35th Annual Design Competition
Meet Mockett’s Design Competition Winner – Kaitlin Sides
Kaitlin Sides is one of the winners of the 35th Annual Design Competition, and we had a chance to catch up with her and discuss all things design, including how the present is shaping our future as it pertains to design. Mockett’s Design Competition celebrates innovation and creativity while creating real-world applications that are useful to our industry and can go on to have an impact on our daily lives. Kaitlin is a student at Appalachian State University and learned about the design competition through her professor. Here we will learn more about her design process, inspiration, and more. So, let’s dive in!
1. Tell us about your design background and how you learned about Mockett’s Annual Design Competition.
I’m graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design this year, so I’ve had about 4 years of design education from my wonderful professors. Before I attended Appalachian State though, I’ve always been interested in the visual arts and understanding the way things work. Growing up, I loved watching shows like MythBusters and How Its Made. In school I took every art class offered and I especially loved sculpture. My parents nurtured both my interests in art and science with extra curriculars. Industrial design is the perfect mixture of science and art for me!
I learned about Mockett’s Annual Design Competition through my professor, Michael Rall. I’m thankful that he made time for us to work on designs for the competition in our class.
2. Tell us about your award-winning design and your inspiration behind it.
My design is a foot pull for doors. It was designed as 2 parts: there is a bracket that is affixed to the door, then the foot pull is slid into the bracket. The design is usable with the top and bottom of the shoe to be more user friendly. I also wanted to make sure that people wouldn’t risk scuffing their shoes when they used the foot pull.
The inspiration for the functionality of the foot pull was the pandemic. I knew that the way people interact with their surroundings was going to change drastically. I thought that offices would need foot pulls when people returned to working in person.
Market research revealed to me that most of the foot pulls currently on the market weren’t aesthetically pleasing. I looked to art deco architecture to inspire my design. The repeating curves and sharp angles pay homage to the art deco movement.
3. What is your approach and process to design? How do you envision the concept-to-part pipeline and how do you execute?
I use design thinking as my process. In design thinking, the most important part is understanding the user. I try to empathize with the user to understand the problem through their eyes. I also focus on deeply understanding the problem I’m trying to solve through research. When I understand the user and the problem, I find that ideation comes naturally. A vital part of my process is receiving feedback from my peers. Getting feedback on my designs helps me to see new points of view or learn new ways to address the problem.
4. Were you affected by the pandemic in any way as a designer? Has your approach to design changed in the past year as a result? How has the pandemic affected the design world as a whole in your eyes?
The pandemic was incredibly impactful to me as a designer. It was a great learning experience to see how companies adjusted their products and advertising in response to the pandemic. I also got to see how simple designs, like the comfort band for masks, helped so many people. It was a lesson in the huge impact good design can make.
5. What does the future of design look like for you?
I believe design has an exciting future, with a return to natural materials and a focus on accessibility. With the environmental crisis, even everyday products are having to be reimagined with new materials in mind. I believe that there will be a total shift away from environmentally harmful materials like plastic. As we grow more sensitive to the needs of a diverse user base, design will become increasingly accessible. I look forward to a more inclusive and diverse design industry and the amazing products it will produce.
6. After having won our design contest, what is your next project or what are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my capstone, which will be my final project before I graduate. My capstone is a fantasy themed planning app for people with executive dysfunction. I want to put the tools I’ve learned to use as a college student with ADHD into a fun, easy to use app. I’m also pursuing an industrial design internship to gain experience and begin my career.
Congratulations to Kaitlin Sides for her functional product design and for telling us about her design experience! We are extremely excited to bring her concept to market and look forward to beginning the process.
Meet Design Competition Winner Kaitlin Sides
Feeling inspired? Be sure to enter our 36th Annual Design Competition which closes on September 7, 2021. Good luck!