When given the seemingly simple task of creating a beautiful object, I challenged myself to design something—anything!—that also solves a problem. With such a broad jumping off point, I first narrowed down my thinking to the kitchen, where I like to spend my free time. It didn't take me long to single in on a necessary, but frustrating task made ever more complicated by an existing product: the garlic press. A running joke between my mom and I (and, I now know, a large population of the culinary community), there doesn't exist a garlic press that isn't a pain to use and clean. Furthermore, existing presses really only produce a garlic mush, which has the most pungent flavor of the various garlic preparations. Garlic presses do not account for the more subtle flavor to which slicing, chopping and mincing lend themselves.
My goal: to design a beautiful, hassle free tool that addresses the need for different garlic preparations.
A rapid course at California College of the Arts taught me the complex process of constructing soft furniture. After three weeks of thoughtful design, ergonomic testing, quick building, sensitive sculpting and careful upholstery, I was able to walk away with my first piece of furniture.
This is my design for a cabin in Lake Tahoe, California. Though the parameters for the small house were quite particular, I enjoyed the challenge of fitting all the specifically sized rooms into the tight space provided—it was quite a puzzle.
When asked to design and build a tool that can lift an egg, carry it to a bowl, crack it, and beat it, I was in assignment heaven. Wanting to design for the home--the kitchen in particular--this project was right up my alley. Despite the many Rube Goldberg machines among those turned in, I decided to tackle the extra challenge of designing and building an all-in-one lifting, carrying, cracking, beating tool and this is what I came up with!
This design was featured in RISD's Foundation Studies Exhibition in 2012. It was then chosen by RISD President John Maeda for his personal home collection.
The article Inventive Tools Spark Innovative Designs was written about the project.
After dissecting and analyzing a retro, analog alarm clock, I was challenged to redesign the clock's exterior around the existing interior components. This is what I came up with!
Challenged to create and print a “connection” using Solidworks, I began to notice clever connections all around me. Fixated on the brilliant systems that we use every day without second thought, I decided to explore the clasp. While it is frequently used to display beautiful objects, the clasp is not often recognized for its own design.
Printing the piece proved to be much more complicated than the nature of the device itself. In order to remove the support material that is a part of the printing process, I was forced to print the clasp in multiple parts with the intention of snapping them together, locking the sliding part inside. There was much consideration of the thickness and flexibility of the printing material in determining measurements, but first I had to understand the inner-workings of the mechanism. After much trial and error, I ended up with a fully-functional giant plastic clasp.
This “works-like” model was a design challenge unlike any I have faced thus far. After drawing “bicycle derailleur” from a hat, I was to create a model that demonstrates not what the system looks like, but how it works. A bicycle’s derailleur is a complex mechanical system that, in its simplest form, pushes the bike’s chain from one cassette to the next while simultaneously readjusting the chain’s tension. After much research, bike riding and gear-changing, I was able to fully understand the system, at which point I boiled the information down in order to create an interactive model that can even explain the system to someone who has never seen a bicycle.
Most people consider entertaining a stress-inducing hassle better left to someone else and would rather go out to a party than host one. My grandmother, on the other hand, throws a great party and enjoys doing it! In recent years, her parties have become numbered and the expectations changed. Grandma’s once all-inclusive Thanksgiving dinner, for example, has taken on a potluck style as her age and arthritis prevent her from hosting the way she used to.
With its traditional, comfortable, and social associations, tea service is the most direct example of the intersection between the elderly user group and a love of entertaining. The embarassment of losing the ability to cook and ultimately entertain is embodied by the tea set. Serving tea and coffee at the end of a gathering is the host’s last offering. The act of serving itself is a tedious one made exponentially more difficult with the deterioration of hand function. The clatter of cup on saucer that results from shaky hands is evidence of the struggle of serving and acts as an audible reminder of the server’s condition.