Oh My Gourd! Look at What We Did!

First-year industrial design students carve pumpkins as park of a fun design exercise.


For the 2nd year in a row, first-year students in the School of Industrial Design at the College of Design took Halloween and design to a different level.

Their assignment: Design a pumpkin, not just carve a traditional Jack-o'-lantern. The assignment also allowed the students do something fun and creative.

The Pumpkin Blitz, part of the School's Annual Pumpkin Ramble, was a week-long assignment that began with pumpkin exploration.

Students had a chance to learn about and analyze influential designers' work and apply those design elements to pumpkins.Through research of the designers and materials analysis, students came to understand a designer's design philosophy and what textures a pumpkin contained. By applying those pieces of evidence, students were able to create more innovative designs with pumpkins, according to Yaling Liu, the lead instructor on the project.


Student tackles carving a large pumpkin.


Despite the fun they appeared to be having, the students had guidelines from their professors. Among the criteria they were judged on: quality of craft, evidence of conceptual relationship to original designer, evidence of material exploitation, and effective tool use. Students could also only use the carving tools provided.


Students and guests look at posters made after the pumpkin exploration.


Students first worked in 9 teams of 8-10 students each during the exploration of the pumpkin parts. After the exploration, they created designs with the parts -- skin, seeds, fruit -- and made posters, which themselves looked like works of art.

For the posters and the eventual carving, they looked to a professional designer for inspiration. They made inspiration boards that included the creative arrangement of the pumpkin parts, as well as the name and background of their designer.

By the end of the week, the individually carved pumpkins were displayed outside on the North lawn of the Architecture West building.


Line of carved pumpkins from blitz.


Students and their guests (this was also the beginning of Family Weekend) viewed the display of posters and pumpkins. Liu, also a lecturer in the School of Industrial Design, said the students designed lots of inspiring pumpkins. "The quality of carved pumpkins showed the strong skills of students' handcraft techniques, design thinking, and creativity. I was surprised to see how cohesive a pumpkin collection each team built inspired by one specific designer," she said.


The BizzRa doll visited theevent.


Among the guest was "BuzzRa, Lord of North Avenue.” This BuzzRa doll was in his annual Dragon Con cosplay. He’s doing what many Dragon Con attendees do: bringing his cosplay back for Halloween. He was made by senior industrial design student Courtney Allen, as a summer project for the Interactive Product Design Lab (IPDL).


A finished pumpkin is illuminated with a tea light.


At dusk, all of the finished pumpkins were illuminated with tea lights. One rule was that pumpkins could only be illuminated by tea light.


A Spectator left a dollar as a vote for this pumpkin.


Spectators were invited to vote for their favorite team as well as individual pumpkin. Based on votes, the “Most Popular” pumpkin was carved by Julia Pokrzywa. The “IDSA’s Choice” went to Claire Cheng. The team that raised the most money was inspired by designer Patricia Urquiola. Team members were Matthias Weiland, Anna Teachout, Yui-Ting Tarn, Katherine Freeman, Odelia Huang, Alexa Brown, Chermia Mathis, Hannah Levy, and Emma Sycks. Proceeds support the student chapter of Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). About $170 was raised.


Students show off their finished pumpkins.


In the end students and faculty celebrated the event. "I believed students enjoyed this design event as they were giggling while working together in a team. Freshmen are more connected with one another. A cheerful and healthy spirit is definitely elevated," Liu said.

All of the instructors of first-year students worked with them to make the event a success. Other faculty joining Liu were Lisa Babb, Maureen Carroll, Stephen Chininis, Courtney Garvin, Wayne Li, Kevin Shankwiler, John White, Wendell Wilson, and Andrew Young.