ebb | inclusive furniture design

Magnifying Small Spaces | Fall 2018

brief:

I designed an individual Active Insert wall, that must include either a table or chair, for a target group. An Active Insert wall is a singular panel of 8' x 3' x 4" dimensions that can be connected to other panels to create a modular room. The insert should recognize the needs of a specific population and address them in the context of a small, indoor space.

target group:

Adults with concentration issues experience overwhelming or underwhelming sensory loads, or a combination of both. By balancing these inputs through sensory stimulation, people are able to focus more effectively. This target group originated from the initial intention to design for children with learning disabilities; the scope of the project became broader and more inclusive to be mass produced and reach a larger population. 

Executive summary:

The furniture industry is currently lacking a variety of pieces specifically catered to disabled populations. Sensory imbalances at the heart of such issues can be mitigated through tactile stimulation. ebb introduces an artistic and functional set of furniture to help people with difficulties focusing and managing their energy while working; it encourages the exploration and benefits of textural design in our environments.​ 

ideation:

The process of ideation began with multiple, different ideas incorporating the idea of balance sensory input. I felt especially inspired by nature, in its forms of bee hives, coral, and webbing, as well as the simple mechanics of folding a shirt or opening a fan. 

key

Initial ideas/concepts to be explored in further ideation

Final ideas/concepts to be incorporated in product

ideation results

  • developed intention to design for focus and learning/cognitive abilities by including tactile stimulation

  • the legs can be folded down and should be incorporated as part of the art

  • either mesh or a bouncy ball as a seat could be beneficial for balancing sensory overload

  • the furniture should be seamlessly placed into the wall and allow some form of modularity

  • tactile stimulation should be placed on the bottom of the table; placing it on the top may be distracting rather than balancing

  • the legs can also function as privacy screens since people may be self conscious about using the tactile stimulation underneath

  • furniture are modular in purpose, arrangement, and variations

  • a bouncy ball will be included in a seat with tactile stimulation underneath as well

  • tactile stimulation could be explored in variations of wood, cloth, and texture in a ribbed form

results:

ebb is shown in different views to display modular arrangement and purpose. The holes on each side are ergonomic handles for users to pull the table down, and as cubby holes to store stuff when the table is being used. People can sit in three different orientations, with privacy screening to their preference. They can decide to use the chairs, one of which includes a bouncy ball insert, or decide to use one of their own. Two or three people can work comfortably together to facilitate group interaction as well. By itself, ebb becomes an art piece: the legs folded in resemble a frame, while the aesthetic displays the ebb and flow of waves to reflect difficulties with a constant change of emotions and sensory information. ebb functions as a work of art specifically created to recognize the beauty of learning disabilities.

reflections:

The process of creating ebb was the most emotional one yet, since I was having a hard time figuring out how to best incorporate tactile stimulation into furniture for a minority population that I'm extremely passionate about. I went through many iterations and functional issues with the wave design and had difficulty balancing complexity and simplicity. Overall, at the end of the project, I'm satisfied with the design, but understand that some technical issues with the frame/legs should be resolved.