Case Study: "Think Of The Radio"

Every so often, Empirical Designs will release a piece of artwork inspired by a randomly selected prompt from a special deck of cards called the ”Oblique Strategies”. The method will serve as a tool that assists us to push the boundaries of the designs we create, by forcing ourselves to think outside the box for solutions and inspiration. This week’s prompt is titled “Think Of The Radio”.

Growing up in the age of the Walkman, I didn’t have much of a personal relationship with the radio. When I think of the term “radio” I always picture a golden age, way before my time filled with antiquated broadcasting equipment, and fast talking announcers. The radio always seemed so unique yet ethereal to me. So in this week’s entry I set out to investigate how radios are built and operate, and how they came into the mainstream and morphed how we consume media in the modern day.

I explored the differences between AM and FM signals, as well as the first commercial broadcasts and pirate radio stations. The most enthralling discovery I made was stumbling upon a video detailing the first production FM Transistor Radio, the Sony TFM-151. By all accounts, the radio the was commercially unsuccessful and only approximately 1000 radios were made in 1958. I immediately fell in love with the complexity and craftsmanship of the TFM-151. I simply could not fathom how we’d gone from such intricately manufactured radios being on the cutting edge to completely archaic in half a century.

I set out to make the TFM-151 part of a functional apparel design. I was able to purchase a service manual which included schematics, repair instructions and replacement parts for the radio. Based on my limited knowledge of electronics I created my own psudo-diagrams. I used a technique called the Golden Ratio to create a rough layout. I then took a grid simulating the look of schematics and boxed the grid into sections using the golden ratio.

I allowed each section of the design to overrun it’s allotted space within the layout. This created the feel of a schematic grid which was breaking through another subtle grid in the layout, leaving tension between the structures. I overlaid some copy paper to texture the piece and simulate the feel of an old service manual. I finalized the text and layout, as well as distorted and frayed the edges leaving us with the finished product.

OS02: Think of the Radio

OS02: Think of the Radio

The “OS” Series designs are handcrafted, one-of-a-kind works, and will be available for purchase on a first come, first serve basis. For pricing and more information, contact us here.