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The Story:
Please, if not interested in the story behind this thing, feel free to move on to Step 1 bellow.

A few years ago ( 2015 ), excited about having our first -and only- child, Anahita, I decided to do something special to celebrate and announce the news to friends and family. As an artist, inventor and engineer, I wanted to do something new and innovative, something that I could show her when she's older and tell her how much she meant to us! We also had friends and family in 5 continents, so it had to:

  • Stand the test of time. ( So she could see it when she grows up! )
  • Needed to be small and flat enough to fit in standard postal envelopes.
  • It needed to be post-able without making security alarms going off on every conveyor belt!
  • It needed to be sturdy enough to withstand the stress of an intercontinental postal journey.
  • I wanted it to be unique, not a greeting card you can buy from any grocery store.
  • I wanted it to be interactive ( have some sort of user input )
  • I wanted it to narrate some sort of story
  • It needed to be cheap to build as I was kind of struggling ( financially ) at the time!

At the time, I was in Paris, waiting for my papers to flight to St. Louis and join my pregnant wife! while there, I participated in a Hackathon and won an incubation prize-pack that included a two-month membership in a cool Maker-Space called Usine IO ( IO Factory ) which was truly like a candy-factory for me! with all sort of manufacturing machines available to members! I would be staying in Paris though, for only a couple more weeks max! so I had to start right away! I decided to go with my first idea and make a mechanical card, with user input, that would fit in an envelope and last forever!

This ended up being a very cool and lovely project, just what I needed in the difficult times of being stranded in Paris, away from my family and dealing with stupid bureaucracy!
It was such a great project that I thought, once I settled and more stable, I will share it with others! so I documented all the steps and took photos and videos, and, when, finally, was leaving the country, put the hard drive with all the documents, carefully, in my back-pack and jumped on the plane,... later-on, when I attempted to start writing the story and the making-of, the hard-drive did not work! it was saying that it's not formatted and was making a funny noise! all very sad signs of a corrupted hard-drive!

Long story short, I lost a ton of photos and videos and documents and memories ( not only this project but also captured moments of good, and bad times during the last couple of years! ), What was left was the stuff that I've shared on social media or those that were backed up on the cloud, which was, only the last part of the project!

And this is it! Here I'll attempt to re-create the making-of from what's left in this ten thousand miles journey of this project! I'll try to re-create some of the stuff that I can and for the rest, I'll do my best to explain the process.

Step 1: Sketching.

Picture of Sketching.

I had a generally visual idea in my brain about what I wanted to do, but because of the limitations in time and money, I had to find ways to first make it work and fast and then make it cheap, to build!

The thing about imagination is that it's cheap and fast but it's not iterative! meaning you can't build the V 2.0 of your imagination, based on its V 1.0 still in your imagination! your brain doesn't have a fixed version, a snapshot, of V 1.0 to analyze it and base the next version on it.

A simple and fast workaround is to sketch it! throwing it on paper, helps your brain to actually start making things up, based on a virtual representation of a real object that was once an imagination itself.

So you draw your first idea, then you look at it, thinking about how can it be manufactured, what can go wrong in this design, what can be improved and what material can be used to build it. you let your brain play with these variables and come up with the next version, and then, do the same thing over and over again.
After a few iterations, give it a break and get back to it in a few hours or the next day. Also, use external sources of inspirations, look at some other cool industrial design examples and see if / and how you can implement the same kind of design concepts in your idea and see how your brain surprises you with new, fresh things!

That's what I did, The first design was pretty boring, although, at the time, when I was putting it on paper looked very exciting! at first, I thought I could design a simple gear system with pieces of cardboard, but after drawing it on paper and thinking about its problems, I very quickly realized that paper/ cardboard was not the right choice, they could slip over each-other and also wear out very quickly by friction. I imagined they wouldn't be able to turn smoothly either. Then I thought about wood, and imagined -no matter how much I'd love making things out of wood- it wasn't sturdy, flexible and robust enough to withstand the pressure of a journey in the postal system, it also could have the same kind of wear and tear and friction problem as cardboards.

davinciteam5 months ago
Very cool!
mim_Armand (author)  davinciteam5 months ago
randofo5 months ago
Cool project and congratulations!
mim_Armand (author)  randofo5 months ago
Thank you!