Consumer Consciousness

Industrial design students’ design museum spreads the word about consumption

Photos by Don Gonyea

The thought process behind consumer purchases is usually simple: find, covet, buy. In contrast, the manufacturing process for consumer products like cell phones and sneakers is incredibly complex, involving hundreds of moving parts that can influence politics and environmental conditions on a global scale.

Illuminating the many processes behind purchases is the aim of Design Museum Boston, a nonprofit collective cofounded by Sam Aquillano and Derek Cascio, adjunct lecturers in the industrial design department. As part of their summer Design Museum studio course, the pair worked with 12 Wentworth industrial design students to create a “pop-up” museum exhibit promoting informed consumerism at Boston’s Prudential Center. Displays included a part-by-part teardown of a cell phone and boards that illustrated innovative, sustainable improvements for everyday things like household-cleaner spray bottles.

“We’re highlighting product sustainability, and we’re celebrating better methods and alternatives of materials and manufacturing,” says Christina Ragucci, BIND ’12. In addition to designing the exhibit, students also demonstrated entrepreneurial energy. They secured the venue, maintained a media-rich blog to promote the exhibit, and used the online fundraising website to raise the necessary $5,000 in funding for the show.

To Aquillano, the experience was as practical as design education gets. “Teaching the principles of design, we’re not always actually teaching the principles of getting things done,” he says. “For me, that has been the most amazing thing and probably the biggest takeaway for the students.” —LAURA FINALDI



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