My thesis project was directed around the words of German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Heidegger argued that we as a society know how “to build”, how to erect functional housing through the use of industrial techniques. However, we have forgotten how “to dwell”, how to live meaningingfully in built space. As a result society has become more focused on physical space rather then the relationships formed with space. Inspired by Heidegger, I designed a portable work environment dedicated to reconnecting users with
the natural world.
Mobi is a small series of modular furniture designed to assist in the user’s relationship with nature. The goal is to provide a lightweight and compact product, allowing for easy transport to and from multiple environments. The furniture is constructed out of 100% biodegradable material that can be environmentally broken down or recycled after use. Mobi is available in three different models– a chair, a table, and a stool. Each product is designed to take on the appearance of contemporary furniture in order to create a sense of familiarity and to provide the user with the comforts of modern living.
The largest obstacle I experienced through out the design process was developing a product that was not only aesthetically pleasing but also developing a product that was functional as well. My concept required me to design a system of modular furniture that could support a person’s weight over a large period of time. Having had zero experience in industrial design, I found it most challenging trying to preemptively solve for common issues such as weight distribution, structural support, material usage, and portability.
In preparation, I constructed a series of miniature and life-size models. These prototypes were used to assess the various design strengths and weaknesses of my products. My thesis project pushed me to consider all aspects of design, both visual and functional.
What I am most proud of is my ability to take a concept that went outside my comfort zone and see that project to fruition. I dealt with many challenges from the construction of furniture to designing a brand that embodied our relationship with nature. My project never cease to surprised me as it continued to change and expand through out the entire development process.
Senior thesis is a time in one’s academic career when he/she has an opportunity to demonstrate what has been taught. This is a time to show the design world what you are capable of. Regardless of what you want to do as a designer, remember that being safe is your worst enemy. Design firms and corporations want to see innovative design thinking. They want multitalented artists who can adapt easily to new challenges. Pick a subject that is unfamiliar. Do not be afraid to create something that may fail. Your senior project should be more about the design process then the over all result. If you can independently demonstrate problem solving skills and critical thinking, I guarantee you your project will be more successful then if you picked a topic you already know will be aesthetically pleasing. Take risks, manage your time wisely, and never stop designing.
Elizabeth is currently a designer at the Gap in New York City.
See more of her work at elizabethbeasley.net.