Over the past semester a group of apparel design students and I have had the unique opportunity of working with a team of engineering students to create a line of handbags, suitcases and backpacks that use solar power to charge a cell phone or other usb adaptable devices.
This project is technically part of a class I am taking called a directed study. A directed study is typically a 1 credit class where you meet with a professor and work on a project over the semester on your own time. The one on one time with your professor mentor and independent work is a great way to diversify your portfolio by working on something you wouldn't normally design.
For this project we broke out into teams of two to three students to design and create the bags. My team decided to create a suitcase type of bag for a designer or stylist to carry all their tools in: rulers, scissors, pens/pencils, makeup, etc. The most difficult part of the process was designing around the solar panel itself as well as the box used to charge the cell phone/other device. We created a pocket on the back of our bag with a cutout panel for the solar cells to fit into. Below is a few shots of our finished bag!
A directed study at the University, like I said before, is a great way to diversify your portfolio and make you stand out as a designer. This experience has really opened by eyes to what possibilities are truly open to you as a designer; not just apparel/clothing! Check out the opportunities that other students have had here: http://apparel.design.umn.edu/
Lucie Mulligan, Apparel Design