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Welcome to my site. I am an industrial designer and fabricator in Chicago. I have had the privilege of working with some great designers and clients as well as having received a lot of great instruction from colleagues and professors. I am currently freelancing and pursuing a Masters in Design from IIT’s Institute of Design.

This is a collection of projects and process, collected and shared in photos, video, and long form blog. My aim is to allow you to choose your own adventure, so to speak. If you just want to watch video you will be provided for. If you are a reader, that is available too. Short of having you all follow me around, this is the most complete way to share my process as I pursue complex projects. I want to provide a view into my work, but also maybe some lessons from watching me struggle. Maybe some of you will be able to help. All I can guarantee is a complete journey through my design process and honest reflection on what I am doing on the project and how I am creating my content (I have never edited video, let alone managed sites). It’s a story and a making-of all in one with audience participation thrown in. Community is a good word for it.

Enjoy.

Hello.

I want to share what is going on in general and how I am going to organize everything and then you should poke around the site and see what you can see.

First off, I want to organize everything by project, but in a self referencing way, some of the site will be about the site and the blog and all that business (including business). I know some people just want to see videos or pictures or projects or whatever, so I am trying to keep it at a level where you can chose how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. I also want feedback, and some of the cross reference may make that muddy, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, let's just agree that we are both glad you are here.

I enjoy the blogging part of this a great deal, but I know that video is also a big part of what I want to get to, so I have to learn how to do that. I have also never built a website that actually went into the world or used social media in a meaningful way, so that will add a whole bunch of fun stuff and frustration. I will also try and keep a running blog on that process too. The goal being a body of multi-media content that will allow people to come along with me and hopefully help shape the projects.

At present, I have focused most of my energy on designing. This is because I am a designer, and that will mean there will be more to this than just "make videos" (which I love) or my viewpoints on design. Before I start, I like to scope out as much of a project as I can so that I have a roadmap for the future. It's a design tool that we use for large projects and it helps organize everything and set markers so we can track progress. The problem with it as a method, is that you can get lost in planning. It is easy to think of the plan as the project, and then you never get anywhere. It is as dangerous as fear of the blank page. To avoid this, I don't have all the content done, but will keep working and get it up as it is available. That will offer you a chance to contribute and critique. We can refine as we go.

As far as my current projects go, there are two: lighting and an apron. 

The lighting project is under Hemispheres and the apron Omentum. I am doing them as a part of my work in the Master's of Design program at IIT's Institute of Design but they are much more than school projects. Hemispheres started years ago while I was a design associate at Gravitytank. I always wanted to see where it could go. The apron came out of my personal life where I spend time with professional chefs. It just seems like I should do it. 

I think that is it for now, I have work to do.                                                         -Bates

Now that you are reading this, I can say that everything is working. While I write this though, nothing is working. I haven’t built a website in years, and I have never built a website that was live. I am fortunate to have help from Zach Pino, but I am still far behind the curve when it comes to understanding what is going on. From what I have gathered, I own this url, and I rent space from Google to host it. I use Koken to build and manage my site. And by magic, a small animal sacrifice, and certain rites performed under the full moon, it all works.

Or something like that. 

 Next was the comments plugin. I use Disqus. Again, I got lost and Zach figured it out. This was big, since community is half the point. To that end, I will need to gather up all the social media outlets I can get. I have Instagram (@avbates) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-bates-40041213), but I will snag up Twitter and Facebook (and Myspace I guess). I am concerned that keeping up with all the channels will be an overwhelming challenge. How to manage all that is a mystery. 

I listen to the Making It (http://makingitpodcast.com/) podcast and the three hosts (three wise men?) seem to operate on a scheduled system of release: they put out content once a week on a schedule that works for them. I will try that, but I don’t want to create content for the sake of content. To me, the content will come out as I make progress. Sometimes that will be slow or fast depending on where I am. I can’t see writing an entry about waiting for a manufacturer to email a quote. Maybe, though, if I have something to say but not likely to produce photos. 

Since you can comment- and I hope you will- I want to talk about comments. I will delete content that I don’t think applies. This goes for mean spirited, non-constructive comments, but also goes for stuff that is just off-topic. I don’t want to hinder communication, but I also don’t want to go down rabbit holes that are unrelated. For that, I will try to set up an email account or something where we can have private conversations. When in doubt, though, just comment. If I delete it, it may not be personal so take it easy and feel free to ask. I am a professional designer not a professional moderator, but I will try to keep up with communication. Anyway, I am going to try and fill out some of the blank spaces so that is all for now. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to sharing the development. 

 -Bates 

Hello everyone!

I don't have a good name for my lamp (Hemispheres). I thought it might be fun to have a bit of community around giving this thing a name. Lampy McLampface is not going to fly, but I am open to other ideas. The project is about magic as a concept in user interface, and it has a somewhat alchemic feel to it, but look thorough the gallery and read the associated essay (light it up) and make your own assessment.

Thanks for the help.

-Bates

Sorry for the long absence. If you follow me on Instagram or check out the d'Jinn section of images, you will see what I have been up to. It has been a hard last push to get this lamp out into the world while keeping up with graduate studies and so on. The important thing is that I got help, but not in the way I expected.

Back when I was studying industrial design at UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago), I found myself with too much time on my hands. As a result, I wasn't terribly productive, and I remembered someone once said, "If you want something done, as a busy person." Busy people have a kind of momentum, and I needed some momentum. On my way to the local McDonald's, I ran into my professor Mike and he thought I was being stupid and called a friend of his. The long and short is that I got an internship with Scott Padiak. 

In many ways, I learned more about design with Scott than I did at school. I also made friends with people who would later shape a large part of my future (Dave, for example, and the designers at Gravitytank). Much of my design philosophy was formed at Scott's shop, either from working on projects or just cleaning up. Being around a master designer/prototyper is amazing, but it really helps if they are generous enough to teach you as well. 

Last week, I got invited back to Scott's shop and it was like going home. I was hoping to hire him to do some work, but since scheduling didn't work, he has allowed me to use his shop to do what I needed to do (I did mention his generosity, right?) while he completed his work. Being back in that space with my friend and the tools brought a new feeling to this work. 

The concept of "home" is the only way I have of describing it: a comfort and the feeling that I could do all of the tasks ahead of me. I spent time in that space. I built some of the furniture and fixtures. I swept up. I organized and watered the plants. It was where I learned, failed, and tried again. While some things had changed, it was still the shop. 

Thomas Wolfe wrote:
"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory."

In a way that is true: partially because things change, but also because we change.  In my experience, some of who we were, and part of the way things used to be remains. Going home is about connecting those two parts, and letting the familiar reacquaint. I don't know if this connects to my designs, but I do think that I wouldn't have made this much progress without going home.

Sorry for the ramble.                                                                                                                        -Bates

I woke up in a cabin in Montana, checked my email and found an expected (but no less delightful) email in my inbox from Kickstarter. Your project, it read, has been accepted. I have been given the green light to launch my campaign and see one of my projects go into the world.

That was seven days ago. It has been an educational seven days.

Launching a product into the world is exciting and scary. More importantly, it's only a small part of it being real. While I have been on the road traveling back from Montana, I have been answering questions, promoting the campaign, and figuring out how to get more traffic. Launching is the first step in the process of bringing a product out. It is early in the campaign, but I wanted to share some of the things I have learned so far. 

Don't count on support until you have it. I hate to start with a downer, but your colleagues may not actually help. I don't mean money necessarily. I also mean spreading the word. A lot of people said they were excited to see this project get going, but they are nowhere to be seen now. Don't dismay: being an optimist is important, and while some people didn't help, others have. And many of those other people are people I don't know. Strangers supporting you is a great feeling.

Content matters. Shooting a video and adding some images and a paragraph are the minimum of what you need to do. I am sure I need more content. When I add content- an update, a new paragraph- I get more traffic. I need to spend the next week making more content and adding it to my campaign. It's work, in a way, but it is also an investment. Good news: even if the campaign doesn't work, you keep the content for other use (portfolio, sell sheets, youtube, etc).

A launch is an active act. You can't sit back and let the work speak for itself. I am very pleased with the D'Jinn lamp, but I need to constantly tell people about it. The best thing would have been for me to be ready with publicity materials ahead of time. Failing that, I am working on it now. Get everything out there and keep at it. The more people see it, the more potential support you have. Some of them will give money, and some of them will spread the word to people who will give you money. 

I hope some of this is helpful. I will keep posting and keeping an update going. For now, here is the video. To support this project, use this link.

The Kickstarter Video

Thanks and stay tuned.

-Bates