Chroma 2018 preview: Taylor O’Donnell, Industrial Design

At Chroma: Best of CCAD, you get to see the best of the best of CCAD’s artists and designers. The annual campus-wide juried show and celebration showcases exemplary pieces from each of our majors as well as our CORE programs, MDes students, and our first-year MFA students.

In anticipation of this free festival starring the future of art and design, which is from 5 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, we caught up with a few students displaying work at the event.

Read on to see get a sneak peek at what one of our students will be presenting, then check out all the exciting things coming to Chroma this year here. (We’re pretty pumped for the interactive group mural and food trucks, too.)

Portrait of Taylor O'Donnell black and white

Taylor O’Donnell

Industrial Design, 2018


Can you describe the work you will you be showing at Chroma?

Through research, I saw a problem within the rock climbing world that started before they even walked into the gym.

There was a lack of knowledge of gear, routes, and belay partners. When they arrived at the gym and walked up to the wall to prepare for the climb, I saw inconsistency in the set-up of gear, leaving room for injury. While they were on the wall, there was a lack of guidance from partners, leaving the climber aimless. And finally, as they reached the top, prepared to fall back, there was a lack of trust in their partner to actually catch them.

With these problems, I saw great opportunity to design a solution. This semester I designed an application and wearable duo that instructs the climbers through the beginning steps of climbing and allows closer communication for both the climber and belayer. This solution increases trust and confidence in the climbing process.

ccad product diagram
ccad product diagram 2

Why did you decide to study Industrial Design and what about it makes you excited for a career in that industry?

I started with my associates degree in Electronic Media Technology and received an internship directly after in Instructional Design at Macy’s. This showed me the design process; though similar to industrial design, it was lacking the hands-on ability. I wanted to learn that 3D skill, so I pursued industrial design. I'm excited to take what I've learned from this degree, and apply it to my future jobs, whether I end up in product design, design research, or graphic design.


What has been the most interesting, challenging, or exciting class you’ve taken this academic year?

Definitely our thesis class. This class has stretched through two semesters, deep diving into every step of the design process. It's been challenging because we have had four big presentations, and still have one more. These presentations are judged and shown in front of an auditorium of people, so the pressure is on for each presentation! It's difficult, but good at the same time because it makes everyone try their best.


What has been inspiring you lately?

The band Sleeping at Last always inspires me to create. Ryan O'Neal (the lead singer) creates songs based on very interesting topics. Currentl,y he is creating a series based on each enneagram personality type. They're titled "Atlas: One," "Atlas: Two," and so on. He has a podcast that introduces his process in creating these songs, and a lot of the process includes incorporating instrumentals, voices, and sounds from people that are that personality type. He does intensive research to encompass each personality type, to make sure the song is worthy of hearing. The process and heart behind the songs he creates always inspire me to be better in my own life and work.


What are your plans for summer?

I will be working for L Brands full time, doing graphic design for Bath & Body Works’ on-boarding materials. And of course laying out by the pool, whatever chances I get!

The Industrial Design program’s work will be shown on the second floor of the Crane Center and in the Kinney Hall basement at Chroma on May 9. Check out where to find all the majors here.