Easing the Street


Rory Martin and Pablo Yanes

       At the beginning we spent a lot of time jumping around between ideas, not sure which to continue on. However, we liked the idea of "sheet protectors" and manipulating them in such a way so that they could deflect rain but also protect documents. We thought of tent configurations, shawls, and different sleeping bag techniques. In the end though, we decided that a jacket that doubled as a binder was our strongest idea. It would be part conceptual, and part functional with the ability to both show off your documents but also protect them from the elements.

     Throughout this project, we had a lot of crazy and unique ideas. It began with a suitcase, that would split down the middle each side having its own purpose. One side, would house a sleeping-bag and would be used for night time. The other half would have room for both clothes and documents, this second half was more of a mix of a traditional suitcase and a binder. However, once thinking about it for an extended period of time, we ultimately decided against the idea and moved onto a bigger and better idea. We then thought of a tarp, that had pockets on it and would fold up into a binder. We made a successful prototype, but even then decided it needed something more. It originally was also going to have the function of turning into a tent of sorts, with a metal frame that would hold the tarp up. Although we liked this overall idea, we decided to move past the tarp/tent idea because of certain complications. This led us to come to our final idea of a jacket that doubled as a binder, thus giving both you and your important documents protection from the elements. This idea had a lot of potential and after some careful thought, we realized we could make it of materials that were either already in the shop or would be easy to access. With some help from our studio instructor, we came up with the idea of a new kind of fabric that was becoming more and more popular over the internet. This was a plastic fabric, that you could make out of ironing plastics bags ontop of eachother two at a time. It made them tougher and harder to rip, which is perfect for making a jacket. After many trail attempts and a lot of failure, we finally come up with the right sizing for the "pattern pieces." A lot of research had to be done but we found many helpful websites and soon after began to cut out the pieces out of our fabric. After seeing how many holes and tears there were in the imperfect cvs fabric, we decided that there would need to be a second layer ontop. This also served as a way for us to show off the documents being held by the jacket, and would help the homeless people better represent themselves with their possessetions. Once the pieces were cut out and sewn together we printed out the correct size sample documents that were most likely going to be held by the jacket. This finally was another attempt to better replicate what the jacket may actually look like when being worn by a homeless recipient. Overall, this jacket is part functional and part conceptional but not only protects homeless people from the elements but also keeps their documents safe and close.

Studio Description

Rosa Weinberg

In Easing the Street we asked students to take a look at the 24 hour cycle an individual traverses as they spend the night at the Pine Street Inn in Boston and are subsequently out on the street during the day. We challenged students to design and fabricate devices and clothing that would serve one purpose inside the shelter, and another on the street. The students took on a huge range of topics, from the psychological impact of shelter life to the stigma attached to being homeless.

The Backet

Rosa Weinberg and 2 OthersCarlos Alvarenga
Gavin Zaentz

The Backet addresses primarily the issue of stigma against people carrying multiple bags by internalizing storage in the lining of a winter jacket. Beyond addressing stigma, The Backet has the benefit of addressing three additional issues: increased warmth (e.g. a sleeping bag stored in the jacked provides extra insulation), storage, and safekeeping for valuables. We took a jacket and replaced its lining with a fancy fabric with zippered storage. Two huge pockets in the back of the jacket provide space for large items, such as shoes, a sleeping bag or an extra sweater. Four smaller pockets in the front of the jacket provide space for smaller items.


Nuradin Bhatti

What is the problem you are trying to solve? 

How did you decide to work on this problem?

Why do you think problem and your solution are important?

What is your solution?

I am trying to fix the privacy in the showers of the pine street inn. Their showers have no privacy to it. Also the homeless people are kicked out at 7:00 am, and it might rain  and homeless people could get infected.

When I was at the pine street inn I saw that there was no privacy in the showers. I imagined if I were lived in this homeless shelter I would want some privacy.

I think the problem and the solution are important because if your in the rain without any protection you could get infected. but if you did have this protection there is a less likely chance that you will get infected.

My solution is to make a shower curtain and a raincoat put together. that way you wouldn't have to carry 2 seperate things home with you.


Gavin Zaentz and Carlos Alvarenga

Our process started off with a brainstorming of issues that homeless people face. This yielded many ideas, both practical and conceptual in nature. We decided that we wanted to work on something that helped people and raised awareness. We had two experts come in to talk to us about homelessness, Dr. Avik Chatterjee, a doctor at a number of shelter clinics and Diane Sullivan,  Policy Director at Homes for Families. After these conversations, my team sat down and decided to work on a project dealing with the negative stigma towards homeless people, specifically the negative stigma towards homeless people who are carrying their belongings in large backpacks and plastic bags. We decided the best way to deal with this issue was to conceal their belongings in large pockets inside a coat. We bought a coat from Goodwill and removed the lining, replacing it with pockets that ranged in size and type to accommodate a variety of objects. All of the pockets have zippers, but one of the pockets is a 3D pocket to carry bigger items such as sleeping bags or many pieces of clothes. For the remainder of the studio, we designed and sewed the eight interior pockets paying close attention to the seams and zippers. The coat came out beautifully and we are very proud of this project.


Stefano Pagani

    At the start of this studio, we began the brainstorming process by visiting Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter in Boston. After that we listed many problems in the shelter. We also had a guest come in, Diane who was a former homeless person and now helps others by working in a shelter. She explained some of the major challenges of being out on the street. One of the problems she explained was the homeless having wet socks in the rain and getting many foot borne illnesses.

    The brainstorming process led up to my first idea. I decided to harness the hot air from a subway grate (a common place for the homeless to sleep) to dry a persons socks while they were on their feet. I thought of doing that by having a box large enough to fit someones feet, with holes on the bottom for the air to come in and leg holes for said persons feet. After creating a very crude mock-up out of cardboard I realized this method was far to big. I also did some tests with a blowdryer and wet socks and after 15 minutes of blowing the socks were still wet so the idea was scrapped.

    Some more sketches, brain storming and experimenting led to the idea of using centrical force to spin socks dry. I came to this idea by writing down different methods of getting things dry fast. The one that stuck me was a salad spinner with flings salad against a mesh wall and centrifugal force compresses all the water out. This lead me to using a rod with the socks attached to fling all the water to the tips and then out of the sock. I decided on I design to prototype with a flat base and a curved top. This would then slide into a garage to keep the water from flying. After some tests the design yielded inefficient in that the socks would hit the bottom panel and the design would have to be twice the size to accommodate for the flat bottom. So this idea was ditched as well.

    My final idea was to use a hexagon shaped design which used way less space. At this point, I started to focus on the gears needed to power the central rod. I made a prototype of a simple gear design with a big gear and a smaller gear. This only had a small ratio (about 1:2) and the gears needed to make a bigger ratio were far too big. Some research pointed me towards planetary gear boxes, which had a outer “ring gear” and a smaller internal “planet gear”. I decided on this method and mounted it to the sock dryer with some bearings. A handle was accomplished by 3D printing two parts inserting a bearing inside and fixing them together. This was then mounted onto the ring gear. I then made a door, mounted it and the Sock Dryer 3000 was done!


Stefano Pagani

    The problem that my sock dryer aims to solve, is that the homeless, in the rain, wear wet socks the whole day which makes them very prone to foot borne illnesses. My dryer aims to solve this issue. It utilizes centrifugal force and a powerful gear system to fling water out of the socks and leave them barely damp.

    I believe that this important to the homeless and to society. To prevent the homeless from getting sick is huge for them, since they don't have allot of money they may have to give up some of their daily food income to pay for the treatment. Even worse, they may not get treated and the illness and foot growth can get worse, even to the point where their legs need to get amputated. The sight of a man/women with a horrible foot growth or even no feet, can be unpleasing for the rest of society which is where the sock dryer can help.


Stefano Pagani


Jake Barton

The main idea of this project is to provide an alternative method of carrying belongings to the homeless. It is incredibly important that this method provides protection from theft and the elements while also being an easy-to-use way to carry anything one may need to carry. The problem we aimed to solve with this project was the fact that homeless people often face terrible back problems. To solve this we tried to make a frame for carrying many plastic bags. The frame is attached to the support structure for a hiking backpack, so it has waist support as well as shoulder support. This means there is less stress on the back of the person using the frame than if they were using a normal backpack. The frame then uses hooks to carry plastic grocery bags or just about anything else one would need to carry. There is even a prototype for an iPhone case that can attach to the frame, as smartphones are practically essentials for homeless people trying to better their situation. This project would not only prevent back problems in the homeless, but would also provide easy-to-use transportation and storage for pretty much anything. Without back problems, it is much easier to get a job and stop being homeless, so this project seeks to end at least one piece of the cycle of homelessness.



Stefano Pagani