Matthew Gilbride’s “Elements” provides lighting, heating, and cooling features in a scalable package.
Those with an eye for design know how to spot patterns.
One obvious pattern: yet another industrial design student from the College of Design has placed in a prestigious product design competition.
The Design Lab Competition sponsored by Electrolux asked design students to imagine what kitchens will need 50 years from now. The European manufacturer of kitchen appliances received over 1,300 design entries from students in 50 countries trying to predict, as it were, the George Foreman Grill of the future: a kitchen appliance that saves time and space, while doing it with style.
Matthew Gilbride, an industrial design master’s student at the College of Design, was one of just eight finalists and the only finalist from the United States. His design of Elements Modular Kitchen shelving — which ultimately garnered the third place prize of 2,000 euros — includes wireless technology and the ability to heat, cool, and light a kitchen environment.
When you look at it, “Elements” may seem like something out of a “Jetsens” cartoon, but there is a lot of practical research behind the design. Gilbride studied state-of-the-art designs of boat galley spaces, as well as how social insects such as bees are able to build efficient dwellings. “The concept is basically a modular system that allows you to use as few as one of them, on up to any number of them,” Gilbride explained.
A stint as a U.S. Peace Corps agriculture volunteer five years ago gave Gilbride his first experience in industrial design. Gilbride worked with farmers in Panama to develop a design for a low-tech irrigation pump that utilized easy-to-get materials. That led to him enrolling in classes at a design college in that country.
Gilbride’s undergraduate degree is in geology, but NC State’s industrial design program has a Track 3 path that accepts master’s degree candidates who lack an undergraduate ID education. Gilbride, 39, said he chose to apply to NC State’s College of Design for its national reputation and the caliber of its instructors.
One of those teachers, Associate Professor of Industrial Design Bong-Il Jin, is a former automotive designer for Kia Motors. Jin has sponsored numerous students of late who have found success in high profile competitions like the one sponsored by Electrolux. This year alone, one of Jin’s students won a national concept car competition sponsored by Shell Oil, and four of his students took all but one of the top five prizes in the Annual New York International Auto Show’s safety competition.
Gilbride confers with College of Design Associate Professor of Industrial Design Bong-Il Jin, a former designer for Kia Motors whose students have found tremendous success in competitions of late.
While the work done in studio classes is what really helps them to develop their skills, Jin said competitions really allow students to focus their design knowledge on a particular problem.
“We research what the competition requires of the student, the work of past winners, and what the competition requires,” said Jin. The student is encouraged to follow the steps of brainstorming, identifying the problem to be solved, ideation (coming up with several different solutions of utility and styling), while making sure the ideas are in step with projected social trends.
“In the end, we select one good idea – and start to design,” Jin said.
The competition highlights how design innovation “has an energizing effect” in solving societal challenges, said Marvin J. Malecha, Dean of the College of Design.
“It really asks how we will use the new technologies from science and put them to work in the lives of people,” said Malecha. “Thomas Edison said that innovation is a combination of inventiveness and purposefulness. That’s really what we try to do here at the College of Design at NC State.”
Gilbride didn’t win the first prize of a paid internship with Electrolux, but he is already hard at work in an internship at Raymond Corporation, a division of Toyota which makes forklifts. He hopes to spend his early career doing commercial work, eventually applying his knowledge to solve design problems in developing countries.
Posted by Eric Larson