A Snapshot of Industrial Design's Bright Future

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15 student projects from University of Illinois at Chicago School of Design

Every year, we look forward to seeing students from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Design launch Kickstarter campaigns as the final project for their Entrepreneurial Product Development class. For most, it’s their first experience with designing and offering an original product, and we love seeing Kickstarter used as part of this learning process. This year, UIC Professor Ted Burdett is leading the class. As the co-owner of Strand Design, he has created many products of his own, including the Kickstarter-funded Fourneau Bread Oven. Here, he shares a bit of the philosophy behind the class and introduces his students’ work.

When you graduate from design school, you often wind up working for an agency or as an in-house designer at a company. But I’ve noticed that a lot of my students dream of being independent — starting a studio, making things for a living, or pursuing a venture based on a social or environmental mission. Most don’t take that road and it is no mystery why; they’re saddled with debt, have limited experience, and are short on resources. Yet, In many ways there’s no better time to pursue independent creativity than when you’re full of youthful energy, bountiful creativity and optimism, and haven’t got a whole lot to lose.

Blazing an independent path is far more feasible now for young designers than it was in the past, given the abundance of digital platforms that facilitate community building, prototyping, manufacturing, marketing, and selling. When I think about these new possibilities, paired with my students’ desire to make a positive impact on the world, I see a very bright future.

We created the year-long Entrepreneurial Product Development (EPD) course at UIC to give students the chance to try out entrepreneurship firsthand, within the confines of school, and at a small scale. We help them learn a user-centered approach that embraces validation through prototyping and iteration. Through developing a self-directed project, running a Kickstarter campaign, and coordinating production, students are better equipped to decide whether they want to pursue an independent practice when they graduate.

And that is where we are now: the beginning of our Spring semester marks the launch of our Kickstarter campaigns! You can check them all out below — please share your feedback and help spread the word.

Xinyan Liu’s Inrolo is a home for your instax photos. Effy made countless versions of inrolo through the fall semester, continuously refining her design. The level of aesthetic refinement that she has achieved is impressive, as have been her sourcing efforts.

Delaney Gould created Hero, a jewelry collection that references historic female warriors as a form of empowerment. Delaney brings a novel spotlight to the historic stories that inspired this project. The industrial process she uses to craft these pieces makes them unique.

MMS (Mix, Measure, Strain) is Jamie Freedman’s three-in-one tool to help you craft great cocktails at home. Jamie has been prolific in prototyping this product, and she started off with a completely different bar-related product. Jamie has made the act of pivoting from project to another look elegant.

Dancello Bennett’s Cylinse is an incense burner that blends music with aromatherapy. A speaker in the bottom of the burner creates hypnotic visuals by causing the rising smoke to “dance.” In this project Dancello is stretching his comfort zone around designing for manufacture.

Josh Enderle dreamed up Oozy, a limited-edition resin figurine based on the amorphous blobs or slimes found in various tabletop, video, and card games. Josh has blown us all away with his skill in crafting the Oozy forms and with the progress that he’s made in mastering the challenging process of casting these works of art.

Dane Gillen created Slope, a new solution for showcasing your snowboard in the home. Dane convinced us all that there is a gap in the solutions available to snowboarders for storing and displaying their boards. Dane leaned hard into prototyping and testing last semester and the effort has paid off.

Araceli Martinez’s Picoso is a beautiful vessel meant for carrying hot sauce. Araceli is on a mission to help her fellow hot sauce addicts “bring spicy everywhere.” Thank you Chely!

Vinyl L
Marisa Savegnago came up with the Vinyl L, a new way to display your vinyl at home. Marisa took a long, hard look at how vinyl fans were storing and displaying their albums and realized that there was an opportunity for a more versatile solution. The quest to has led Marisa to explore numerous materials and a variety of manufacturers.

Xiaoguang Wang’s Envelo is a drawing and writing essentials carrying bag that allows you to draw anywhere. Xiao investigated a wide array of problems through the semester, developing prototypes and using them to put his ideas to the test. Envelo is a great tool for those who love to draw or write.

I Can't Draw Hands
Drawing hands has always been a problem for Samuel Kramer, so he decided to make 100 plush fingers instead. This project aims to raise funds for Sam’s first solo art installation.I Can’t Draw Hands ties into what Sam is really passionate about: making fun objects with his own two hands.

Orbit Bag
Andrew Kunk designed the Orbit Bag, a quick-attach pouch that orbits your backpack, bag, or belt. The prototypes and visual elements that Andrew has created for this campaign are exceptional. Orbit stikes the whole class as a super useful, really well-crafted product.

Kyle Lindenman’s Sketch16 is a multimedia sketchbook designed to encourage experimentation. Kyle is an involved member in the UIC chapter of the Industrial Designs Society of America. It is no surprise that he ultimately chose to launch a project that is intended to help his fellow designers unleash their creative power.

Pocket Pop
With Pocket Pop, Matthew Klimczakis doing us all a huge favor. His belt-mounted cooler means you’ll never again have to find a spot to put your drink when your hands are full. Matt’s unique brand of humor shines through as he shows us how Pocket Pop will even work while taking a stroll on the treadmill.

Malgorzata Markiewicz brings us Purrenial, a cat-friendly indoor planter. Gosia looked high and low for a “gap” in home products and ended up finding her opportunity in an unexpected place. Purrenial is a straight-forward product that will make it easier for cat-lovers to care for their little gatos.

Marcin Wieczorek designed Allur, a slim, lightweight, and secure wallet that can be used independently or as a cell phone attachment. Throughout the semester Marcin has evaluated his designs through a rigorous process of prototyping and testing. Ultimately he arrived at an elegant, well-made tool for everyday living.


The student designers of Ted Burdett’s Entrepreneurial Product Development class
The student designers of Ted Burdett’s Entrepreneurial Product Development class

EPD is one of an array of professional practice courses at The School of Design at UIC available to senior design students. The course was first led by Bruce Tharp. Craighton Berman, a seven-time Kickstarter creator himself, led EPD for the past three years. Past projects and class activity can be seen here at Craighton's blog, Always Be Hustling.