Safety Mask Illustration


4-week individual project

This is SAM, the Seamless Air Mask. SAM was designed with asphalt construction workers in mind.  The Nature of Asphalt exposes workers to prolonged extreme heat and toxic fumes.

By learning from nature, we were able to design a comfortable yet intuitive mask that protects the wearer from harmful ultraviolet rays and toxic particles. Allowing for a clean and clear path forward.

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During the initial phases of this project, I interviewed a team of maintenance workers at school district 15 along with data provided by OSHA. Through our research, we found an opportunity to redesign a respiratory mask. The only constraint was to utilize by the Biomimicry Institue and develop a biomimetic solution.

I decided on a mask similar to a "neck gaiter" or "Buff". This way, we have an intuitive design that can be worn throughout the day and be pulled up as a respirator when need. This feedback was gathered through my second visit to their office where I was able to test my models directly with the people who would be using the product.

For the final design, I chose a hemp, cotton, and Lycra blend from I chose this specific fabric because of the benefits hemp provides including UV protection, antimicrobial properties, and environmental impact. Combined with a high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filter and carbon filter, this mask becomes the first line of defense against silica particles and fumes.

Upon further reflection of this project, by taking it a step further, I would design the filter component to ensure an airtight seal on the wearers face as well as a solution to replace the filter. Secondly, I would eliminate Lycra from the knit OR find a waste management solution to separate the biological materials from the technical materials based on cradle to cradle principles.

And to take it even further -- as an honest refection of my work, I believe this is merely a bandage to the problem. Real innovation and change is taking place at the chemical level where scientists are reworking what are roads are made of. Take a look at the steps taken by Iowa State's Institute for Transportation in creating a bio-based solution. Steps like this decrease out reliance on fossil fuels.