Meeting with my Advisor: PT
PT gave me some really positive feedback once I explained my new design concept to her. She liked that I am taking a new direction and thinks that the forms have the potential to be successful while also being fun for the child. She has been really good at keeping my concepts on the more functional side while I throw in the creativity aspect to come up with functional forms that can make a difference in these children’ lives.
Her main advice was to narrow down the age range. Although I started my focus on newborns until three year olds, my design has the ability to be more productive if it has a more focused direction. For example, I have been trying to create a form that has the ability to give head support to a newborn learning to use his/her neck muscles while also being able to rock back and forth so a toddler can work on his/her leg muscles. I think I am trying to get too much usage out of an object that can be designed in a ‘supernormal’ way. In other words, I do not want it to have any unnecessary parts or be over-designed.
PT suggested that I stick with the age range of about 8 months to 14 months, the age in which they already have slight development, so that the design can focus on the advancements from that point forward. I am unsure if this is the age range that I will be sticking with but I am going to take her advice and look at the stages of development so that I could narrow it down.
The first thing that PT really liked about my concept was that I broke away from standard, geometric forms that are often used in her physical therapy sessions. The organic forms reminded her of a product that she sometimes uses with the children and she immediately went to grab it for me so I can look at it in person:
Bilibo, which is available at moluk.com, is a developmental tool used to increase gross motor skills and enhance creativity in children. It is such a simple form that it lends itself to endless possibilities in use depending on which direction it is placed and how the child chooses to interact with it. Although it is very different than the concept I am currently designing, it gave me confidence that a simple design has the same amount of opportunity as a more complex design, if not more so in some cases.
Looking at the form sketches, she thought that it was great that the child would be able to climb on and off the pieces to help with their motor development. When PT looked at my concept, she said she could envision a child using it that already has the ability to creep on hands and knees and is learning to crawl. She liked that I was trying to incorporate a slight rocking motion using the curved edges; that motion can help with balance, motor reactions, and visual development, specifically eye tracking. In addition, she suggested that if I create back support for a sitting position, the support should be upright, not leaning, in order to get the child’s main weight over his/her hips.
I mentioned the idea of using silicone as the final material. Choosing material for a product is extremely important, especially when it comes to a design for children. She agreed with me that it would make it a firm, sturdy structure while still managing to keep it rather soft and child-friendly. One piece of advice for me was that if I choose to use silicone in the end, I must make sure that it is hypo-allergenic. She also said that when designing the surface textures, I must make sure to not make the textures too fine. For example, although it is still made from silicone, adding a stringy texture on the surface would make it pretty hard to clean when the time comes. Especially since this product will require cleaning quite often due to the fact that it is designed for children and will be dealt with rather physically.