Imogen Dunn

Textile Designer and Artist

Sensory Panel Project

During my 3rd year studying Textile Design, the Dundee Science Centre gave us the opportunity to design a panel for their newly refurbished sensory room. We were spilt into groups to devise a concept, then worked on our own designs individually.

In our small group, we decided to focus on brining the outdoors inside, taking inspiration from the natural world, in particular forests and woodland. I did my own research into concepts such as forest bathing and the benefits of being within nature.

I saw this project as an opportunity to try something new and expand my knowledge within textiles. I looked at different types of wood manipulation processes and how different textures can affect the senses.

It was important to remember throughout this project who the audience would be and what I wanted them to feel when interacting with the panel.

Experimental samples

Using a mixture of wooden sticks, balsa wood and matchsticks to create different patterns, textures and 3D effects. This stage is for experimenting to see what I could develop further.

Playing with light by using different sized drill bits. Drilling partially and straight through the wood to create different levels of transparency.

Taking inspiration from a pinecone I found, I began experimenting with layering. Drilling holes and attaching with thread, I tested out a few different materials to see which had better movement.

Refining the technique by using uniformed sticks and accurately calculating the measurements in which to attach them. I thought that interlocking the rows and introducing two-tone colours on the sticks was quite effective.

Testing out a curved pattern using the same technique and creating a gradient effect using watercolour brush pens on the wood.

Making the prototype

Cutting the larger sticks to shape, carving the grain pattern, smoothing the sides, and staining them. I chose a Mahogany stain for one side and Teak on the other to create contrast when they were flipped.

Staining the narrow sticks in an ombre pattern, cutting to size and drilling holes in each end ready to be threaded.

Cutting a piece of MDF board to size, rounding off the edges, and staining with a subtle ombré effect. I cut out two sections and left another blank to show where the rest of team's work would go.

This composition and design was my individual response to the brief and my teammates created their own interpretation using their work.

Sanding the edges so they weren't sharp. Then drilling holes into the base and threading the wooden pieces in the pattern I had sketched out. I had to ensure the spacing was correct so that the sticks would topple on top of one another smoothly and seamlessly around the curves.

Once I had made the prototype, I used photoshop to add in my teammates pieces that they had been working on. This was the woven panels and the wooden blocks with carvings.

It was interesting to see how each of us started with the same inspiration but took it in different ways. I think the natural tones work really well together and the use of wooden materials achieves the initial goal to bring a piece of the outdoors inside.

At the end of the project, the Dundee Science Centre chose my section of the design to be made into a panel of its own. They really liked the interactive element of the sticks and the calming effect it created.

Final panel planning

It was now my task to create a new design, but on a much larger scale. Calculating dimensions, angles, and quantity of sticks was time consuming but I am really pleased with the result.

Due to the pandemic, construction was put on hold which resulted in reduced funds, meaning the Dundee Science Centre could not go ahead with the bespoke panels. Although this was disappointing, I thoroughly enjoyed this project and found a new love for working with wooden materials.

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