Origami : Writing Spaces by Emily Khoury

A four day design workshop at Politechnico in Milan Italy with a team of Italian and American designers. The project goal was to redesign a writing space. On a team of six interior designers and industrial designers, I developed this concept for a collaborative writing space that is adaptive to the users' needs. Drawing inspiration from origami, the workstation unfolds from a two-dimensional surface into a  semi-private writing space. As the space transforms from 0% volume to 100% volume, the function of the space also transforms. 

In thinking and developing a new writing space for a classroom, we focused on the creation of a 50% permeable space. Our interpretation of its permeability is that it embodies a certain level of flexibility and customization. The space is activated and transformed by the users. The functionality is as diverse as the people who use it, including both individual and collaborative writing spaces. 

Origami unfolds from a compact 0% volume pinup surface into a dimensional writing space, transforming it to its full 100% volume. With a variety of layouts and writing surfaces and elements, people have vertical and horizontal writing surfaces, as well as sitting and standing options. 

By implementing Origami into a classroom space, it can be used in teaching moments or by students to work in groups. The panels, not only transform themselves, but transform the space they are in, turning it from a typical classroom into a functional writing center with a variety of uses.

The panels are covered with a variety of materials to allow different writing expressions to occur; cork and magnetic metal allow you to pinup ideals while you write and a butcher studio scroll allows you to write on the wall and to take your ideas with you. This low tech writing space has the potential to transform almost any classroom environment, from lower school to graduate school, anywhere across the globe.

Read more about Writing Spaces →

Social Impact Design by Emily Khoury


A semester long international collaborative experience spanning two hemispheres, working in two languages and tackling social and cultural issues in São Paulo, Brazil. A team of 14 undergraduate students at OSU, myself included, paired up with 12 undergraduate students from Mackenzie University in São Paulo for a social impact design project. We began a generative design research project and co-designed with the founders of CISARTE, a center for integration through art, work, and education, and the “street situation people” to address the spatial and temporal needs of the six month old community center located in the heart of São Paulo.

My specific contribution to the overall project was in tackling the “Poetic Inscription” or more temporal needs of CISARTE. The aim of the project was to capture the collective voice of “PopRua” and create an inscriptive element that would serve as an embodiment of these voices and be words of encouragement from PopRua to other PopRua. The aim was to be an interactive element that would change with time as more people created different notes of support.  My other role in this project was as a leader in documenting the entire extent of the project to create a book and coordinating translations from English to Portuguese for the content of the book and the videos we created for the project.


This was a successful project in terms of being able to accomplish the short and long term goals we set out to. We were able to create a design that would help the “street situation” people feel like they have a voice and that their voice would be heard in CISARTE and within the community. The response to the design from the CISARTE founders and the street situation people was inspiring. We created a very strong multi-use structure that should last for years. Our intentions is that the messages on the community boards will evolve over the years with CISARTE and the “street situation” people. This could also show growth within the organization, the “street situation” people, and the community. I have learned that inscription is very powerful and meaningful tool of design, it is a way to capture and share stories.

This project inspired a new level of thoughtful communication and coordination across cultures and continents. The goal for me was to capture the community voice of Movimento Nacional de Populacao de Rua in such a way that provoked moments of inspiration and motivation. And in doing so, I was inspired by the collaborative efforts and the communication between everyone.


This was a massive project and not everything that needed to be done could be done within the original timeline of the project, this is something that was realized early on in the process. The way we decided to approach the design was to make three different design phases. The initial phase was do research and create a design that could be carried out in the week that our team went to São Paulo, the second phase was what our Mackenzie University counterparts could complete in the month that was left in the school year after we left Brazil. The final phase of the project was to provide clear construction documents and resources so that CISARTE could eventually expand on the initial designs as their needs grew and evolved.

Plant Stand by Emily Khoury

MODERN AESTHETICS With the simple halved-joint occurring at the top and the bottom the stand and solid wood legs, this modern wood leg plant stand can hold up to two potted plants. The cherry-finished legs have been treated with danish oil to be used either inside or out.

FORM AND FUNCTION  Inspired by the clean silhouettes of the ‘50s and ‘60s, the Mid-Century look and function is met with a modern industrious look. This design allows for water drainage, without having to move the potted plants from the stand.


Overall product dimensions: 10” diam. x 22”h

Planter dimensions: 8” diam. x 8”h

Stand dimensions: 10” diam. x 18”h

Material | Cherry

Furniture: Table by Emily Khoury

The prompt was to create an “intimate table.” My interpretation of the project is the following… Intimacy is a journey and a story that is different for all people. For me intimacy is the closeness and the subtle connections that is shared between two people. There is a duality in intimacy, there are two people in every story of intimacy.

This pair of intimate tables is meant to be evocative of an intimate couple. The intended use for these tables is as bedside tables, the idea was that they would occupy an intimate and personal space. Each of the tables is meant to exist independently of the other, on opposite sides of the bed, and they are not not meant to be replicas of each other, but when they are reconfigured into one more impactful piece of furniture they compliment each other. This configuration evokes the connectedness an intimate couple feels when they come together, the subtleties of being close to someone, intertwining legs, and the perception of being one, being a part of something greater than yourself.


The space between the table planes creates these moments of intimacy for the user as well. The narrowness evokes an intimate moment. These smaller, more intimate moments gradually decrease moving down the table—in a similar way to intimacy being something that necessitates close and personal moments, the more distance between two things, or two people the fewer intimate moments that are possible.

Materials | Walnut

Furniture: Balance by Emily Khoury

BALANCE  Desktop Organizer

The intention of this project was to design an object that could contain something while exploring different material connections and form. 

The duration of this project from ideation, prototyping, and creating a final product was two weeks.


Balance is a condition in which different elements are equal and in the correct proportions. The goal of balancing an object is to keep it in a steady position so that it does not fall over. The form and proportions of this container allow it to balance on a table without any additional mechanical connections to the surface of the table. ‘Balance’ hangs on the edge of any workspace table, containing extra work tools for designers. 

The process to make this was bending an acrylic sheet through the application of heat. The walnut veneer is ironed onto the acrylic and two pieces of baltic birch that have been epoxy bonded to the acrylic so that it maintains equal spacing in the void without falling under it's own weight or the weight of objects it holds.  The veneer and the acrylic edges are then wet sanded with a fine sandpaper.

Materials | Smoked Acrylic and Walnut Veneer

Fitness App by Emily Khoury


Project Overview

To understand how to best motivate individuals to overcome their fitness barriers. Beyond motivators and barriers to individual fitness routines, this research explored other areas of healthy lifestyle.

This research case study follows a generative design research process on healthy motivation. Through using the generative design process, this became a human centered design research project. The focus became creating experiences in which participants are granted various creative outlets to express opinions, past experiences, current and future concerns, was well as needs and desires. From these user responses we were able to generate design opportunities.

The results of the generative design research led to the development of an app that could be used in conjunction with daily routines, resulting in a more efficient way to schedule a workout. This new app “Fiteez” aims to motivate people to workout by taking the stress of planning a workout out of the equation.



The greatest barriers to fitness are the mental and logistical preparation of planning a workout. After that the greatest challenge is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. People are motivated by their peers - so incorporating a workout buddy into the functionality of the app was a way to create accountability for the users.

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An initial survey gave us a broad understanding of this topic, revealing that motivation is the primary barrier to exercise, regardless of the season. The survey results lead to one-on-one interviews with professionals and individuals, which supported the findings from the initial survey.

Four focus groups were held, The goal of the first two was to determine the common barriers and motivators to general fitness and then to create a time line scenario in which they could see themselves overcoming these common barriers. It was generally found that the positive reinforcement and positive role models inspired people more than nagging or any negativity. It was also found that one of the biggest challenges to working out is preparing for a workout and maintaining a healthy lifestyle after a workout, both groups without being prompted proposed ideas for fitness apps.



We built a rough wireframes of an app that addressed many of the concerns brought up in the survey, interviews and focus groups. Primarily, scheduling, availability of friends, The next two focus groups involved user feedback on the functions and process of using the app. The findings from these focus groups informed the final app proposal.