Chapter 99


Design and Legislation

Chapter 99 is an exploration of how legislation affects Design told through tariffs. Tariffs act as a hidden sales tax on products, and the price of them often falls on consumers. The final output of this project will be a set of home products that subvert a higher tariff category through simple changes. They’ll call into question the way we classify products and the arbitrary tax rates assigned to them.

Tariff Engineering

An importer's right to make a product in such a way that it receives the lowest possible duty rate.

Essential Character

CBP defines essential character as “the attribute which strongly mark and serves to distinguish what an article is - that which is indispensable to the structure, core , or condition of the article.

Multiple Essential Characters (Rule 3)

The IKEA asserted to US customs that the object obove is a speaker. Rule 3(c) states that when a product has multiple essential characters, it is classified in the category that falls last in numerical order. 

Speaker (8009): Duty Free

Lamp (9045): 3.9%

By US costom’s defiinition this is a lamp and taxed as such.

Object Scoping 

The objects were chosen based on mixed character good classification under rule 3(c). Unfavorable categories had both a high rate and were further up on the tariff schedule.

Unfavorable Category 

Favorable Category 

Design Goal

To design three household products to receive lower duty rates than that of their original classifications. My hope is to bring awareness of this and encorage people to question this system of taxation.

Looking Ahead

At the time of this project, the products designed here still recieved an additional 15-25% tariff each under the US China trade war. Is there a better way to put a value on the products that are imported and exported? Can those values be determined more purposefully?


Process Pages Coming Soon!

Step stool/Nighstand
Step Stool/Lamp

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