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Industrial design students give new life to discarded materials

ReMade project allows students to sell their creations to the public

From left
From left (Photo courtesy of Luke Hollister/WWU)
By Jenelle Baumbach News Intern

A pencil pouch made from bike tires, a tote bag made from sailcloth, a chair made of towing straps and more — all student-designed and manufactured — are available for purchase at downtown Bellingham’s Ideal. 

The junior class of Western Washington University’s industrial design program showcased their work at the annual ReMade: Tools for Living event on Friday, March 10. 

The ReMade project requires students to design and manufacture a product, derived from locally disposed and recycled materials that they must source themselves.

Western student Megan Ostrowski said her product, Dash Pinch Drizzle, was inspired by her love of cooking and her desire to simplify the process. 

Ostrowski designed and created three storage cups for cooking ingredients. Pinch is designed with an indented lid to measure out small portions of salt, Drizzle is made with a honey stick attached to the lid, and Dash is built to measure out larger portions of spices and ingredients. 


Megan Ostrowski, a Western Washington University student, prepares jars to be put on display at the ReMade: Tools for Living opening event. Ostrowski created a honey drizzle jar and a salt portioning jar by repurposing recycled goods.

(Photo courtesy of Luke Hollister/WWU)

Her products were made from reused glass yogurt jars and maple wood that she harvested from her grandmother’s property. 

For Ostrowski, the most difficult part of the process was finding the right aesthetics and style to design the product. 

“I probably made around 30 other prototypes before I came to these three designs,” Ostrowski said. 

Students are given around six weeks to create their product. Engineering and Design Professor Arunas Oslapas said after more than a decade of running the project, expectations are high. 

The group of 12 students began the quarter by bringing reused or disposed of materials to class, and then brainstorming about what could be created from them. 

“It’s hard coming up with an idea, it’s hard to produce 20 units,” Oslapas said. “In design, each step has its challenges.” 

He said students all face different obstacles throughout the process. Some have more difficulty forming a concrete idea, while others struggle more in the design or manufacturing process. 


Western Washington University students prepare their work to be displayed and sold at Ideal in downtown Bellingham.

(Photo courtesy of Luke Hollister/WWU)

Western student Yuanxiang Huang, the creator of Cycle Bracelet, said he made a last-minute adjustment to his product, forcing him to reproduce all 32 units in under a week.  

“The first ones were button clasps, so they weren’t very adjustable,” Huang said. “I thought to make them more user-friendly, I allowed an adjustable strap, so it’s a lot easier to put on than having to buy the correct size, and that way I could streamline my process of making them.” 

Made with leather and bike links, the wearable product is symbolic of the significant bike community in Bellingham. 

Lisa Van Doren, co-owner of Ideal, said this is their 12th year hosting the event at the design shop. 

She said they consult with the students twice throughout the quarter, once in the beginning to advise their initial pitches and again towards the end to determine a fair selling price for their finished products.  

Products are available for purchase at Ideal while supplies last. Student designers receive 70% of the revenue from their product sales. 

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