Return Home

Context: Years of studying abroad keeps me away from home. The tie between my family and I grows stronger as we always miss each other. This experience was the catalysis of the project.

Individual project

Duration: 3 months

 

Define the problem
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Based on research, Chinese students pursuing a higher education overseas have been increasing at about 13% each year. Many of these students, especially the ones who were born in between 1980 - 2000, were the only child due to the Chinese one child policy. The chance for the students to visit their families is low and thus precious. One of the indispensable rituals of the family reunion is dining.

How can I design a glassware that captures the intimate atmosphere of the dining ritual during the reunion?

 

My Design
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An influence of the one child policy

The family bowl set was designed for a typical family of three, which is common in China due to the one child policy. The set includes two larger bowls for the parents, one smaller bowl for the child, and a wooden lid to hold together the separate bowls as well as to preserve heat.

 

Three bowls and one wooden lid forms a full set

 
 

Use of circle to represent reunion

Family is often considered as one unit. The idea was to have three family bowls that could be stacked together to form a circle, which often symbolizes reunion in China. 

 

Two color variations of the family bowl set

 
 

Use of Chinese calligraphy to emphasize the idea

Chinese words, "回" and "家," which mean "return" and  "home," were incorporated into the design as an emphasis of the idea of reunion. 

 

Handle of the wooden lid resembles the form of the Chinese character "回" (return).  

The Chinese character "家," which means "home," is engraved on one of the big bowls.

 
 

A sentimental detail

Only when the small bowl is nested inside the big bowl at the right position can the Chinese character "回" (return) be revealed. Metaphorically like a child returning home, only by then is the family reunited as a whole.

 
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Process

 

Brainstorming
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At the beginning, I focused on designing dishware for the special one who returns home. As I further developed my concept, the focus shifted from designing for one person to designing for the whole family. 

 
 
 

Concept development
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Chinese family has the tradition to reunite, and dine together to celebrate on the day of full moon, which is known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. Taking the symbol of the full moon, the concept is to have three bowls that could be held together to form a circle that represents reunion.

 

Chinese Lunar Festival

Front View

Top View

 
 

Form development
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I did various iterations of the design in order to achieve the ideal form and mechanism.

 
 

Fabrication
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After I decided the form, I made the plaster mold for my design. With the mold and assistance of a glass blower, I got the glass bowls into the desired form. After that, I added details to the bowls by sandblasting, engraving and finishing edges. I also fabricated the wooden lid out of a plywood. The reason for choosing plywood is that unlike solid wood, plywood is unlikely to turn "rancid".