MFA | Industrial Design
I am an Industrial Designer focusing on sustainable product development, circular economies, and consumer behavior. My work examines our relationships with resources and how whole-system design can enable empowering experiences with dramatically lower environmental footprints.
My love for learning “how the world works” has led me to explore a wide range of projects, always finding something fascinating about the relationships between people, objects, nature, and the built environment. I’ve practiced design professionally in Chicago and have conducted research across the US, Canada, and Europe.
My products have been featured in Forbes, the Verge, Apartment Therapy, and the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and have appeared on Shark Tank, America’s Greatest Makers, in Disneyland Parks, Madame Tussauds, and The Four Seasons Resort in Oahu.
There are more than 380 million tons of plastic produced globally each year, an amount that is expected to triple by 2040. Contrary to most people’s expectation, less than 10% of this material is currently recycled. Most of it ends up in landfills and the rest either incinerated or leaked back into the environment to infiltrate our food, drinking water, and endocrine systems. A combination of factors has fed the proliferation of plastics, hidden the consequences of their use, and stifled competition and systemic change. Switching more of our products and packaging to biodegradable alternatives gives us a chance to clean our bodies, streams, beaches, and wildlife habitats.
This project proposes a low-impact model of production and uses renewable, locally sourced bio-composites. Many of our modern building materials and furnishings are designed to be made in high volume and as cheaply as possible. This has led to an endless flow of petroleum-derived plastics, epoxy-soaked timber, and toxic adhesives that are impossible to reuse or recycle. The popularity of home renovations and imported fast-furniture in our consumerist culture ensures this direct-to-landfill trend will endure. This project seeks to disrupt this cycle by re-localizing manufacturing and bringing a renewed interest in place, purpose, and materiality to a new line of products.
Bioplastics blended with agricultural waste fibers (native grasses, wheat straw, natural dyes) yield materials with unique aesthetics while augmenting properties and improving their sustainability. In this project, I design and fabricate a chair that has an ultra-low carbon footprint and is free from petroleum and dangerous airborne chemicals, formaldehyde, chlorine, and phthalates. Modern digital fabrication technologies are leveraged to create customizable mold inserts and precision sheets, profiles, and patterns. Through the versatility, strength, and beauty of these materials, the chair will demonstrate the rich possibilities of low-carbon production.