Excerpts from Master Product Design theses
AUTHOR: Adam Huxley-Khng TITLE: ON in the absence of OFF On and off – at the flick of a switch, or the touch of a button. We are able to
switch between the states of being of an object without thought, rarely
questioning what makes an object ‘on’. Is it the presence of electric power? A
sense of agency, or animism? What if on-ness is a state of being reflected by
the cultural, rather than technological, capacity of an object – the embodiment
of a moment of possibility?
AUTHOR: Alessandro Simone
TITLE: What is next? SUBTITLE: The evolution of mountaineering and
This research examines the mountain landscape in
the context of the evolution of mountaineering. Starting from the activity’s
origin, the research investigates the shifts in technology, mindset, and limits
that enabled the transformation of a destination for challenging expeditions into
a place for second homes and weekend enthusiasts. How were humans able to
overcome their limits, and what were the motivations for this drive? Products
and objects played an essential role in guiding the story of mountaineering from
the old ages to nowadays, making the user and his/her experience safer, but subsequently
opening this terrain to mass tourism. This research retraces historical events
and technical innovations to better understand mountaineering’s evolution,
imagining a possible approach to this form of high-altitude tourism for the
AUTHOR: Alexander Schul TITLE: Visual language of sustainable design
Different “sustainable” design proposals have been
made in the past decades: from (literally) green looking objects, to normal
looking ones, to objects whose visual language speaks to sustainability in
their own individual way. In this research, I analyse a few examples in regards
to the way the visual language of sustainable products has been approached in
the past, what sustainable design looks like today, as well as what it will
look like in the near future. The essay is led by the question “How does a sustainable
approach to an object influence its visual language?”
AUTHOR: Charlotta Åman TITLE: Waste matters SUBTITLE: Valorising secondary products for a
Throughout history, humans have been expert in
utilising every element of a given resource. The heritage of husbandry has
been carried from generation to generation – until today. Now, we are more
disconnected than ever from original assets. In present manufacturing
processes, secondary matter from production is often considered as waste rather
than as a resource – an unfortunate conclusion as we are running out of raw
materials and landfills grow.
What does it entail to fully utilise a resource
by valorising its secondary products, and how does it relate to the practice of
a designer? The loose connections in manufacturing chains provide an
opportunity to re-think: by considering the source, the scale and the system,
design can be used as a tool for transition.
AUTHOR: Grace, Ka Yin Cheung TITLE: Japanese miniature culture: netsuke and gachapon SUBTITLE: Why are we so fascinated with small
Miniatures are smaller than a normal objects, and
include small replicas or models. Miniatures are present in different cultures
all over the world and throughout time. The miniaturisation of mundane objects
is recurrent, and has been an integral part of the memory of a culture.
Among the different international miniature
cultures, Japan has one of the most distinctive and apparent spirits of
miniaturisation. To understand why people are so fascinated with miniatures, this
research looks for the answers by delving into the miniature culture of netsuke
and gachapon in Japan.
AUTHOR: Hsin Hung Chou TITLE: Unpack flat-pack SUBTITLE: The value of ready-to-assemble
This research studies flat-packing from its
origins in the mid-19th century to its contemporary form as one of the
prevailing typologies of the global furniture industry.
Guiding questions have been: If the objective is
to design and produce products from a logistical and sustainable point of view,
is there any other solution to knock-down furniture? Does furniture lose its
aesthetic and value in the process of being flat-packed? If the future is flat,
could we make it better?
AUTHOR: Jimin Jeon TITLE: Soft, small and far, far away SUBTITLE: Our understanding of software
Fire is the first profound tool in human history
that cannot be grasped with the naked hand. Fire was considered a mysterious or
religious thing – a gift from God, or punishment. But it was also an essential
tool for human evolution. Today, we have found another tool surrounded by
mystery and misunderstandings: software. It doesn’t smell, make noise, or come
in any fixed form. It just occasionally flickers through a screen. This new
tool takes us to another world, beyond physical limitations, that no caveman could
have imagined. But, first, we need to understand the nature of software in
relation to hardware – that is, the tools we are already familiar with.
AUTHOR: Jisan Chung
TITLE: Assemblage in design
Assemblage is mainly considered an artistic
technique. However, by reviewing works of various designers, we can see that
the same technique has been used in the field of design, too. This study aims
to examine the characteristics and the meaning of “assemblage design” and its
Assemblage can trigger innovate manufacturing
processes and create its very own aesthetic.
AUTHOR: Jonas Villiger TITLE: About repairability SUBTITLE: Rules, incentives and approaches to
keeping things in circulation
We want our products to be durable. And, if they
break or become outdated, they should be repairable and upgradeable, too. It
can be a very satisfying feeling to make something work again, or to make it work
even better than it did before. Unfortunately, the industry does not make this
easy for consumers. Not being able to intervene when something goes wrong with
an object, consumers end up simply buying new things. However, giving a device
an extended lifespan keeps us from wasting valuable resources.
Starting from recent legislation and public
movements that call for the right to repair, this research questions the role
of designers within these changing circumstances.
AUTHOR: Julian Ribler TITLE: The Factory SUBTITLE: An investigation into modern design
The Modernist movement promoted the appreciation
of the advancements of industry. Modernism went on to integrate industrial
advancement as part of the fundamentals of the movement as a whole. The
principle of applying an engineer’s perspective was thought to inform the
practice of designers and architects. Exploring modern factory environments and
investigating the advancements in manufacturing technology today can help us
revise these principles and examine the changing factory context.
AUTHOR: Kwan Ming Sum TITLE: Stagnation and innovation in the wheelchair
A wheelchair is an essential tool for people
with mobility issues to perform everyday tasks and achieve social
participation. Unfortunately, modern manual wheelchairs hardly satisfy the
emerging need of a well-resolved wheelchair design. A fundamental shift in
understanding of today’s needs and innovation in this field are urgently required.
Given the growth of the aging population, a rethink of wheelchair design is
Through conducting several interviews with
different stakeholders, including wheelchair users, producers, and designers, this
research aims to investigate the underlying reasons behind the stagnation in
the wheelchair industry, and looks at how that might change.
AUTHOR: Maxwell Ashford TITLE: Fractions SUBTITLE: Cost-effective recycling
is the result of any recycling process. It refers to the amount of
materials from an object that can be recycled cost effectively, and is used
broadly across the recycling industry.
Objects are by standard practises designed independently from any end-of-life
system and inevitably, the result is that objects cannot be effectively
recycled. Historically, there has been little incentive for producers, and thus
designers, to deal with the death or disposal of objects. But this is due to
change, as incoming legislation from the EU will force producers to use
recycled materials and create more recyclable objects. In turn, this demand
will affect designers. So how can we work to create more sustainable goods?
AUTHOR: Nadav Goldenberg TITLE: Empire State of Play SUBTITLE: Playground design in the urban
How did the design of playgrounds evolve
throughout history? And how does the urban environment play a part in their
evolution? To answer these questions, I look at New York City. Here, we see a
dense urban space for play development, with a long history of constant shifts
in play ideals, safety regulations and the pioneering of playground design.
AUTHOR: Oscar Kwong
TITLE: Comfort and the curve
The curve exists in all ranges of expression,
from the flamboyant to the modest. In the past decade there have been multiple
studies that have set out to confirm our instinctual desires for the curvaceous
shape, proving in every measurable scenario that humans prefer the round
compared to the rectilinear. This intuitive response to the curve has been
hard-wired as part of our evolutionary bias. The relationship that connects
comfort and the curve will be the premise of this essay: from the buildings of
Sanaa that employs the familiar curve, as a reminder of our connection with
nature; to trace the postures supported by the comfy lounge and its intimate
bond with the human body; to the conforming contours of everyday objects.
AUTHOR: Silvio Rebholz
TITLE: TV studio sets
SUBTITLE: A space for reality and fiction
TV studio sets are spatial constructions in
which TV formats such as news, talk shows or game shows are produced. On these sets,
hosts interact with guests, newsreaders broadcast information and hosts
entertain – always with the intention of reproducing the scene on screens. Focusing
on the designs of TV studio sets, it is striking how unusually shaped they are.
Elaborately sweeping curves of sofas; LEDs highlighting the edges of a desk.
Remarkably, these and other exceptional elements aren’t isolated cases, but
repeat across shows, broadcast genres and national borders. Their similarities
suggest that it’s about more than free formal expression.
What are the parameters for consideration in a “good”
TV studio set? How did this unique style develop?
AUTHOR: Thomas Manil TITLE: The typology of coins
This research project explores the history,
production and formal language of coins. They are part of our lives and
accompany our daily gestures. We give them, we receive them, we pocket them, or
we place them carefully in a wallet. We have the impression that we know them
very well, and yet, we have a hard time describing them with precision. It is
an integral part of the country’s identity and embodies the link between art,
design and technology. In a society that is gradually seeking to dematerialise
money, the coin deserves special attention.
AUTHOR: Till Ronacher TITLE: The robotic arm
Industrial robots have been involved in the
manufacturing of products since the 1960s. But over the last decades,
industrial robots have been moving out of the factories into new contexts such
as architecture and design. Now, in some experimental contexts, digital
fabrication is explored with the help of industrial robots. In such
laboratories, the cooperation between humans and industrial robots is being
investigated and applied in a design context, within which new forms and
transformative design processes emerge. In this thesis, I examine some of these
developments with regards to the possibilities of their integration into the
AUTHOR: Trolle Rudebeck TITLE: A writing and drawing instrument
In the age of typing, scrolling and
audio-recording, cursive writing might seem endangered, particularly among younger
generations. As handwriting has become more and more obsolete, it has come to
be considered as a poetic or romantic act rather than a fundamental tool. Looking
back to ancient civilizations and their instruments for drawing and writing,
the pen’s stick-like shape has remained surprisingly constant. By looking to
the past, could we predict the future of the pen?