Design Competition Winner Amelia Bullins
Design Competition Winner Amelia Bullins
An Interview with
Amelia is one of the winners of our 37th Annual Design Competition and a student of Industrial Design at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. We had the pleasure of meeting with her before the holidays to discuss her design process, how she decided on the concept for her award-winning design, her take on the design industry, and what the future holds for her.
Doug Mockett: What is your background in design? What led you to our Annual Design Competition?
Amelia Bullins: I’m a senior in the Industrial Design Program at Appalachian State University. I’m getting my Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Design with a concentration in Product Design.
I’d like to think my design background started very young. My grandfather owned a wooden toy business and had his woodshop in his backyard. He let me explore and nail random pieces of wood together, and by age nine, I was cutting pieces for a birdhouse on the bandsaw. I then went to a STEM academy where I explored engineering concepts and robotics, but I didn’t feel like it was for me. When I first applied to App State, I didn’t know the Industrial Design program existed. Luckily, I learned about it in time, and the rest is history. I’m very lucky to do what I’m passionate about every day.
I learned about the competition from my professor, Michael Rall. Our first assignment this semester was a quick two-week project centered around the Mockett Competition, and it’s become a tradition at this point within our program.
DM: Tell us a little about your design. What was the inspiration behind it?
AB: I took a lot of inspiration from Mockett’s existing catalog. I identified an opportunity in Mockett’s no-touch door handle - one for an existing door handle and a foot pull for a cabinet. I saw an opportunity for a permanent structure that could function as either a foot pull or an arm pull. My design inspiration came from Mockett’s art deco motifs within their designs. I then decided to add the potential etching details inspired by the repeating patterns and geometric forms of the art deco style to embellish my design further.
DM: How do you approach design? How do you envision and execute the concept-to-part pipeline?
AB: I begin by identifying the problem I’m trying to solve. I then search for opportunities in what is already out there. I ideate, and along the way, I do some rapid prototyping with 3D printing. I try to model my designs with manufacturing as a forethought to ensure the design can be produced efficiently. Prototyping also helps me to understand size and proportions to hone in on the interaction it will have with the user. I believe that is the most important aspect of design. I then get feedback from my peers to continue to refine my product. You can learn a lot from someone who is removed from the process and has a fresh set of eyes looking at your project since they’ll have a similar reaction to someone who would pick it up on the shelf.
DM: How have you been affected by the pandemic when it comes to your approach to design? How do you think it has affected the design world as a whole?
AB: A large portion of my school career has been within pandemic guidelines, which definitely took a toll on the collaboration aspect of design. I learn so much from my peers and their different skills and perspectives, so it was hard trying to communicate ideas through a screen. I can find the positive in that hurdle - it is important to have that skill in a world that has become so digital. But now, I am very glad to be back in the studio working together on a collective goal.
As for the design world, the pandemic has forced us to add another checkbox to our design criteria or another thing to think about regarding the type of interaction a user will have with our products. That was actually an inspiration for my design, and I decided to incorporate those hygienic standards that we’re now a little more cognizant of. The handle I designed can be both an arm and foot pull. It doesn’t need to be grabbed and is easily disinfected.
DM: What do you hope for the future of design?
AB: As designers, I think we have a huge opportunity to shape the world that we live in. I hope the future of design is centered around empathy, sustainability, and designing things that can grow with the user. I’m hoping there’s a shift from designing for the purchase to designing for the project's life.
DM: Now that you’re an award-winning designer, what’s next for you?
AB: I just finished the first semester of my senior year, so next semester I will begin my capstone project. I haven’t chosen a topic yet, but I’m interested in the design of educational spaces like playgrounds or museums. I will be looking for an internship for the summer before graduating in August and will then begin looking for jobs. I’m very excited to enter the field and start learning more.
Congratulations to Amelia for producing a thoughtful, elegant design! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this rising star. To watch her full interview, click here.
For more information on our Annual Design Competition or to see how you can enter, click below! We are now accepting entries for our 38th installment!