Domestic Science Machines

Project / Domestic Science Machines
University / Goldsmiths, University of London
Year / 2012 - 2013

Domestic Science Machines was my final year degree project at Goldsmiths, University of London, where I got to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a mad scientist and inventor. Using design as a tool for exploration, I embarked on a year long journey into the world of science and trying to make sense of how I, as a designer, could fit in. 


Science at home

I always wanted to take part in a school science project, building volcanoes, rockets or producing hydrogen, but somehow that never really materialised during my school years. So when I did get the chance to select a subject for my degree project, I chose to create my very own science project with all the resources that comes with being a design student.

With lab coats and thinking hats ready, I dove straight into experimenting with things that I could find in a regular household from extracting strawberry DNA, to creating plasma in a microwave over visualising the effects of gravity with long exposure photography. 

With insights from my experiments I started to build my own tools and cool gadgets like a spud gun to shoot apples, a webcam turned microscope to a spectrometer made from cardboard and old CD's.



A look inside institutional science

Often hitting roadblocks and doubts about where I was going, I wanted to see first hand of how it's like to be a scientist. CERN in Switzerland was the logical first step, but I found many great instutions like the John Innes Centre, Diamond Light Source Synchrotron and the Culham Centre for Fusion Research that were willing to let the public look behind the scenes.



Putting it together

Impressed by both the sheer scale and cost of their equipment I felt awe and doubt of how I, as a designer, can make anything that would make a difference. But when I discovered DIY Biohacking and saw how people made their own scientific instruments for experiments at home, that I knew I wanted to design instruments that are accessible to the general public. But how?

This is when I looked back at my trips to the many institutions and remembered how most scientists explain the workings of their tools akin to coffee machines, slow cookers and blenders, and thus the idea for the domestic science machines was born:

Imagine regular household appliances that are designed to be adapted into scientific instruments, allowing anyone with a little spark of curiosity to start exploring their surroundings, and hopefully contribute to the many discoveries made by other amateur scientists throughout the history of science.