A week-long independent project focusing on design thinking and physical fabrication during my first semester in MFADT at Parsons. The main theme for this project was "plushies", which allowed us to explore the theme based on our own interests and interpretations.
DT Globe— Where do we feel the most at Home?
A plushie globe that celebrates DT's diverse background.
Backstory + Motivation
For this "plushies" project, I created a plushie globe that showcases DT’s diverse community. Inspired by a pin needle cushion and the pattern those pearl sewing pins represent when they’re clustered in the cushion, I transformed this assignment as another data collecting project.
Our Design & Technology program is known for its diversity and global presence. Our first week of classes consisted of numerous introductions revolving around that one question: “Where are you from?” Having spent most of my life split between different continents, I’ve always found that question somewhat daunting to answer; it was hard for me to definitively pinpoint one place as “home”.
Being surrounded by talented individuals in our cohort from such global backgrounds, I realized that many of us share the similar experience. Our diverse and international background is something that should be recognized and celebrated. You don’t have to be from one particular place. “Home” does not have to be defined because our “home” is where we feel the most at home.
Thus, this DT Globe is a part data collection project where people in DT can put in sewing pins to indicate the places they feel the most at home to celebrate our diverse community. The softness and flexibility of this plushie globe allows people to pin as many locations as possible and change as often as they wish. The red pin represents NYC as our current base.
The globe is made out of left over clothing materials—specifically a pair of linen pants and a t-shirt—I collected from my friends for my previous project, “Friends: A Woven Data Visualization Project”. I also created a mid-fidelity prototype screen that would go with the DT globe to showcase the data collected online. My working idea is that once a user clicks the “Pin Location” CTA, they can put in their basic information, including name and graduation year. Then, they can put a pin in the globe, which will then show up on the screen.
When looking for local toy designer for inspiration, I already had a concept in mind that I wanted proceed with. There were many many toy / game designers out there that I found very talented, but I had a hard time connecting a particular designer as an inspiration for my plushie idea and the story I wanted to tell. However, when I came across Marissa Louie’s toy brand, I was instantly inspired by her line’s values and the story-led design process.
Annimoodle Stuffed Animal Toys by Marissa Louie
- Louie a UX design lead turned toy designer for Annimoodle, a magnetic mix and make plushies that inspire creativity and compassion in kids.
- Using the standard plushie material, but making body parts removable.
- Focuses on the story-led design approach. They start out by developing their story and characters before jumping into sketching and prototyping.
- Draws inspiration from different cultures for each animalsShowcasing the importance of diversity in story-telling.
- Different than my project idea and approach, but love his use of space in his work using plushies as his main medium.
- Creating a space that encourages the audience to reflect and communicate with each other.
Ideation & Brainstorming
With these week-long intensive projects, managing time is one of the most important aspect. Having a clear vision & story for my project allowed me to be as efficient as possible during the ideation & brainstorming phase.
In terms of materials, I utilized materials that I had collected previously for my another project which was also helpful to stay productive.
Once I was set with my DT globe idea, I sourced a globe pattern from google and created my own sets of patterns using illustrator
A pair of cream linen pants
Regular sewing thread (green + white),
Before getting started on creating patterns (or templates) for the whole globe, I started with a couple panels as a feasibility test. Because the continent cut out pieces were too small and delicate, I knew the only option was to hand-sew them on to the base pieces. In this prototype, I also tried out two different techniques for the hand-stitch to decide which technique to use.
Prototype 2: Assembly Line
After completing the prototype test, I got started on creating my actual globe. I kicked off by creating an assembly line by prepping materials for each stage.
Prototype 3: Combining Everything
After many, many hours of tedious hand-stitching, I was finally ready to put the pieces together to make it into a globe. I chose to sew in a set of two panels first and then to connect the three pieces together. For this portion, I turned the panels upside down and sewed them using the sewing machine
Another challenge I faced (other than hand-stitching teeny tiny land cut outs) was closing the globe. My first few attempts at doing the ladder stitch / invisible stitch was unsuccessful. However, I was able to give it a third try by watching the Youtube tutorial. I wasn’t totally successful as you can still see the stitches a little bit, but it still came out to be much cleaner than my initial attempts.
Overall, this was a tedious yet rewarding project that took much longer than I had initially expected. I had to be very precise and detail oriented to make sure that the hand-stitches were evenly distributed. Also I didn’t factor in that the edges of the t-shirt cutout can get frayed so I had to be very meticulous with where I was placing my stitches in order to contain the frayed edges—especially for small areas. However, I felt very accomplished to see my final globe and all its details. It’s by no means an accurate representation of the actual globe as some parts are very misaligned, but there is no perfect design so I’m embracing my human errors :)
For this project, I went a step further and created a prototype mid-fidelity UX screen. The idea was that once a user logs their basic information—name & graduation year—they can click the “Pin Location” CTA and activate the globe. Then they can pin their location(s) in the globe and this data will populate on the UX screen to serve as a data visualization and directory of our DT community. I really enjoyed tying together my physical object with a conceptual idea, because it helped me to think outside of the box and gave me a glimpse of how I could tie in my design and fabrication skills into my future projects. Because of the given time constraint, I didn’t get to take this project as far as I would’ve liked. I hope that in the future with a better knowledge in physical computing, I can apply the physical computing component inside the globe to complete the prototype.
High-Fidelity & Final Sprint
While the designers were wrapping up the low-fidelity wireframes, I was working closely with the developers to problemshoot any feasiblity issues and manage the development timeline. As a non-developer project lead, I wanted to make sure that my developers felt supported and their workload was managable. Thanks to our very understanding client team and extremely talented developers, we were able deliver the final product successfully.
The new website is now live. Check it out below!