For his thesis, There and Never Back Again: Design in the Next Age of Space Exploration, John Boran Jr. designed for “a future that is still far enough to be exciting, but close enough to design for: going to Mars.” A graphic designer from Houston, John wanted to stretch his design skills by focusing on creating tangible 3D products from the future. His work explored tools for astronauts, play during the 9-month journey to Mars, and communication for recent immigrants to the planet.

“Consumer products not only show the ubiquity of technology but also give us a peek into the zeitgeist of the time which it lives. It was exciting to design consumer goods for a future where space travel is a normal experience,” John shared.  

Mons Tool Co.

Mons Tool Co. geology hammers are built with the astronaut of 2024 in mind, as a surveying tool for newly-arrived astronauts to Mars. For the Mons Tool Co. project, John spoke to former astronaut Nicole Stott, whose insights led John towards the final form of the Mons geology hammer.



Omnibot is the trip companion for every future Martian, designed to help travelers to Mars remain emotionally stable on the sometimes nine-month-long journey to the planet. Using the micro-gravity space inside the cabin of the spaceship, the Omnibot uses an internal fan drive to move through the cabin, and is programmed to be inquisitive and playful, to keep morale high.


Astro Post

Astro Post is a smart mailbox that transmits messages between Earth and Mars. The Astro Post is sold as a pair, and uses dry-erase ink to cut down on wasted paper. One mailbox scans the message and transmits it to the other mailbox, which prints the message out. “While the Astro Post is no faster than a text, communicating through Astro Post will help recent immigrants to Mars feel more connected,” says John.


More of John’s work can be found at or @johnboranjr on social media.