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Design Products (MA)

Tianyi Zhou

Urbanization has led to unprecedented population movements and changes in family structures. On the one hand, more people are leaving their hometowns to work and live in the cities, thus breaking up previously extended families; on the other hand, the busy urban life has led to the younger generation being less likely to meet up with the older generation. Dispersal and separation have led to less and less communication between family members and blurred memories. This trend is compounded by digitalisation, with traces of young people's lives almost entirely online and rarely left in the homes where they lived, and older people finding it difficult to interact with their younger family members online.

The author is lying on a bean bag

Tianyi Zhou completed the traditional industrial design undergraduate study in China, then he went to RCA hoping to gain some different experiences.

He was good at craft things and user-based design. But now he is more focused on bringing people together and facilitating communication between people. He believes that communication is the basis for understanding. He wants people to be able to communicate face to face, not just through screens, especially in our digital and urbanized society

Also, he hopes that his works can bring joy and arouse some different thoughts and opinions in the audience in a relaxed way.

photo of table
photo of table
photo of table
photo of table
details and process
gear details

#1 dinning table

The dining table, as the centre of information and emotional exchange in a family, sees family members come and go. This project attempts to materialise and preserve the unique traces of different family members' lives in the dining table. The table is equipped with three transparent layers that allow the user to assign them to different generations of a family to hold physical traces of their daily lives, such as photographs, receipts or notes. Each layer rotates at a different speed, and the rotating layers allow different stories in a family to overlap together. Family members in the home can easily change and rearrange their areas, while the traces of members who leave the home will be kept in the table. Compared to mobile phone albums or video calls, the physical mementoes offer a more real-time and active companionship, and in this way, I hope to ease the impact of urbanization on the family structure and help everyone think about each other and come together more.

coffee table
coffee table detail

#2 coffee table

The coffee table provides a higher floor height, allowing users to place artifacts other than paper materials to record the life traces of family members in a more intuitive and multi-dimensional way



Online social is quicker and easier, but the joy of face-to-face interaction can never be achieved by staring at the screen. So, in order to avoid overuse of phones during party times, I decided to hijacking phones and using them as a mandatory part of the party.

# 1 is an electric campfire made of wood and candles. Although people in city can only light a small candle in the public area, they can use their phones as fuel and more phones lead to more fires and bigger campfires!

# 2 is a set of plates with an irregular base that spills soup when they are placed directly on the table, and party-goers have to place their mobile phones underneath the plates to help bring them back into balance - so they can enjoy a meal without the distraction of their phones!