Designing Climate Action, an interdisciplinary course on climate change and entrepreneurship taught by PoD faculty Jen van dee Meer and Rebecca Silver, challenged students to design and host an open-innovation forum for entrepreneurs, designers, and other experts to collaborate with students to accelerate climate action. Through an iterative and participatory workshop hosted by the Products of Design community, the event brought together over 50 industry leaders and activists to seed endeavors.
Beginning with an article of garbage, MFA Products of Design candidate Josh Corn embarked on the process of redesigning a piece of tape in this year's Affirming Artifacts class. Through sketching out 100 concepts, he ultimately imagined a future where chefs would cook with rolls of ingredients that melt down in their pans to produce the intended flavors.
This year's Open House and Information Session, taking place on November 6, 2015, featured tons of project presentations and demos, along with student panels and interview with faculty. Attendees were able to ask current students and alumni about the program experience, and also take a guided tour of the Visible Futures Lab immediately adjacent to the department.
Critter Bitters, the speculative cricket-based bitters product created by alumni Julia Plevin and Lucy Knops in their first semester of the program, has now been successfully funded on Kickstarter and is now an enterprise! You can read more more about the project at critter-bitters.com, and enjoy their recent television appearance below!
Unseal, designed by Julia Lindpaintner, is a speculative organization committed to creating environments and experiences that facilitate open communication and cross-sector collaboration. The idea for this organization was borne of a desire to foster transparency in and between sectors, industries, and communities. Based on personal experience, Julia felt strongly that openness about personal and professional struggles results in a stronger sense of connection, understanding, and trust, all of which are fundamental to successful collaboration. The project also responds to a growing demand for transparency from organizations and an increased focus on corporate social responsibility.
Last Wednesday, November 11th, Products of Design was proud to host the U.S. book launch party for faculty member John Thackara's latest book, How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow's World Today, published by Thames and Hudson. The event drew a packed house, where John gave a short talk, followed by some Q&A with department chair Allan Chochinov along with questions from the crowd.
Clara is a smart lamp that uses EEG technology to visualize your state of mind. If you're distracted, Clara lets you know by pulsing red and emitting a low hum. In the zone? Clara emits a cool a blue light and intensifies the ambient music to keep you focused. With this feedback, the elusive state of concentration can become tangible.
On September 23rd, Dale Dougherty, founder of Make: and Maker Faire, visited the MFA Products of Design department to talk about "Making as Community Service." After an introduction by department chair Allan Chochinov, Dale offered an impassioned argument for the power of the maker movement—and the power of individuals—to create ever-more purposeful work and consequence around people "just getting to it."
The Class of 2017 was welcomed to the department with a six hour Futuring Workshop, led by Elliott Montgomery, co-founder of The Extrapolation Factory. An imagination-based studio for design-led futures studies, The Extrapolation Factory develops experimental methods for collaboratively prototyping, experiencing and impacting future scenarios. After an introductory lecture presenting three conceptual frameworks for talking about and imagining the future, students were launched into their first assignment: imagine what the future of communication might look like.