I do this project early on in the course as part of the review of the elements and principles of design. Students consider the texture of objects and how the psychology of touch plays an important role in the products that we interact with.
Their goal is to redesign a writing instrument that either possesses additional function and/or places heavy emphasis on texture.
The spectrum of completed assignments have ranged from mood pens to writing grips for people with limited hand dexterity.
Note about Materials: I have always used Model Magic for this assignment, but next time around will try something different. They Model Magic cracks very easily and the students rely on the "foamy" feel to act as the design solution. Any suggestions?