Boost Lab : Product Design and Development

PI: Rab McClure, Associate Professor, and Director, MFA MFADesign Studies

Everyone loves a distinctive, thoughtfully-designed product: a unique souvenir; a quirky gadget; a clever hack; a possession that adds a moment of joy to everyday life. Designed objects surround us and contribute to the way we see and portray ourselves. Personal belongings and personal identity are inherently intertwined. In the words of Henry Ford, “Every object tells a story, if you know how to read it.”

Designers and artists are uniquely qualified to produce artifacts that tell compelling stories, objects that harness the spirit and ambition of a particular time and place. The ability to know when and how to monetize creative insight, however, requires a separate skillset and sensibility. The language of business sounds foreign—or straight up intimidating—to most art and design students. Incubators and accelerators seek profit potential; they work by narrowing and reducing options to arrive at focused, accessible solutions described in sound bites. Artists and designers are trained to do the opposite—to expand and reframe, to resist easy labels and embrace ambiguity. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive, but to get from one to the other requires translation.

Boost Lab aims to bridge the gap between creative conception and commercial activation. It is a research fueled launchpad for innovative, culturally-resonant products, developed in Qatar. Projects from VCUarts Qatar students, alumni and faculty are selected based on alignment with Boost Lab priorities, articulated in the Priorities section of this proposal, and based on compatibility with Boost Lab, FabLab and PrintLab capabilities.