Katie Zawadowicz


Design Lab III: For this project, we were tasked with taking music therapy and creating a design to incorporate the practice for physical therapy. I had fairly recently watched my grandmother go through hip replacement surgery. She was reluctant to do the exercises needed for a proper recovery which resulted in reduced mobility. My design would provide the stability needed for physical therapy exercises while being able to transform depending on what stage in the healing process the patient is in.

The design consists of a walker design with a removable cane. The feet of the cane and walker are able to measure how much pressure is being put on them. Over time, this helps to indicate how much the patient is relying on the equipment for stability. The “brains” of the operation are located in the handle of the cane. This makes it possible for the patient to detach and use only the cane to get around when not doing physical therapy. The patient would be supplied with an app that would instruct them on what exercises to do while keeping their interest by playing music and moving to the beat.

Design for Play: For this project, we were to research a toy that was created before 1900 and chose an age group to design for. I pursued the Kaleidoscope and how it could be adapted for infants and toddlers. This design is a bath toy and consists of two parts: a handheld device and a colorful bathmat. The handheld device would have a collection of mirrors which the child would glide over the surface of the water while in the tub. The bathmat and natural fragmentation tendencies of the water would come together with the mirrors to create a kaleidoscope effect.

This was an icebreaker project. We were paired up with another student in the class and could only ask this person ten questions. We were then to design a toy for that person based off their answers. Through this process, I made my partner a stringless, portable guitar. There are lasers at the top and the bottom of the guitar that would register the placement of the user’s fingers and produce the intended note. The device is designed to fold up, making it easy to be stashed in a backpack or purse.

Collaboration + Furniture: Over the course of the semester, each student was tasked with doing research each week on furniture designers. The end goal was to consolidate all the information into a document which would be used as a resource for the department. Being a double major in Product Design and Graphic Design, I saw an opportunity to put my editorial skills to use, creating a nicely laid out book.

Thesis Studio: For my thesis, I chose to focus on biomimicry and how it could be applied to help women feel safer and more confident while waiting for the bus after dark. A large part of my process was going from an infinite amount of possibilities to finding the one function in nature that would best suit my project. I was a bit overwhelmed until I found an article about the Johnston's Organ. Found in fruit flies, honey bees and mosquitos, this organ helps its owner to sense events like direction and altitude in which the organism is flying to be able to detect danger before it is too late. Around this time, I was introduced to Philip White of Arizona State University. Phillip White has an extensive background in Industrial Design, Sustainability, and Biomimicry, making him the perfect coach for my project. Through this, I was able to create a system mimicking nature. The way it works is that there are holes in the front of the shelter in which the vibrations, both from sound waves and air movement, enter and travel down the tubing of the structure, causing the elements inside to move.

The basic idea of my concept was to create a system that could sense vibrations resulting from both sound waves and movement of the air from a sudden or violent action. This would trigger the system to switch from normal lighting to an overwhelmingly bright light in hopes of throwing the perpetuator off guard, causing them to run away.

I explored many aspects of this project including the form of the shelter itself and what kind of lighting fixture was best to use. I came to the decision that a light panel would serve this project best and focused on three formations moving forward. Unfortunately, the last semester for the Class of 2020 did not go as expected. Only a few days before Spring Break, the school made the announcement that campus would be closing for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19. I was able to make a quick 1/12th scale prototype before I lost all access to MICA’s Dolphin Design Center’s fabrication equipment.

Each panel consists of 3 layers: a metal backing, a middle layer of diffused LED lights, and a top layer of diffused LED lights. Normally the first layer is what provides the needed amount of light. Once the sensor is tripped the middle layer of LEDs kicks on in high gear. The energy required comes from solar panels which are mounted to the top of the structure. There is also a door on the side of the structure that provides easy access to the control center for maintenance.

If you would like to learn more about this project, visit my website at laurazdesign.com

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