Project Description for mɛnd Sewing Kit:
A prototype for a product design class, mɛnd began as an assigned research project on the history of an essential tool of each student's choosing. After extensive research, we were instructed to develop different ways of redesigning the object. Because of my interest in sewing, I chose a sewing needle. The project involved a combination of industrial design, graphic design, user experience design, and a large amount of digital fabrication to complete.
mɛnd is an educational sewing kit designed to help get young people educated and excited about sewing. It provides many of the necessary tools for a starter’s travel sewing kit white incorporating helpful illustrated sewing instructions into its eco-friendly wood and cardboard packaging. It gives younger people who may be used to replacing or buying things new the opportunity to make do and mend by teaching them how to sew basic stitches and giving them all the materials they need to begin.
I knew I wanted to incorporate kerfed wood into this project. Kerfing involves cutting lines and patterns into or through pieces of wood to make them curve. I designed my own kerfing pattern and used the resulting wood for the case of the kit; I wanted the kit to roll up into a pouch shape, and was heavily inspired by tool belts, and I felt this both helped neutralized the gender of an activity that is typically considered feminine and gave some novelty to the product that made it fun to interact with. I chose to include needles, pins, buttons, basic thread colors, measuring tape, and scissors in the kit. I wanted the product to lie as flat as possible, and I organized each object with that in mind. I also created outer packaging by altering a die cut box design to include decorative flaps that I was able to laser-etch informational and branded text and hand drawn illustrations onto. I decided on a very saturated red fabric for the inner pocket and accents of the packaging to make things bright and interesting. The branding for the product made use of the ways dictionaries present definitions to help highlight the educational aspects of the product and added visual interest to the otherwise very simple text.
The research process for this project was an interesting experience and helpful in my decisions for my final product. I knew that I couldn't redesign something that had worked so well for so many thousands of years, but I could redesign the way it and ideas associated with sewing were presented, and I feel I was quite successful in doing so here.
I’d like to manufacture and distribute these kits at some point in the future, with potentially more well-considered branding and more polished packaging. I think that young people especially could stand to gain a lot from developing more of the self-efficacy and independence that mending and altering their own garments can bring.