Affirming Artifacts

Faculty: Allan Chochinov




Affirming Artifacts is a course that quickly immerses the designer into navigating the design criteria of purpose, appropriateness and fit. Too often, design solutions are conceived in isolation or abstraction, with little bearing on the context in which they will ultimately live and thrive. In this course, students will take a rigorous approach to conceiving and executing various products of design—material, experiential, discursive or activist—with an eye toward pushing beyond obvious wants and needs and moving toward preferred behaviors through context-specific persuasive objects.



The objectives of this course are to provide a fast-track approach to finding the most impactful, clear, and optimistic design opportunities in a given context, and executing designed artifacts around those opportunities in a rapid and confident way. Ideation, user research, prototyping, testing, and refinement will be combined with rigorous critique and evaluation, and students will emerge with a strong sense of priority and meaning. At the same time, students will be challenged with reconciling the contextual conditions of their design work with their personal point of view, ultimately combining them to provide unique solutions that speak to their individual power as a designer.



This is a studio class where students work individually, and class time is primarily comprised of presentations and critiques. Students choose projects around a given theme, create products of design informed by research and ideation, and work toward a final set of designed artifacts. 



Students in this course will come away with a set of tools to:

  • Articulate the contextual parameters of a problem space or opportunity
  • Argue for the appropriateness of a design solution or gesture
  • Generate multiple concepts and iterations
  • Think beyond mass-produced objects and focus on persuasion, behavior, and experience
  • Integrate and defend their personal point of view
  • Realize a final prototype that answers the “why” of design