‘Pelago platform can fit in. It is a product that can manifest itself in bringing a community together but also act as a stand alone expansion of a paddler’s experience.