September 22, 2009 by


I love when it storms.  Watching water pour from the sky, lightening flash, and listening to the thunder rumble is mesmerizing and soothing.  There are two places that I love to be during a storm.  One is snuggling under the covers.  When the sky becomes dark and the wind starts blowing, I immediately want to hop into my pajamas, and dive into bed.  It is time to slow down, and listen to nothing else but the rain.

However, I miss out on all of the excitement if I sleep through the storm.  That’s why my other favorite place to be in a storm is in the car.  It is the closest I can get to nature while still having protection from being struck by lightening (which ironically seems to be one of my great fears). From almost every direction I can watch the water fly through the air, and bright bolts of lightening strike down from the clouds.  The air conditioning even brings in that unique smell of fresh rain.

To combine both atmospheres, I imagine designing a space that provides the same proximity and protection as the car, with the comfort of my bed.  I’ll call it the stormPod.

The stormPod is an extension of your home that extrudes from the exterior wall.  It is similar to a window seat, but its glass enclosure provides a view of the storm from 3 walls and the ceiling.  The floor is a mattress with a perimeter of a hard surface for setting a drink or a stack of books, much like platform bed.

The stormPod provides an experience that enhances many of our senses during a thunderstorm.  The feel of soft sheets is comforting during the rumbling thunder.  The experiences of seeing rain pour and run down the window, and lightening light up the sky would be enhanced with the unbeatable view provided by the stormPod.  The platform would even have vents that provide air to circulate and bring in the smell of fresh rain.

For necessary safety precautions, the stormPod would need to be a safe distance from trees, and be made of a glass thick enough to stand hail. It is not recommended to be in the stormPod during a tornado warning.

The stormPod provides a way to observe a thunderstorm with the most exposure, while inviting you relax and lounge as you experience one of nature’s greatest wonders.

“If you like Pina Coladas, and gettin’ caught in the rain.”


Sound Mirrors

September 22, 2009 by

post this oneSutter Fort Park, Sacramento, Californiaup close

Prior to World War II and the invention of radar, acoustic mirrors were built as early warning devices around the coasts of Great Britain, with the aim of detecting airborne invasions. These mirrors are large concrete hemispherical domes that reflect sound to the center foci. Microphones placed at foci the  of the reflectors enabled a listener to detect the sound of aircrafts several kilometers out in the English Channel. My idea takes this primitive device and relocates it within modern contexts. Sound mirrors or sound theatres can be used at a more urban or residential scale as installations for people to sit and interact within. The premise is to sit within the concrete dome, which could be oriented in any direction, and that sounds of the surroundings become amplified as they are reflected and echoed within the dome.

 This could be used within the context of a rural residence to sit and reflect upon nature, as the sounds of nature will become amplified. Close to the beach the sound of waves breaking could be heard clearly 200 meters away, along with the singing of sea-birds. Sitting in a sound mirror nested below a forest of trees will allow the observer to hear the swaying of the branches in the wind in a way he may have never heard.

 It could also be used facing a busy pedestrian street which, while walking past it, would distort and reflect the sounds of the city in a unique way, if only for a moment. People may walk by recognizing a change in their perception of sound without necessarily knowing why or what changed it. I like the idea of sound mirrors being placed sporadically throughout an urban pedestrian streetscape, because as people walk by, they will inadvertently become aware of their sense of hearing as the monotonous sounds of everyday life (which are often blocked out) change in a small pocket of space. It could heighten their senses and, as they pass, possibly cause them to discover what they may have been ignoring.


September 22, 2009 by

Widget Layered

Upon arrival at the airport, you find yourself outside, in the open air, with plenty of open space around you as you unload your luggage and make your way inside the terminal. Initially you encounter the ticketing area, compared to the outdoors, you are now enclosed however, the extremely high ceilings and expansive open space to your left and right containing the seemingly never-ending row of ticketing counters and lines of passengers still possesses an open feel.

You have received your boarding pass, checked your luggage, and now you move beyond the ticketing hall into the concourse to begin the trek to your gate. You notice the scale of the airport has shifted once again. Now, as you walk the concourse, you feel more enclosure than before, the expansive ceiling height of the ticketing hall has been lowered and the walls have moved closer to you. With this scale shift, there are a greater number of passengers in your immediate surroundings causing you to begin to feel more compressed and tightened within your own skin.

Your gate is just ahead; you turn off of the concourse and settle into a seat you have located amongst the rows of monotonous black rows of airport seating. Here, in the gate area, the floor covering has changed to carpeting, a softer, more sound-absorbing material, and the ceiling height has yet again been lowered. These factors bring the gate area to a more intimate scale than that of the concourse…you are closer to those passengers who will also fly with you, if not sitting right next to them.

The time has come to board your flight, being herded down the jet bridge, you are uncomfortably close to your fellow passengers, guarding closely your bags and belongings. The tight, eight foot ceiling height and five foot wall to wall distance, creates the most enclosed space you have been in as of yet. As you board the plane and locate your seat, you settle in to two square feet of personal space, bounded by other passengers on either side, shoulder to shoulder.

The final step in this spatial decrescendo of scale brings you to the scale of the body. Now that you are seated in your seat, you bind your legs from calf to ankle as you sit in your seat. In an outfitting similar to the performance of a straight jacket, the constant shift in the scale of the space of the airport has finally concluded by physically binding to the individual. It’s as if the leg binding is a mere addition to the walls and spaces which have been slowly moving closer and closer to you as you move from your auto to your airplane.

Made of a soft, pliable, rubber membrane, the leg binding easily conforms to the shape of your lower legs. The series of strips, all joined together allow each strip to react to a different area of the leg, tailoring each to that specific site. As you remain seated, you experience the highest level of enclosure, one which renders you immobile. The leg binding mechanism capitalizes upon one of the most influential area of the body for, without the ability to move our lower legs, there is little the body can do to move itself. The system works to heighten the intense sensory experience of the airport and serve as its very literal conclusion.


September 22, 2009 by

Sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch: the five senses are how we experience design.  All of the senses are important, but I believe the most important sense is touch.  People and see and hear spaces and smell and taste the air all from a distance.  But you have to be in the space, experiencing it from a closer perspective to understand all of the textures in the room. 

The sensory experience of discomfort is universal throughout the human race.  Some people can deal with tremendous amounts or pain, others with irritating noises, and some with extreme environmental factors.  However, physical discomfort without pain sparks irritation in everyone.  This discomfort is easily, and often, remedied but it is rarely enhanced and pushed further through design.  Most of these devices are meant for exercise, not for fashion or appeal.  I wanted to change this and make a device that pushed the boundaries of discomfort while creating a visually appealing piece.

My design captures and heightens physical discomfort.  From the feel of the garment against the skin to the tremendous weight, my design intensifies suffering.  Made from a rigid fabric, the piece is fitted to the body as it hugs the small of the back and wraps around to form to the stomach.  The front of the garment grows up in a corset like manner and prohibits the wearer from bending at the waist, instead the structure forces the wearer to stand up straight.  Stemming from the fitted back, a huge bustle covers the buttocks and extends to the upper thighs.  With its multiple bouncing layers, the bustle adds weight and mass to the region and pulls the front section closer to the body, allowing even less forward movement.   The bustle is stiff and is not uncomfortable to press against, so the wearer is unable to sit down and relieve fatigue.   Discomfort is prevalent throughout my design and it functions to make the wearer as physically uncomfortable as possible.

Although my design does serve the purpose to further pain and suffering that does not mean that it cannot be pretty.  With symmetrical front stemming from a uniform pattern restricting movement, to the balanced bustle with an almost random organization of modules, the design screams girly and feminine.   There is nothing masculine about this design.   My design allows for beauty and suffering to coexist and be joined in an object. 

Within a space the garment restricts the wearer to walking or standing in the room.  The wearer is unable to relax in the space, but it might allow the wearer to experience the space in a new way.  Rooms are often viewed at a passing glance or at taken in slowly, but with this garment the rooms could be seen an entirely new way, taking everything in while meandering around to take the users mind of off the discomfort they are feeling.

Opaque-A Sensory Experience

September 22, 2009 by



When talking about a sensory experience there is one place that always strikes my mind first. Opaque, is a restaurant located in only in three locations in California. This restaurant is not the common gourmet restaurant; Opaque provides a unique and unforgettable sensory experience to each one of its customers.

Upon arrival customers are directed to a lounge were they can enjoy a few cocktails before dinner. Here, they are asked to check in all personal belongings and choose two different dinner options from the menu before proceeding to the main dinning room.  The dinning room is a pitch-black room where even the waiters are unable to see. Staff members are thoroughly trained to carry on with their duties without light but when needed they work with the aid of a night vision camera.

Dinner begins just as in a normal restaurant, but here the customer does not know which of the two dinner options they are being served. The idea behind this kind of experience is to enhance the other four senses while taking sight away. When the food is brought out the customer needs to touch around their table in order to find the silverware, napkins and food. At first, eating can be somewhat complicated, many have admitted missing their mouth with the food completely or hitting their nose instead of the lips with the rim of the glass. While trying to get the plate-to-mouth in the dark coordination, the senses of smell and taste are also being tested. Several have said that the food tastes differently because they are not relying on the appearance of the food to influence its taste. People tend to create certain expectations on how the food should tasted based on its appearance. Another sense that is affected during this experience is sound. While eating, the customers tend to engage with the people are seated with. Having a regular conversation is also a very different experience to perform in the dark. Trying to figure out who is saying what and where is their voice coming from tests the sense of hearing to a maximum.

After one or two hours of enjoying dinner in the dark, customers are allowed to leave and pay at the exit. Here they are also told what they were served. It is not surprising to find a customer that claim they ate chicken when in fact they had beef. By enhancing these senses the client becomes more aware of the importance of sight in such a common activity.

This space provides a very interesting experience because is takes an everyday activity and turns it into a complete overhaul of the senses. Not a lot of people realize all the senses used during this common activity, and while many will dislike this restaurant, others will remember it forever not only for its great food, but also for the unique sensory experience offered to the customers.

Nap Chair

September 22, 2009 by

The Design V studio is using the airport as the site throughout this semester, so I decided to design an object that would be a positive sensory experience and address a problem. During layovers of significant time, one might want to take a nap out of exhaustion or boredom, but fear oversleeping and missing the flight. The sketch below is a Nap Chair that incorporates a few aspects of the human sensory experience that could benefit anyone wanting to take a nap in the airport.

The overall form curves to envelop you, making you feel safe and secure though airports can be a profoundly public space. The chair is very plush and padded for comfort. These are simple tactile moves that serve to calm and reassure a person. To address a person’s fear of oversleeping, the Nap Chair is equipped with an alarm system you can set to play a prerecorded noise or dock an mp3 player to start playing your own music at the set time.

This gets into the sound sensory component. With a dock for your mp3 player, you can have it playing while you nap if desired. Nap chairs would be implemented throughout airport terminals in soundproofed rooms to block out the noise from the terminal. The alarm system controls can be set to play a prerecorded noise or something from your mp3 player. You can also choose to have the alarm without noise, if, for example, you wish to use your cell phone as your alarm.

Next, a scent component is built into each Nap Chair. When you lean back your chair to begin your nap, the Nap Chair emits a jasmine scent, which Sally Augustin says in her book Place Advantage enhances the quality of sleep when smelled during sleep. This would hopefully leave you feeling more rested when you wake. About five minutes before your alarm is set to go off, it will subtly begin to switch to a peppermint scent, which Augustin says is energizing. Finally, when your alarm goes off, the peppermint scent increases to energize you as you get ready to go back to your terminal.

The nap chair enhances your touch, sound, and smell senses to create a better sensory experience. Each one would have to be in its own small room to prevent scents and/or sounds from mixing. In addition the above senses, the lights in these rooms would dim when you lean the chair back, a signal of beginning your nap.


Massaging Cast Device

September 22, 2009 by






Out of the five senses, touch is one of the more important senses as it deals with our whole body. The other four senses deals more towards specific parts on the body, but our sense of touch can be felt everywhere on our bodies. There are tiny nerve endings located in our dermis that alert us of what our body comes into close contact with. This in turn sends out signals to our bodies letting us know whether something for example is too hot or too cold, too painful or too comfortable.

I’ve created this massaging cast device that can provide comfort on areas of the body that need a bit of relief from pain or soreness. This is a device that is used more for patients that have injured their bodies in some way. Similar to a typical cast that forms a protective shell to protect a broken limb from further injury as it heals, this massaging cast device provides subtle light massages to the areas around the injured area to help keep the blood flowing and circulating throughout the body. It helps alleviate the restricted movement of the injured body part and prevents it from being lifeless within the shell of the cast.

From the picture shown above, the device is wrapped around and shaped to fit the contours of the body. It is flexible and easily bendable enabling the device to massage areas of a patient’s body that needs to be massaged. The device is easily adjustable to fit the needs of everyone. The device is made up of layers of octagonal shaped units that functions as a cushion on the inside (closest to skin) and a protection shell on the outside.  The interior is made up of octagonal shaped soft cushions that are attached together with flaps that serve as tiny massagers that massage the areas of the skin it comes into contact with. The flaps can either be attached with small rollers that roll and massages on the surface of your skin or be attached with stimulating points that press gently into the skin. With a push of a button, the massager can switch modes from a stronger massage to a gentler massage all dependent on the condition of the patient’s injuries. The outside is made of a harder material like plaster or bandage (what is typically used in casts) to protect the injured limb.

Patients will definitely benefit from this massaging cast device because it can help in their recovery process. However, this device is not only drilled towards patients, anybody can use it. It is ergonomically designed so that anybody can enjoy this massaging cast device to help relieve muscle tension and loosen sore joints anywhere on their bodies.

The Scent Palette

September 22, 2009 by

Blog 4, scent palette 001Although a subtle sense, touch also has a very important effect on our emotions. Whether a soft blanket or sand on a beach, we inherently associate certain tactile experiences with emotional responses or experiences with those surfaces. According to Sally Augustin, when soft, slow strokes are used during massages we find it more relaxing or fast, abrupt strokes create a sense of invigoration. Also, “feeling rounded surfaces has relaxing beneficial effects.”


Since “human[s]… process smells and emotions with the same part of their brains,” scents can be a powerful way of inducing certain feelings and emotions when creating a space or object.


The concept behind the Scent Palette is to engage both touch and smell. The scent palette is designed to also conform to the form of the body and be comforting. This device or furniture piece would have a simple rectilinear or square base (pending on the number of people) which houses the mechanical components it needs to function. The base would encompass a motor which pumps scented air (pressure adjustable) through small holes in the base, like an enlarged air hockey table, which filters through the loops. The loops would most likely be composed of a thick foam or another soft material with a secondary structure to add support, and allow you to relax and take in the experience created. These loops would have small gaps in between each unit in order to let the air gently pass through and flow softly on and around the body. The scent palette would also allow aromas to be interchanged in order to cater to the person’s emotions. This way no matter what emotion you are experiencing, or what emotion you are trying to create, you can tailor the experience to fit your needs. The scent palette also places you into a flat, lounging position which allows you to close your eyes and relax. This way you are shutting down a major sense, the sense of sight, in order to focus more on smell and feel which will yield more effective results.


So, take a load off and lay among the clouds for a few minutes, stick in your favorite scent and get up feeling renewed, relaxed, or whatever you choose.

The Sense of Space and Touch

September 21, 2009 by

When I started school at the University of Texas at Austin in Interior Design, I was very interested in multifunctional or multi-purposed spaces. This focus led me to become interested in multifunctional furniture. In Design III, one of our projects was to make over a gazebo on Town Lake. I decided to make it a coffee bar/ café. In an attempt to create juxtaposition to the surrounding nature I used two types of chairs with modern twists on classic designs. However I ran into a problem. Some of the chairs I liked did not come chair height, and others did not come bar or counter height. Naturally, I designed them to the appropriate height for the space. By the end of the project I decided that the contrasting chairs were interchangeable in their locations within the space however I would need both types to come in both seat heights. Thus, I designed interchangeable legs with different heights. And what is unique about them is that the body of the chair is not normally seen at bar height. (See images)DHB blog 5 Product Design

Section East West Hybrid

DHB blog 5 Product Designb

In the aspect of sensory information I believe the freedom to change the height of your body in a specific seat may have a positive effect. It is very similar to an office chair. No one can deny when they were little, they liked to rise up an office chair, pull the lever, and let is sink down. Other than an office chair there are various experiences we have with changing heights in an interior. What about a salon chair? Getting on a bus? The bus lowers itself to the curb to facilitate better access. Freedom to use these items in different situations helps create a flexible space. The more thought I put into the design right now, I wish I had designed a way for the larger legs to store under the seat or inside the shorter legs.

Continuing in my quest for multifunctional furniture I moved on from changing height on a chair to a chair that could become a table. In Design VI, our project site was the Schneider Building on Guadalupe and 2nd street. We were to turn it into a two-purposed space with one part being a house for the mayor of Austin. In my design, I proposed a museum of the Schneider building as well as the City of Austin. On the first floor, I designed projected photos with accompanying music appropriate of the time of the photograph. To be able to enjoy the sensory experience I created a chair that sat back to back. However, when time came around for a banquet, conference meeting, private party, or even a campaign party, the chairs flip over and turn into a table. For this specific project I designed there to be LED lights in the chair with a resin base as the structure. This picks up on the sense of sight stimulating the mind to rethink what source light comes from.

The experience of the chair itself can be a sensory experience. If the chair-table is used as a dining table a unique experience occurs. The padding and fabric, once turned into a table, acts as a tactile surface in an uncommon place: the top of the thighs and the shins. In a space that is usually cold, it may act as a blanket or exactly what it is: a tactile experience. I can only imagine the realm of textures that would work in certain situations. However the padding and fabric could not weigh on the lap or constrict the guest or it would be a negative sensory experience.

DHB Blog 6 Product design

For my current project, we are renovating the 1940s Buttrey Building on 6th and Colorado St. Exploring the time period, my group found interest in the swanky style of the flappers and mobsters. I can just see a faux fur (real fur is bad J! Go Peta) club chair with a flat dark wood back turning into a large table, reminiscent of the fox, chinchilla, rabbits, and mink wraps.

More than a Massage

September 21, 2009 by


After a stressful day from work or school, there is nothing better than being relaxed and getting a great massage.  I always want to get a massage to soothe down my nerves and muscles, but it’s hard to make the time and go to a spa.  Not only time, but also money is another concern.  The prices are never cheap and there are always extra fees, tip.  Of course receiving a massage in person is the best way, but because of other concerns, massage chairs were invented for us to use at homes in our daily lives.

The massage chairs are great, except they make those weird machine noises. I find it distracting when I want to completely relax and rely my body on the chair. Therefore, I would like to invent something that is more than just-a-massage chair.  What if headphones are connected to the system for us to use? The massage chair system will have sounds such as waves, wind blowing, birds tweeting, crickets chipping, stream murmuring, classical music, etc.  By receiving a massage with eyes closed, and gentle sound of nature will certainly relax the nerves and make you feel like you’re in nature.  On top of sound, the chair will also have some selections of scent that will gently spray as you select.  Not only the sound and scent, but also the mood or atmosphere can be created.  Behind the massage chairs, there will be a computer, which will let you type in and select a place you want to be or feel.  The electric cords running inside the chair will run behind your back.  The massage chair will send electronic signal, which is very similar to our neuron signal that runs through our spine, to the contacting surface of your skin with the massage chair.  Since human skin can be a good conductor for electricity, it will transmit the signal to your brain through the spine. Your brain will think that the signals are sent from the body; simply means that your brain will think you took an action to send the signal to the brain.  Basically, invert the process of our body function; the brain realizes it after you feel or touch. With this machine, the brain will acknowledge the atmosphere first, then, will make you sense it.

As we always have heard in life, mind controlling can change many aspects of our lives.  In example, hypnosis is a great way for mind controlling and experiencing your imagination, etc.  Fake your brain to relax, tighten up, and even to heal yourself with the senses.