First master’s graduates in design

The first year-group from the international master’s programme in design has graduated. “It suited me perfectly that the programme was new and a bit disorganised. The courses were great, and I’ve benefited from everything in the master’s programme”, Caspar Reuterswärd assures us.

Caspar Reuterswärd Caspar Reuterswärt and his park bench made in cross laminated timber of spruce and pine. Magnus Johansson

 Two years ago, twelve students from different parts of the world were admitted to LiU’s completely new master’s programme in design. The programme offers a multidisciplinary and studio-based learning environment. The projects are intended to inspire to solve important societal problems with the aid of design.

“The combination of courses within service design, sustainability, and visualisation has been really good and inspired many new thoughts. I’m actually not very academic, but this has been a programme that suited me ideally”, says Caspar Reuterswärd.

Caspar ReuterswärdCaspar Reuterswärd Photo credit Magnus JohanssonHis own background is in furniture design at Malmstens Linköping University.
“After taking a bachelor's degree at Malmstens, it was natural to supplement it with a master’s degree here in Linköping”, he says.

Waste wood

And it didn’t take him long to find LiU’s well-equipped woodworking shop at the rear of the A Building. He has used the facilities in his master’s project in which he designed furniture to be manufactured from waste wood from house construction. He discovered the material during a summer job for LiU Innovation in which he mapped the future of the timber industry.

In the construction industry, the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) has exploded in recent years, principally for prefabricated houses. The material is delivered at the building site as large blocks, which are rapidly put together to create Caspar ReuterswärdCross-laminated timber Photo credit Magnus Johanssonbuildings of many different shapes and sizes.

“This material insulates both sound and heat, and consists of cross-laminated sheets of spruce and pine. It is significantly lighter than concrete and more durable, and since it is cross-laminated the material holds its form well. Doors and windows are sawn out of the construction blocks, and this give rise to a considerable amount of waste. I phoned the company that manufactures the CLT, Martinssons in Bygdsiljum, Västerbotten, and they immediately sent a pallet with eight large pieces”, he remembers.

The waste wood is currently sent to incineration for district heating, but maybe the wood could be used for furniture, before ending up in the furnace at the heating plant. Caspar Reuterswärd’s master’s project involved using design to investigate the properties of the material, and their significance for the way it can be used. The dimensions of the pieces made the work difficult: a bandsaw can hardly manage sheets of this thickness, and planing end-grain wood is far from easy.

Enormous potential

“But it’s a fantastic material with enormous potential. I have manufactured four different pieces, but there’s no limit to what’s possible”, says Caspar Reuterswärd.

Caspar ReuterswärdCaspar Reuterswärd with his comfortable chair. Photo credit Magnus JohanssonA comfortable simple chair, an inviting park bench, a beautiful dining-room table, and an attractive drinks trolley are the pieces he has managed so far. With his degree in hand it’s time to apply for jobs, but the idea of continuing to explore the material is at least as attractive.

“We’ll have to see what happens”, he says.

Svensk Tenn has expressed an interest in the drinks trolley.
“But they wanted it in a slightly posher wood, not reused material”, he laughs.

“We are impressed by the quality of their master’s projects”, says Jonas Löwgren, professor in interaction design who has managed the master’s programme and been responsible for the examination, together with Stefan Holmlid, professor in service design and Renee Wever, professor in industrial design.

“The master’s project is to occupy the students full-time for one term. They choose the subject in which they want to deepen their knowledge, and are in contact with the supervisor every week. They must draw up and present their plan, formulate a research question, and decide both the method and direction. We then decide whether to approve the student’s project plan. Once it has been approved, they work freely within the framework”, Jonas Löwgren explains.

Several projects were presented during the concluding two-day seminar:
Hanna Nordenö has designed a climate calculator for a mobile phone in which the user draws up a budget for their impact on the climate, and is rewarded if they successfully keep to it. “If you’re going to change the world, you must start with yourself”, says Hanna, who has also added some useful hints about helping other people: mend a pair of jeans for a friend, or point them to a good eco-friendly site on the internet.
“We need humour and positive thinking, to avoid excluding anyone”, she says.

Proud teachers

Menno van Jarwaarde discovered an existing e-service in the form of small labels for lost items. He started to investigate how it works when you forget something on the bus, or find a wallet in the street.
“When you hand something in, you want to know that the owner got it back, and anyone who loses a wallet will obviously want to thank the finder. The feeling that this type of experience leaves is important”, he says.

The initial e-service involved a label with a code attached to the item: the finder reports in the code and the loser is informed about where it is and where it can be collected. Menno van Jarwaarde added a clear and positive ending: a ‘thank-you’ that can be sent and paid for by mobile, such as an ice cream voucher or cinema ticket.

“The positive ending may be that which distinguishes your service from any others: digital services must be brought closer to people and become more personal”, he says.

A further example is the pram designed by Gustav Thorslund with an eco-friendly wooden frame. The pram is also a service: it is leased for a limited period, returned for refurbishment and is ready for use with the next baby. Yin He demonstrated a system for immersive storytelling to get an environmental message across – a programme intended to be put on in a dome theatre and inform about sustainable food.

“We are truly proud of their work. They have come up with many innovative design solutions for societal problems during their two years here. They have also helped us to design and improve the programmes”, concludes a satisfied Stefan Holmlid, who wished them all good luck in the future, and assured them of a welcome at LiU, not least as alumni.

Translated by George Farrants

Caspar ReuterswärdCaspar Reuterswärd in front of the top of his table.  Photo credit Magnus Johansson


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