APPDESIGNx is a collaborative, interdisciplinary design group consisting of instructors and students from throughout Appalachian State University's Department of Applied Design. Each year the collective will take an extensive look into a new topic through broad research, consumer surveys, detailed ideation, prototyping, and closed-loop feedback from users. Each endeavor will be shared with the public through a series of exhibitions and discussions. 

Project 4 | Kikkerland Design Challenge | Wanted Design

During Project 4, students from Appalachian State University’s Product Design program will be challenged to investigate and create products for the giftware industry that focus on sustainability. This primary focus of sustainability will require students to address environmental concerns with material choices, production techniques, and product life cycles to develop unique, useful, tangible, and desired objects. A holistic educational experience will be presented by partnering students with design, manufacturing, and retail decision makers from Kikkerland. 

Kikkerland products remain fresh and fun because the company is perennially looking for and promoting new talent. Starting in Philadelphia in 2009, the Kikkerland Design Challenges have taken place in Korea, China, Mexico, the Netherlands and now Boone, NC. They help to introduce young designers to the international market, give them real-life experience in bringing a product to consumers, support the work of worthy local collaborators, while keeping Kikkerland's offerings diverse. The Kikkerland Design Challenges throw down the gauntlet to young designers, but the competitions are also, and perhaps foremost, a challenge to Kikkerland: to continue the search for, and education of, the designers of the future in diverse places where their brand of creativity and humor can teach Kikkerland to see the world with eternally fresh eyes and a smile. In the end, the Challenges are a win-win-win proposition for everyone involved.

Appalachian State University Industrial Design Product Program was honored to be selected to collaborate with Kikkerland for their 2020 Design Challenge Project. Kikkerland is “one of the top companies in the world offering unique, well designed products to inspire our customers and their needs.” The students of Professor Donald Corey’s IND 3711 Product Design Studio 2 class were challenged to design gift items that speak directly to the need for sustainability in the gift industry.

Below are a few of the prototypes that will be debuted during Design Week in New York City in May 2021.



Project 3 | Waste Not Want 

Project 3 focused on designing unique high value products from a waste material that has no value or even “negative” value. This material could be consumer trash, recyclables, or industrial material that has reached the end of its useful life. There should be minimal new material used in the product outside of fasteners or glue. The solution could be anything from lighting to seating or soft goods to an installation. The resulting products will eliminate material being added to the landfill and thus be a statement for all to see.  

The projects aim to reuse material destined for the landfill or recycling process. By creating new, innovative, useful products from this discarded material, countless tons of waste can be diverted from the landfills, ocean, etc. 

At Appalachian, Sustainability is more then a buzz word. Appalachian’s leadership in sustainability is known nationally. Our holistic, three-branched approach asks us to consider if actions are sustainable economically, environmentally, and equitably in relationship to our planet’s co-inhabitants. From renewable energy to zero waste initiatives, our campus is constantly striving to do better for the planet. 

Through extensive research, students identified, analyzed and tested the various materials that are currently having a negative impact once their traditional life cycle ends. Through this endeavor several materials were identified to continue development into new products. A few of the successful materials were; plastic bottles, cardboard, denim, cloth and clothing, leather, hardcover books, compact discs, and plastic bags. 

The final output from the studio elevated and re-purposed leather scraps, sail cloth, compact discs, plastic bottles, books and so much more. In creating new and innovative products from these materials, the consumer has helped to remove countless tons of waste from the landfill. Here are a few of the final prototypes.


Project 2 | The Future of Retail | HOW Space Exhibition 

In January of 2019, the second version of the Future of Retail was presented in our hometown of Boone, NC. The Exhibition was at HOW Space [182 Howard Street] from January 18th - February 1st. Version 2 looked to answer many of the questions posed during the initial exhibition in New York City. Each of the retail fixtures were substantial improvemented. Below you can see the advanced retail fixtures.

The Apparel Rack was completely redesigned to display three separate garments. Thus replacing multiple mannequins that would be needed. The Apparel Rack would rotate at predetermined intervals to allow the consumer to visually ‘try on’ each garment. In connecting these retail fixtures to the overall aesthetic subtle light was added behind the garments. Each Apparel Rack is constructed of high quality maple plywood and corrugated plastic panels.

The structure on the Peg Wall remained the same, while the shelves and lighting component saw significant improvements. A light sensor was incorporated into each peg to fully realize how the user would be notified of similar products after interacting with one of the items. The new pegs served as the base architecture for showcasing all items. They can be used for ‘hang tags’ or ‘shelf’ systems.

For the Pedestals, each top was re-imagined to again allow a light sensor be mounted. This sensor would then be relayed to a computer and it would display the proper image. Further product information will be displayed, similar to what is scene when making a purchase online.

Finally the Overhead Lighting was enhanced to incorporate diffusing panels. The design of the panels took inspiration from mountainous landscapes and interchangeable parts. The panels can be placed in a variety of orientations and orders to create a diverse set of products. The panels soften the light to create a more enjoyable experience.



Project 1 | The Future of Retail | ICFF Schools Exhibition 

Our digital world is collecting information on us every second of everyday. Your phone is constantly connecting you to data and at the same time harvesting data from you. The fitness tracker or smartwatch, is telling you how many more steps or calories you need to burn, while collecting your sleep and location patterns. Yes, scary in some ways, but beautiful in others. If harnessed, this data can help influence the environment around you to create better experiences. Light, colors, sounds, forms, proportions, smells, air temp/ humidity, everything could be adjusted to enhance the feeling or mood, change and improve the emotional level of the situation.

This Exponential Experiential world is now upon us and what better way to experience its potential than by shopping and seeing how it could influence our choices and behavior.

Retail is evolving. Online shopping has become a tailored experience unique to each individual, constructed from countless sources collecting data on consumer habits, experiences, and patterns. To remain relevant, traditional retail environments must now offer visitors something exclusive to our physical world. Shifting focus away from utility transactions, limited variety, and high volume product storage, and using their spaces to create a variety of branding opportunities and experiences. Whether helping customers align through lifestyle, satisfying a need for physical interaction with a product, or simply engaging user history; an experiential approach is essential to retail’s evolution. The Future of Retail (FoR) Project asks the question of how we can incorporate the digital interface of online environments into a physical retail space by utilizing customer data and contemporary technology.

Throughout our research, FoR has looked at both the pro’s and con’s of physical retail space as well as online retail in the attempt to distill the best elements from both. We’ve imagined a space that interacts with users based on their custom shopper profile to provide a guided experience via visual cues, such as lighting and live information displays; Adapting throughout their interaction with a product or their display devices to give feedback intuitive to their shopping patterns. FoR has developed, prototyped, and presented an aesthetically dynamic space to emulate this experience at ICFF in New York, NY, and is currently in phase two concept refinement based on user feedback from that installation. It is our goal to continue to develop an intuitive, seamless, and immersive in store experience as accessible and convenient as online shopping, that provides users with a tactile and dynamic environment which appeals to their identity in relevance to the brand.

ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) Schools Exhibition

As one of twelve schools invited to participate in May 2018, the Future of Retail design group showed off our innovative approach in a full size working prototype of the Pop-Up shop for Outdoor Goods. See the all the photos [Here]

Future of Retail Images


Appalachian State University