University of Iowa Honors Theses

Thesis Title

Wood Products in Daily Life

Major Department

Art, Studio


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2018

Honors Major Advisor

Kee Ho Yuen

Thesis Mentor

Monica Correia


Wood Products in Daily Life

Yiran Li

Spring 2018

Monica Correia

School of Art and Art History

For this project, I was thinking about products people use in their daily life and wanted to create a unique every day product which utilized wood. Ultimately, decided on making cross body bag that used wood and other materials.

To start, I had to identify elements that made a product unique. Then, I began researching brands that are famous for their bags. After deciding to make a cross body bag with a square shape, I began experimenting with combining wood with fabric. First I tried leather, but the it was too thick to fit the bag. So I changed to cotton. During the process, I got some suggestions from other people. I added a rounded corner to make it useful and give it a design element. I did some sketches in order to find the best size for the bag. I decided on a smaller bag, which is 7” x 7” x 3”. Since it is a small bag that fits women’s daily life, I did a survey about what people have in their bags. According to the result, I changed the size of it, so it can fit in a cell phone, lip stick, mini size makeup products, keys and credit card. What’s more, I did several prototypes about the thickness of the bag and how comfortable it is to use wood as the body. I ended up using a layer of fabric to make an interfacing to give it some softness to protect the objects people put inside. For the final product, I used walnut hardwood as the body, fabric as inner surface and a metal chain to combine all these different materials together.During the process of the experiment, I explored the possibility of wood and learned to think from another point. I combined the wood material with various kinds of fabric, added a third material into the project and made the final product more cohesive. I also answered the questions that I asked myself at the beginning. To make a product unique, first of all it should have some design element which is eye catching. Compared to other bags, the square shape made it different. The rounded corner made it useful. During the process, I tried to combine the wood with leather, however, I failed. So I changed my mind and used other fabric like cotton, and it worked well. With the choice of color, I use yellow to give it a contrast between the walnut wood with the fabric.

All in all, I think it was a successful experiment. I explored the possibilities of combining wood with other material and discovered a way to use design element to create a unique product. The most important part is that I learned to jump out of the box to solve the problem in my research studies. And I can use these experiences in my future studies.

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Copyright © 2018 Yiran Li

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