Hinging on Ecology and Design: An iPad Stand That Stands for More Than Just Function

Posted on 31. Mar, 2011 by in Design & Culture

At Opportunity Green we are always fascinated by the design process and marvel at how students at Art Center College of Design continually solve design challenges while incorporating sustainability.  At OG10, one of the designs featured on the “Creative Strategies: Sustainability by Design” panel moderated by Taschen editor, Julius Wiedmann, was that of William Tang, an Art Center College of Design student. OG checks in with William to see what he’s been up to since last fall.

Hinge for iPad:

Tang recently kickstarted a campaign to bring to market an iPad accessory he designed while in school. More than just a hinge, Hinge for iPad, combines smart design, functionality and simplicity and remains in its creator’s vision of responsible design.

Hinge for iPad holds the iPad at the perfect angle—from a comfortable typing position on your lap, to an upright position on your table for watching movies or a FaceTime conversation. Hinge for iPad folds compactly, ensuring that the iPad stands securely and in style everywhere you go.

The Birth of Hinge for iPad

Hinge for iPad originated in the classroom of world-renown Art Center College of Design as a project created for a ‘10×10’ challenge where students had to create designs from materials that cost less than $10 and were sourced within 10 miles of campus. The first functional prototype was made with a recycled paperboard material. The concept was well received, and recognizing there was a market need for a simple and sturdy iPad stand, Tang decided to develop it further.


Design Challenges:

While the initial concept took a week to design, it has taken months to develop it into a manufacturable product. The paperboard material was too difficult for manufacturing, so

Tang began testing various materials such as wood, felts, leather, plastics, bio-plastics, silicon rubbers, and metal hardware. While building countless prototypes, he also analyzed the environmental impacts of the materials using a qualitative Life Cycle Assessment, along with an online LCA tool by Sustainable Minds, which allowed him to compare the impacts of the various designs from raw material extraction and manufacturing to use and end-of-life.

After much research, Tang decided on two design directions that employed different sustainable design strategies.

The Crystalline edition Hinge will be made with a recycled polypropylene that has a lightweight and strong structure inspired by modern architecture. The Classic edition Hinge will be made with all natural materials—sustainably harvested birch with a natural soap finish and high grade leather.

Bringing Design to Life:

With finalized designs, Tang posted his project on Kickstarter to raise the funding needed to manufacture the product. Kickstarter provides an innovative crowd-sourced fund raising platform where people can effectively pre-order a Hinge by pledging to support the project.

If the project is successfully funded on Kickstarter, Tang plans to have Hinge for iPad manufactured locally in Los Angeles. As is true with any product, he acknowledges that while neither the project nor materials are perfectly sustainable, he believes that Hinge for iPad is a versatile solution that takes a step in the right direction.

Opportunity Green is excited to continue to shine light on innovative design projects and hopes to see Hinge for iPad in market soon!

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William Tang graduated from the Art Center College of Design last fall, shortly after one of his design projects was featured at OG10. He is the co-founder and design director of Ubiqi Health, a startup that builds simple health management tools for chronic disease patients and manages Mustard LA, a group for designers and individuals interested in the “Business of Social Design.”


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