Industrial Design 4: Sustainability was taught in collaboration with the Berkeley Turkish School. CCA Students were tasked with desgining and fabricating toys for the schoolchildren that are responsive to the cultural and sustainable contexts of the school.
Industrial Design student Hugo Waldern shares his experience working with The Berkeley Turkish School for his ENGAGE course: ID4: Sustainability
Is this the right course?
I was not quite sure what to make of the Engage Program at first. I remember the first day of our class, having only a fraction of the student count than in my other industrial design courses prior. This gave me a bit of skepticism.
Was I in the right class for what I needed?
I understood the course stood for involvement with the community, and I understood this could mean a product that could yield real results, yield real answers that so many other design classes failed to take advantage of.
Hugo also interviewed his fellow students about their experience:
The end product was nothing like what I imagined it to be. It was genuinely directed by our insights from each visit we made to our users. I enjoyed the open ended approach we took on. It allowed us to dive into research in
our own styles. Hence each group came up with unique products that were completely unlike one another. – Ritz, CCA Student
Designing with children
The course required what any other class did; working prototypes, sketches, research, CAD modeling and a clear, cohesive story that explained how I ended up with my results. What was new to this list of requirements was deep understanding paradigm of ecology and sustainability, cultural perspective and understanding of Turkish customs and practices, an understanding of our client (Berkeley Turkish School students AND faculty) as well as a deep immersion back to my childhood.
What would I want if I were a kid? Dinosaurs! No, seriously Hugo, get dinosaurs out of your head! How can I understand a classroom full of children’s wants and needs for this hybridized tool and toy? I was soon paired with my partner, Zander, whom I have no doubt had equally concerning questions, and we began to tackle the problems presented as we have been trained. Research turned to sticky note ideas, soon turning into sketching then to prototyping. Zander and I were left in this cycle for weeks; testing, adjusting, tuning, modeling. We refined and went about throwing in all the ideas we could, ducking deadlines and fortifying our design against criticism, constantly destroying and rebuilding, questioning every element. Everyone (including my grandmother) was brought into our process, opinions and outside voices just as important as our own. All options were as quickly on the table as fast as they were off, as our process soon yielded its final results.
ENGAGE Set Apart
Theoretically, any ID class could offer the rigorousness course that Zander and I took. What separated the Engage course from the rest came down to the impact of our work. The work wasn’t just for a computer-modeled project online or in a portfolio, never to be built and rigorously tested. The Engage class was more than just making someone interested in our work. The course left my peers and myself open to elements of real design. For the first time ever during my three years at CCA, I felt had a real client. I felt I had a very legitimate, real obligation not to fail, like there was someone who I could actually help.
Hugo interviewed the community partner about the impact of the Engage projects:
I think it helped the BTS community feel more connected and engaged with the bigger context of the Bay Area. The products obviously are going to be very influential and helpful for our teachings. And I would be thrilled to have the course come back to us again. – Basak Cakici, Co‐Founder, The Berkeley Turkish School
Getting it right
We had real requirements; cultural, environmental and educational, each having to be handled separately to eventually become one chorus of working coherence. There were lots of elements to be tied together, what felt like three languages that had to morph to become fluent, understood, even intuitive. These are some of what felt like real challenges my peers and I faced while taking the Engage course. The Engage course is a lesson of observation, process and delivery to a client that will not be afraid to put your product to the test, and continue to do so years after you deliver your final prototype.