End of Semester Reflection and Portfolio

This entire year has been very exciting for me as a designer. It was great to start getting into industrial design after first year studio with a bunch of architects. I learned a lot about myself and grew a lot. The biggest struggle for me this year was trying to get into the “design mindset.” I kind of think of it as knowing what’s good and what isn’t and working iteratively towards the good. This is hard to get into and from the early lessons on typography, color theory, page layout, and form I struggled to know what looks good and what doesn’t. At the beginning of the year I looked at my classmates’ posters and thought they were so much better than mine but I didn’t quite know why. I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure if I know why now but I think I am now able to make something myself that looks much closer to “good.” I think its more of a feeling that you develop then something you can solidly describe. I also struggled with the design mindset when it came to forms. Why are some forms better than others? Mine seems like it should be perfectly fine, why does everyone else’s look so much better? I think it comes down to having a cohesive design that creates and follows a form language. And like I said I think it’s also a feeling that you develop over time and that I’ve just begun developing.

My biggest success this year was gaining confidence in my design skills. At the beginning of the year I always had “impostor syndrome” where I felt like I didn’t belong with all these other talented designers. Now I feel a lot more proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished so far and feel like I have a place in the industrial design program. I think my best project of my ID student career so far is my street seat, Blueshift. I’m super proud of it because I learned several new skills making it. I got a lot of compliments from my classmates and other designers and it made me realize that I do fit in here and I’m not just an “impostor.”

Some short term goals are to officially finish my street seat. It still needs a coat of some sort of sealer on the plywood end grain to protect it and I plan to apply that in the next few weeks back home. Also I’ve also had a few people say that they would be interested in hiring me to make them one so I’m going to figure out how I can make that happen. I have some changes in mind to make the seat even better and I hope to work on them over the summer. Long term I hope to get an internship with an industrial design firm. It probably won’t happen this summer but I’m going to push to do it next summer and by then I’ll be even more qualified. Another long term goal is to be more involved with ID events at school. I think it will help me to network and improve my portfolio.

I’ve learned a lot this year and am a lot more comfortable as an industrial designer. I’m definitely looking forward to next year! Here is the link to my portfolio.

Sketches of a Modernist Designer

Sketching is incredibly important in industrial design nowadays however it has certainly changed since the beginning of modernist industrial design. One thing that I found interesting in Bill Green’s class was that Walter Gropius, the creator of the Bauhaus school, could not draw. He had someone else do all his drawings for him. I thought it was also cool to see some of the sketches of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who created the Barcelona chair. He could sketch well when he wanted to, but a lot of his sketches are very rough, far from the copic marker sketches we draw today. Here’s a few sketches of his that I found.

You can tell lots of his sketches are done just to get the gesture of the form across like in his Barcelona chair sketches. He also has a very interesting way of making perspective sketches. Bill might call them “wiggly.” I think Mies van der Rohe’s sketches are valuable to see because they show that not every one of our sketches has to be a beautiful work of art. When you just need to get the idea down, it doesn’t need to be perfect.

Gerrit Rietveld’s Red Blue Chair

The Red Blue chair by Gerrit Rietveld is one of my favorite chair designs and is a fantastic example of early modernist industrial design. I was really drawn to it when Bill Green talked about it in his class and I did some research to learn more about it. The chair was originally designed in 1917 out of beech wood. I’ve put a picture of one of the original unpainted prototypes below. It wasn’t until 1923 with inspiration from Piet Mondrian and the de Stijl movement that the chair was given its signature colors. Rietveld hoped that the chair could be mass produced so he made all of the pieces out of standard sized lumber.

Prototype of the Red Blue chair

Rietveld was part of a group that hoped to restore the spirit of the European people after World War I by creating a sort of man-made utopia. He believed his designs helped further this goal. As Bill has said, many people say the chair is uncomfortable but if you actually sit in one, like the one in the Architecture library, it’s actually very comfortable. I was inspired by the Red Blue chair when I made my chair for the street seat competition. I took the main colors from it and also made my chair have a similar seat and back angle.

See the article on the MoMA website if you want to know more.