My first year of design school was all about the basics but second year, I got my own studio space and would begin work in the wood, metal, and plastics shops. I was excited to start creating and building with my own hands because I find these skills extremely valuable outside of just design but in life in general. I dove in.
For this project I was told to get into the mind of my child self.
Remember when a chair was a fort? Or a cup was a telephone?
I learned kids experiencing the world for the first time see it differently. They have not yet assigned function to objects and therefore are free creatively.I tried to tap into that creativity with Johny Jackhammer.
At this point I am interested in creating simple, beautiful products that work how they are supposed to. Johny Jackhammer is a familiar tool with an updated aesthetic and style of play for children ages 3 to 5. Through my exploration I wanted to make the form less clunky and add unique play factors.
Play Patterns: Fantasy/Role play, Independent Play, Associative play.
Self-expression through music and dance
Practice fine and gross motor skills.
During this project I was focused on developing my skills and finding my voice. I began to learn how form and function interact to drive the design of a product and how creativity mixed with understanding of materials and machines can lead to efficiency during model construction. I enjoyed this project and the fire has started burning to learn more.
This project was to introduce us to cost, parts, and ease of manufacture. We had to replicate our design 5 times, and no screws or glue were allowed. This forced us to think of creative approaches for construction.
My design utilized concentric, tension fit circles. Two plastic “hemispheres” were fit together using wooden center pieces and rubber connectors on the outer lip. In the center a movable cover could be spun manually to refill the feeder. 5 total parts with 4 pieces of hardware.
A phygital kitchen camera solution to a common community living problem. Project in collaboration with peer industrial designer, Austin Collias.
The referee was our first experience connecting the design process to the consumer through user research and feedback. My partner and I walked around our campus knocking on dorm room doors asking students with dirty sinks what they thought the problem was, who was responsible, and why it was happening. All our insights led us to design a new dishwasher, but our teacher told us not to try this. We lacked the experience and confidence to stand up for the idea we believed in, so we switched directions (years later a dishwasher similar to our concept was developed by a top design firm) but there was a silver lining.
We started over from a new perspective – human behavior. While all kitchens are different, and households have different needs, the constant in every kitchen is people. We identified some common roommate behaviors and how these attributed to the problem. This sparked my interest in psychology and sociology. I wanted to understand how people think and behave, why they think and behave this way, and how it can change in different situations. Also, why people buy certain products, how they interact with them, and why those products over other products. But for now, our question was:
How could we change a behavior and help users develop new habits?
We were interested in the idea of accountability. The feeling of being watched changes how people think and act. Also, by recording the sink we had a foolproof accountability system. We looked into gamification and offered incentives for completing the chore.
While I wouldn’t consider this project a success, it made me realize you should always try for the ideas you believe in if there is positive feedback to support you. I also had a new interest to pursue and began to discover the important adjacency between social science and design.
My third year of design school began with an internship, my first design job. The most important thing I learned was how all the different teams and people come together to develop a product. I love the collaboration of minds, the different experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives all contributing to the design process.
I designed this product from initial concept through to production while working there. The team guided me but let me champion the process.
The multiple functions of this teether is what makes it unique. It is designed so that both the peas and pouch can be nibbled on individually or place the peas inside the pouch for a mix of hard and soft surfaces. The pouch can also be frozen for cool teething relief.
"B Firm" Berlin
“B Firm” was a project done with peers Peter Grunwald (Industrial Design) and Haley Baker (Interior Design) while studying abroad in Berlin, Germany. This experience literally opened my eyes to the world. This was the first time I had left the USA, and second time I ever left New England where I was born and raised. I learn of new cultures, new ways of thinking, and new ways of living.
"B Firm" is a fictitious design consultancy opening a new office in Berlin. The site for the office was the existing Haus Lademann building located at Wallstrasse 85. The office needed to house anywhere from 10 to 40 employees daily, offer hotel desk space for traveling employees, and accommodate occasional community events.
When we first entered the location, we immediately loved the patinated materials and knew we wanted to stay true to the atmosphere by leaving some elements as is for the final design i.e. the iron railing on the mezzanine, the exposed brick, and the columns.
Inspired by the culture of gathering around the kitchen table, we wanted to translate that feeling to the office. We pushed our idea to the extreme and outfitted the entire office space as a kitchen. From this we made a bold decision to keep the giant table down the middle and dialed the rest back. We purposely did not put any breaks in the table to encourage employees to walk past their co-workers.
The glass partition dividing the kitchen from the workspace was used to allow the kitchen to be apart of the office, while keeping the smells in. The seating and lighting of all outlet spaces intentionally differ from that of the table to show hierarchy and contrast.
Create Your Placemat
We then designed a family of functional objects to meet different work needs and allow employees to customize their desk space. All objects can be stored on the built-in shelf directly under the table top.
At the end of summer, I returned to Boston to finish my third year of school with a second internship. Design excited me now because of the potential for variety in the work and the people. I loved collaboration, the more radical the better. I loved that every day could be something new - a new phase of a project or a new project entirely and there was always so much to learn. I was a sponge (still am) and wanted to absorb everything. But after my two internships and interdisciplinary semester abroad I started to question compartmentalization in the workplace and the disciplines of design. We designers claim to be a highly collaborative and human centered group but from my experience so far, we meet briefly and then go back to our silos and work our magic separated by walls, prejudices, or titles. I became very inspired by James Dyson’s unconventional attitudes and approach to design and operations. I want to break down barriers and am interested in working in a highly energetic, open, collaborative environment with passionate people from all different fields applying their skills to the development of new ideas – designers or not.
My final year of design school I took one of the most important classes of my college career. I learned about the affects of design on society, consumer culture, manufacturing needs, and all that goes along with those topics. Forced to look design in the mirror and ask are we part of the problem? Do we encourage this? This was right up my alley. I started to form my own opinions that were finally heard and taken seriously. I have a design voice, though quiet, it is there. I loved to question the world around me and my role in it (still do). I became upset with design. I was in my “I want to save the world phase” - or at least not add to the problems I disproved of. At this point, I considered a future in a non-profit, doing systems or service design but I wondered if I would be accepted into these fields or positions based on my background (back to compartmentalization). I was interested in the areas of environmentalism and education and thanks to this next project...healthcare.
This project was done with peer Industrial Designers Peter Grunwald and Erica Green during an embedded consultancy class at Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts.
It can be difficult to keep track of everything during pregnancy. Switching doctors can lead to misplaced or irretrievable medical records. Often patients feel "like just a number" when at the doctor's office.
Doctors already hand out introduction packets on week 8 of pregnancy but they are not very helpful. Additional books, scrapbooks, journals, and workbooks can be purchased from various retailers if desired.
Woman who are 8 weeks pregnant and looking to continue their pregnancy.
A place to store all information and celebrate the process of pregnancy. Include trustworthy information and resources to help newly pregnant women while also placing them in control. Make the book inexpensive and available to all patients.
We stand out by being the only book that combines necessary medical information with user health tracking, personalization, and memory making at basically no cost to the member.
The book would be provided to doctors by the insurance company who then hands them out to patients.
What would a Cancer workbook look like? How do you plan for a death in the family? If we can first identify the pain points and gain points in other health journeys, we can then imagine a solution and hopefully bring ease to the process. Eventually if we solve enough journeys, we can create a functional ecosystem of health, have a better relationship with our doctors, and a better view of our insurance.
My time with Blue Cross had its pros and cons but I felt good about the work we were doing, it felt useful, with a potential for big impact. My team was actually asked to present our project at the annual Wentworth Corporators meeting. I learned valuable lessons from this experience that would continue to mold my future career choices.
Tattooing is an ancient craft, knowledge and skill is passed down from master to apprentice. You must earn your place. Most Tattooists strictly honor this and many other traditions of tattoo culture. They are a tight knit community that want and deserve respect for their knowledge and workmanship, and they are not always happy about newcomers who don’t understand or take the time to learn. We learned from people that this was being misconstrued into negative experiences. And for all the progress our society has made with stereotypes, the tattooed know there is still more room to grow.
We were met with a lot of resistance from the artist community during our research. They told us to stay out of their business, they could improve things themselves, and we shouldn’t try to profit off them. We, as tattooed people ourselves, think we did a good job of helping artist, client, and public opinion.
Ink Spot is a year long senior thesis project created with peer Industrial Designer Everett Roscoe. This space is meant to expose and educate the general public while promoting client understanding and confidence. It features several exhibit-like interactive experiences to engage guests and help them to learn about tattoo culture in a fun, memorable way. We wanted the space to elevate the tone surrounding tattoos and hoped to create a space which welcomes and intrigues all walks of life.
Kiosk - Placed in high foot traffic areas, features an interactive history and matchmaking platform. Also filters artists in the area to fit desired tattoo style.
Truck - Travels the country to show process and shop feel with additional opportunities to teach history.
Hybrid Shop - Multipurpose space to expose those who otherwise would not be in contact with tattoo shops.
Satellite Collaboration Space - Cafe/Bar open to public but also used for artist + client consultations.
An interactive culture gallery, located near harbors to connect to tattoo history.
Hallway (Orange) Interactions
City Maps - Location of tattoo shops and restaurants with tattooed head chefs are pinned. Pins are knobs to open an index which contains cards for guests to take home.
Sports - Analogue photos of professional athletes with tattoos.
Music - Shelves with touchscreen monitors display playlists by tattoo artists and tattooed musicians. Listen with the headphones provided. Also screens to watch concerts / musicians talk about their tattoos.
Movies - TV showing directors discussing use of tattoos in their films, with clips. Under the TV is pictures of inked actors.
Centerpiece Display - A tattoo chair sits on a pedestal with a backdrop of tattoo machines and tools.
Gallery (Blue) Interactions
Draw & Color Wall - 16ft long. Markers provided.
AR Mapping Mirror - Try on different tattoos by standing in front of the mirror and selecting different options from the interface.
Story Library - Digital collection of people telling personal tattoo stories. Put on the headphones, tap a picture, and learn in life size format.
A Day In The Life - 16ft video wall documenting local tattoo shops. Touchable objects offer further information and explaination.
Story Booth - Covered in 3D tattoo art, A floor to ceiling column where guests are invited “inside the art” to record their personal tattoo stories, which are then transferred to the story library.
We still liked the idea of a space where the public and the tattoo community could socialize and collaborate so we added a lounge to the final design. Since the space was very intimate (16ft by 16ft) we mapped it full size to check the feasibility. It features local artist artwork for sale, a custom tattoo art counter top, and a bar constructed of reclaimed ship wood.
Additional programming possibilities for this space: Tattoo Talks & Skill Share, Paint Nights, Drawing Competitions , Live Music
Reclaimed ship wood patio with seating & tattoo history panels mounted to exterior
This project was a culmination of my design education as well as many of my different passions - design, social sciences, radical collaboration, and education. Though I loved working on a topic I was extremely passionate about, I was happy when it was over. There was still much I was unsure of but next stop on my journey, graduation.
Post Graduation Note
I am graduated now and all my passions graduated with me. I still want to create simple solutions that work how they are supposed to, my down time is filled with books about social sciences – which have expanded to include philosophy, politics, and economics, and I still am excited by the potential of true radical collaboration in design. I even still love tattoos.
A few months after graduation I accepted an amazing opportunity to work and live abroad in Germany. This was a real dream come true for me. Since my semester abroad there I told my friends I would be going back, and it happened. The experience was incredibly valuable to me and I gained so much perspective that will continue to influence my future. I built strong connections with new people that challenged my experiences and worldview. These connections have led me to my next big adventure, a 3-month road trip across America and back.
Eventually my contract with the company ran out and I had to move back to the USA. Thanks to Hans Rosling’s book Factfulness I understand now that the world doesn’t really need saving. Generally, things are getting better all over the world every year. Yes, there are still many serious problems that we need to address and work on together, but things can be both bad and better at the same time. Maybe design is one of those things.
Every job, every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. It carries you to your next step, where you can then reevaluate and decide what direction to move next. That is where I am now. I am a hitchhiker with my thumb out looking for my next opportunity. Hopefully it will get me where I want to go, but if not at least it’s a ride that will get me a little closer.