University of Illinois Chicago presents six industrial design projects

Dezeen School Shows: a play-based tool to help create safe interactions between children and dogs is included in Dezeen’s latest school show by students at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Also included is a scheme that converts pushbikes into electric bicycles and a toy that helps children in foster care adapt to different living environments.

Institution: University of Illinois Chicago
School: School of Design
Course: MDES Industrial Design
Tutor: Brian Anderson

School statement:

Our Master of Design (MDes) in Industrial Design programme aims to broaden students’ worldviews and deepen their understanding of their roles as designers through studio classes, workshops, seminars, lectures, visits and opportunities for regional and international travel.

“MDes student design projects are not merely formal and aesthetic propositions but also profound explorations that scrutinize the complex interplay between the natural and artificial elements in society and global culture.

“Concluding the programme, each MDes student explores a topic of inquiry in which they contextualise and formulate a position and develop tangible designerly responses.

“This process entails a broad range of engagement and adopts a holistic approach, encouraging and empowering students to blend theory with practice.”

Toffee by Nahid Shirzadkhan

“Can design promote equal moral consideration for all living beings? Drawing on principles of multi-species ethnography, Shirzadkhan has created an engaging educational system for safe child-dog interactions.

“Toffee teaches responsible pet care using reward-based, multisensory play. With millions of Americans affected by dog bites annually and over one hundred thousand pets surrendered or euthanized as a result, this project aims to reduce abandonment while supporting pets as cherished, lifelong family members.

Student: Nahid Shirzadkhan
Email: nshirz2[at]

Small toy with images of fruits

Nurturing Your Voice by Sabrina Wen

“Approximately two hundred thousand young children are in foster care, with up to half experiencing unstable placements.

Relocations can profoundly impact their psycho-emotional wellbeing, leading to significant mental health issues and difficulty forming healthy attachments.

“But can design help? Wen’s work explores how an object-based activity can facilitate positive, meaningful connections between children and caregivers during brief foster home stays.

Student: Sabrina Wen
Email: swen8[at]

Sectional view of room that has patterned corners

Absence Effect by Umair Yusufi

“Is it possible to design patterns and illusions that promote health and happiness, ultimately enhancing the overall quality of life within our homes?

Increasingly aware of the environmental and social impacts of lifestyle choices, many embrace small-space living to simplify and reduce consumption.

“Although this can promote sustainability it can also affect the emotional and psychological wellbeing of residents. Responding to this challenge, Absence Effect reimagines the geometry of interior corners.”

Student: Umair Yusufi
Email: uyusuf2[at]

Visualisation showing a canopy attached to a wall

In Plain Sight by Yiran Han

“People who work from home can be influenced by their living environment, but not always in a positive way.

“Some people are less productive, and experience longer workdays.

“Job-oriented materials and office equipment can clutter living space, and there are fewer obvious psychological shifts that demarcate work and home life.

“On the one hand, having a dedicated workspace at home might help people focus on work.

“On the other, the constant sight of a workspace could detract from the sense of restfulness expected of our most private space.

“But what if a workspace could be hidden in plain sight?”

Student: Yiran Han
Email: yhan68[at]

Spherical lamp with a faceted surface

Vital Objects by Steven Krejcik

“In our contemporary context of rapidly advancing technology, we can fail to recognise the inherent knowledge, tangible worth and emotional resonance present in the material artefacts surrounding us.

“Vital Objects proposes amplifying our relationships with such objects.

“Is it possible to cultivate a state of awareness that encourages deeper appreciation for reciprocal human and non-human relationships?

“In what ways can we instil in our creations a perceptible sense of significance and depth?”

Student: Steven Krejcik
Email: stevenkrejcik[at]

New Old Bike by Noah WangerinVisualisation showing a bicycle with a yellow front sectionNew Old Bike by Noah Wangerin

“Bicycles have long been a popular answer to urban transportation needs, but their effectiveness can be limited in cities because of inadequate infrastructure, difficult terrain and vast areas.

“Electric bicycles have emerged as an efficient solution to overcome these challenges.

“Simultaneously accepting this technological reality and assuming responsibility for existing bicycle stocks, New Old Bike proposes a method for upgrading existing bicycles to serve this market without sacrificing commitments to the environment.

“Based on straightforward mechanics and a culture of repair involving local bike shops, the approach leverages established design standards to afford long-term incremental improvements aimed at sustaining value.”

Student: Noah Wangerin
Email: nwangerin[at]

Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and the University of Illinois Chicago. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.

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