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Welcome to:



Susan Sokolowski, PhD

Founding Director and Professor

Sports Product Design, College of Design, University of Oregon

Karen LaBat, PhD

Morse Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Apparel Design, College of Design, University of Minnesota



Daniel Calabrese, MS



Lettie Wen, MA



University of Minnesota Retirees Association Grant

University of Oregon Sports Product Design Director’s Fund


Who Are We
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  • Human anatomy is essential knowledge for product designers​. Use the content on this site to learn about the body.

  • Use the anatomy research-based designs on this site to inspire your work.​

  • Anatomy readings can add to your knowledge—a few resources:​

    • Grey's Anatomy​

    • Atlas of Human Anatomy by Tillmann​

    • Human Anatomy by McKinley & O’Loughlin​

    • The Anatomy Coloring Book by Kapit & Elson​

    • Clinically Oriented Anatomy by Moore, Dalley & Agur​

  • Two books integrate anatomy and product design:

    • Human Body: A wearable product designer's guide by LaBat & Ryan. Illustrations from the book are used for this web site.

    • Functional Clothing Design by Watkins and Dunne

Skeletal System

Bones, tendons & ligaments interact to support & protect the body.

Considerations for Designers:​

  • 206 bones form the adult skeleton.​

    • Name the bones your product encompasses​

  • The skeleton is the support frame for shaping & sizing a product.​

    • How is your product supported?​

  • The skeleton is stable, yet moveable.​

    • Will your product stabilize, allow or restrict movement?​

  • A ”joint”—where 2 or more bones make contact—allows body motion.​

    • Will your product facilitate or impede joint motion?​

  • Skeletal forms are the same person-to-person, with wide variations in size & how bones are linked or “stacked.”​

    • What is the skeletal “size range” & postures of your intended user?​


  • 33 bones (vertebrae) of the spine provide mid-body structure & allow motion.​

    • Will your product stabilize the torso—or allow torso twisting and bending?

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Muscular System

Muscle cells, tendons, and other connective tissues act to move skeletal structures.

Designer Considerations:​

  • Muscles overlay & integrate with bones.​

    • Name the muscles (tendons & ligaments) your product encompasses.​

  • Muscles contribute to body form.​

    • Will muscles underlying your product change shape & size?​

  • Muscles move bones to change body position through: ​

    • abduction to move a body part away from the body midline (think “abdicate from”).​

    • adduction to move a body part toward the body midline (think “add to”).​

    • Does your product allow Abduction? Adduction? To what extent?

  • Walking requires integrated muscle activity in the torso, legs, & arms.​

    • How do muscles underlying your product work together?

Nervous System

Central Nervous System (CNS) & Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) direct & coordinate other body systems: ​

  • CNS: brain, brainstem, & spinal cord.​

    • Body “central control”​

    • Will your product interact with these essential body components?

  • PNS: Spinal nerves, spinal ganglia, plexuses, peripheral motor & sensory nerves, sensory receptors, & motor (autonomic) nerves.​

    • Carries messages throughout the body​

    • Name the major nerve networks your  product encompasses.

Designer Considerations:​

  • Wearable products can protect parts of the nervous system.​

    • Example: carpal tunnel splint preventing wrist nerve compression​

    • Test your product for exemplary (not just sufficient) protection.​

  • Wearable products can damage parts of the nervous system.​

    • Example: heavy backpack compressing nerves of the shoulder​

    • Test your product—avoid nerve impedance or damage. 

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Layers of skin & other cells—hair & sweat glands—of the body surface​

  • Skin is the largest organ of the body.​

  • Skin structures  provide protection, temperature regulation, & a  sensory circuit​

Designer Considerations:​

  • Skin protects the body: it’s water-proof, keeps the body from drying out, & is the surface where sweat evaporates to cool the body.​

    • Will your product inhibit or facilitate sweat evaporative cooling?

  • Skin collects sensations from the body surface.​

    • Will your product (materials &/or structure) irritate the skin surface?​

  • Skin manufactures vitamin D—a process triggered by UVB rays in sunlight. Sunlight can also damage skin cells causing cancer.​

    • Should your product shield the skin from sun damage?

  • Hair emerges from follicles of the skin. Depending on density, a covering of hair can shield the body from sun and/or insulate the body.​

    • Can a product simulate or replace these functions?​​

Continue on to the following chapters:


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