Daffodil: an online shopping experience

What I did

  1. Design Fiction Research
  2. 3D Bioprinting research
  3. Icon Design
  4. High-fidelity mockup

Duration

3 weeks

Tools

  1. Illustrator
  2. InDesign
  3. Figma

Overview

Design Fiction Assignment

In a 3-week long project for the graduate course, Visual Culture & Design, students were challenged to design icons for a design fiction of their choice. According to Julian Bleecker, “Design fiction is a way of exploring different approaches to making things, probing the material conclusions of your imagination, removing the usual constraints when designing for massive market commercialization — the ones that people in blue shirts and yellow ties call “realistic.” This is a different genre of design. Not realism, but a genre that is forward-looking, beyond incremental and makes an effort to explore new kinds of social interaction rituals.”

Imagining an Alternative Future

This design fiction assignment is inspired by current advancements in 3d printing. Researchers are using biocompatible scaffolding, bioinks made from living cells, and 3D printers to make cells, tissues, and medicine. Scientists have successfully 3D printed rabbit-sized hearts as recently as 2019. Reading this news, I asked myself, “what would the world look like if 3D bioprinted hearts was normal? So normal they could be treated like glasses?”

I used Warby Parker as a business model and visual reference for the fictional store, Daffodil. I was inspired by their ability to provide high-quality and stylish products at a fraction of a price. Additionally, they were motivated to do so because the glasses industry was reaping such high revenue. That leads to a second question “would 3D bioprinted body parts be affordable? Who would have access?”

In my fictional future, 3D bioprinting is normalized but expensive. Therefore, there is a need for a company like Daffodil to disrupt the system. I designed the icons using Illustrator to help users navigate Daffodil’s website and understand how the 3D bioprinting process works. The website prototype was created in Figma and is inspired by Warby Parker’s current web experience. My aim is to provide the audience the creepy feeling of shopping for goods and services they don’t imagine is possible, but actually right around the corner.

The full web experienced can be viewed here.

Deep Dive

Research – What is the Problem?

Given the open-natured component of this project, I decided to brainstorm a list of current technologies to decide where to start investigating. I then highlighted 3D printing & 3D bioprinting as I don’t have any knowledge of these technologies. I am familiar with Neri Oxman’s work in 3D printed clothes & masks, so I wanted to learn more about 3D printing and her design process.

After confirming 3D printing as a technology to reimagine, I researched current processes in the 3D printing & 3D bioprinting field to have a better understanding of current scientific facts. A Key takeaway is a three-step process, regardless of what is printed.

3D Printed Clothes:

  1. Design
  2. Bioprinting (bioink) // Print
  3. Assemble

3D Bioprinting:

  1. Pre-bioprinting (biopsy)
  2. Bioprinting with bioink
  3. Post-bioprinting (chemical stimulations)

More familiar with the 3D printing process, I decided to pursue 3D-printed clothes and their impact on our future. I chose 3D printed clothes because I was very inspired by Neri Oxman’s research on Material Ecology, “a design philosophy, research area, and scientific approach that explores inform, and expresses interrelationships between the built, the grown, and the augmented.” The last component of my research presentation was compiling a list of questions about this alternate future. Below are a series of probing questions.

  1. What if 3d printed clothes considered decay in its design?
  2. What is the future of fashion in a world where climate change is impacting the materials we can use?
  3. What if water is so scarce, it can only be used for food production instead of clothing resources? 
  4. Are there other ways of creating resources for clothing, i.e. 3D printing bioink/biomaterials that can then be used for clothing?
  5. What will clothes/fashion say about individuals/society in the future where access to resources is limited?
    1. I.e. what are the hierarchies of clothing?
    2. Who has access to the 3d printers; will only the super-wealthy be able to afford cotton & organically made materials from the Earth?

In-class Critique

I presented my findings and potential design route to my design class. I felt certain that I wanted to create a shopping experience for 3D-printed clothes. Rather than buying a cotton t-shirt, this company would require clients to purchase biodegradable inks and printers to make their shirts at home. After my presentation, one comment stuck with me and changed my design process.

“That would be so cool if you could print ears in your apartment. How morbid!”

Most of my classmates were captivated by the images and research of 3D bioprinting and uninterested in 3D printed-clothes. I also found 3D bioprinting far more fascinating, however, I thought 3D bioprinting ears at home would not be feasible in the future. Given the complex nature of organs, I assumed it would only take place in doctor’s offices or become a black-market industry. Therefore, I stuck with 3D printed clothes which felt more doable given the scope of the project.

After a meeting with my professor he gave three great suggestions:

  1. Follow my interests – regardless of difficulty.
  2. Sticking 100% to the fact is not required, therefore I should allow myself to have fun and be as creative as possible.
  3. Consider Warby Parker as a business model, as they were unique in breaking into the glasses industry when it was extremely expensive.

A New Direction

Thanks to the class consensus, I focused my attention on creating a 3D bioprinting company that has a similar business model to Warby Parker.

Designing Icons

Final Icons

Icons in Context