LAWRENCE — Last month three students from the University of Kansas Department of Design who were enrolled in an industrial design thesis class won the fourth annual Bragging Rights Design Competition, sponsored by the St. Louis chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America. It was open to all students who attend Midwestern universities with industrial design programs.
The win yielded much more than the privilege of boasting: The students, Brandon Clay, Olathe; Amber Hanschu, Wichita, and Jay Livingston, Independence, Missouri, brought home a check for $2,000 and a glass trophy. Huw Thomas, associate professor of design, teaches their class.
The competition rules asked the teams to travel into the future and anticipate, conceptualize and design what the public library experience would be like in 2040. They would improve the library experience through the development of products, tools and architecture.
After working on the project for four weeks, the students traveled in real time to the St. Louis Public Library to present their solution. Limited to a 10-minute oral presentation, the KU team persuaded the judges with their concept, “Biblio,” which they demonstrated using digital media and physical models.
The team created different interactive library environments using workstations, conference room tables, adaptive classrooms and digital stacks. “Our favorite part of the libraries of today is getting lost in the stacks and finding things we would never expect,” Livingston said. “We wanted to keep the sense of exploration similar to what we enjoy now, and in a world engulfed in technology, keeping as many things analog as possible.”
The team also redesigned and revamped the library card, which would be more like a flat, hollow ring contoured to nestle between the thumb and forefinger. “We are making it into a device people would use within the library to collect, store and share information from varied sources,” Livingston said. “Each user would have a card, just as they do today, but redesigned for the diverse needs of people in 2040.”
“The exercise was run very much as a ‘warmup’ exercise for the thesis portion of the class because of its short timeline,” Thomas said. “It was an opportunity for a team exercise, as thesis projects are generally solo ventures. Given this was a ‘student’ competition,” he said, "I deliberately kept my own influence to a minimum.
“The four teams from other universities that presented in St. Louis were significantly larger than KU’s. I think that may have contributed to our team’s ability to give a sharper, more focused presentation,” he said.