After earning her B.A. in Industrial Design from Iran's University of Tehran, Mina Kasirifar immigrated to the U.S. to pursue a Masters degree in I.D. at San Francisco State University. For one of her final student projects, undertaken during the pandemic, Kasirifar tackled a timely subject: How could parents in lockdown keep children engaged indoors, as staring into a screen can only last for so long?
Kasirifar subsequently developed FLIP, an object that "merges the concept of toy and furniture," she writes, "to invent a space-efficient product with joyful experiences and new interactive possibilities that kids won't quickly get bored of."
"FLIP aims to enhance kids' indoor activity by providing input for vestibular and proprioceptive senses. These sense relate to balance, movement, and coordination."
"The two vestibular and proprioceptive inputs are usually provided outdoors, such as in sensory gyms, parks, and activity classes. This means children have limited opportunities to satisfy these two physically related senses at home. Sensory products for home use have shortcomings too. Many of them are either single-function pieces with a limited and pre-defined use scenario or are space-consuming installations that are not affordable to many parents who live in small homes."
Kasirifar's design intent was to combine the features of several existing objects:
To zero in on the form, she 3D-printed function-exploring mockups:
She then refined the model and the demonstrated use cases that could be gained by flipping the object onto different sides.
Kasirifar points out that the illustration above isn't the totality of the possibilities for use cases. After conducting user tests, she found that "kids explored and enjoyed the product in many new ways that were not part of the initial product instruction."
- FLIP provides active seating, creative movements, and wiggling to help children stay focused during other activities.
- This product can be used for the sole purpose of enjoying it or while engaging in other tasks like reading, writing, or using a screen.
- Handles increase safety, enhance ergonomy, and provide ease of use when riding flipping, or lifting the product.
- FLIP's design purpose is to be a product that's always available for kids in their room to enjoy with the need to stock it somewhere after use.
- Children can independently switch between the different functions without involving parents to install, attach, fold, and unfold.
- The ends of the rocking curves are flattened to create a hard stop that prevents the chair from collapsing forward or backward with excessive swings.
Kasirifar's project won the 2021 West District Graduate Student Merit Award from the IDSA. Congratulations Mina!