Alex Chow Design Portfolio
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ARC Smart Power hub
“Vampire Power Drain” is electricity consumed by devices that are plugged in, but not in use. This type of passive power usage can add up to a significant financial and environmental cost over time.
Yearly cost of power consumed in the US by devices in standby or sleep mode
Average number of devices in the typical US
households drawing power when “off”
Percentage of US residential energy used by
devices in idle mode
Average yearly energy consumption for US household: 1966 vs 2015
Percentage of US carbon dioxide emissions caused by electricity production
Percentage of US households with high speed internet devices that are always on
The simplest way to curtail energy usage is to either unplug individual appliances, or to shut off power strips that group appliances. With both options being inconvenient and time consuming, the goal is to find a solution that incorporates the practicality of programmable timers with the convenience of our home WiFi, which while always on, draws relatively little power.
ARC is a connected power hub that helps manage your electronic devices via smartphone. Remotely turn outlets on and off, set timers, and monitor your household energy consumption.
The goal was to have a device that was sleek and low profile to tackle the problem of cord organization and aesthetics. ARC is wall mounted to save space and hide unsightly cords. The physical interface is minimal and straightforward, with a set of buttons on each side to turn corresponding outlets on and off and LED indicator lights to show the power state of each outlet.
ARC connects to your smartphone via your home WiFi, allowing you to program multiple outlets and make adjustments remotely. The app also tracks energy usage over time.
Outlets for devices like lights, fans, laundry machines, and other appliances can be shut off when you’re away from home to save energy and money.
Harvest Vases are a reinterpretation of peeled fruits and vegetables as functional objects. The surfaces appear to be sliced and pulled aside, allowing room for growth. The project is an exploration of 3D printed porcelain as a viable manufacturing process. The goal was to produce forms that are difficult to achieve with conventional manufacturing and challenge perceptions of how a vase should look.
Why explore 3D printing as a manufacturing technique? The process, although not as quick as conventional methods like slip casting or RAM press molding, offers several distinct advantages:
New Visual Languages
3D printing ceramics offers the possibility of forms that can’t be easily achieved through conventional production methods.
Many of the products we use travel the world to reach us. With on demand printing, localize manufacturing becomes more financially viable.
By printing on demand, there is no need to produce in bulk, warehouse products, or produce more goods than there is demand for.
To accommodate different types of floral arrangements, three different shapes were developed: “ball”, “bean”, and “tall”.
The vases were made for American Design Club’s “GROWTH” exhibition with the intention of designing vases that could stand out from the crowd with their unconventional forms.
Although the project focuses only on 3D printing ceramics, the technology also has much broader implications beyond ceramics manufacturing. As it becomes more accessible, efficient, and flexible, it has the opportunity to move outside the realm of prototype and gimmick to make a serious impact on the way we approach designing and manufacturing products.
Mirror/Shelf is a versatile entryway mirror providing a catchall for coats, bags, and personal belongings. The shelf and coat hooks have the appearance of floating in space, elevating the objects they carry. The bottom of the shelf has embedded magnets to hold key rings.
Inspiration: Floating Object Mirror Illusion
The main body of the mirror is constructed from a CNC cut plywood frame while the shelf and coat hooks are milled from solid wood.
Tilt Top Table
A reinterpretation of 18th Century American tilting tea tables, Tilt Top Table comes with a marble base, attached with only a thumbscrew, allowing it to store and ship flat.
Inspiration: Contemporary Take on Popular 18th Century Furniture
The goal was to design a side table that could function in a range of contexts from end table to nightstand. It was also important that the table could flat pack for transport and be assembled without the use of tools.
After refinement in Rhino, the final design was 3D printed at scale to test the tilt top mechanism.
Clockwork lamp is designed to bring an element of fun and play into everyday life. Turning the wind-up key at the top allows the user to dim and brighten the light. The lamp is an exploration of improper combination between a mechanical element and object, challenging perceptions of what the product is, while at the same time, directing interaction.
The goal was to have a table lamp that could walk the line between boldness and subtlety by balancing a moment of surprise with an overall familiar form in order to fit within a range of settings. The wind-up key, an element in countless children’s toys, was chosen as a mechanical interaction users would intuitively understand and naturally gravitate toward.
The first working prototype was designed with a spun copper shade and a CNC milled wooden dish, meant to be a catch-all for everyday items like keys, cellphones, and wallets.
I developed a second prototype to simplify the internal structure and allow access to the LEDs for replacement. The lamp was selected for exhibition at Wanted Design during NYCxDesign 2015.
Flat Pack Stool
The flat pack stool was designed with the intention of elevating the idea of knock down furniture, connecting to the way people live their lives, and building emotional value over time.
Although flat pack designs are generally affordable and easy to transport, they tend to be associated with a range of common issues: difficulty of assembly, lack of durability, and disposability.
Amy Poehler once joked that IKEA was Swedish for “argument.” Although assembly is meant to be intuitive, the web is filled with frustrated customers and assembly services.
Although one of the successes of flat pack is the ability to sell affordable furniture on a grand scale, it often comes at the price of material quality and consequently, structural integrity.
In cities like Miami and New York, renters make up over 60% of the population. For many with mobile lives, it can often cost more to move a $20 coffee table than to buy a new one.
The goal was to design a stool that was intuitive to assemble, built to last, and able to ship flat without having the look of flat pack furniture. It would be a piece of furniture that could live permanently in someone’s home or accommodate highly mobile lifestyles. The design would also provide a special focus on aesthetic quality to be something people would want to keep and hand down over time.
The final solution incorporated a spot-welded metal frame that indicated where the legs could slot in and hid all hardware. The tabs also helped provide stability so that each leg could be quickly attached with only one bolt to hold it in place. Solid ash, traditionally used to make baseball bats, was chosen for its long-term durability.
designed for 1882 Ltd. as Industrial Design Intern / Fort Standard
During my internship with Fort Standard, I had the opportunity to design a full range of slip casted ceramic tableware. Three different bowls based on the concept of fractals were developed through a series of Solidworks models, full-scale print-outs, and rough foam models.
Team: Gregory Buntain (Co-Founder), Ian Collings (Co-Founder), Alex Chow (Industrial Design Intern)
Following the development of the bowls, 1882 requested 3 additional designs: a pitcher and 2 vases. I made a series of rough full-scale foam models in the shop to ensure that the pitcher design could still account for ergonomics and use. The vases were developed through a series of Solidworks models, which provided an efficient means of creating circular arrays and gracefully twisting surfaces.