SFU Product Design
At SFU, professor Lisa Papania encourages her product design students to consider ways in which to implement the circular economy into their design and business models. In the fall of 2015, two groups stood out in finding interesting ways to do so. The first product was an Easel Desktop Add-On by Linda Tsai, Jessica Chang, Jackson Tong, Jenifer Illner, and Emma Chin, for student athletes who tend to travel often. This product was made from reclaimed or scraps of wood in order to give waste wood a second life. Wood is a huge source of waste in Vancouver, partially because we don’t have enough demand for scraps and reclaimed wood, so any product that uses reclaimed wood is a great step towards helping Vancouver shift to a more circular economy.
Another product that used concepts of upcycling was called Enliven by Brandon Fasciana, Ekaterina Smirnova, Kan Deng, Jammay Louie, and Usama Ahmed, which started as a challenge to find a way to stay active when working at an office job. After going through the design process the team came up with a desk pedaler that takes its parts from upcycling broken bicycles and using their pedals, one wheel, and adds reclaimed wood to complete the product. This is a creative way of upcycling old bikes using minimal energy, as they would normally be thrown away or melted down to be recycled. Next challenge, what can we do with the rest of the bike parts?
The theme of the summer 2015 product design class was under served groups, such as handicapped people or young mothers. A couple of products designed by the students stood out as solutions that include the circular economy in their proposals. The first is called Storkey by Aicha Zhang, Karen Mendoza, Cynthia Su, Shane Li, and Rachel Kuo. This product is a diaper bag organizer aimed at helping young mothers stay organized while being convenient and fashionable. The group designed the insert strictly from off-cuts of fabric from a local Vancouver business. Using off-cuts of fabric is a good first step in shifting towards a more circular economy because it utilizes what would otherwise be waste and is in fact a perfectly usable fabric.
The next product is SweatiT by Jag Reddy, Elena Kolesova, and Ruijie Shao. In a mission to reduce paper towel waste in gyms, they created a sweat arm band made from reclaimed sport shirts, a great second life for these sweat absorbing shirts when their owners choose to get rid of them. This is another good step towards a circular economy initiative because it gives a second life to these fabrics that may not be usable in their current form because of wear and tear, but still have perfectly good parts that can be utilized.
We love to hear about the efforts professors and students are making in the classroom to further the circular economy initiative and come up with innovative solutions to the real environmental problems our society faces today. Students often have great creative ability and we commend them for putting their minds to solving these types of problems. Of course, they couldn’t do it without encouragement and lessons from professors like Lisa Papania who are passionate about designing sustainably. In addition, many of these teams utilized the tools and expertise available at MakerLabs and were mentored by Basic Design who we give a big thanks to for supporting these students’ projects and learning!