Easing the Street


Jake Barton and Samuel Zintl

We chose to work on the issue of back problems, and for our approach to this problem, we thought that if we gave homeless people good supportive backpacks with a hiking frame that it could remove one of the main sources for these injuries. We expanded on that idea to instead be a rack of sorts with many places to attach different things. Including a phone case, a carabiner holder, and perhaps most importantly, a hook to hold plastic or tote bags. These things would provide an alternative method of carrying belongings that otherwise would have to be done with either a bad backpack or using one's hands. The backpack is not a good option because they usually have very poor support and sometimes not a lot of space. We fixed that problem by having waist and hip support from a hiking backpack frame, instead of just shoulder support like most backpacks. 


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.



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.


Nuradin Bhatti

I started off with a sketch of a shower curtain transforming into a raincoat. I then changed the idea to and umbrella. What did work about the idea is that it was able to protect you from the rain, what didn't work is that the shower curtain had no balance. So I went back the shower curtain raincoat idea. The curtain will come with the sleeves and the hood.

I kept trying to come up with different hooks for the ceiling grid. the first clip I came up with was just a regular hook that could only go 90 degrees. What did work about the hook was that it would only go 90 degrees, what didn't work about it was that it was too big for the ceiling grid. So I changed the idea  to a safety pins because one end is thin enough for the ceiling grid.

What did work about the safety pins is that is did fit in the ceiling grid, what didn't work is that the safety pin would just easily fall out of the ceiling grid because the track of the ceiling is like an upside down T and for the hook to balance it would have to go on both sides. So I went to a clip, and it worked.


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.


Jules Gouvin-Moffat and 2 OthersRosa Weinberg
Dylan Smyth

In the Easing the Street studio, we all had the same goal: to design and create a device that would make being homeless either in or outside of the shelter easier. We visited a homeless shelter in the beginning of the first two weeks, and talked to several people who work closely with homeless people one of whom was also formerly homeless. Homeless shelters are incredibly helpful and important, but upon visiting it was made clear that homeless people lose much of their autonomy there. There were extremely strict restrictions on when people were allowed to come and leave, how much they could eat, what they could do while at the shelter, etc.

Our team came together and knew that we wanted to focus on giving homeless people their autonomy back. After a few days of brainstorming, diagramming, mocking-up, and discussion, we decided to work on a sensory replacement/modification helmet that would give the user the ability to replace 3/5 of their senses (sight, hearing, and scent). Our final project accomplished this through using a viewing port with adjustable filters, a small tray placed directly underneath the viewing port that could insert any scent, and a 3-piece plastic ear cavern that replicates the sound of the ocean.

This was a thought-provoking project not only in that it straddled the line between conceptual and practical, but there were deeper layers behind our intent as well as our final product. Yes, our entire aim was to give homeless people autonomy through giving them control of their immediate surroundings. But we still end up being the ones dictating what their choices were.

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.


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.


Jules Gouvin-Moffat and Dylan Smyth

We started this studio off by getting a crash course on what homelessness really means and looks like. We watched interviews with homeless people, visited an overnight homeless shelter (the Pine Street Inn in Boston), and talked to a doctor that worked with homeless people, as well as someone who both works in a family shelter and was once homeless. Following that, everyone in the studio verbalized many, many problems that homeless people face-stigma, loss of autonomy, theft, storage, hygiene, etc.-as well as possible ideas for devices to solve these problems (or at least make them a little easier).

Dylan and I both wanted to focus on giving homeless people autonomy. The very first idea we came up with was a collapsible bed/storage area, but this was weak in that it wasn’t really specific to homeless people’s problems. We then decided to create a helmet that creates a personal, private area for those in a shelter. The overarching goal was to give them some control and peace in their immediate surroundings. How do we do this? Well, rather than sensory deprivation, the helmet replaces 3/5 senses: hearing, sight, and smell.

For hearing, we knew we wanted to make a shell-type ear area, to allow the user to hear the ocean and dampen all other outside sounds. This was one of the simplest parts of the project. The only significant change it went through was the addition of a circular outside lid, as well as more convient screw hole placement.

Dylan worked on the sight portion of the helmet, which had many iterations. The first model was inspired by a 70’s Viewmaster. It was essentially a photo reel placed about 4.5” away from the face, with a soothing image that could be switched out for another by turning the reel, placed at the end. He made than seven different itterations of the Viewport, all of which were important to the success of the project, and each design getting better and better. At first, we thought that the shape of the viewport as an octagon would be best for comfort and asthetic purposes, but it made the project too complex for our time frame, so we modified it to a boxy shape, which was still effective.

As for the scent portion, my original plan was to have a small cavity in the helmet near the nose for a scent strip. We elected to use lavender, citrus, and cinnamon scents for their appealing smell and the positive effects they have.

My end result was clunky, ugly, and ineffective. It was an open, rectangular tray for the scent strip, paired with an open nose hold, and placed adjacent to the user’s nostril. To fix this, I made a cardboard model-which was much slimmer and actually worked-before modeling the new one on the computer.

The nose piece handled-at least temporarily-we had to start to design how all of this was going to be connected. We chose to make a 3D-printed rib that would slot into the viewport and nose piece and hold them together. This idea was scrapped a few days later though, because we were running out of time. As for the ear pieces, I designed them with side openings for a securing strap to go through.

The fourth and final change for the nose piece came in the form of scrapping nearly all of it. The nose piece is now a tray with a sliding bottom that contains a scent strip, placed directly under a nostril hole in the view port. This major change coincided with the shift from an image reel to a color wheel. This was because having images placed directly in front of you doesn’t actually modify your surroundings, whereas a filtered lens can. We knew we wanted the lenses to be accessed for the side, so for this model, we had to design a system to flip down the filters in a smooth manner. After prototyping it, we found it was extremely uncomfortable to wear. Contouring the edge of the box to fit the facial structure of the wearer made it perfect.

We also needed a way to attach the strap to the viewport. Taking inspiration from hard hats and mining headlights, we got a black elastic strip of fabric and sewed it over a clip placed on the that went on the back of your head which had a strip on top of your head and around it to help distribute the weight of the goggles. The ear piece was also attached onto the straps so that everything can be kept together very easily.

Obviously, as presenting day got closer, we became much busier. The scent tray was printed three times in total-the first time, the screw holes for attaching to the view port were too small and in an inconvenient position. In addition, the bottom of the smaller piece was too wide to slide into the larger, and the indentation for the scent strip wasn't deep enough. The second time, I moved the screw holes to be 3 in a row and adjusted the other problems, but the front of the larger piece was still too tall to accept the smaller. I'll print the third and hopefully final version tomorrow. Besides that, I also started working on the ear portion. It will be made of three pieces: two wooden oval shapes with slots to accept the back helmet strap, and one hollow 3D printed piece. Placed together it creates a cavern around an ear.

The buckle for containing the straps were one of our lowest priorities, but it didn’t take too long to model. The final had two openings on opposite sides, for attaching the strap going around the side of the head. There was also an opening at the top for a strap going across the top of the head (extra security) which was sewn in place. My first version was slightly too large, but the final was a pretty tight fit, which is what we wanted-effective and efficient.

Less than two weeks after starting this project, we had working prototypes of all three major components, and it took only a few hours to assemble the entire thing.

Had we gone further with this project, we would have made all the senses have one specific soothing theme-the forest, an open field, etc. So for example, the ear pieces might have an audio track of the woods or another rural area not commonly found in large cities. The scent would be pine, or flowers, and the image reel would be similarly themed.