SOMNIUM

A closer look into the Industrial Design class of 2018 


By Bailey Mount

In a building with little foot traffic, the recently inducted Class of 2018 Industrial Design majors found themselves surrounded by unfamiliar faces.

“There’s a lot of people here,” some of them said as they tried to weave their way through the crowd. 

It was a crowd of proud mothers, smiling fathers, and inquisitive younger siblings that ignored the ‘please do not touch’ signs smattered all over the projects. A crowd where – amidst the chaos – their colleagues explained themselves with a glowing pride not unlike the LED lights that lit up their work. 

It was a crowd that came to see the dreams of 34 students brought to life through their designs.

Derick Moreno proudly smiling in front of his showcase (Katie Cortez/Union Weekly)

The CSULB Industrial Design Department introduced these dreams in “Somnium,” a showcase of its students who were accepted into the major for the Spring semester. Latin for “dream,” the show aimed to demonstrate what vision these new students had for both themselves in the program and in the outside world.

The answer seemed to be “creative, driven, and just really fun,” according to Industrial Design major Ryan Woolner.

Ryan Woolner after gladly presenting his projects to the Union staff (Katie Cortez/Union Weekly)

With the careful hands of an artist, he lifted one of his projects – a wooden crank-operated page turner that propped the book up, held it in place, and used magnets to turn the pages. The book used in the demonstration explained the mechanics of the project.

“So it’s a page turner for the book about the page turner and it turns the page,” he said to listening spectators, eliciting a laugh. 

Quiet and laid-back, Woolner was completely at ease in the sea of bodies around him. Each word seemed carefully chosen, carefully thought about and turned over in his mind like the crank on his invention.

“It’s sort of like inventing,” he said about his major, “And in another way it’s like improving existing things.” 

Like his futuristic Hand of Hercules model, an improvement on the Jaws of Life used by firefighters. 

“It sort of turns them into a superhero,” Woolner said with a hint of excitement. It was the words of a young man with extraordinary dreams for ordinary objects being recognized. 

His colleague Derick Moreno’s excitement came with an almost palpable air and a thousand volt smile. 

“Do you want to see how it works?” he asked. He was referring to his Panda Joy pirate ship, a fully operational children’s toy that he designed, created, and painted himself.

Derick Moreno’s DESN 254 model of a pirate ship toy for kids (Katie Cortez/Union Weekly)

Moreno grabbed the miniature cannonball launcher attached to the ship. 

“They go pretty far,” he said with undisguised glee, cocking back the toy. 

He fired. 

The ball went five inches across the floor.

“Well, it varies,” he said. 

Moreno spent two years in architecture classes, “not liking them.” One day, a professor asked why he didn’t pursue his passions for production design instead. 

“And here I am,” he said, as if it were that simple for him. 

His display adopted this more fanciful side of industrial design, with bright colors, smooth paint jobs, and the energetic features of its creator.

Moreno soon disappeared into the crowd with the rest of the students as the exhibit filled. It was difficult to tell where anyone was. The displays each had a picture of their creator, but in the packed sea of bodies, everyone looked the same. 

When you finally could locate these 34 students, it was no surprise that they weren’t next to their work, but right where they felt most comfortable: with each other. 

“Hipster, hipster!” teased Ruby Trinh as she sailed past a classmate. He shook his head with a grin. 

To her, the showcase was more of a celebration of the aspirations she and her classmates could achieve with each other’s help. 

Ruby Trinh’s DESN 254 model of a futuristic motorcycle toy (Katie Cortez/Union Weekly)

She explained that the entire event was built by them. Individually, the students built works of both futuristic fiction and innovative practicalities. Together, they built everything from the display tables to the dazzling 7-foot-tall centerpiece in the room. 

It wasn’t too difficult, Trinh mentioned, “because everyone surrounding you is doing the same thing, so at the end of the day, you know you can do it.” 

The more she talked about her work and her classmates, the more excited she got, the faster her words came, and the longer her explanations became. 

“You have trouble, you ask questions, if you don’t know what to do, you go to that person and ask, ‘How did you do that?” she said. “We don’t have a lot of students. We all know each other. We have talked to each other, we hung out before.” 

Oftentimes, there is more competition than cooperation among students of a major, but at this showcase, it was clear that everyone had a dream that their classmates encouraged in the workplace.

“Baemax” is Ruby Trinh’s DESN 154 model made out of foam and vacuum forming plastic (Katie Cortez/Union Weekly)

Trinh’s dream was to work in the toy or movie character design industry. Her first model was a classroom helper that she lovingly named “Baemax.” 

Prior to this, she was an International Business major who happened across her true career by chance one hot day. Upon seeing the Design building and its showcase that day, Trinh said, “I thought, ‘Oh, I could do this! This is pretty cool.”

It was that simple.

For Kimmy Nguyen, the realization came when she realized that “all she liked to do was make the models” in her architecture classes. 

Her first project was one such model, a mechanically powered flashlight made of foam. If operational, it would shine when you cranked it. The frankness with which she explained each display created the portrait of a very efficient, very practical young woman. 


Kimmy Nguyen’s DESN 154 model of a bubble blowing cat toy for kids (Katie Cortez/Union Weekly)

Yet despite her reserved exterior, Nguyen expressed some comic concern with her work.

“I’m super self-conscious,” she said, “Every time a designer designs something, it looks like either a penis or a vagina.”

Her critical eyes turned thoughtful when asked about what the future would hold for her industrial design career. 

“It’s very versatile, because most designers will move from company to company,” she said. 

Then she paused, and added four more words that, when uttered, highlighted the theme of the showcase and of the department: 

“You can do anything.”

And whether it was through an epiphany, a suggestion, or a coincidence, it was clear that the Industrial Design department made this statement a reality for their students.

From their admittance to the Industrial Design program to their continued dedication to bettering their work, the Class of 2018 built their dreams with nothing but their minds, their own two hands, and—as Woolner said—with “a butt-load of drawing.”

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