Design for Good

2015 Central District Design SMA Winner: Geemay Chia, S/IDSA

“Whenever someone asks me ‘What is industrial design?’ I point to a nearby object and ask them why do they think the product exists as it is, and why is it designed in such a way. I will keep pointing out examples until they see just how much impact industrial design has. Instead of explaining industrial design to people, I have found that I can make a larger impact by helping people see the influence industrial design has on their everyday lives.”

The parents of Geemay Chia. S/IDSA, came to the United States from Taipei, Taiwan to study technical fields in graduate school. After their daughter was born in Cleveland, Ohio, they recognized her affinity for art, and sent her to drawing classes in the summers at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA). It was there during an official campus tour in her junior year of high school that Geemay learned about industrial design.  “I’ve always liked making things with my hands when I was a child. The idea of designing something that can potentially influence or improve aspects of people’s lives was very exciting for me,” she said.

Geemay earned several scholarships, attended CIA and completed internships at Little Tikes and SmartShape. She worked with a selected group of classmates on surgical tools for Stryker and independently on a social concept vehicle project for Dodge 2060. This spring, Geemay graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in industrial design from CIA.

Her presentation at IDSA’s 2015 Central District Design Conference featured Clean Mate—an all-in-one walker, seat and storage solution. It also won Bronze in IDEA’s Student Category and second place in the 2015 International Housewares Association’s Student Design Competition. Clean Mate is the result of Geemay’s determination to help seniors or those with special needs, maintain a clean environment with dignity.

“I believe that being empathetic is a very important quality for an Industrial designer,” she explains. “That empathy has led me to design a variety of products that can benefit people. I’m also inspired to create designs that are engaging. I want to make sure that whatever I design is enjoyable and compelling to interact with. This means that user experience is critical.”

Geemay, who speaks three languages, sees the value of ID in making connections as well. “The ability of industrial design to communicate and resonate with the consumer” is a large part of ID’s success, according to Geemay. “I believe design can harness new technology or innovation and transform it into something that is relevant and beneficial for people.”