The above image is courtesy of Mina Kasirifar
By Matt Itelson
An award-winning San Francisco State University thesis offers a playful, space-efficient piece of furniture that helps keep young children engaged at home without taking a lot of space or making a mess. Mina Kasirifar has developed FLIP, a chair that enhances children’s sensory development with dozens of configurations. Her product recently won the West District Graduate Student Merit Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America.
“While we were all adjusting to the new life during the pandemic lockdowns and were limited to the boundaries of our homes, I learned how parents are struggling to keep children physically and mentally engaged at home,” said Kasirifar, who won scholarships from the SF State Alumni Association and the Wilbur Eugene Smith Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2020.
Her research revealed that the issue is not unique to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Inequality in the distribution of outdoor facilities, limited availability of tools at home, a busy work schedule, or a simple rainy day could all keep children at home with limited options to satisfy their sensory needs,” she said.
FLIP, likely to be made of polyethylene combined with recycled plastics, fits in a 20-inch cube that children can unfold into a world of discovery. They can use it as a rocking chaise lounge, a chair, a rocking horse, a stool, and much more. When they need a breather, want to use an electronic device or it’s reading time, they can reconfigure it into several types of chairs.
Kasirifar completed her Master of Arts in Design in 2021 and is now an industrial designer at Bould Design.
“I had the pleasure to learn from and work with amazing and supportive people here at SFSU who helped me practice how to hear the people I design for and see the moral aspects and consequences of my design.”
“I believe [receiving scholarships] helped me invest more of my time in learning and giving back to the community. Surely, it takes off a weight off my shoulders and helps me to keep up to where I could stand by myself. Scholarships are very inspiring. To me, they are like the supporting wheels for new bikers. As soon as I learned how to go forward without them, I could hand them over to another student to learn.”
“The diversity of faculty and students and their backgrounds was one of the features that made this experience very rich and inspiring,” said Mina.
Kasirifar recently presented her project at the 2021 International Design Conference. She is planning to work on production details to bring FLIP to market.
“I hope I can continue to find creative ways to design products that solve problems that people face in their everyday lives and leave a minimal footprint on our planet,” she said.