Gallery: Pratt Students Design For One Dollar

ICFF 2009 Pratt Design for a Dollar

Far and away our favorite exhibit at this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair was Design For A Dollar. With one dollar to work with, students from the Pratt Institute of Design in NYC were challenged to design something worthwhile. Through the design process not only did the students from the Department of Industrial Design learn the meaning of a dollar, but many incorporated cast-off items upcycled into new and intriguing designs. 80 undergraduate and graduate students entered the contest and 15 of the best designs were chosen to exhibit at ICFF this year. Here we highlight our favorites for their eco-friendly design, creative reuse and their affordability.

DRIP PLATE by Catherine Merrick

The Drip Plate by Catherine Merrick is an ingenious reuse of an antique ceramic plate. Originally featuring a winter scene in blue, Merrick renewed the thrift store find by dripping wax onto the plate and then sandblasting the rest away to create a new design. The diner will ponder while cleaning his plate, what the design used to be. The cost depends on the price of the plate and patience of the shopper.

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  1. stevenmatt October 7, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Brilliant, Pratt. I love it. Good job to everyone involved. We need more inspiration for innovation using the sustainable materials we have and with less money. I wrote about it here:

  2. patis1km September 24, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    The idea of making works of art and effective design on a budget interests me greatly. Along with what TGOR already touched on, I would like to see some artwork made with materials and equipment for under $1.

    I believe it is possible to assemble some of the works above with such a limited budget, but aren’t some of the constructions dangerous? For example, the felted shirt sleeve lamp shade covers a plastic container; wouldn’t the plastic melt after extended exposure to the heat of an incandescent bulb? Even if the plastic did not melt straight away, I imagine that it would still be a fire hazard.

    The “Design for a Dollar” exhibit is a good example of critical thinking and problem solving in action; both of which could be successfully implemented at our university. A similar exercise in our college art department would do wonders for our inspirationally-deficient student body. The creativity behind each of the works from Pratt reminds me that there is still great (and environmentally-conscious) design out there.

  3. TGOR September 15, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I saw this same Pratt design project on p34 of the Oct 09 issue of Dwell and I thought to myself that it would be nice to know the actual design requirements that were given to the students. Yes, several of the designs are interesting prototypes, yet many of the designs have been done before, for example the magazine stool and all of the designs would be difficult to actually make for $1. Maybe the materials were purchased for less than $1, but the labor time, the laser cutting of scissors, the thermal energy used to melt bottle caps and the cost of the light bulbs, sockets (I hope those are not Medium B Base sockets + Incandescent bulbs) and wiring all add up very quickly to a net cost higher than a dollar for each product, especially if manufactured in the US. I understand the concept, but wonder if the students are feeling a false sense of accomplishment? This might have happened, but what if the students also presented an analysis of the true cost associated with each product, not just the pocket change spent at the thrift store, the exercise may be a more valuable learning experience for the next crop of future designers.
    MFA ID

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