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JULIA ZORZANELLO BYRON Industrial & Interaction Designer // (203) 715-5291


Syracuse University / Syracuse, NY


Industrial & Interaction Design, School of Design, Class of 2013

SU Study Abroad Program / London, UK WORK EXPERIENCE

Spring 2012

appeThaizing / Syracuse, NY


MoreStick / Syracuse, NY


Thai restaurant. Began as server & worked up to manager. In charge of all serving staff & handled all customer issues. Returned to server in 2011 to focus on design work.

Freelance. Currently sole designer helping DeBorah Little bring her invention idea to market. Meeting with manufacturers, designing functionality, creating SolidWorks parts.

Small Potatoes LLC / Syracuse, NY


Central New York Regional Market / Syracuse, NY

Summer 2013

Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems / Austin, TX

Summer 2012

Freelance. Designing presentations for Martin Butts to be used in workshops nationally.

Internship. Purchased & sold produce, managed all money; developed web presence & social networking; established relationships with site contacts, farmers, wholesale vendors; developed merchandising & advertising strategies; designed communication materials.

Volunteer. Helped with ideation & model making of a lamppost retrofit design & communications design for a book they were preparing for publication.

SU Industrial & Interaction Design Program / Syracuse, NY

Fall 2011

Teaching Assistant to Professor Cas Holman for course Production Processes.



Current Address: 400 Greenwood Pl, Syracuse, NY Permanent Address: 21 Abby Dr, Hebron, CT

Adobe Creative Suite: InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator & Flash. SolidWorks & Hypershot. Drawing: Sketching, marker & pen rendering, computer 2D & 3D rendering. Model making: wood, paper, foam, MDF, patterns for CNC & laser cutting. Shop skills: Wood, metal & foam shops. Sewing machine. Design research: interviewing, observation, ethnographic research, rapid prototyping.


Philip H. Stevens Award- Redesign of bathroom vanity for wheelchair-bound individuals. “Gnome” Design Professors’ Award- Human factors group project for “Accessible Wearables.” Chancellor’s Scholarship, S.U. Merit Scholarship, Dean’s List


IDSA Vice President, Habitat for Humanity, Alpha Phi Omega Community Service Fraternity, NYPIRG Earth Day Festival Committee, ID+ Gallery Show curator.


Making, fixing, repurposing, urban bicycling & exploration, photography, Radiolab, NPR, dystopian fiction, travel, & foremost meeting unusual & usual people.

An industrial designer with a holistic, empathic approach to addressing real world problems through user-focused research & design

Contents 1 Accessible Bathroom Vanity 2 STORYSHARE

Independence is happiness. Susan B. Anthony Civil rights superhero


Accessible Bathroom Vanity Winner of the Philip H. Stevens Award

Competition Objective Address the needs of a wide range of users with disabilities by improving workow within the home environment. Choose a specific situation & setting to design for.

Which is the area of most need? Occupational therapist Joan Cramer says it’s

bathroom independence & safety

People post videos to demonstrate life in a wheelchair. They showed me that we need to look in a completely different lens than that of an able-bodied user

“My clients yearn to be independent & accomplished; the biggest issue with this is the bathroom. Their day is so full of waiting for helpers that the days fly by”

What adaptive devices for the bathroom are out there? Occupational therapist Joan Cramer described different products she uses for adapting bathrooms. It became clear the vanity has the fewest existing options & remains inconvenient for all users.

My strategy: create a single, convenient vanity system.


“These work pretty well for most people”

Opportunities Improving aesthetics, addressing the people that system doesn’t work for


“If they don’t have a tub, we put in a standing shower with a sloped drain, supports, hand-held shower head, & shower chair”

Opportunities Improving aesthetics & safety

Adaptive Devices: A Survey The Bad


“I’ve never found an option for converting it, I have the whole thing removed. I replace it with a pedestal sink & wall of shelving. I wish there was a way to have everything in one place�

Opportunities Bringing all of the vanity elements back into one unit. Catering the vanity to the wheelchair experience.

utilitarian unaesthetic stigmatizing

The Good

discreet aesthetic

What’s it like to use the vanity from a wheelchair? I can’t do everything from one spot & have to keep adjusting my position. Also, reach needs to be considered with this system for every task

I attached my waist to the chair with a belt to also simulate limited torso mobility

The sink needs to be right under

Low things are out of reach

Faucet is out of reach

Outlet is out of reach

Fallen things are out of reach

Knees are in the way of the door

How do other people approach this issue? Aesthetics don’t say, “This is the home of a disabled person”

ADA Specifications gave me technical guidance

Adjusting required to use counterspace. Can I make counters more accessible? Reach radius

Drawers are still inconvenient to access. Need to reconsider traditional drawers Better faucet access


Ample space underneath sink

Doesn’t address risk of things falling out of reach

Space needed to move in the bathroom

Initial Ideation Square= efďŹ cient

Sink out of way when not in use

Sketch modeling


Drawers swing out by pressing lever

Shallow basin

First version of design Mobile sink & lateral access to the drawers allows user to use sink, drawers, and counter top without moving their wheelchair.

Faucet handles situated on front of sink

Flexible piping

Sink rests in counter top User can pull sink towards them Drawers end before maximum arm reach

ISSUES Out-of-reach counter space in back corners Doesn’t address items rolling off countertop Sink resting spot is unstable Functionality of countertop doesn’t adapt to user

Continued Ideation

Overlay of a person in a wheelchair to test on sketches

Final Design Every part adapts for the user, instead of requiring the user to adapt to it

Users glide sink to them & slide it back into place by squeezing a handle on either side of sink, which works by a squeeze-and-release mechanism

Drawers are suspended from a rod & pivot to open.

White circles indicate where to push for them to swing open.

A counter pulls out to hold & catch items while the user is doing tasks like applying makeup or shaving. Raised edges prevent items from rolling off

Traditional sink pipe is replaced by exible hose. The sink’s tracks lock into place underneath the counter

A small inset band runs along entire countertop edge, catching anything that might roll off

Outlet in the second drawer for easy access, is fire proofed so electronic elements can be stored safely

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. Ralph G. Nichols

listening extraordinaire & founder of the International Listening Association



A year long, self-directed research & design project aimed at creating deep fulfilling interactions between strangers

We all know the storyPeople with nothing in common, brought together by fate. Against all odds, they overcome their differences to form a bond they never thought possible & gain a new outlook on life.

In real life, we rarely get opportunity to break through social barriers. When we don’t identify with someone, we avoid interacting with them unless some impetus brings us together.

Bringing strangers together Some inspiration photos

I wanted to bring the dynamic of these interactions to people like this

These girls both live in the Syracuse community, but attend vastly dissimilar high schools. There is barely any interaction between the two schools.

So I researched what makes people connect, Essentially, it comes down to neural mirroring. Mirror neurons make us feel compassion.

& found we can experience this effect from stories Because of mirror neurons, when we are absorbed

*From The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall

in a story we have an emotional & physical reaction similar to experiencing the situation,

effectively educating us & enhancing our ability to empathize.*

So then I looked into storytelling, & found that it is powerful because it is central to the human condition. Stories make us care about things outside of ourselves.*

*From The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall

How do people tell stories? I made a mind map; it became massive. To the left are some samples. I sorted them in different ways to find information, trends & design opportunities.

I found that people like straightforward stories, tell stories as much for themselves as others & often use a combination of storytelling methods.

For whom?

Intention Open to interpretation


Purely symbolic

A known, specific person or group

= number of methods




An anonymous person or group

The person conveying the story


Combining elements

Okay, but which stories do people pay attention to?

“She used it as an example of being grateful for what you have”

“My dad told my brother & I”

“It was said through words and lots of eye contact”

“It was just me and him in a room together for hours playing FIFA”

“It was in a town near mine and it worried me that it would happen to someone I know or me” “It was like a secret filled with emotion” Informational envelope

Finding patterns in my surveys I analyzed over 40 surveys

find similarities & reinforce

Common trends:


Personal Connection

Personal Connection?

make it “homey” & intimate

people like deeper meaning

Home Intimate

Lesson or Reinforced Realization a Value


Takeaway message?

Face to Face

have 2 people talk, face to face

One on One

Method of Delivery

variety of themes


Emotional Themes

How do stories play out in real life? My surveys hinted that I was missing other elements of good storytelling so I took observations on deeply personal storytelling as it happened naturally around me.

- Giving full attention - Arranging bodies around speaker - Body language - Validating speaker’s feelings

“I had no idea it got that bad” “I had to go to therapy after that”

- Privacy

- Body language - No interrupting - Dedicating time to talk

“So then we were homeless for awhile...”

How do I draw stories out? I noticed that people needed stimuli to tell a story. I interviewed a student, Sam Jones, about how recalling memories works. He said memories are directly connected to the senses. We don’t remember an event as one piece- we remember it according to how it imprinted on the different senses.

How do I make them want to share? I had a hard time recruiting people to try my designs so I interviewed “Photography & Literacy Project� director Stephen Mahan. He has widespread success in getting Syracuse city students to share their stories.

Relate the subject to their lives

Make them feel special & important

Dedicate set time for storytelling Show someone is listening & encourage them

Design Direction To design a kit of parts that improve factors for

conscious listening to aid in a rich storytelling experience to foster connection between strangers in a community who do not typically interact.

IdentiďŹ cation & Empathy



Personas Mel i ssa

“I’ve never connected with someone so different from me”

Testing ideas Full dividing wall

Eye-contact attention tube

“Nice for getting into the process but too I want to look somewhere else”


Be than y

“Are you there? Are

Attention directing cones

you listening?”

Partial dividing wall

“They won’t talk openly with me”

C hristian

“I feel too


A cube space

“It’s too weird that I can’t see you. That’s all I’m focusing on”

“I can’t just ignore my phone”

Requesting a story on the spot

Joan n a “It’s kind of cozy, but I feel really boxed

“I just have so many things I want to say!”


Listening to a story through a curtain to elicit memories


One image as a cue to elicit memories


“We never seem to want to talk about the same things”

“I’m having a hard time coming with a story to talk about”

“It was a nice story but I

didn’t relate” “Okay, we’re done talking about this picture.

Are we done?”

Trying different sense cues

Refining ideas Creating a curvy-walled booth

I can get my mind off what I was doing out there” “It feels like a completely different space.

Indicating the sense to be used

“Don’t ruin the surprise! I don’t want to know what sense I will use before I look”

Warm textured walls

“I like the warmth in here & the unobtrusive walls. The walls make this space seem very roomy!”

Using lots of cues

Even unfamiliar cues initiate conversation

“There are too many cues to check out. We jumped from one to the next & didn’t talk much about them”

The Final Design: STORYSHARE

Bringing people from different backgrounds together to discover their similarities It comes together as a booth that can be set up anywhere

2 cozy chairs with matching slip covers

Flexible wall to create an intimate environment

Outside view

Inside view

The environment lays the foundation for a successful experience Sensory cues to draw out stories

Warming, “homey� accents

body language

intimacy privacy focus Cue covers to add exploration & fun how to

3. share

1. meet

2. sense

Table for users to gather around




The Process

1. Users begin by investigating the cues

2. They explore using the 5 senses

3. The process is as much about sharing

4. Both take part in listening & sharing

experience as about storytelling

What they are discovering:


“My grandma always fed me dried fruit too!”


“I never thought about my town that way.”


“I haven’t thought about that place in years.”


JULIA ZORZANELLO BYRON Industrial & Interaction Designer // (203) 715-5291

much obliged

Julia Zorzanello Byron GRAVITYTANK PORTFOLIO  

I am an industrial designer with a holistic, empathic approach to addressing real world problems through user-focused research & design

Julia Zorzanello Byron GRAVITYTANK PORTFOLIO  

I am an industrial designer with a holistic, empathic approach to addressing real world problems through user-focused research & design