Designer: Pengtao Yu
Location: Pasadena, CA, USA
Category: Products/Equipment and Design for Social Impact
Award: Student Winner, Runner-Up, Notable
Pengtao is a unique winner in the awards program. His projects earned multiple honors in two categories:
U-Haul Emergency Response Conversion Kit
A conversion kit designed for American Red Cross that quickly converts a U-Haul rental truck into temporary Emergency Response Vehicle when a catastrophe happens. The converted vehicle can be used on disaster relief operations to provide stationary feedings and distribution of food and water.
This project was from an education partnership between Art Center College of Design and American Red Cross (ARC). ARC came to us last fall simply asked us to redesign their Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) since they are about to renew their fleet. I started the project by talking to the volunteers who works on ERVs, talking to ARC staff who maintain the fleet, visiting the ARC operation centers, observing the EVR in a mission at a shelter and visiting a ERV manufacturer. Based on the thorough understanding of all the needs from these stakeholders, I realized that what they need might not be a new vehicle but only something that gives them the ability to bring food to the victims after a major disaster. Therefore I came up the U-haul Conversion Kit idea along with other two ideas. Then I presented these solutions to ARC's executives, staff and volunteers. The U-Haul Conversion Kit idea was extremely well received. Therefore, I chose the concept and further developed it.
"Tea-Time" is a handheld device that can be used to make and drink tea. By introducing a new user-product interaction that is inspired by an hourglass, it makes the tea making and drinking experience both fun and convenient.
"Tea-Time" started by solving the problem of over steeping. In the
beginning I just added a timer on top of a teapot to control the
steeping time, but the product was not very attractive. Then I was
thinking how a timer should change the interaction between the user
and the product. I decided to use hourglass as a metaphor since it is
also a traditional tool for timing. This idea lead to the final design
of "Tea-Time". Although the design looks very simple, there are many
issues need to be solved in order to put it into production. I am
currently in contact with a few manufacturers to discuss the
possibilities. I hope it will be on the market soon.
Always Fresh Water Container
A water container for emergency preparedness. Always Fresh is connected to the plumbing under the user's bathroom or kitchen sink, water will run through this container every time the user uses tap water. The result is that there will always be fresh water prepared for emergency.
Core77: What was it like to keep hearing your
projects awarded by the jury?
Hearing my projects recognized by the jury was an incredible
moment. After hearing the first two projects, I thought the winner
must be someone else since I don't believe the jury will give three
awards to one person. I even felt a little bit disappointed. However,
when I heard the winner was also me, I cannot help but to shout "Yes"
and hit on my desk. I even scared the people who were sitting besides
me since I was in my school library. I want to hereby thank the jury
for giving me and my work such an honor.
Can you tell us your abbreviated biography? Where are you from and how does this affect your style?
I was born in a small town in northeastern China called Dandong and I live in Pasadena, California now. I don't know how this affects my design style. I think my design style and sensibilities are mostly affected by my personality. I am a quiet and modest person. Most of my designs tend to have the same character but I am also able to design something that is totally not me if the project requires me to do so.
The U-Haul Emergency Response Kit and Always Fresh are both disaster products. Are you slightly paranoid about natural disasters?
It's mostly by chance. Red Cross project is a sponsored school project. The Water Container project is from a real life problem. Since I am living in southern California right now, I store bottled water at home in case of earthquake. Once in a while, I have to drink all the water and replace them with new ones. I found that was annoying, so I decided to solve this problem.
How did your experiences at Art Center College of Design and the Continuum Internship program influence your design practice?
The graduate industrial design program at Art Center trained me to think design not only as an object but also in a larger ecosystem. I believe a creative solution must come from a deep understanding of all the stakeholders.
Continuum taught me to always ask why before you make a decision. As designers, we love ideation. We always come up many different solutions to solve one problem. Then the most crucial part becomes how do we decide which idea we choose. This shouldn't be an emotional moment. We need to have a list of logical and rational reasons to make a smart decision that will best benefit the client.
What are you working on now?
I am a second year graduate student now at Art Center and I will graduate in this December. Right now I am working on my thesis project. It's about developing a new beverage concept and the business model behind it.