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Posted 7:00 am
May 21, 2014

Grad student combines tech and design to benefit people

Trevor Myers, a 31-year-old graduate design industry student, has just registered his start-up business: Small Mouth Design.

“Because I have a small mouth,” Myers said. “It’s a family thing. I mumble a bit.”

With his long blonde hair hanging loosely at his shoulders, a faded black T-shirt over black jeans to match, the meticulously thorough inventor has found some success in his innovations.

“I’ve always been picky…that’s a nice way to put it,” he admitted. “It explains my clothing choice, one less thing I have to think about. I’m very particular.”

His simple designs go along with his soft-spoken intelligence. He is observant and thorough – something that is backed with extensive research.

“I definitely have a focus in research that I think is a bit stronger than other people I’ve seen around,” Myers said. “To be a good designer you have to have a great deal of empathy for people, something that I think is sort of innate in me.”

But he said intellectual property is changing nowadays.

“It matters who publishes it first, so there is a lot of secretive stuff I have,” Myers said. “If I think this might actually become something, I don’t want anyone to know about it.”

The eclectic lamps that he made out of treasure boxes before he went back to school were his first inventions that “actually sold” he said, on his etsy store.

“I’ve always kind of built stuff, but the lamps were the first physical thing I sold. I had to think, ‘Where am I going to source my materials, where am I going to sell it, are people going to like it?’”

His Grandfather was an engineer who built printing presses, so Myers said his engineering mindset comes from him.

And ever since he was a child, he remembers building tree forts, putting down a foundation and making workbenches for his father under the skilled hands of his grandfather.

“Traditionally, I like trying to find people who have a problem and and help them solve it,” Myers said. “I can’t speak for the whole campus, but I like our department. It is focused on design for human needs, which is more of a noble cause to use your design skills for.”

And he wants new designers to realize that it is possible to not only use your skills for a noble cause, but also pay your rent with it.

“You can make a business and make a living off of helping people,” he said. “I prefer to help underserved populations, but also appreciate cleverly designed, everyday objects.”

Myers developed a game called Pathways that helps socialize children of varying ability levels.

The tile he developed for a game to socialize autistic children and through research, prototyping and user testing he is now going back and refining his design to make a final model.

“User observation is very important for anyone looking to create a product,” Myers said. “It all started from an idea, it didn’t start from a place of research.” But the extensive research has transformed his design.

The second is a tree shaped lamp with light up fruit. The fruit lights are rechargeable and can be taken off the tree for portable nighttime lights.

The third is a eye dropper system. He said user and literary research led him to a number of problems many users have regarding eye drops and their labeling.

According to the ER hotline, people have mistaken eyedrops for fungus drops, ear drops and most commonly – super glue.

“The eye drops are in confusing bottles,” Myers said. “If you have poor eyesight you are just going to look and grab things.”

And so he created an easy to identify packaging design and designed a bottle that is simple to open, keep track of, squeeze and keep sanitary.

“There is a big design boom in San Francisco in general now, and I’m hoping there is room for everyone,” Myers said.

Although SF State designers are competing with students from the Art center in Pasadena, SF Art Academy and California College of the Arts, Myers said SF State is different from the other design schools.

“I think our department has more of a focus on human design. About really kind of getting in there…seeing an underserved group of people and thinking ‘I’m going to go in there and help them.’”

“I figured now is a good time to go and do it for real,” Myers said. “It is not often you jump out of school into IDEO offices. A lot of people do freelance work in the Dog patch office spaces…it might be where I am going to go too.”

 See the full collection on Medium at: https://medium.com/a-byte-of-the-valley