Parking Paradox


‘Parking Paradox’ converts an abstract concept into an experience. The project is for course Development Project 1 in fall term, 2019, instructed by Tim Durfee.


Today, things have to be understood as parts of systems in order to undertand that thing at all. In spite of that, so much of the design we see today is still based upon seeing the world as comprised of unrelated, singular objects with local contexts. Even design that accommodates multiple systems still often maintains languages of form and relationship based on an older way of seeing the world.

The argument in this class is that to design anything - of any scale - it must be understood as an entity among vast continua of technological, informational, social, economic, political, urban, cultural, infrastructural, and logistical systems. In this project, each of us is assigned with a topic related to Los Angeles and my topic is “parking” in Los Angeles. We are required to do research on the assigned topic and use system drawing as a methodology to make a drawing.


Cardboards, marbles.


Drawings, Design research


2019 Fall


The topic that I was assigned to is parking in Los Angeles and I simplified the researches into one idea: parking paradox. LA has abundant parking spaces comparing to other cities in the United States, but it takes forever for drivers to find a parking space. In this project, I try to express the ironnic relationship between there being too much parking and too little parking at the same time.

Final design sized 24x36 inches.

The design borrows the idea of pachinko. I recreate the experience of cruising for parking space with the form of pachinko and try to combine it with the phenomenon of having redundant parking spaces in LA. In terms of parking experience (’too little’), when the marble meets the pins, they will bounce around, which represents the parking-hunting cruise. And after the bounces, the marble will fall down to the bottom part which represents the redundant parking space. In the aspect of the phenomenon of overmuch parking (’too much’), I used data that I found in the research saying the ratio of the actual amount of parking space to the number of cars in LA is 3.3 : 1. In the design, the upper part represents the actual amount of cars, and the bottom part which represents the parking space in Los Angeles also shares a ratio of approximately 3.3 to1.

Other iterations are

1. Soak the ball with ink, so that when it bounces around, it will leave traces. Its form is closer to the expectations of mapping, however, the traces doesn’t have any actual meanings so I gave up this idea.

2. Borrow the idea of labyrinth above. 3D print the Los Angeles parking map that was generated in Moovel Lab’s project What the Street and make a labyrinth with them. Let the marbles fall to the bottom part through the labyrinths. However the shape of the map is very complicated and cannot be represented in the required size of the canvas, plus it will be a great amount of work to 3D print so I gave up this idea as well.

3. Replace the ball with little cars. Something that bothers me is the form of marbles doesn’t essentially fit the topic of parking thus I am not satisfied with the marbles being the metaphor. I wish to find a better subject to replace the marbles. I made some tiny cars with clay but they don’t bounce well like marbles do, so that the effect of bouncing around is lost and can not represent the experience of cruising anymore.

Outcome & Reflection

This is my first project at ArtCenter. I was scared by the workload and neverending brainstorms, but it was also the first time I had a taste of happiness in design. I started to design with purpose instead of listening to my instinct.

I did have fun, but I wasn't 100% satisfied with the final deliverable -I thought the project can be improved as long as I have two more weeks. As a result, the final critique wasn't delightful for me. I expressed my frustration and my instructor tole me: This is a project. A project is short, but your life is long.

I'm really lucky to have learned the lesson of" letting things go" early so that the rest of my life at ArtCenter wouldn't be miserable. From then on, I put my greatest efforts in doing everything but am able to give up my efforts too.

Next project

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