I used to do medical research at Johns Hopkins University and the NIH while I was working towards my degree in biomedical engineering. Designing medical products was my original goal in my career, but I have been gaining design skills by designing in other industries and studying new techniques in the hopes in the future I can solve more complex problems.
I did a quick 3D modeling exercise of a microcentrifuge, which was staple equipment in all of the labs I've worked in. Normally they look like strange rice cookers, but as a form language I thought it more suitable to create the expression of the sophisticated and mature advanced lab instrument that scientists, doctors, and technicians rely on daily.
Personal project. Watch design has been a great inspiration and influence on my work. I began doing watch design in my free time to refine my sense of proportion, detail, and form development skills.
Time is fractured.
We perceive time not through discrete equidistant segments of seconds, minutes, or hours. Time in our present state and in our memories are felt through our experiences. Some experiences stay strong in our minds. Some feel like an eternity. Some feel like they pass by much too soon.
Our minds and experiences fracture the time that enters our memories.
The dial fragments are attached and slide around the circumference of the watch case. The topmost fragment tells the hour. The fragment below it tells minutes. The bottom circle tells seconds.
The hands of the dials are read normally as the subtle radial markings on each fragment.
MMA Watch Project
Watch concepts for the MMA market.
The client for this project was a watchmaker that marketed their brand toward fans and athletes of extreme sports. In this project I was asked to design a watch for the mixed martial arts market.
This was the first project I had ever attempted to design watches. These are concepts I designed while working at SOULCAKE.
Mixed martial arts, or MMA, is a rapidly growing fighting sport. Designing a watch that would be associated with this sport, I based each concept on a different characteristic of MMA. A common theme among all of these, I attempted to convey strength and masculinity through the design's form language.
The skull is a symbol of raw, primal instinct. It represents fearlessness. The skull is often used by MMA clothing brands. In my case, I attempted to take a similar theme and execute it more tastefully within a watch.
I based the form language on the surfacing of the skull bone. Specifically, using the area around the right eye socket and nasal cavity to house the watch face and hands.
For MMA fighters to fight well, they require a combination of brute strength, toughness, and balance. The I-Beam is an inspiration I chose to represent this type of strength and stability. The "I" shape is a strong and bold icon that would make the watch design instantly recognizable.
In my thumbnails, I began to figure out how to best apply the "I" icon with the correct proportion to convey strength. In this rapid thumbnail sketch technique, I experimented with sketching over distressed metal phototextures in order to get a feeling for the design.
MMA may be thought of as one of the newest forms of modern hand-to-hand combat. A stealth bomber was an analogy I used as inspiration for this concept, as the faceted form language conveys both modern combat and very aggressive surfaces.
Designing a faceted watch was a personal challenge for myself, as I have not seen many watch designs out there with aggressive faceted forms.
Like the gladiators fighting in the ancient Roman Colosseum, MMA fighters can be thought of as today's warriors of the modern-day fighting spectacle.
I began thumbnailing designs based on the gladiator helmet.
As opposed to the square ring used by boxers and other ring fighters, the octagon cage is the iconic fighting arena for MMA fighters. I used the octagon as the basis for this watch design.
Rather than simply giving the watch an octagon-shaped silhouette, I wanted the design to have more dimensionality. I created a deep circular cavity, within which another octagon mass would echo the overall shape and strengthen the octagon form language.
Sometimes when designing, I also look at other products that the market might positively associate themselves with. The Hummer, an aggressive military vehicle brought to the consumer market, might be the vehicle version of an MMA fighter. Large, muscular, and indestructable.
If an MMA fighter wore a watch into the ring, what would it be like? My idea was designing a watch that would essentially be pre-destroyed, a watch they would never worry about breaking. In fact, it would be something they could wear with pride. This broken and fragmented design language is inherently aggressive and filled with tension, that as a design it could possibly be seen as beautiful.
Client work for Altec Lansing and Soulcake.
Altec Lansing chose this design to be taken in production. Before it was taken to market, Altec Lansing went out of business and this speaker never made it to store shelves.
Android tablets come from multiple electronics manufacturers. There is no standard charging data/charging port.
Some use miniUSB, some use DC power adapters, and some use their own proprietary ports. Android tablets also come in different sizes, and ports are located in different places.
While most speaker docks are designed for Apple products, there are very few speaker docks for Android devices.
We went forward with a cradle dock, which allows tablets of any size to sit comfortably. The tablet would use its own charger cable to plug into a USB port in the back. The charger cable could feed through an opening in the base of the cradle and stay relatively hidden.
These were some of the form explorations sketches to achieve this concept.
The concept direction chosen by Altec Lansing. The curved bottom gives the form a "floating" look. The foldover profile view also ties in with the form language of their latest speakers.
During the meeting, an Altec Lansing sound engineer commented, "I feel strangely aroused" when he saw this concept.
I remember this as the best client feedback I've ever received on my work.
Cobra PUMA Golf
I designed Cobra PUMA Golf's main driver for 2013, the Amp Cell line. Available in stores now.
Golf Digest 2013 Hot List Gold Medal winner.
I was awarded a design patent for this design.
A SOULCAKE internal rebranding case study. Designers at Soulcake were to each choose a brand to revive. Instead of choosing a consumer product brand, I looked at NASA.
In this 40-hour project I took NASA, an institution facing budget cuts, and examined their brand as if they were a consumer product company. I quickly defined a form language that NASA could potentially use across their product family and established a strategy to connect with consumers by creating products for the aspirational market.
Growing up, NASA has always been an inspiration. Today is an exciting time for space, with the beginnings of the commercialization of space travel and Mars exploration. Yet NASA faces budget cuts and lukewarm media attention.
What if NASA were to brand themselves in a way that conveys more value and meaning to people? What if they created consumer products that would inspire and connect with the public?
What if NASA invested in itself and created NASA-branded products for consumers?
Think space pens and astronaut ice cream, but on a bigger scale, allowing NASA to generate supplemental funding through its returns.
With the beginnings of the commercialization of space, creating a cohesive brand will become even more critical to NASA in the near future.
SPACE WATCHES AND FORM LANGUAGE CONSISTENCY
A space watch that would be worn by astronauts in space. It would also be sold as a high-end luxury watch for the public. The watch would be designed for the aspirational user, the astronaut. The brand appeal is when a regular consumer is proud to say they are wearing a NASA astronaut-spec watch.
VITRUVIAN FORM LANGUAGE
Creating a form language for NASA based on Leonardo Da Vinci's drawing, the Vitruvian Man. The complex form language celebrates the complexity of NASA's engineering ingenuity. It is also cohesive, basing large gestures on the angles of the Vitruvian Man.
The Vitruvian Man symbolizes the closeness between man and nature. It is a symbol worn by NASA astronauts on missions. I wished to create a form language for NASA loosely inspired by Vitruvian Man geometry.
A faceted form language works well with NASA’s raw, engineered forms’ complexity.
Facets can create form cohesion while robustly embracing complex mechanical forms that may show through underneath.
SPACE SUITS AND ASPIRATIONAL BRANDING
It is important to tie in consumer products with real NASA equipment, to create a consistent and meaningful brand.
I chose to redesign the space suit, as it is iconic and an important symbol of space travel.
Applying the Vitruvian form language to the space suits, I again looked at angular, faceted shapes. One other significant form element I've defined for this Vitruvian form language is the C-shaped gesture. An open form can be layered over complex mechanical components to reinforce and pull together a complex look while giving it direction.
SPACE SUIT THUMBNAIL SKETCHES
Suit thumbnails. Quick thumbnail sketches to block out big form gestures and explore general ideas without having to commit to small details.
Designing NASA's space suits and equipment with the same consistent form language reinforces the brand, and thus creates a cohesive message. Like the watch, this form language conveys strong, iconic complexity.
NASA can continue to inspire if they are able to communicate their value to the world.
Create a stronger brand identity with products that convey powerful messages. When people have a tangible connection with NASA, they will fight to support the continuation of NASA's missions.
Often when I work with clients, I try to design form language and storytelling to become the physical manifestation of the brand. In this case, I have taken a statement or perspective on what music is to us, and manifested the concept into physical form.
The idea I wanted to capture was the duality of headphones- of music, and silence.
What is music to us?
Music holds deep meaning to most of us. Music is art. Music is expression. Music is emotion. Whether we create it or simply listen, it is the sound that connects to our very souls.
Victor Hugo once said, "Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent."
Yet often when we listen to music, that is how the experience seems. SILENCE.
Putting our headphones on, we silence the world around us. Away from the chaos of the world, music is our refuge.
Outsiders may see us with our headphones on, listening in silent meditation. But we are only outwardly silent.
In between those headphones, there is loud thumping music and movement that no one can feel but you.
Music inspires us. Music is timeless. Decades from now, classics will still be classics. Our headphones should be timeless, classic, and inspiring as well.
The SILENCE headphones represent the silence in our minds when we listen to music. The silence of an audience at the edge of their seats. And everything else that cannot remain silent.
Sound waves and echoes ripple out from the silence.
MORETTA is a fantasy fashion hotel concept I began to create with the idea of bringing fashion-minded individuals together. By designing a hotel with its own rules, its own ecosystem, and fashion-forward culture within its walls, any visitor could experience high fashion without needing to be a runway model.
EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL.
Anybody can be a fashion model. Never mind having a perfect figure or fitting in with today's perceptions of beauty. If we all had the right stylists, runway haute couture clothing tailored to fit, and fashion photographers, we could all be transformed into a stunning work of art on the runway and on print.
What if we could create a place where anybody could experience high fashion?
The MORETTA ecosystem is fueled by interactions between the visitors, MORETTA's fashion designers, and the design of MORETTA hotel itself. Designers are up and coming talents waiting to be discovered. They draw inspiration from MORETTA's theme, and are asked to create their own modern interpretations of the Venetian Carnival. Visitors can then shop and rent those creations and work with the designers, tailors, hairstylists, makeup professionals, and photographers to bring it all together.
MORETTA is haute couture within reach.
I began rough explorations of concepts for the hotel. Some key concepts:
- Every Room A Photo Stage. No need for selfies. Photographers are everywhere, and everywhere is the perfect place for a photo. Every room in MORETTA would be designed richly as if they were photo stages.
- Masquerades. Grand social events and a fashion spectacle. The hotel becomes a cutting-edge fashion microcosm.
I did not design the entire hotel from the inside out, as that would probably require a whole team of architects and designers. As an industrial designer I focused on designing one product in the hotel that would embody my concept.
I chose to design a clothing rack for the MORETTA fashion designers to showcase their designs to the visitors. Conceptually, this clothing rack is an abstraction of the masquerade.
A mask hides some parts of the face and reveals other parts of the face. As a result, it creates curiosity to the onlooker. It seduces them and makes them wonder, "Who is behind that mask?"
Similarly, the clothing rack is designed to be sensual and mysterious. It frames the clothing. It also engages the onlooker in 3-dimensional space by partially occluding the clothing from some angles, and revealing it from other angles. This "mask" effect entices and seduces passerbys to interact with the form by walking around and through it.
MORETTA is a hotel, a rental-based fashion experience, and a fashion label.
MORETTA's resident designers provide their own unique avant garde clothing interpretations. These are made available at an affordable rental-based price to guests to be worn within the MORETTA grounds.
Venetian Waterfalls. Falling water provides white noise for ambience and to encourage social interaction.
Secret Garden bedroom. A place that is designed to feel like only you and whoever you are with are the only people in that world.
This was a freelance project for a Silicon Valley tech startup, successfully backed by major venture capital funds including Google. I designed a faceplate to go on top of an off-the-shelf appliance. This box would go into a server room. My goal was to represent their brand values of strength, stealth, and protection. The product successfully launched, and is mainly for large institutions and corporate use.
Ovi Odoriferi Packaging
Packaging designs for MORETTA Hotel (see MORETTA Project).
In this quick 2-day branding project, I created a line of bath amenities. As with the rest of the fashion hotel, the goal was to create a modern interpretation of the Carnival of Venice. Specifically, the inspiration for this line of products was Ovi Odoriferi, or scented eggs which young men threw in the direction of women in a playfully flirtatious tradition of the Carnival.
Flirting has always been a part of Carnival.
In the old days of Venice, men began courting women by throwing eggs filled with rose water in front of their houses. These perfumed eggs, Ovi Odoriferi, soon became a trend and wild tradition for the young masked men of the Carnival.
I looked at what some modern bathrooms look like today, and designed with a moody, slate-walled bathroom in mind. The colors are tastefully understated, and distressed metals give the shampoo bottles a naturally raw, edgy, modern look.
Dip-dyed fashion is a trend today. I decided to give the bottle a dip-dyed gradient to make the metallic finishes look softer like fabric.
Mindmap. Designing for MORETTA Fashion Hotel, there are multiple sources of inspiration. In this case, the product line is 1) a bath product, 2) a modern interpretation of Carnival of Venice, and 3) related to fashion design. To successfully embody the MORETTA brand, this product line should be at the intersection of these 3. Although a triple constraint is a challenging design problem, there is also an upside of triple the inspiration (tri-pollination?) and design focus, to create a much stronger and unique brand identity.
The Carnival's Ovi Odoriferi tradition became the basis of the branding concept. I chose this concept because as a bath product, bottles carrying nice-smelling shampoos and lotions could be metaphors for eggs containing perfumes. Storytelling is the springboard for this design.
Bath Amenities set. Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Lotion.
The bottle form language features an integrated form with a soft-curve silhouette to reflect the form language of an egg. I did not wish to take the form of the egg too literally, and instead used the egg graphically on the bottle. The color coded eggs indicate whether it is shampoo, conditioner, or body lotion.
Everlast Focus Shield
Fear of getting hurt is one of the biggest obstacles to improving your fighting skills.
My solution is a padded shield that helps kickboxers learn to defend against kicks.
Everlast Focus Shield concept.
In my initial research, I studied training equipment, interviewed various martial artists and the people who create and sell training gear. I took nearly 100 observations and categorized them into 5 User Needs:
- Safety & Durability - A Portable, Personal Set - An Extension of the Body - Tradition & Ritual - Versatile Training
A PORTABLE, PERSONAL SET. Vintage leather is a nod to old-school boxing gear. Strategically located pleats crease and break up the surface to encircle the target area. The natural look of imperfection on leather will allow the product to look better as it gets worn from use.
Train your defense
Train your fear.
A story about Victoria the kickboxer, who improves her defense and kicks by incorporating the focus shield in her training.
Victoria can practice focus shield drills with her trainer the way boxers train using focus mitts. Every time she kicks on target, she hears a satisfying, loud clap resonate from the shield. The sounds and tactile feel of hitting the target correctly reinforce her confidence. She learns to block and avoid kicks correctly because the tonfa grip helps her learn to use correct form. She and her trainer also can spar more safely wearing the shields.
Victoria's confidence and skills have leveled up tremendously. By training her defense, Victoria has also trained her fears.
Client work done with Soulcake.
This project was originally done for a hardware tools manufacturer. My goal was to design an air-powered impact wrench that looks both high-end and durable. It is an example of the form exploration sketching I typically do at the beginning of a design project.