ID Sprint 2015: The Future of Retail

The Kanbar Performance Space during the Final Sprint Crit.

By Haley Kmetz

Imagine shopping for camping equipment using holographic technology to visualize the terrain of your destination, watching videos stream on a floor-to-ceiling social media wall as you check out GoPros, or visiting pop-up stores to test and purchase the latest technology gadgets. Those are just a few of the innovations PhilaU ID students came up with during a recent one-week sprint challenge by industry sponsor Fleetwood Fixtures to envision a futuristic retail shopping experience in brick and mortar stores.

Student design teams presented to groups of faculty and clients from Fleetwood.

“I’m extremely impressed with each and every one of your projects,” Alan Adilman, director of design services at Fleetwood Fixtures, told students at the sprint’s final presentations in the Kanbar Campus Center Performance Space. Some 150 industrial design majors, from freshmen to graduate students, worked in 30 teams to conceptualize, design and prototype their design solutions as part of the fast-paced project.

Representatives from Fleetwood Fixtures, a custom fixtures and furnishings provider based in Leesport, Pa., kicked off the sprint Feb. 3 by revealing the design challenge and introducing students to their firm’s corporate culture and emerging industry trends. The Fleetwood Fixtures team provided feedback and advice midway through the sprint.

At the final presentations at the end of the week, students came prepared with research, sketches, renderings, videos, app designs, and prototypes for retail stores. Three teams were selected as winners by Fleetwood and the assembled team of PhilaU ID faculty.

Judges awarded one team’s design of a customizable tablet for Google that could be robotically assembled in just minutes in stores. Team member Nick Friez, a junior, said, “instead of receiving your tablet in the mail, you now get the experience of building it in stores.”

After the team presentations, the judges met to decide on the winning projects.

Another winning design was a terrain simulation lab for La Sportiva. “The challenge really gave us the opportunity to be creative,” team member, sophomore Evan Gasparini, said. Judges also awarded a plan to capitalize on a target market’s appreciation for design by selling The Sugar Lab’s customized 3-D candies as souvenirs at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Götz Unger, director of the undergraduate industrial design program, said this challenge called on a more diverse set of design skills than did past sprints. “We had everything from the design of apps, interior design and user-experience design,” Unger said. “They really did immerse themselves in this project like never before.” Scott Smith, vice president of human resources at Fleetwood Fixtures, said the project prepared students well for real-world industrial design challenges. “The interdisciplinary nature of this project parallels how we have to operate every day,” he said.

Special thanks go out to everyone who made this great experience possible including the team at Fleetwood, the design teams of both grad and undergrad ID students, and the PhilaU ID faculty.

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The 2015 Sprint Project Is Underway!

For our Spring 2015 ID Sprint Project, the PhilaU Industrial Design Department has partnered with Fleetwood Fixtures, a world-class provider of exceptional custom retail fixtures and furnishings.

Fleetwood has challenged the students to envision and design a retail experience that exists 10 years in the future. It’s a brief with exceptional demands and extrordinary freedom. Using Fleetwood’s core competencies as a starting point, students are free to create a retail experience for the brand of their choosing.

Special attention is paid to the connection of the physical and digital worlds as students seek new ways to deliver meaningful content and extend the experience beyond the initial retail location. This year, 30 teams of industrial design graduate students and undergrads are participating. We’re looking forward to an array of great results!

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DesignIntelligence Ranks PhilaU Industrial Design Programs Among Top in Nation

Philadelphia University graduate and undergraduate industrial design programs were ranked among the best in the country in the latest report by DesignIntelligence.

Nationally, the M.S. in Industrial Design program was ranked number seven among graduate programs. In the East, both undergraduate and graduate industrial design programs were cited as top academic programs, with the undergraduate program ranking third and the graduate program ranking fourth in the region.

In addition to being ranked among the best overall programs, PhilaU’s undergraduate industrial design program was cited as the second most admired in the nation in the DI survey of academic leaders in industrial design, including deans and department heads. PhilaU industrial design programs also were ranked second nationally for cross-disciplinary teamwork and fifth nationally in educating industrial design.

These findings were included in DesignIntelligence’s latest report, America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools 2015. Based on a survey of hiring firms to determine the schools that best prepare students for success in the profession, the annual report is highly regarded as an indicator of top academic programs in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and industrial design. For more, click here.

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Sophomore Seating

The BsID first-semester Sophomores (Design 3 Studio) recently completed the final critique of their first full-size seating project. Each student created a seating solution in the form of a 100%-scale functional stool. The design of each stool was driven by user research and scenario-building exercises conducted individually by each student. That information was used to create an overall design which was then built in wood. The project emphasized several key facets of the design/build process including schedule development, selection and procurement of materials, and full-scale fabricating techniques.

Final designs assembled for the critique.

The entire studio benefitted from DEC Shop Manager Trevor Walsh’s contribution as a special consultant during the project. Students received individualized instruction from Trevor in their chosen fabrication techniques, from bent plywood to wood joinery. The project resulted in a wide array of seating solutions, each firmly grounded in reality.

Final designs assembled for the critique.


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The Boy With The Lego Hand

9-year-old Aidan Robinson using one of the new prosthetic designs.

PhilaU ID graduate Coby Unger (BsID ‘14), now an Artist in Residence at 3-D design software maker Autodesk, collaborated with students from KIDmob’s Superhero Cyborg Camp to design a new take on children’s prosthetics. The project was featured this month in The Atlantic. Click here to read the full article.

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Grad Students Collaborate with Johnson & Johnson

PhilaU MsID students, MBA business students and members of the Engineering Club are working together on a sponsored project with Johnson & Johnson.  Johnson & Johnson is a leading innovator and manufacturer of consumer health care products. This is the second year Johnson & Johnson has sponsored a project with graduate industrial design and business students. This year’s topic is innovation in Oral Care. Students have two weeks to complete the project which includes marketing research, opportunity finding, ideation and prototyping. Johnson & Johnson representatives have come to campus to provide students with insights in consumer health care needs and to discuss the challenges of creating products for mass consumption.

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Knoll Product Development Opened to Grad Students

PhilaU MsID students were recently invited to tour the factory, product development lab and museum at Knoll, one of the world’s premiere furniture manufacturers.  Knoll is known for producing timeless and high quality office furniture created by leading designers.

A view of the museum at Knoll's headquarters in East Greenville, PA.














Students were given a first-hand look at Knoll’s manufacturing process including the fabrication of the iconic Barcelona chair. Students also learned how design drives engineering efforts to create innovative products based on consumer behavior. One example was a case study of the development of the Generation chair, a chair that flexes with the movement and positions of the user. Extensive design and development resulted in a chair that is innovative in function, material usage and production methods. The visit provided students insight into how design affects the development and manufacturing process and awareness of the effort involved in bringing a product to the consumer. The tour coincides with a student project, “The Future of Work,”  based on creating smart devices and environmental systems.

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Ready To Kick

This semester, students from both the Köln International School of Design (Germany) and the University of Lincoln (UK) are working with the third-year PhilaU ID students on the “Ready To Kick” Project.

The purpose of this collaboration is to engage student teams in a project across three schools, in three countries to design a brand and a line of products, then build a profile online in preparation for a crowdfunding launch to deliver a commercial product. Students are utilizing a wide range of  skills to complete the project including: rapid prototyping for production, social media for promotion, and open-source crowdfunding for financing.

KISD professor Wolfgang Laubersheimer recently brought a group of his students from Cologne to Philadelphia for a intensive week of collaborative research and design on the project with the PhilaU students. The work was advanced greatly and we look forward to seeing the final results in a matter of weeks.

KISD and PhilaU industrial design students take time out from their project to enjoy a meal together.


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International Opportunities Abound

International study is a key part of  the PhilaU ID Program. From Milan to Cologne to Hong Kong, our students are gaining an understanding of industrial design from a global perspective. Recently, BsID student Ian Cooke and MsID students Aakriti Chandra, Matt Flail, and Jorge Vazquez attended the intensive 9-week furniture design program at DIS in Denmark. Below, you can read Ian’s description of his experience and view the process he used to create his chair:















“My experience over the 9-week program was probably one of the most beneficial things I could have ever done for my design career and for myself.  The first two weeks were filled with early morning classes, which were lectures from various designers.” 















“Designers from IKEA, Fritz Hansen, PP Mobler, and private firm owners came to speak.  They showed their work and explained how they got to where they are today.  They came from an eclectic mix of countries, and many had extensive training in woodworking or metal working prior to becoming designers.”















“For our third week we went on a study tour from Denmark to Stockholm to Helsinki and back.  For this phase, the furniture design program was split into two groups.  While in each city we took trips to different manufacturers and sites around the city.  We got to see many different processes of manufacturing from large-scale production at Ikea’s headquarters (including their new testing facility), to small-scale handcrafting at places like Fritz Hansen.”
















“Upon arriving back in Denmark, we each started sketch models for our chair, which were to be due at the end of the week. Time was very limited and a full-size chair was the final deliverable, so we had to ensure that our design was realistic. Often, compromises had to be made.  After the initial round of models we had a week to finalize our design and start drawing.  By the end of the next week we had to have finished our 1:1 scale drawings in order to start building.”















“For the building process we used the facilities at the Danish Royal Design Academy which was equipped with top of the line machinery.  We had a thorough run-through of the machines before we started and then began to work. We had two weeks at 6 hours a day for the first week, and the second week the shop was open from 7am-10pm every day. The process needed every second of allotted time, and gave an interesting aspect into the manufacturing of the chair.  At the end we had critiques and a show for everyone including the other programs to display their work.  Awards were given to one person in each category (wood, metal, veneer) and one for the Danish design award for the one who captured the essence of Danish design the best.  We then prepared our chairs for shipping back to the US.”















“During these nine weeks I fell in love with the city of Copenhagen, made a ton of new friends. Arts and design have been engrained into their culture as you can notice from just a short time spent in the city.  Walking around is like taking a stroll through an architectural blog.   I would recommend the program to anyone. Bringing something from idea to fruition in such a short amount of time will give you a whole new perspective on industrial design.  It truly shows you the full process and forces you to design realistically.  This program will not only leave you with a finished product that you will have created from nothing; it will leave you with lifelong friends and an experience you’ll never forget.”

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Meet The Seniors

This year’s BsID Seniors are beginning to plan their Capstone Projects for the spring semester and are exploring a possible career paths in the process. At this point in our students’ preparations we welcome the involvement of our friends and our alumni. The development of a meaningful design brief is critically important to each Capstone Project’s eventual outcome. We invite you to contact students who discuss subject matter that aligns with your experiences and preferences:



Carter Agvent
Being a part of the creative world has always been extremely important to me. I developed a background in fine art after attending Lehigh Valley Performing Arts Charter High School, and I’ve been able to carry that experience over into my time as a student at Philadelphia University. This background experience has given me certain skills in industrial design that set me apart from others, such as my ability to quickly and accurately sketch and render ideas onto paper.

My goal as an industrial designer is to make an impact in one of the several fields that have always caught my interest, such as sporting goods, fashion, or soft goods. I would love to create my own company, giving me greater influence in the design process. I’m fascinated by the relationship between beauty and function, and I would love to explore that relationship in the world of fashion.




Matthew Cook
I am passionate about soft good design, graphic design communication, and entrepreneurship. In my travels and education I have gained experience and I am well versed in each of these three fields. I have benefitted from an education in interdisciplinary design. I want to work with people who have drive and compliment my traits. To be surrounded by other hardworking people creates the successful workplace that I am looking for.





Lauren Elliott
I believe that at the end of the day, better and more distinct design experiences are key to success. I gravitate towards design research and keen observation to drive my designs. I am open to all areas of design but creating an environment through industrial design particularly intrigues me. My drive and determination as a student-athlete has allowed me to develop strong work ethic and time management. I am a designer, a problem solver, a photographer, an artist, a creative individual.



Evan Fein
I have always had a passion for drawing, and it is the reason I got into design. I use my Industrial design background to improve an object’s function, and I use my illustration background to improve aesthetic. For my capstone I would like to create something innovative for the world of Transportation Design.





Alexi Fineman
Within the field of industrial design, I am attracted to the many ways we interact and see the objects of our everyday environments. For me, design is a way of bringing a community together to strengthen creativity and individual/group lifestyle. I want to direct my design experience towards the fine arts and music, expanding the realms in which my creativity may thrive.



Dennis Hoxter
I’m interested in a vehicle for a currently undefined niche market. My interests are landscaping, camping, trucking, and related utility vehicles. Preparatory research may involve review of upcoming materials, benchmarking existing equipment, soft goods for pack-ability, and ergonomic studies for the vehicle’s interior. The intent is to create a purpose built vehicle instead of a modified version of something on the market.





Galen Kane
Design for me is a way to create connections between people and the world around them. I have a passion for the outdoors and it tends to show in my work. Sustainability is a design consideration that aligns with my love for the outdoors. Quality and craft are important to the way I view design. When something is well made it especially resonates with me. It shows a deep amount of thought and understanding of what is being created. Care is something that I believe needs to be obvious in a design. As a designer I care as much about the object as I do about the end user.

In my Capstone project I would like to design for water collection, purification, and storage. Biomimicry will play a role as a design strategy. A trip to Costa Rica’s National Parks will allow me to observe and research organisms that deal with water management for their survival. I want to discover innovative ways of dealing with water preservation and use, while not harming our ecosystem.




Steve Kronenberger
As long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the construction of cinematic experiences. I would like to study how props and set design are created. For my thesis project, I am interested in researching and developing the physical side of the entertainment experience.





Neil Kwiatkowski

I fell in love with industrial design for the opportunity it provides us as designers to learn with each project. I thrive entering an area I’ve never explored before and learning about something new. I work best providing insight from a new viewpoint to brew creativity. I live for the beauty in minimal, functional design. My thesis will focus on the connection between outdoor sports and the elements of nature. I look to build a stronger, more emotional connection between the athlete and their environment through the creation of a brand.





Mike Leonard
To me design is a limitless conversation in which everyone can participate, bringing manyperspectives to the creation of new and exciting experiences. My current interest in design concerns user experiences. Creating a distinct feeling and invoking a unique emotion in those who experience my design would be a satisfying accomplishment for me. The area of exhibit design in trade shows and design for live performance are of prime interest to me for designing experiences.



Chris Mbakwe
My name is Christopher Mbakwe. I am a senior Industrial Design student interested in creating objects that teach and inspire. My passions are art and mathematics; languages of design that I believe can be incorporated in today’s products to solve many problems. I want to work in a design environment that sponsors educating young people about how design can provide elegant solutions to real world problems.





Danny Meservey
I want to design products that work; products that solve real problems without falling into past trends. As my design skills matured my interests have expanded into soft goods and apparel, which is a field I would like to explore for my Capstone Project. I am also minoring in Textile Material Technologies to better inform my project.




Nick Nawa
Design thinking has become a tangible process, rather than an abstract thing attributed to artists and creative types, who were born with the ability to think this way. Design thinking is something that can be taught. I hope to understand how creative thinking and the design process can impact the education of middle school and high school students. Whether it’s a system of modular educational tools, or a system of lesson plans, I believe an understanding of a process- based approach to creative thinking can positively impact the lives and education of students otherwise exposed predominantly to a technical curriculum.






Kiersten Oliver
I am interested in designing furniture; specifically, furniture that acts not only as a functional piece in a room but also as a source of delight to the user. For my senior thesis I would love to create a small collection of furniture that strongly reflects a philosophy and draws from a common point of inspiration.




Michael Otterbein
Triathlons are a big part of my life. It has had a huge impact on my development as both a person and a designer. Competing in this sport places a tremendous strain on the athletes mind and body. In the course of competing I have witnessed athletes exposed to dangerous situations as the race constantly asks athletes to push themselves past their limits. Because of this strain, there is inherent danger in the sport and can sometimes result in fatal accidents. I was first introduced to this danger when a fellow competitor drowned not 20 feet from safety personnel. Through further research, I discovered that there were about 50 deaths between 2003 and 2011 in the US alone, 30 of which were in the swim portion of the race. The sport has been growing in popularity, so this number will only increase. As a competitor and a designer, I have the unique opportunity to make this portion of the race safer for everyone.




Brian Palladino
As a designer I strive for fluidity and efficiency in our interaction with objects and environments. I want to apply this fluidity in design in the world of consumer electronics.



Michael Rostron
My interest in Industrial Design lies in improving sports equipment, apparel, and ideas specifically within the sport of golf. Graphics, color and materials play a major role in designing next level or future equipment. My experience has been that changing a player’s mental status by improving the design of their gear is an important factor for advanced golfers.




Ryan Salisbury
My interests in the field of Industrial Design are not focused on one particular area. I have worked on projects of different varieties. New experiences have always challenged me to grow. I have not had an opportunity to explore the world of design in entertainment and exhibits. An opportunity to develop a capstone project around this theme is my desire.




Luke Scotton
I am inspired by design in all its forms – architecture, graphics, fashion, art – and attempt to utilize this in my own design. Currently, I am interested in soft goods, especially backpacks and camping products, which is the direction I am pursuing in my capstone project.


Amos Shaffer
I am interested in designing objects that inspire the user. I feel that this can be achieved with a balance of beauty, empathy, and function. Objects should reflect a user’s values while also solving a problem. For my Capstone Project I need to develop the subject matter that allows me to explore these connections.




Sandro Surabischwili
Form follows function follows form follows function. Whichever comes first, second, or last, it’s critical that they combine in equal measure. Form can itself be the function, and alternately, there is an inherent beauty in pure function: a brush-stroke, which is solely a shape, a form, contrasts starkly with a 6 liter V12 engine, in which the shapes, crevices, bolts, and chambers are completely subservient to the function. I find that design is a means to amalgamate the quest for beauty with the drive for function.



Andrew Townes
I am interested in design with a modern aesthetic such as Meis Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona chair. Along with my infatuation with modern design I am interested in designing solutions that makes basketball more accessible to a broader demographic.



Thanh Tran
My interest in the field of Industrial Design is very broad. Eventually, I would like to work on a variety of different design projects so that I can gain experience in all the different fields of Industrial Design. For my Capstone project I am interested in pursuing one of two themes: leveraging design to improve society or designing products to prevent sports injuries.




Jacob Wiegmann
My interests in design are largely focused on new materials and process research. I’ve always believed that pushing the limits of new materials or contemporary manufacturing techniques fuels true innovation. It is not simply about finding arbitrary uses for the latest material, but rather discovering in what areas they surpass current materials. I am interested in the way they can further improve sustainability. I want to use my capstone project to create my own start-up business. With resources like Kickstarter, rapid prototyping, and other opportunities, I feel that now is the perfect time to attempt this undertaking.





















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