Emmanuel Carrillo

2012 SMA | Emmanuel Carrillo | University of Cincinnati


Emmanuel Carrillo didn’t haven an “A-HA!” moment, he had an “A-HA!” project.

During his junior year in the University of Cincinnati’s Design, Art and Architecture Program (DAAP), Professor Dale Murray assigned a chair project to Carrillo and his classmates. Professor Murray tasked them with using a unique personal perspective as the inspiration for a form. For Carrillo, the assignment represented a culmination: He finally understood enough sides of the design process to tackle the project holistically.

“It was the first design I felt wasn’t limited by my growing skill set,” he said. “The three years before then, I was still really beginning to understand the technical side of design: perspective, line weight, form development, CAD, model making. All my previous projects were explorations into an unknown side of design.”
Tres Chair 001
Carrillo was born without a right arm. Consequently, he has experience with prosthetic limbs—one of which served as a source of inspiration for the chair project. “I used my prosthetic as the form and material inspiration for the final direction of the Tres Chair,” he offered. “There are subtle cues throughout the chair that pay homage to it.”

The prosthetic in question is made of carbon fiber and has a metal claw. Carrillo used the carbon fiber base of his prosthetic to inspire the base form of his chair. The seat pan is very organic in shape and mimics the fueled forms of the carbon fiber. While the more rigid seat pan is meant to play off of the mechanical nature of the claw.

Tres Chair 002
Despite its value as a source of inspiration, Carrillo’s prosthetic has generally played only a minor role for him. “It gives me a unique perspective in designing for one hand use—another lens through which to see product interaction problems,” he reported. “But I never really liked to use the prosthetics I had. They always felt bulky. I was quicker without them.”

Carrillo preferred to play without the artificial limb when he was a forward and four-year letter winner on his high school soccer team. He has long been an ace at stand-up arcade games like Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) Extreme and Capcom v. SNK. His passion for games and gaming is mirrored by a passion for taking on DIY projects.

“I made plenty of metal DDR pads and arcade fight sticks when I was younger,” he said. “Lately, I’ve been really interested in leather goods and have been making iPhone cases and wallets.”

As a maker and tinkerer, Carrillo has always moved nimbly between old and new interests. That intellectual dexterity served as a great asset while he completed UC’s rigorous internship requirements. Thus far, he has interned at Fisher-Price, K-Swiss, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Priority Designs and Eleven. “Graduating with 1.5 years of work experience is invaluable and really helps shape you as a designer,” he noted.

That experience has informed a diverse set of design interests. Whether working a day job or pursuing a DIY project off hours, Carrillo is developing capabilities in categories including lifestyle products, footwear, watches, bags, headphones, eyewear and consumer electronics.

“I hope to work in various parts of the design industry,” he said. “Maybe a consultancy. Or somewhere that focuses on lifestyle products. Then work my way up to Nike’s Innovation Kitchen or Puma’s Advanced Concepts Group. I’d also like to teach at some point in my career.”

To see more of Emmanuel Carrillo's work, visit emmanuelcarrillo.com.