SOWMYA IYER

AN APPLE CIDER A DAY

Promotional package to enhance the experience of the Saratoga Apples Tasting Room

 

The project started with an exploration on how food is increasingly understood in relation to restoration and healing of both farm land and the human body. Travelling to a rural area of New York State called Washington County where the local economy remains largely based on agricultural activities, as it has been for hundreds of years, made it successful. There were many opportunities to experience personal connection with the people, their work environments, and the challenges faced in food-related businesses. The in-depth visits and conversations with selected entrepreneurs and innovators whose work is centered on restoration and development of food system economies and ecologies formed the basis for further design inquiries.

One such farm was an Apple Orchard named Saratoga Apples. It is family owned and operated. The Darrows have been growing apples for 5 generations. They grow apples with great care, using low-spray techniques and micronutrient fertilization, including sea minerals and rock dusts.

During the conversations and tour within the Farm and their Cider Tasting room, there was a lot of emphasis on how the tasting room should be promoted so that people travelling upstate could experience the rich ambience of the tasting room as well as take home beautiful memories of their experience. This would enrich their customer base and tempt people to come more often to the tasting room.

This need was very real and it lead to exploring and creating different branding / promotional collaterals which bringing out the story of the orchard and enhance the tasting room experience.

Also, the project majorly focuses into how materials and products (cork, wooden crates, tissue paper for packaging) from the farm could be utilized to create these collaterals.

Key take away after research and interviews with Nate (farm owner) and Eric (his son):

1. They are brand new (2 months) to the cider business.

2. They sell mostly at local (Albany area) farmers markets throughout the year

3. Their cider is a dinner cider (wine bottle - 750ml) because the beer bottle

[12oz-16oz] cider requires more initial capital investment and is run by big names like Angry Orchard and Strongbow.

4. They are making exciting new improvements in the tasting room, including a fireplace, to bring people into the tasting room.

5. They believe that bringing more people into the tasting room will build a loyal customer base.

6. They plan to achieve this by giving out coupons with purchase of apples.

The question after much inquiry and iterations was: 

HOW MIGHT WE Promote the brand among hard cider drinkers making them aware of the farmer’s community, the experience of the tasting room. Tell the story of the rich culture and tradition, years of heritage and quality that builds trusted customer base.

 

 

Experience

Telling the story through the Brand and its Products.

By giving the products and services an identity by capturing and sharing the stories they really are, target audience go on a journey they yearn to experience. This helps the consumers to form a personal connection with the brand.

Engage

Interacting and Engaging with Customers through play.

The puzzle coasters tell the complete story of the 5 generations. This is instrumental in bringing people in the tasting room together. It is a medium of interaction and ice breaking between strangers and also a fun way to get to know more about the origin of the ciders.

Cherish

Letting customers create their own stories and memories.

The giveaway package includes a bag of handpicked apples, a voucher which customers can redeem the next time they visit the tasting room and a beautiful wooden box made of recycles crates which contains personalized postcards. The customers can go on a tradition apple picking tour around the orchard and they can post their pictures on Instagram (social media promotion). This is printed and made into a set of postcards of memories for the customers to share handwritten stories of their experience with their loved ones.

Process

After an extensive research about current competitors in Hard Cider Market and their branding stories. 

These were the following steps :

1. Initial explorations of depicting the story of their heritage and process through hand sketches

2. Creating the physical packaging like wrapping and label design for the customer to understand the story.

3. Iterating over different visual methods to convey the process that fits the look, feel and the ambience of the tasting room.

4. Making artifacts like postcards, vouchers, bag of handpicked apples and puzzle coasters that go along with the theme.

 

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IDOID

A Method to Safe Keep your Eureka Moments


Have you ever been doing one of the following activities when you suddenly had a flash of inspiration but had no means of recording your idea? You thought you could remember the idea until a convenient time to write it down, but you found the idea had vanished as quickly as it appeared?

How might i safe keep my eureka moments so that they inspire me and not distract me

 

IDOID -  A method to safe keep your inspiration and thoughts.

The App records the ideas and everytime you record it, you have to give a penny for your thought!

The Product syncs up with your phone and when you need to be inspired, you shake it and it will give you combinations of ideas from your recorded inspirations!

 

PROCESS

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Chemistry

Everyday products with a Twist

These products are designed inspired by a science lab equipment. It is attempt to explore 'form follows function' thereby reversing the phenomenon to 'function follows form'

 

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Mentorship Program for Veterans

As part of SVA Products of Design’s partnership with Veterans Affairs (and held through the Design Research and Integration class taught by IDEO’s Lawrence Abrahamson) , designers Sowmya Iyer, Manako Tamura, Jingting He, Andrew Schlesinger, Sebastian Harmsen, and Louis Elwood Leach used design to help engage new vets—encouraging them to take advantage of the services available to them.

Building on the findings of over 20 first-person interviews with VA staff and discharged veterans, the group surfaced three principal insights: The first is that there is an opportunity to facilitate better communication between veterans—veteran-to-veteran. The team learned that information around the transition to civilian life, and around the available veteran services “is perceived better when it comes straight from a veteran,” the team argued. “Veteran-to-veteran creates a much stronger bond, and the ‘young veteran’ is more likely to pay attention and communicate interest when the information comes directly from the source.”

The second insight centered around the perception of the quality of services at the VA. “A lot of young veterans have a bad perception of the VA ‘due to bad media,’” the group reported, “when in actuality, we felt that the VA offers some excellent services.”

The third insight was around the value of helping veterans become more aware of their opportunities and values. “The recently-discharged veteran may have no idea of the potential that they have,” the designers argued. “They have been put through so much in the military, and we felt that if they had some instructive (and constructive) guidance, they could achieve so much more.”

Finally, the group learned that it would be incredibly valuable to create design interventions that facilitated connections within the veteran community. “We met veterans who have a sense of a larger mission, and really do want to help the veteran community. We believe that design could play a key role here.”

Transitions is a representation of the emotional journey of a veteran—through the various phases of military life, transitioning, and then stepping into civilian life. “Through our research, we came to understand that there are fundamental rhythms, expectations, and feelings that become completely disconnected once the vet enters civilian life. For instance, their life and routine has a structure and discipline during military life. But once they step into civilian shoes, their routine can become ‘mundane’ and, as a consequence, vets can find it difficult to cope.”

“Conversely,” the designers found, “there are a couple of key feelings that get carried over—remaining consistent through the transition to civilian life: a sense of community, and a ‘soldier identity’."

The whole point here is that the essential services information isn't sent through direct mail. Rather, it’s passed in a more meaningful and immediate way: In person, one-on-one.”

 

The designers proposed a user journey that was simple and logical, and that ladders up in level of engagement:

1. Conduct outreach out to interest new female vets in getting involved in the program
2. Create a sign up flow over a digital platform
3. Connect sympathetic, like-minded individuals based on their profiles
4. Facilitate a one-to-one meet-up, and equip the meetings with pertinent and supportive printed information

One of the most insightful decisions that the designers made was to leverage existing external veteran organizations—rather than trying to invent one. Here, the group settled on “The Mission Continues”—an organization that already seemed to appeal to younger veterans. “Since our goal was to tap into a younger crowd of veterans, we narrowed our focus and thought it would make a lot of sense to build from their base. In fact, their declared purpose on their website entirely aligns with our earlier research: ‘The Mission Continues empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact.’”

The team mocked-up The Mission Continues website with the addition of the "Mentorship" item in the top navigation bar. Other than that, the site's look-and-feel are completely preserved:

“We know that the VA is not permitted to directly advertise to the public. So our idea was to leverage the supporting brands to reach our audience, raise awareness, and promote participation.”

 

Further—and this is significant—they noted that The Mission Continues already enjoys significant corporate sponsorship. Since the designers’ proposals would require some public advertising media and collateral support, they argued, having a modest funding stream already built in would reduce the friction of getting initiatives of the ground. “Also, we thought it would be prudent to align and leverage the brands throughout the use journey that are already tied to and supportive of The Mission Continues. As designers, we felt that working with pre-aligned organizations would have the highest likelihood of success.”

“We also knew that the VA is not permitted to directly advertise to the public. So our idea was to leverage the supporting brands to reach our audience, raise awareness, and promote participation.”

Finally, the group was adamant that the the external organization work in close concert with the VA in order to insure that the services were correctly represented, and that any information exchanged between new and “veteran” vets would be accurate and up-to-date. Here, “a simple toolkit of essential and useful information” would be created and available through sharing,” the designers offered, “but not through direct mail, or by simply hoping that someone might ‘pick up a pamphlet’. The whole point is that essential services information would be passed in a more meaningful and immediate way: In person, one-on-one.”

“We kept the user experience and graphic look-and-feel consistent with the Mission Continues site, building off of their existing style and aesthetic. This would insure a seamless fit between their brand and and the member base.” Here, the designers decided not to create a conspicuous new brand extension; they wanted their new offerings be completely inconspicuous and “look entirely native to the existing brand experience.”

By asking experienced veterans to become mentors, the program essentially invites them to also become ambassadors for the VA.

 

Here's how a The Mission Continues mentorship program might work—from two different perspectives: The experienced veteran; and the recently-discharged veteran.

The first step is reaching out to experienced veterans, encouraging them to join a mentorship program. “We felt that this has a high likelihood of success, because our research revealed that every day, the VA interacts with amazing veterans who want to give back to the community. This initial outreach creates a perfect moment for the VA to identify those individuals, and to encourage them to become mentors.”

Here, “The Mission Continues Mentorship” business cards could be handed out by VA personnel—by doctors, nurses, front desk personnel or really anyone at the VA.” Additionally, mentorship flyers would be located throughout the VA to encourage signup.

Next is attracting recent veterans to sign up for the mentorship program. “This is the moment where the existing Mission Continues partnerships come into great effect. Disney is an existing sponsor, for example, so when a veteran's movie ticket discount is exercised, a flyer can be given out to the vet along with their ticket. Equinox is a also sponsor, and gyms are a popular place to find veterans. So this also a great moment to reach out."

"Vets can currently use their veteran status to get discounts at Target. And since Target is also a major sponsor of The Mission Continues, the advertising message around mentoring can be automatically printed on their receipt!"

Finally, Southwest Airlines is already a primary sponsor for the Mission Continues, so plane tickets and digital boarding passes—which already identify military personnel—could have mentorship messaging on them.

Next, interested potential mentors go the website platform where they create a profile, identify the areas where they feel most comfortable providing advisement, and identify the gender preference of a mentee. (The group notes that “although our research indicates that women prefer to not be 'divided into another group', we are aware of the high percentage of Military Sexual Trauma, and feel this should be an option in case of preference.")

For new vets, they can also find their way to the platform via the various touchpoints. When they arrive at the site, they similarly identify the areas that they'd like to get some help and information about. Using matching algorithms, the mentorship platform puts together a tailored toolkit made up of appropriate information packets—and sends it to the mentor, along with notifying them of their match!

The designers describe a possible scenario between an experienced veteran (Jessica), and a new vet (Roxana): "Using a gift card from Starbucks—a corporate sponsor for the program—Jessica and Roxana are matched by the platform and meet for the first time at a local Starbucks cafe. There, the two get acquainted and go over the toolkit together—strategizing about, for example, how to get the information together in order for Roxana to acquire the certificate of eligibility for the GI Bill. In addition to discussing the GI bill, Jessica also tells Roxana about the treatments that she currently receives at the local VA hospital—where she was actually recruited from. And after meeting with Jessica, Roxana feels better informed about the services available to her, and decides to make her first appointment at the VA hospital."

"The most difficult barrier for the VA to engaging new veterans is that they aren’t even aware of what services they are eligible for," offer the designers. "Mentoring is a great way to get this information across, of course, but it’s also a tried-and-true way of building trusted friendships that can provide all kinds of support. Having the VA in common is the perfect way to start!”

"Partnering with a non-governmental organization such as The Mission Continues provides a short runway to corporate sponsorship and media advertising, and while these advertisements mostly target recently discharged veterans, the VA can leverage them to reach out to experienced veterans who already use their services. By asking these veterans to become mentors, the program essentially invites them to be ambassadors for the VA."

Process

Representatives from the Veterans Experience Office and the New York Harbor Healthcare System (VA Hospital) came to Products of Design to participate in a group discussion around women veterans.Topics ranged from the perception of women military in our society, to their unique needs in accessing healthcare services throughout the VA system, to stakeholder eco-system mapping—trying to identify the main players in the area, along with learning about their top needs and interactions.

The partnered project started off with three unique design prompts:

How might we help women veterans "be seen" as veterans in our society and culture?

How might we help improve no-show rates at the women’s clinic?

How might we engage younger, transitioning vets to take advantage of the various health services and events at VA?

 

The team of 6 has gone wide in conducting interviews covering the full spectrum of demographics: age, gender, and ethnicity. Additionally, the team has interviewed VA staff to gain insight into the organizational structure and day to day interactions. What has been particularly challenging and interesting is synthesizing all the interview notes, quotes, and themes. The team has adopted a method of writing down key phrases on post-its from each interview to then cluster the phrases into themes. Next, themes are connected across multiple interviews to pull out key insights which span across the board. These broader insights become the basis for guiding design principles. The design principles helped the team to move in a focus direction which was leaning
towards mentorship programs and toolkits to help mentors guide their respective mentees.
It was followed by further interviews with VA staff in terms of feasibility and usefulness of the concept. Creating artifacts and mockups for the concept along with testing it simultaneously was the process.

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Awl

Multipurpose Stitching tool for all types of fabric

Process

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Travel Iron

 

This fold able travel iron, that lets the user iron on the run. It folds out flat to enable tabletop ironing as well as collars, hand cuffs, etc. With a simple folding action, the user can use it to quickly iron the places that has more crease and save time.

 

The inspiration was to create something which is a labour saving device yet used by hand. A travel iron which is accessible to all personas seemed to be the perfect product. It was also important to make it compact, easy to use and store. As a result of which, it is a foldable iron which can be used by one hand to iron clothes at specific areas or on a table top.


It is battery operated so that there is no hassle with the wires. It can be stored in the folded position so that your hand does not come in contact with the hot iron part.

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Process

1. Conceptualization - A lot of sketching was done to explore the different concepts and the way the product should be.
2. Form exploration - to understand the look and feel, mock-up models were made on foam to guage the size, working and mechanism.
3. Final model was made of MDF with different hand tools and shop machines like bandsaw machine, lathe, sanders, etc.
4. Painting - first it was coated with aqua resin and finished using wet sandpaper. It was then painted with spray paint and acrylic colors for detailing and logo.
 

LED Word Clock

Do you want a stylish, modern and functional timepiece to add to your clock collection? The word clock is a one-of-a-kind time telling device, using a grid of letters to spell out the time. 

This is my version of the WORD CLOCK that uses Adafruit Neopixels and Real Time Clock Module. It incorporates Arduino Board for coding and implementation. It changes the time every 5 mins and shows different colors at different times of the day. This is a simple yet elegant clock to gift to someone or have it on your desk.

Learn how to make:

http://www.instructables.com/id/THE-WORD-CLOCK/

 

The clock face tells time with words and the back lit color changes at different times of the day.

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TASTEBUDS 

Bringing Food Enthusiasts Together

'Tastebuds' is a food app which matches your and other peoples' ingredients. This gives the users a chance to get together with other food enthusiasts, cook and enjoy a meal
together.

'Tastebuds' has a special purpose. It is focused around Women who want to take a break from their monotonous, rudimentary lifestyle. The app helps them connect with new
people, get together, make new friends and empowers them with an ability to cook for passion instead of cooking for the family.

 

The app scans the refrigerator and shelves for available ingredients and suggests amazing recepies. It also allows you to post share them with the world. It matches the
ingredients with other people and gives you possible matches, people with whom you can meet and cook a meal together and share your experiences.
Every month, an active member with most matches gets to become the expert. They get an opportunity to attend MEET AND EAT KITCHEN which is a platform for them to
teach and share their culinary skills to other people. It is an effort to empower women and an opportunity for them to break free.

 
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The idea makes so much sense for women who want to break free from their routine and do something fun, that lets them use their culinary skills, which has been used only to cook for their family.

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REUNION : A Social Intervention

Design And Politics

The 2016 Presidential Election

Team: Jenna Witzleben, Jiani Lin, Teng Yu, Sowmya Iyer, Julia Lindpaintner
Location: South end of Union Square Park
Time: 11:30am to 1:30pm

 

We have never been more aware of the polarization in our country, and these divisions are often deeply felt even within families. Looking beyond this election and towards Thanksgiving, the team designed RE-UNION—a game that generates unexpected ways into conversations about political topics at family gatherings. 

 

“We feel strongly that we need new ways to talk to each other about politics if we are to overcome partisan and ideological divisions and collaborate across differences,” said the designers. “If we can’t do it with our family, how can we do it as a country?”

To play, participants spin two wheels, one with political topics like “Immigration Laws” and “Minimum Wage,” the other with Thanksgiving items like “Turkey,” “Pie,” and “Gravy”—to generate random combinations. When three combinations have been made, they have two minutes to come up with connections between the ideas. 

The designers elaborated: “The point is to use the Thanksgiving item as a way into a conversation about the political topic. 

 
 

For example, if you had ‘Immigration Laws & Fork’ you could say, ‘I think we’re at a fork in the road on immigration…’ or ‘Immigration is a really sharp, pointy issues, with a lot of prongs to it.’”

Stationed at the southwest end of Union Square Park, the RE-UNION booth attracted a diverse crowd of curious passersby. Participants’ responses ranged from the literal—“If we lowered the drinking age, we could all have vodka cranberry”—to the metaphorical—“if we raise minimum wage, we can let everyone get a piece of the pie.” Over the course of two hours the designers gathered over 120 unique connections made by participants. While some used the game as an opportunity to express their opinion, others surprised themselves by casting these political subjects in a new light.

 

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TYPELACES

Autobiographical Typography

Inspired by, and following the reading of Paul Elliman’s “My Typographies,” this two-week long exercise asked the students to create a new alphabet, that could double as letter forms and as a self-portrait. "The assignment was to look at typography both as meaning-making symbols whose function is to be strung together to make language, but also as marks on the page which themselves carry cultural connotations that can be 'read'. "The hope was that while the student looked at the distinct forms, lines, and curves that make each letter, they might also look at the associations of their chosen materials, and shapes."

Each of the us created an ambitious and distinct new series of letters that—while fully-functional as an alphabet—also stood in for an aspect of themselves. As Elliman argues, “Writing gives the impression of things. Conversely, things can give the impression of writing.”


My shoes are very close to my heart. They resonate with who I am... 

So, for an Autobiographical Alphabet, they were the perfect medium of exploration.


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SENSES

Mood Stimulating Soaps


Senses are soaps that stimulate mood changes. It has alternating essences which gives the person the shower that soothes their senses and provides relaxation and relief from different  negative emotions.


 

If you are feeling particularly angry you could take a rejuvenating shower with the ANGRY soap, that has cooling menthol crystals that will sooth your nerves and will keep you down.

All the soaps are designed keeping the different emotions we face during the day. 

 

When you pick up an EMOTION SOAP, you are acknowledging the emotion that you are feeling and using the soap that counters your current negative emotion with a positive one, makes your day

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The Future of Retail

Experiential and Serendipitous

Our customers seek the unique, personalized objects symbolic of freedom of choice and independence. They may not be designers, but they know what they want when they see it. Being the first person to have the coolest thing is what they distinguish and value. 

The value of the product is increased by tailoring to the user and adding to discovery as an experience. 

The retail store is like a live museum where products are getting manufactured in the same space where people are interaction with the products and inputting the data from their phones .

 

To understand the current retail experiences, the team went around exploring a lot of stores. Then with the information and the observation gathered, the AEIOU worksheet was filled out which is a detailed report of the observations in terms of ACTIVITIES, ENVIRONMENT,INTERACTIONS, OBJECTSand USERS in the retail store. This was useful in seeing the bigger picture. Then came the most important part of realizing and articulating what the future of retail would look like. The team had to answer questions about the Domain, the Users, The Purpose and the Brand. This was the foundation of the complete system. At each step the team had to keep delving deeper answering these questions and refining the concept.

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Wedding Invitation

When my sister decided to tie the knot with her long time boyfriend, she asked me to design her wedding invite. 

This is a SOUTH INDIAN WEDDING, and the inspiration is directly from the different ceremonies that happen during the wedding. One of it is the Swing Ceremony where the Bride and the Groom are seated on a huge swing and are blessed by others.

The wedding takes place around dawn and that is what has been captured in the main invite. Both the Bride and the Groom are in the traditional South Indian attire.

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LOUPE

QUICK ASSIST BODY RIG FOR SMART PHONES

 

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Loupe is a flexible band worn around the neck or your waist, which acts as a body rig for your smartphones. It comes with a magnetic attachment that holds your smart phone in the position that you desire, enabling you to take videos and pictures from different angles and Points of View

Freeing up your hands allows the freedom to move which in turn expedites the filming process. Connecting with the audience is a vital part of content creation and Loupe puts them right beside you– seeing directly from your point of view.

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Loupe is a quick assist body rig for content creators who use smartphones for video capture and vlogging. We believe in the fast-recording process to aid the laborious task of shooting, scripting, editing, and posting content. Freeing up your hands allows the freedom to move which in turn expedites the filming process. Connecting with the audience is a vital part of content creation and Loupe puts them right beside you– seeing directly from your point of view.

 
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It is designed keeping in mind the Generation Z. Teen Content creators, and Makers create tutorials, How to videos and Unboxing Videos for channels like You Tube.

Therefore, it is necessary for them to record videos, while they multitask and/or create their projects. Loupe provides a hands-free solution to shooting these videos, enabling them to save a lot of time in Post production and reducing the requirement to have a crew for shooting.

You are your One Man Crew. Loupe is stylish, convenient and low cost. It caters to all kinds of vloggers, from amateurs to professionals

 
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It comes in a clear packaging, that lets the user touch and feel the product before they unbox it. It dis-assembles easily and can also be used without the shoulder support. The shoulder support is ergonomically designed to keep counter balance the weight and the flexibility of the cord. It is also a battery enabled phone charger with USB charging and cord storage.

Loupe elevates your experience of fast-recording and lets your audience see what you see.

 
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They tested various apparatus from head mounted, neck, and waist mounted. The group developed their product in a tactile manner by purchasing over a half dozen similar products and components to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in performance. They also sourced and experimented with various components to create the most robust producttesting the boundaries of materials, analyzing the structure and usability of each version. From classmates, to friends and family, the team continually got feedback on the versions of the product as it was being developed. With the latest version in-hand, it needs to be tested by the targeted user demographic under a Non-Disclosure Agreement for confidentiality in the next wave of testing.

 

EXPERIMENTS

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