Design Process

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Hi! Thanks for checking out this page. I love to share what goes on in my studio.

To see the progress of my current senior thesis project, view my blog here.

Observing, and asking questions is how I begin working on any problem. As a little kid I asked a lot of questions... and that has not changed much as I've gotten older. My introverted qualities also make me a keen observer of the world around me; I constantly reflect on problems that I see.

I believe in following a human centered design process. I work with users to understand their problems and be empathetic. This might include shadowing a middle-schooler to see how he goes about his day or trying to cut food with one hand tied to understand what people who only have the use of one arm go through to cook.

Personas help guide my design process, so I can tackle any problem from wearable fitness technology to dorm room furniture accessories. I always find it best to come back to the user and think about who my design is for. 

Whether in my head or on sticky notes, I am constantly creating connections among my observations to gain insights. While I do like to stay organized, I know that this part of the process needs to get messy for the best ideas to shine through. 

I love working in teams, especially multidisciplinary ones, to develop new ideas. Working with others is the best way for ideas to bounce off each other and grow. When developing aro, a navigational device for bikers, I worked with a team of engineering, information and business students. 

I always challenge myself to think of hundreds of concepts when developing new designs. These ideas all build off of each other, and even though some may be wacky, they eventually get to a place where I can say aha!

I like to number quick thumbnails to see how ideas developed but also sketch more freely to think through how something can work.

Now to my favorite part - making things! I believe it is so important to get physical fast, even if that is making very low fidelity prototypes. And I try to make lots of them!  Early rough prototyping always helps inform my design idea in ways I could never see on paper. 

When designing a knife for users with one hand, I iterated through one concept over and over again with foam. With aro, I taught my team members not to be afraid to make things. We made our prototypes out of paper, fabric and tape!

Here I'll geek out a little bit more - I love to prototype with electronics and make things work!!! I'll gladly take an adafruit giftcard for any occassion. Microcontrollers, servos, infrared sensors... I probably have multiple of them all in my studio. While I'm not an expert coder, I have learned how to work with developers to make my ideas come to life.

Some of my favorite projects I've worked on are an obstacle avoiding robot to help understand how an autonomous dog toy could function, and triggering notifications from UV sensing to put in a protective visor.

If I'm not in my studio you'll find my in the digital fabrication lab. I have spent the past couple years as an assistant in the lab and become an expert in rapid prototyping. I love using 3D printing and laser cutting to come up with multiple iterations quickly. I also know how to run 2, 3 and 4 axis cuts on our CNC router.

I use digital fabrication to make models, like using the CNC to create the shape of a visor, but also to experiment with materials. For example, when designing the visor I went through lots and lots of tests of not just the appearance, but the texture, thickness, and material all through 3D printing.

I always want to have clear visualizations of my idea, especially if there is not a physical model. In IDEALME, there was no need for physical product development, rather just a believeable visualization of the product. This also includes designing interfaces for interactions, which is an important part of most of the products I work on. 

Another tool I love to use for visualization is virtual reality! Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality are powerful tools that I think can greatly impact the way we live our lives if used in the right way. 

I am lucky to have had access to the "Cave" at Michigan where I can step into a ten by ten foot room of my own designs. During my internship at Masco Cabinetry, I modeled a full kitchen including the elements I designed for my team to better visualize them in context.

I love combining my skills with electronics, digital and traditional fabrication methods, to bring my ideas to life. I hope you saw how much I enjoy making things! Be on the look out for what's next!