Ohio State Department of Design seniors made designs to help people in vulnerable places for their final projects.
The 2017 Department of Design Spring Exhibition displays final senior projects from 47 undergraduates among its three majors: industrial design, interior design and visual communication design.
Industrial design major Caterina Rizzoni said she is affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. With fewer daylight hours in the winter, affected patients may experience irritability, low energy and weight gain with the disorder.
With this in mind, Rizzoni had a growing desire to produce an inexpensive, non-pharmaceutical treatment for the disease. This helped her create “Nura,” a light therapy system.
“I wanted to develop a device that would help me stay chipper and high-spirited in the wintertime,” Rizzoni said.
Rizzoni’s project is in partnership with Lighting Science, whose patented blue-light spectrum technology was initially created for the International Space Station to help regulate astronauts’ circadian rhythms. Nura lighting can be controlled using a smartphone app and its modular design enables users to shape and affix lights in a customizable fashion.
Interior design majors Madeline Cipro and Raine McMullen focused their projects on bettering the Columbus community of Franklinton.
McMullen conducted a survey among members of a weekly charity meal service that is attended by many homeless people in the neighborhood. She said she found there were very few places nearby that offered basic hygienic services to the homeless.
“I believe in the fundamental rights of all individuals to have access to space and resources that lead to better health and well-being,” McMullen said. “Getting haircuts, smelling nice and (having) clean clothes will help our homeless friends gain confidence as they attempt to re-enter the workforce or apply for housing.”
Cipro said her passion for human-centered design directed her project focus. In her research, she said she found most homeless shelters in the area to be limiting, as many shelters do not allow pets, and some only accept women and children.
“They often don’t feel welcoming or comfortable,” Cipro said. “These issues can make people more hesitant or even unwilling to stay there.”
Cipro said her proposal catered to her interest in urban micro-living and mixed-use residential design. Titled “ROTH,” it features a design for a collection of small apartment units for the homeless with amenities including office space, a gym, laundry facilities and career planning. A coffee shop near the entrance of the building offers employment opportunities for residents who need entry-level experience.
“(This design is) intended to help them have a sense of ownership and independence, while building up a community of neighbors and resources,” Cipro said.
One project with similar goals of building confidence and a sense of community is titled “CoCo: Confidence Collective,” by visual communication design major Sara Riedel. Her two-part system involves a launch party and blogging website that promotes positive self-esteem among young women and girls.
Riedel said she found that she and many of her close female friends developed insecurities during their middle school years that have lingered, which she saw as inspiration for her project.
“Something happened during a very vulnerable time in our lives that caused this insecurity to stick, and now with social media it’s only getting worse,” she said. “So I wanted to address this issue.”
The site connects girls to their peers and celebrity role model bloggers based on an assessment of their strengths taken at a launch party. She said that media literacy will also improve as girls read and write about their interests and strengths on a multimedia platform.
Riedel said the experience has helped her shape her expectations of designing after graduation.
“It gave me a glimpse into the world of developing and executing an idea,” she said. “I had my hands in a little bit of each part of the design process, which will give me a larger knowledge base no matter where I end up in the design field.”
The Department of Design Spring exhibition will be on display until April 8 at the Urban Arts Space, at 50 W. Town St. A reception will also be held on Saturday, April 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is free to the public and the gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with extended hours on Thursday until 8 p.m.