Hi! My name is Meng-Kang Hsiao and people call me Mike. I’m 21 years old from Taipei, Taiwan. I’m majoring in Product Design and that decision was influenced by my High school art teacher in Boston who always encourage me and tell me that nothing is impossible while doing design/art. Another vital reason for choosing Product Design as my major is that I love making things and I’m obsessed with the contemporary architectures and products. To be honest, I’ve never seen myself studying in a design school before moving to Boston around 5 years ago. Yet, after the moving, my mind and thought have changed a lot because of the different culture and different expectation from the society. I then became a person who’d love to challenge myself and try every kind of different things and more importantly, I learned how to be myself. Moving here to a city that is so much different from Boston hasn’t been an issue for me. Instead, I really enjoy living here in NYC and studying at Parsons, which are my dream city and school. Last, I’m looking forward to my next three years in school and hope to gain more experience and get to know more people from all over the world.
Space & Materiality
My first-year experience has been really different from what I expected. First-year in Parsons is called foundation year, which means we would be asked to do a variety of things in different fields. At first, I once thought this was going to be the most boring and unproductive year in my school year. Yet, after taking Space & Materiality class, my thought was completely changed. Throughout this class, I learned so much about the usage of each different material and learned how we could upcycle the resources around us. Also, during the class, we were not allowed to use any glue or chemical joint for any of the projects so that forced me to jump out of my comfort zone and think if there is any mechanical joint that I could use for my piece.
This is the life cycle project that I’ve done for the class.
The first dovetail-joint-box that I made.
In Time Composition course, I learned to use InDesign and Premiere Pro and take it as a tool to enrich my portfolio. Using this Adobe software used to give me a headache and made me wanted to get it done immediately. However, after several practices, I successfully learned the way they work and take advantage of each different software. In the end, I was satisfied with the outcome that I got from this class and enjoyed using these different Adobe features.
The Video that I made for the class. The video is about how the dog could reflect the identity of each neighborhood in Manhattan.
The final open project that built on the idea of panel transition and I used my cat as the inspiration for the whole project.
Integrative Studio & Seminar 1
During my first year studying in Parsons, the studio and seminar courses were like a turning point for me. In that class, I had a truly interesting and helpful professor, Elizabeth Tolson, who always encourage me to challenge myself and gives me advice. Also, the studio and seminar courses have taught me how I could deliver my idea not only through the product itself but also through the words.
The fire-hydrant-look cat fountain.
First Highlight: Space & Materiality
For this project, I designed a suitcase’s prototype that was inspired by the architecture called AQUA in Chicago. When seeing that different layer wave shaped level, I immediately decided to make something that contains that complex composition but also not lose the well-constructed structure.
So, for my piece, I cut 22 pieces of hollow wood panels and used the wood dowels to layer it up. Then, I used laser cut to carve the pattern that I wanted on the acrylic board for the suitcase’s sides. Yet, the acrylic board somehow fell apart after I spray painted it without knowing that the spray paint would corrode the plexiglass, and that’s why you wouldn’t be able to see that two pieces patterned panels on the final project. After that, I made a handle and sand it to fit my right hand and attached it to the suitcase for the functional purpose. The part that I like the most supposed to be that patterned acrylic panels, but it didn’t work out at the end. Thus, I think the part that I’m satisfied the most is the shape of the whole suitcase, it has turned out exactly the same as what I expected.
Inspiration: Aqua Building in Chicago
Second Highlight: Integrative Studio 2 – Hero for One Day
This is an assignment about making an object to celebrate our Bridge 1 project, “‘Hero’ for One Day.” For this project, we have to observe and maybe talk to the person whom we choose to be our hero. Then, based on the hero’s identity and what we have gathered from the interpretation and turn that idea into our final project.
- Based on my observation in the park, the man whom I’ve chosen seems like a caring person. The reason for that is because he dressed his children in the same style jacket as him for keeping them from getting cold. Also, from the conversation that we had in the park, I realized that this father barely has time to spend with his kids since he is a doctor from Lenix Hill Hospital, so he was trying to grab every chance to spend time with his family.
- Therefore, I decided to make a traditional board game, connect four, for him and gave him a different way to interact with his kids. By doing so, I believe this will allow this father to have more connection with his kids which also could enhance their relationship.
- For the connect four, the all project was finished by using the scrap material and the recycle wood panel. After I collected all the material, I cut down the wood pieces and make it into a box. Then, I used the drill press to make holes on the other wood piece, which is the major part for the game. After, I cut down the doles into 42 pieces for the piece that we use in the game. Last, I assemble all parts of the board game and finished the project.
- Last, I used laser cut to engrave the image of the father and his children on the back of the cover. By doing that, it not only strengthen the connection between the family but also makes the object become more personal and specific.
Overall, I’m satisfied with the result that it had come out. Also, I wish I could go back to that park and hand this Connect Four to that father as a gift. I sincerely hope this board game would bring him and his children together and allow them to have more time to spend with each other.
Third Highlight: Integrative Studio 2 – Place that Matters
For this project, we were assigned to research a specific place that we believe it matters to the society. Then, we have to create something based on what we observed and gathered for that specific place.
I choose Macy’s Herald Square as the place that I believe it matters. Macy’s Herald Square is well-known for its contribution to the retail industry, the design of the architecture, and the American culture. Macy’s Herald Square has been the nation’s largest department store since it started. plus, it was one of the construction that set the foundation for the modern American retail industry. By visiting Macy’, I saw the wooden escalators that symbolize the progression and evolution of American culture just as how it has brought people upwards and escalated their living quality to the next level.
In nowadays, the wooden escalator is what people would think of when speaking of Macy’s Herald Square. Also, keeping the wooden escalators is a vital reason that makes Macy’s Herald Square stand out from all the other department stores. When seeing the escalator, it naturally makes the unique sound from clashing piece to piece. The sound shows the age of the escalator and also tells the story of this historic building. Regarding the spatial force, it means by keeping the aged relatively small wooden escalators in that spacious level in this modern department store could somehow reveal the importance of it; that is, we wouldn’t have this convenience and sufficient elevator and escalator without having that aged wooden escalators. Besides, as an icon of Macy’s Herald Square, the wooden escalator is the only object that left since the Macy’s has started, so it experienced a lot and accompanied with the Macy’s along the way from the beginning. For me, the wooden escalator is not just a visual symbolic feature for Macy’s; it possesses an even more important meaning in a virtual way, which is that it has escalated the quality of life.
Last but not least, after visiting and interpreting the Macy’s Herald Square, I have more confidence in myself of why this place matters. This could mean by understanding the story of the wooden escalator, it helps to communicate Macy’s own identity. The identity of generousness and visionary. More importantly, by looking through all of the details mentioned above, it makes the Macy’s Herald Square become different from the other department store and stands out from them. Therefore, that is the reason why Macy’s matters and why it lasts so long in both people mind and in the nation, United State.
- For the object, I decided to make a wooden escalator inspired bench by using the technique that I learned from Space & Materiality and studio 1 courses. The concept for making a bench is pretty simple but strong. By placing the bench around the department store, it allows people to take a break from the crowded and noisy stores. Also, for people who live in NYC, I believe it will be truly helpful if you could have an opportunity to sit down, slow down the pace, and pull yourself out of this chaotic city for just a second.
- I designed the template for laser cutting. For the design, I have two images engrave on two long sides of the bench. One of the images is the icon of the wedding, which represents the historical in-store weddings that were held at Macy’s. The other one is a picture of a turkey with two starts, that is for showing the spirit of Thanksgiving Parade.
- On top of the bench, I put 20 pieces strips horizontally to imply the inspiration of the wooden escalator.
- Last, when flipping the whole bench over, you will figure there are 4 red stars-leg, which shows the iconic logo of Macy’s.
I’m truly satisfied with the experience and the technique that I learned from my first year at Parsons. Parsons has not just taught me how to design product but also helped me to find my identity. Looking back at the works that I’ve done, I realized that most of my courses were connected. They share the same technique and the same concept, which just made me realized the purpose of doing those projects in the past. In the future, I hope to try every kind of different things in different fields, such as fashion design and architecture design.