Arizona’s best commodities happen to all start with the letter C. In a project that we’ll touch more on later, for Arizona Public Service (APS), we made a section of the display dedicated to the 5 C’s. This particular display is located inside a HUGE trailer that gets pulled to different locations to teach about Arizona’s past, especially, energy in Arizona’s past.
The idea was to have a sign, explaining what Arizona’s 5C’s are. To do this, we made a very dimensional wall hanging. Then, below it, we mounted a frame that housed a texture of each commodity. This way children can touch and feel and in this project, that is something that was highly encouraged. Anytime there is an opportunity to touch and feel, the design has to be robust. We made sure to only use the best materials we could get our hands on, so this display could give many years of heavy use. Below is an image of our ShopBot cutting out the framework we designed for this purpose.
One of our favorite parts of this display is the ‘crates’ full of C’s. These crates were an afterthought, and were added in to the design late into production. Their purpose is not just to display commodities ready for shipping (I know the climate and Cattle crates make for funny shipping containers, that’s part of the fun!). The reason for this addition to the design came from the teachings of Walt Disney. The visitor to the attraction must feel like they are in an actual environment. If there is anything in the space that reminds them of the fact that they are in a trailer, decorated to look like another environment, then you have failed.
Now, we had some limitations here. Weight was a huge issue, not to mention real estate. We only had so much room to make people feel like they were in the old west. The design was portraying this well. As the empty trailer shell was just coming off the assembly line, the ADA wheelchair lift was being installed. We knew it would be there, and had made accommodations to work around it. However, we hadn’t anticipated just how modern it looked. With hydraulic pumps and safety decals, it reminded all who stood in the space, that they were in modern day, with old west decorations on the walls. We had taken measures to cover things up that we couldn’t help. The ceiling for instance, was painted black, so it wouldn’t attract attention. Then everything we wanted the audience to focus on was well lit. Everything else went into the shadows. However, this ADA lift was big, and very visible. Its proximity was very close to the 5C’s display, so we took the opportunity to make a new prop that made sense. This stack of crates is hollow. Its actually only 3 sides. Front, side and a top. The wood sections are connected to a specially designed and fabricated aluminum frame. Then, along the top of the wall we attached a steel slider mechanism. This entire mechanism was inspired by sliding closed doors or curtains. However, for our application we needed something much more robust. So we made every element from scratch to make sure it was exactly what we needed. The lift goes unused 99% of the time. In the event it needs to be used, the crates glide gently over the top of the 5C’s sign and sample texture display. Then with the lift exposed, the door behind it can be opened and allow access to the trailer for those who are unable to use the stairs. As usual, we were presented with a problem, and we not only solved it, we were able to do so with something that not only sufficed, but actually added a very nice element to the project.