More Than Just a Scary Face: Industrial Design Students Take a Different Approach to Pumpkin Carving
Students in the first-year of the Industrial Design program carve pumpkins in the style of famous designers.
The aroma of pumpkin greeted visitors entering the lobby of the architecture building. It’s not the smell of pumpkin spice, just pumpkins: 77 pumpkins being sculpted in an industrial design studio as part of a two-day project.
Students in the first-year industrial design program worked in groups of eight. Each group randomly selected a famous designer to research, and they were tasked with designing a jack-o-lantern in the style of that designer.
Each group has to make two posters. One poster is about the designer’s philosophy, work, and style aesthetic. The second poster is a materials exploration of the pumpkin, dissecting the pumpkin to study the flesh, seeds, and rind. In addition to the group project, each student must carve an individual pumpkin, also in the style of the chosen designer.
One group drew the name of French designer Philippe Starck, who is probably most famous for his ghost chair.
“Our group chose a really complex idea and had to adjust that expectation to the reality of the pumpkin,” said Amanda Wooten, an industrial design student from Snellville, Georgia.
The Philippe Starck group began by cutting the pumpkin flesh into rings and sanding the edges to make the rings smooth. They revised their idea after doing more research on Starck.
Group member Ian Harmon said, “To capture his essence we should make sure this is ‘pointy, dangerous, and provoking.’” So, the group made some changes to their design.
This is the third year of the pumpkin carving project. So, Kevin Shankwiler, the Undergraduate Program coordinator for the School of Industrial Design, has seen moments like this before.
“That’s the best part of what we do — seeing the students wrestle with the concept, then all of a sudden the light bulb goes off. They get it,” Shankwiler said. “Then they apply that and develop their own design. That’s the highlight of every project.”
For Shankwiler, the project is much more than pumpkin carving, and he would like to see it expand.
“Our broader vision is to do a project like this at all levels, including graduate students,” he said.
“It is a learning exercise. The students are researching the designers’ brand and signature elements, then transferring those to an unrelated product, like a pumpkin.”
The students generally do not carve jack-o-lanterns in the traditional sense.
“You do see cutting, but you see a lot of scraping, carving, and trying to create depth within the surface of the pumpkin to really manipulate it in many different ways,” Shankwiler said. “I hope people see that and give it a try themselves.”
Industrial design lecturers Lisa Babb, Courtney Garvin, and Andrew Young work with the students, and they all agree that the teamwork required is another important aspect of the project.
“There is too much work for one person to do it all,” Babb said. “No one can slack off because there is so much to do. The teams really have to sort out who does what and who is going to create each poster. They have to agree on the design because they all have to live with the vision.”
The students have a little more freedom when creating their individual pumpkins.
“My pumpkin is not very structurally sound, but it looks cool,” said Wooten, who transferred to Tech from the University of Georgia where she intended to major in art.
“I started to hear about the industrial design program through a friend, and I thought ‘that is exactly what I want to do,’” she said. “I love it. I’m not great at it yet, but I’m working on it.”