Challenge 10: Designing a Headboard for Dorm Beds

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For #Challenge10, we decided to look into creating headboards for college beds. We discovered that the market is extremely lacking in headboards for twin-sized beds, and we identified a definite demand for headboards among college students–specifically Harvard students, whose standard dorm beds only have the metal bed frame to use as a backrest (or else no frame at all). For our in-field project time, we decided to visit a few local furniture stores. The store that we most benefitted visiting was Design Within Reach. Walking through the store, we looked at each bed that they had and took notes on the headboard design of each. Our main takeaway was that the best option for college bed headboards would be one with a wooden or metal frame, covered in some type of upholstery and containing a filling to make the headboard cushioned (a sales representative at the store told us that the most commonly used filling is polyester). We believe that a cushioned headboard, as opposed to an uncushioned one, would be most desirable for college students. It nearly eliminates the need for bed rest pillows, and would be most comfortable to lean on.

The idea behind our headboard was for it to be removable and easy to make. Because students have a specific bed for one school year, making the headboard simple to take on and off the bed seemed important. However, when we looked at sites that are known for dorm-specific items, such as Bed, Bath, and Beyond, as well as Pottery Barn Dorm, we found that all the headboards were attached to twin sized beds. But few (if any) Harvard students purchase their own twin sized bed. Furthermore, the removable aspect was essential for being able to use the headboard from year to year. Harvard has two different bed frame types (one with wood and one with just metal), and we plan to look into both of these to find the best solution possible—even if that means creating a different prototype for each. In terms of design for keeping the frame on the bed, we plan to make it so that the headboard either simply slides onto the metal bar and rests there, or has a clamp that can enclose the bed frame. In this way, we will avoid placing any damage on the bed frames, and thus stray away from students being term-billed at the end of the school year.

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