Student Spotlight: Kelly Lau-Kee

Posted on July 10, 2010

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Now entering her sophomore year at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA), Kelly Lau-Kee is pursuing a double major in Industrial Design and Human & Computer Interaction. Today, she talks to The Design Critic about her design process, a crucial stage for every industrial designer.

When Kelly approaches a design project, she begins by getting her ideas onto paper with thumbnail and 3D sketches. “This allows me to explore a wide range of ideas in the shortest amount of time and then refine the stronger concepts. In the early stages I never let myself think too hard about a design. That’s for later.” During the design process, she won’t usually push the concept too far. Instead, after seeing two ends of the spectrum, she can then finalize a solution that fits appropriately between the two extremes.

We take a look at some of her sketches below:


Camera Sketches: Quick, unrefined camera concepts done for a summer drawing class at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

For the camera, Kelly uses relatively clean lines with a brown/orange pencil (we’re guessing). Her employment of guide lines and contour lines are effective in communicating the form of the concept. The lines are well-weighted, giving the sketch a clear visual hierarchy. The shadows however, which seems to be done with pencil or pastel, are abit excessive. Also, a few of the buttons are slightly out of perspective, but at a conceptual stage, that might not be a main concern.

I would suggest to Kelly: Once you have completed a sketch like the one above, try using a black/blue fineliner in certain areas. The combination of pen and pencil complement each other well and will add to the depth of your sketch.


Honda Concept Sketch: Drawing of Honda’s 3R-C concept vehicle.

Again, very clean lines in this vehicle sketch. It is apparent that Kelly is able to apply the concept of differing line weights very effectively. I much prefer the style of line-shading here as opposed to her first sketch. Perspective of the back wheel in the top right sketch seems abit off, but just slightly.

@Kelly: The marker background on the top right sketch looks fine, but I would suggest applying it to a 2D sketch instead, like either one on the top left.


Space Project: Concept for an entrance at a residence building in Pittsburgh, PA.

These sketches seem to be done on canson or vellum (Kelly?) with a combination of fineliner, marker and pastel. These sketches are clean, simple and they communicate the idea very clearly.

In summary, Kelly has a good grasp of various media, and she is able to apply them effectively to her sketches. This allows her to translate the images from her mind to sketches on paper, a necessary tool for designers, achieved by constant practice.

The Design Critic would like to thank Kelly for sharing her work with us, and would love to see more of her work in the near future. If this has been helpful to you, don’t hesitate to let us know. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions either if you don’t agree with us!

-The Design Critic

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