Project Description

In an effort to reduce energy use, the energy conscious, sustainability focused residence hall at Northwestern gave us the task of designing an alternative drying method. The new design was to use little or no energy, fulfill the clothes capacity requirements of the building, and fit in the available space.

Takeaways and Skills Developed

  • Iterative design process - identifying a problem and finishing with a working prototype
  • Collaborating on a team
    • Running team meetings
    • Delegating tasks to take advantage of skill sets
  • Interacting with clients and users
  • Presentation and articulation of ideas
  • Technical writing and project documentation
Final Sketch.jpg


Overfull Drying Rack.jpg

Problem Identification

Through user observation and interviews, we identified the problem that needed solving as a need to expand the capacity of the current drying rack, the only alternative to the dryers. The current drying rack also dried clothing very slowly so a redesign to decrease drying time was also necessary.


Brainstorming and preliminary testing resulted in a list of potential features to include on a functional mock-up. We used this mock up to check the viability of features under consideration as well as reveal other needs of the users. We also explored using fans and waste heat to expedite the drying but due to external constraints, we determined an optimized, ambient air drying rack was the best solution.


Design Concept

The final concept incorporated positive features from the testing. It met the energy, capacity, and size requirements laid out by the client.

Clothes pins.jpg


To complete the project, we constructed a fully functional prototype of our design concept. This was the culmination of our process beginning with problem identification.

Final Product

The finished product expands drying capacity while offering more specialized spaces for drying smaller articles of clothing. This partition allows the students to use the dryer optimally by hanging larger clothing items on the lower section and smaller items on the top section. It is also made of easy-to-assemble lengths of PVC pipe and nylon rope which makes it easy and inexpensive to service if needed. The product meets all of the clients needs.