Online shopping experience for 3D printed body parts
In the near future, 3D bioprinting organs, skin, bones, and cells will be a normalized occurrence. This project imagines the days of donating organs for transplants are long behind us. People can now purchase parts built specifically for their bodies at a fraction of the cost.
Daffodil is a direct-to-consumer 3D bioprinting company that modeled its aesthetic and business scheme after a glasses company, Warby Parker. The goal is to provide quality parts at an affordable cost in order to help as many people as possible live a good life.
The assignment objective was to “create a series of design fiction centered around a set of icons” with the basic requirements of designing 5 icons and putting them in context with 3 artifacts.
In the Visual Culture & Design course, students were challenged to create 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.”
March – April 2021
- Graphic Designer
- UX Designer
What I worked on
- Market research
- Technology research
- Graphic design
- Website UI
What I learned
I learned that speculative design can be fun, but has its shortcomings. Without participatory design or input from a community, ideas can spur out of control. While it can be an interesting thought experiment, it doesn’t feel grounded in reality to benefit everyday people.
This experience also taught me the value of critiques. If it weren’t for the feedback from my classmates my project would not have been as strong. I’m thankful for my peers’ insights, questions, and pushbacks. It made me a better listener, more open-minded, and a better designer.
Problem: What Design Future?
I first began by listing current technologies and considered how it will evolve and impact the near future.
- self-driving cars
- 3D printing clothes
- 3D bioprinting
After a round of feedback from classmates and professor, I chose 3D bioprinting because it’s an interesting technology that I wanted to investigate further and it’s a creative direction that aligned with Julian Baker’s definition of design fiction
I then researched current processes in the field to have a better understanding of current scientific facts to influence the designs
- Pre-bioprinting (biospy)
- Bioprinting with bioink
- Post-bioprint (chemical stimulations)
Above is a moodboard I created that is inspired by current 3D bioprinting technologies that inspired the project.
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 printed hearts were normal? So normal they could be treated like glasses?” and “would 3D printed body parts be affordable? Who would have access? Would there be a black market for these goods?”
3D bioprinting company modeled after Wary Parker
In this fictional future, 3D bioprinting is normalized but expensive. Especially, considering the American healthcare system is unaffordable. Instead of taking the gruesome course of a blackmarket, I decided to use Warby Parker’s story as inspiration. They sought to tackle the Goliath of glasses production by providing high-quality and stylish products at a fraction of a price. I wanted this fictional company to do the same and provide a morbid product in a traditional real-world market. I selected the name Daffodil for the company as this flower represents change and the triumph of new hope over despair.
Using Warby Parker’s history page, I developed a history page for Daffodil to tell the story to potential clients. (the paragraph below is from Warby Parker and replaced “glasses” with “parts.”)
Every idea starts with a problem. Ours was simple: organs and body parts are too expensive. We were students when one of us lost her finger on a backpacking trip. The cost of replacing one was so high that she spent the first semester of grad school without her finger, unable to write and maneuver. (We don’t recommend this.) The rest of us had similar experiences, and we were amazed at how hard it was to find body parts that didn’t leave our wallets bare. Where were the options?
It turns out there was a simple explanation. The 3D bioprinting industry is dominated by a single company that has been able to keep prices artificially high while reaping huge profits from consumers who have no other options.
We started Daffodil to create an alternative.
Design & Iteration
I started the design process by researching iconography and imagery related to 3D bioprinting process: 1) biopsy 2) bioprint 3) post-bioprint
3D bioprinting process
To supplement appropriate imagery, I brainstormed the process of 3D bioprinting. Knowing the exact process informed my design on creating an icon that explains the situation.
This image shows the three-step process of bioprinting.
- Take measurements (biopsy)
- Confirm ink selection (considered how the business could earn extra profits through using a traditional bioink or use client tissues to create a tailored bioink.)
With the process confirmed, I worked on designing icons for each step.
The icons at the top of the document are from The Noun Project, and the hand-drawn icons are my initial sketches inspired by those visuals.
Initial drafts of icons to represent the bioinks & mouth swab. This process helps customers decide which bioink is right for them: YourFormula which requires a mouth swab to collect their cells to create the ink using their own cells. DaffodilFormula, a highly effective generic bioink that does not require a mouth swab.
After creating my initial sketches, I selected one hand-drawn piece I felt accurately represented the process. I then used Illustrator to create vector icons of the original drawing. I created slight variations in Illustrator to understand what icon would visually work on a large & small scale.
Step 1: BioScan
Step 2: Select BioInk
Step 3: Print
I presented the above images to the class for feedback. I aimed to ensure the company, Daffodil, and its process was clear. Here are a few notes that impacted my redesigns:
“The person in the BioScan looks like a gingerbread man, which doesn’t fit the aesthetic of the other icons.”
“Ask yourself: do the icons match the overall aesthetic of the future?”
“BioInk which uses individuals’ cells (YourFormula) needs to represent the individual more. Right now it’s too generic.”
“The legs of the BioScan & BioInk person is reminiscent of flowers; perhaps lean into that more.”
I felt comfortable with the Mouth Swab and icons for 3D printed body parts (ears, liver, heart) as they had no critique. I focused the redesign on the Logo and BioInks based on the notes.
The name of the company is a flower, Daffodil, which I wanted to incorporate into the logo. I drew a person that also had traits of flower petals. Below shows the different versions of this flower-person hybrid. The images circled were, in my opinion, the strongest visually.
I then turned the drawings into vector images on Illustrator. I decided to incorporate the color blue to indicate an altered body part. Blue is typically a medical color that is both calming and trustworthy. I did not think warm colors – especially red – would fit the aesthetic of Daffodil.
Since the original version of YourFormula was too generic, I brainstormed imagery that that reads as unique. The first thing that came to mind was a fingerprint, as each human’s fingerprint is totally unique.
I removed the leaf from the BioInk formula as it was not clear what that communicated. Instead, I used the droplet image from the 3D printed body parts for visual cohesion and for imagery of a liquid.
Final Icon Designs
Icons in Context
The final step was inserting the icons in the context of the alternative future. To keep my design future grounded in today’s reality, I modeled Daffodil’s website on Warby Parker’s current site. I did not mimic Warby Parker’s branding for Daffodil’s color palette. Instead, I chose warm yellow and blue accents and black text as it looks inviting and professional. It was important clients did not feel repulsed by the products but intrigued and supported.
I then brought my designs to life by creating a high-fidelity prototype using Figma. The aim was to create a website where customers can shop for 3D-printed body parts of their choice. Clients can learn about the process and purchase the required 3D printed body part from the comfort of their homes.
Below is a video demonstration of the Daffodil website.
Below are high-resolution screenshots from the Daffodil website.
- Speculative design isn’t grounded in reality
- Turn grotesque into the enjoyable
- I learned about the power of critiques
- Turned a morbid reality into a semi absorbable experience
- Create a working Prototype that users could interact with
- Create a mobile app