Resilient Furniture Design: A Reconceived School Table for Earthquake Safety

This research investigates alternative design solutions of furniture capable of mitigating a comprehensive scope of impacts related to the risk of natural disasters. With natural disasters anticipated to increase in both severity and regularity, creative strategies are needed to address the collective escalation of physical and emotional vulnerability. As children are particularly susceptible to these impacts, the central research question queries: How might furniture effectively function to mitigate the physical threat of earthquakes and aid in facilitating earthquake-related resilience within the context of New Zealand’s primary schools? The research and subsequent design development outlined in this article was undertaken within a research-through-design approach inclusive of qualitative and ethnographic research methodologies. The outcome of this research, an innovative classroom table, exemplifies the application of alternative functions and technologies in the design of contemporary furniture. In addressing a need that has received minimal prior development, this research highlights furniture design’s ability to respond with agility to a multitude of contextual issues. As earthquakes and other natural disasters escalate and pose threats at a global scale, the topic and proposed outcome of this research is relevant and applicable across all seismically active regions in the world.

The Design of Portraiture to Regulate Social Power and Hierarchies

Portraiture commissioned for print was predominantly a preserve of the wealthy, with the majority of editions from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century generated for an elitist demographic—that of kings, queens, prime ministers, presidents, and other heads-of-state. Its publishing and distribution by the ruling classes over these three centuries left a wealth of material that is loaded with signifiers and presentation modes designed to express and promote systems of hierarchy and control. Over a similar period, and in contrast to the depiction of the ruling elite, are portraits of slaves and workers. These prints produced as reportage documents, or for satirical commentary, also offer insights into the demographics of class, race, and the design structures that underpin the portrait’s semiotic content. This article will compare portraits for their ability to function as mechanisms for the regulating of power, to reinforce hierarchies of control. In summary, the legacy of the portrait and the influence it has had on contemporary society will be explored, asking whether similar power mechanisms still operate, and why particular characteristics have been retained.

Design Research toward Viable Bus Use for an Aging Population

Older Americans are increasing in numbers and addressing their needs through better public transportation design will improve their quality of life. This study sought to increase understanding of the obstacles faced by people with impairments in vision, hearing, and/or mobility, which are common issues for older people, and generate physical product solutions. The research was conducted to conceptualize products, structures, and services to reduce or eliminate these obstacles. With a focus on the Eugene, Oregon public bus system, elderly riders were surveyed and interviewed. Designers rode on buses noting what worked well and where problems arose. Five ride-along observations of older and disabled persons who had mobility, hearing, and/or vision impairments were conducted. Two focus groups at Lane County Independent Living Alliance (LILA) with experts on public transportation and disabilities were conducted. This research shows that aging riders face conceptual, physical, and social barriers that impact their willingness to use buses. Using the bus was seen as inconvenient, time consuming, physically draining, and potentially frustrating. Priority seating areas designated for older and disabled users fill quickly. People with mobility challenges may use bulky walkers and require the availability of grab bars, and users of wheeled mobility devices need different device security. Several situations noted in the study show that physically challenged riders are subject to awkward, uncomfortable social dynamics more than other bus users. Innovation in easy access seats and secure WhMD stations at the front of the bus are critical for older users, as it makes riding the bus less draining and more safe.