Evolution of a Design – Arcavia


Product Design comes with a technical challenge – how to make the prototype or ’tool’.

Prototypes can be technically challenging, expensive and time consuming to produce. It is not always clear how to design or what practical approach to take making the models that lead to a prototype. The actual design can be approached manually, with computer aided design (CAD) or some combination of the two. One hopes to identify tools and techniques that will minimise or simplify these factors.

The creative decision that informed the development of Arcavia and Stella was the desire for frame designs with a graphic outline. Early in the development six concept drawings were made.

Drawing Nr 4 was eliminated out of a concern about the negative areas and achieving a high-quality part in production.

CAD Renderings

Early renderings of designs above. One can see one of the earliest versions of the design that eventually became Stella.

Since there was a motif in the designs I decided to try and make the first models by molding and casting the design in parts. These parts would be assembled around a ring. Silicone molds and high density foam castings were made. It became clear these would not work for the high quality necessary for a prototype or ‘tool’ but being less expensive, they were useful to start.

Even bad ideas can look appealing when rendered on a computer. The great thing about a model is that you no longer need to imagine the technical drawing. Computer renderings are helpful but they are never as helpful as a full scale model. The downside of a model is that when they fail you need to invest more time and money to continue. Four attempts led to the final design of Arcavia. Here they are…

Version 1

1. First model of Arcavia

1. Originally I saw Arcavia as something organic or hand-made, possibly something textured like an oversized feather. I had an outline and scale but I was not sure how to build out the depth. I did not see a problem in the design but immediately realised with the first model that the frame looks like a daisy.

Construction: Silicone mold, Cast foam parts, mdf ring.

2. I remodelled the motif trying to take the ‘flower’ out of the design. The positive step forward here was that a more complex surface geometry was introduced. But it was still wrong. I introduced the concept of faceting into the design.

In gemmology faceting is how one cuts surfaces onto a stone to augment the play of light. This approach was being applied to the design of Stella which was also in development. I felt the need to be more severe in the outline cut. The soft corners were lost. The shape became more angular.

Construction Silcone mold Cast foam parts mdf ring.

Version 2

The new surface structure brings a more interesting light reflection effect to the design.

3. At this point I thought I had it. I was confident enough in the drawings and renderings that I cut this piece in wood (mdf), a more expensive process. Immediately after hanging the piece I saw the flaw. Compare this piece to the final design. Construction: CNC cut mdf.

Version 3

Second model of Arcavia – first revision

Version 4 – Final

The Final Design. Note the tapered inside geometry. This creates a more consistent geometry across the design. Equally it creates new faces to reflect light. Arcavia has 98 surfaces. The final stage in production is the paint or finishing. Arcavia and Stella are modern pieces. So far I have chosen ‘antiqued’ or textured finishes. They lend depth and texture, softening or humanising designs that are essentially modern.

Construction: Resin


The inside face of the frame at left is flat. The same at right is tapered across 3 dimensions producing a complex surface or NURBS surface. A rim detail has also been added.

Thanks to Adanac Pattern. Visit.

All designs are created by Matthew Buck.

Copyright Matthew Buck 2018

The Author: Matthew Buck is the creative energy behind Reflecting Design and Odlum Entrance.

Posted in Convex Mirror, Extra Ordinary, Flat Mirrors, Mirrors, People