I’ve always admired the work of students in BFA Product Design. There’s so many things to consider when designing a new product—especially in this day and age—and to see the amount of innovation that come from their projects is so impressive! Product design is a mixture of creative thinking and engineering. No, they’re not just designing pretty looking chairs. Beyond the aesthetic component of their products, they’re really designing solutions to current human problems, taking into account things like sustainability, materials, fabrication, packaging, and shipping.
For the past three years, I’ve been roommates with Daulton Kao. From our first two years living at Stuy Park together to sharing an apartment in Williamsburg during this past year, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing his vision develop and blossom. We’ve since moved to separate places as he continues down his path to the real world, but I got to chat a little bit with him about his Senior Thesis project.
Syd Chan: Hey Daulton, congrats on graduating!! I’ve seen your work progress so much during the past few years, and your final project was so cool! Can you tell me about what you did for your Senior Thesis?
Daulton Kao: Coobaby is a baby stroller designed for parents who have toddlers age 6 to 24 months that is compact, lightweight, and transformable. The stroller offers easier use in day-to-day predicaments, at home and in public, including stairwells and subways.
SC: I saw such a wide variety of innovative products at the thesis show. What inspired you to design a stroller in particular, and what was your process for developing your idea?
DK: The idea just came to me one day as I saw a mother was struggling to carry her stroller down the subway stairs. I first wanted to design a baby carrying device that was both a carrier and stroller. However, through user testing and mock-up trials, many parents who tried didn’t think it looked safe enough. As for the baby industry, safety is the number one priority. So I decided to design a more basket- and shell-like stroller so the child can still be seated when the parent is carrying the stroller down or up stairs.
SC: So many different things to consider, that’s so impressive! I’ve seen your work for the past couple years, and you’ve designed many different kinds of products. How do you think your past work influenced your thesis? Do you think your thesis was a culmination of your previous projects
DK: It really depends on the project. The only thing that influenced me was my previous experiences gained from past projects.
SC: Since your past projects have been so diverse, do you sorta have to tread new territory when designing in a new category of products?
DK: Yes, all the time!
SC: One thing about product design kids that’s always amazed me is your ability to balance both form and function. What kind of engineering and ergonomic considerations did take when creating COOBABY?
DK: I had to consider baby and adult ergonomics because both are the users of this product. On the engineering side, I had to work out the locking mechanisms for the wheels, handles, and footrest. I ended up using the spring-loaded ball catches for my locks.
SC: How about the aesthetic component?
DK: The aesthetics mostly followed a basket-like form, which suggests the idea of a parent holding a child in his/her arms.
SC: Now that thesis is over and you’re time at Parsons is done, what are your plans for the future?
DK: I like things that are very technical and mechanical so I am planning to work for a company that is specialized in these aspects.
Daulton’s currently working on a few different projects with some heavy-hitting companies…looks like he’s on to bigger and better things! He couldn’t tell me too many details, but I know there’s definitely a lot in store for his career.
To learn more about BFA Product Design program and the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons, click here.
Congratulations again Daulton!