Frankenthing (2022)


Disassemble and re-purpose something you own. The idea is to explore the materiality of the world around us and discover affordances in what we thought was immutable.  In this assignment you will get comfortable finding materials at home, integrating them into your creative projects, and finding tools to aid your process. Additionally, you will practice documenting and reflecting on your design processes. 

Start with an artifact, toy, appliance, piece of clothes, furniture, or technology that is no longer useful and that you find at home or in your local community. Break it apart and document its components and materials. Create categories for the different parts. Think critically about what those materials are, where they may come from, and the socio-ecological implications of their fabrication. Using at least one of the components of the original artifact plus other materials (if you need them), propose and construct a different artifact with a completely new aesthetic and/or functional purpose. 

List of example artifacts to dissect

  • Forgotten toy
  • Broken chair
  • Mechanical pencil or retractable pen
  • Old alarm clock
  • Broken cellphone
  • Old clothes 
  • Hand sanitizer dispenser 


  • Video: Prepare a video (under 3 min) to show off your new design at the beginning of the class on Week 2 and post it on your Miro Board. If your design didn’t turn out well, prepare to share lessons learned.
  • Post a picture of the dissected artifact naming its components, the categories of the components (e.g., connecting parts, structural parts, decorative parts, substrate, etc.), and materials (provide your best guess)
  • Post a card on the Miro board with a short reflection on your experience in relation to the article Rethinking Repair (Jackson, 2013) [link].
  • Post some evidence of your planning process. This might include photos of sketches, early prototypes, and final product.


✓+Meets all requirements described above and provides extensive graphic and written documentation of the dissecting and design process. 
Meets all requirements described above.
✓-Does not meet the requirements described above.

Jackson, S. J. (2013). Rethinking repair. In T. Gillespie, P. Boczkowski, & K. Foot. (Eds). Media Meets Technology. Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.