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May 27, 2011

Working on some color iterations…

I think I will add a gray one too. I was thinking about adding a magenta/red-ish one, but I am still debating it.

What do you think?



May 25, 2011


Update on my “environmental socket protector” concept — here is a paper prototype of what one set (two covers) would look like.

I am working on getting a few of these laser cut this week…

Check back for progress!

Where does electricity come from again?

May 14, 2011

Oh yeah, power plants.

Sometimes I forget that while constantly plugging in and out of outlets. I’m in the process of designing socket protectors… but “environmental socket protectors” that are in the shape of powerplants.  Everytime you remove this power plant shaped socket protector to plug in your device you are more aware of the environmental impact electricity has. Even just walking by them in your home, it immediately de-mystifies the source of electricity. I think  having a daily reminder of the real source of electricity — realizing its so much more than just flicking a switch — could have a great impact on people’s daily consumption of electricity.

If there was a photo of a dead fish by your kitchen faucet, you would probably be more cautious about leaving the water on… but, thats not exactly the aesthetic I’m going for :).

My friend Jesse recently showed me these “Eco Reminder Stickers”. They are really interesting and are aiming to make behavioral changes inside people’s homes just like I am. However, I am struggling with the value proposition these types of products bring to the table. Yes, they are cute and clever, but what do they do? They don’t realy add any significant decorative qualities or guaruntee you’ll save money; they are more like green novelty items.


To the right is a quick chipboard mock-up of my general idea (shape, color, size all subject to change). I know I would buy socket protectors in the shape of power plants because I want to be more conscious of my electricity consumption. Not everyone cares about that though. I think I either have to:

(a) Accept the fact that environmental socket protectors have no real use and are just green novelty items (and make them REALLY cute and attractive). This route would lead to a pretty inexpensive product, probably sold in a 10 pack or something in fun colors.

(b) Add some more value to it by … adding a meter to track how long its been since you’ve plugged in or … track how much money you are saving by plugging in less. By adding components that might require electricity, this product seems pretty hypocritical. If there is some way to work it out, it would definitely be more expensive.

(c) Turn the idea into a product that could also double as an outlet safety protector. So, parents who have young children and are in the market to buy 50 safety protectors can opt to by environmentally themed ones instead of the plain ones.

Maybe I will start off with option (a) and then work my way through the other routes.

Pop-up Book Light

May 9, 2011


Random project I worked on this weekend: a pop-up book light.

A book binding converted into a light with an accordion-felt star that pops up when you open it. This is just my first prototype; I really need to get my hands on a sewing machine. I’m also still working on the electronics that go inside. All of the inside pages that I gutted out will be recycled.

I love the opening action that is so inherent to books. Sort of like opening a gift. Opening a new experience. Opening a new adventure! So, I wanted to create a fun spin on “opening” with this pop-up surprise.

I can imagine this light sitting on a book shelf, and being retrieved for a variety of uses. I’m going to hook it up with a rechargeable battery pack and some bright white LEDs. Since its portable, it could be useful camping — a new take on campfire stories perhaps. Or a really fun, interactive children’s toy. There could be cut outs in the felt to make all sorts of silly characters.

Stay tuned for another prototype soon.

Saturday Morning Experiment

May 7, 2011

I just woke up Saturday morning with an urge to experiment with my heat gun and plastic bags. I would like to place some emphasis on “just woke up” to excuse my untidy appearance. Yes, my heat gun is Kawasaki brand.

It’s crazy how much plastic shrinks. Look at how cute these shrunken plastic bags are!

I always struggle with the huge gap between disposable products and valuable ones. It doesn’t make much sense that some disposable products (like plastic bags) are made out of a material that do not allow itself to really be properly disposed of (proper disposal being in a closed loop of course :)).

It is so fascinating that a man-made material like plastic is associated with cheapness…  when its chemical make up suggests the exact opposite — robustness. Plastic has so many favorable properties (ex – waterproof, doesn’t degrade) to make a robust, valuable product. Why are so many disposable products made out of plastic?

Is it because of plastic’s low manufacturing cost? Or it’s aesthetic properties? Probably a combination of both.

I’m experimenting with molding plastic bags into a new form (like over a glass cup in the photo above). When melted, the plastic bag takes on this really interesting translucent, fibrous texture. As cliche as it is, I think it could look pretty cool as a light.

I think I just found a project to work on this weekend…

Workin on a little something…

May 5, 2011

Back to School?

May 3, 2011
“A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.”
— R. Buckminster Fuller

I love the above quote by Buckminster Fuller. There is so much power and potential in design. It gives me goosebumps! Which brings me to the topic of this post today — how can I be a better designer?

Lately I have been thinking about my academic and career paths. After I graduated with a BS in industrial design last May from Georgia Tech, I knew I would eventualy go back to school for a master’s degree in something — civil or environmental engineering, architecture, public health, public policy … the list goes on. I just want to learn about a lot of different fields — so I can be a better designer; solve problems with many different lenses. Maybe “better” is the wrong adjective — so I can be the designer I really want to be.

For the past few weeks, I have been thinking seriously about applying to graduate schools for environmental engineering. I was really pumped! An environmental engineering degree on top of my industrial design degree would be such a powerful combination. As a designer, it will help me better understand how to create solutions for the environmental issues I am passionate about. My happiness train came to a hault when, after talking to a few graduate admissions offices, I learned that I was completely unqualified to apply for a master’s of environmental engineering. My background did not contain enough engineering pre-requisite courses. Damn! 

Then, after more discussions, learned that I could take 1-2 years of pre-req classes, THEN I would be more prepared to apply for my master’s. So thats a possible 4 years of school just for 1 master’s. Eeek.  Thoroughly discouraged at this point. Do I even need a master’s degree to learn about environmental engineering ? Not necessarily, it is possible that I could teach myself the important principles. I am already really interested in environmental issues and solutions, it would just take  more dedication.

I really want to learn nitty-gritty stuff though! Like fluid mechanics. Or groundwater hydrology. Especially air pollution engineering.

I more recently learned that I could apply for a second undergraduate degree in environmental engineering. At first it sounded a little crazy. All I could think of was rewriting corny college essays, SAT scores, monstrous freshman-year lectures, and other horrible things. However, once I got all of the details, it sounded like a great option. I could go back to Georgia Tech and complete my second degree in around two years. That is not too shabby. Then, if so inclined, I could apply to graduate school for environmental engineering or something else.

But I will figure that out when the time comes.