Student’s furniture concept lands industrial design award 

Mina Kasirifar studio headshot

Courtesy of Mina Kasirifar

Developed for her thesis, Mina Kasirifar’s multifunctional sensory furniture won the Industrial Designers Society of America’s graduate student award

An award-winning San Francisco State University thesis offers a playful, space-efficient piece of furniture that helps keep young children engaged at home without taking a lot of space or making a mess. Mina Kasirifar has developed FLIP, a chair that enhances children’s sensory development with dozens of configurations. Her product recently won the West District Graduate Student Merit Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America.

“While we were all adjusting to the new life during the pandemic lockdowns and were limited to the boundaries of our homes, I learned how parents are struggling to keep children physically and mentally engaged at home,” said Kasirifar, who won scholarships from SF State’s Alumni Association and Wilbur Eugene Smith fund in 2020.

Her research revealed that the issue is not unique to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Inequality in the distribution of outdoor facilities, limited availability of tools at home, a busy work schedule or a simple rainy day could all keep children at home with limited options to satisfy their sensory needs,” she said.

The FLIP product configured as a chair pictured in the air in front of a pink background

FLIP, likely to be made of polyethylene combined with recycled plastics, fits in a 20-inch cube that children can unfold into a world of discovery. They can use it as a rocking chaise lounge, a chair, a rocking horse, a stool and much more. When they need a breather, want to use an electronic device or it’s reading time, they can reconfigure it into several types of chairs.

Kasirifar completed her Master of Arts in Design in 2020 and is now an industrial designer at Bould Design.

“I had the pleasure to learn from and work with amazing and supportive people here at SFSU who helped me practice how to hear the people I design for and see the moral aspects and consequences of my design,” she said. “The diversity of faculty and students and their backgrounds was one of the features that made this experience very rich and inspiring.”

Kasirifar recently presented her project at the 2021 International Design Conference. She is planning to work on production details to bring FLIP to market.

“I hope I can continue to find creative ways to design products that solve problems that people face in their everyday lives and leave a minimal footprint on our planet,” she said.