We are excited to share student projects, department news, event information, and visuals from the MFA in Products of Design program. Check back frequently for updates.
In Ayse Birsel’s 5-week Deconstruction/Reconstruction course, students are asked to create a novel, modular system or “language” to describe their lives—something algorithmic and additive.
Lusha Huang’s inspiration drew from a rainbow palette of color, which she used as a metaphor of the current status of her life. Using different colored inks as the base modules, she gave each color a specific meaning: Pink represents love, for example, white represents herself, yellow represents you—the viewer.
The modules interact inside a water-filled vessel, representing the fluid and vital element of life. When different color inks were dropped into the vessel, a distinct message is formed. The message, “I love you”, for example, is represented by the droplets of white, pink, and yellow inks.
Finally, different quantities of color drops can be used to extend meaning. For example, where one drop of yellow ink means “you”, two drops mean “you” in the plural, and three mean “friends”. One drop of pink is “love”, but three drops is “family”. In this way, the language can be broadened, and the messages can become more complex.
A tradition was begun last year when the students organized a Thanksgiving Day Potluck in the department, preparing and serving up all sorts of delicious offerings—meaty, vegetarian, and vegan. This year the department was host to double the number of students, and as the night wore on, friends from other departments in the building crashed the party and contributed great cheer. Some snapshots of the night:
Last Words, a one-week concept developed by Matthew Barber as part of his Masters Thesis project entitled “The End”, explores the future of dying and how new technology might affect the way we look towards death.
Last Words imagines a world where the delivering of a life-long secret, a last wish, an apology, or a confession can be as easy as writing a Facebook update, but with feedback that the sender will never know. By investigating the permanence of such digital artifacts—as well as the blurriness of the consequences of these artifacts—Last Words asks the questions, “How can personal expression live on after death?” “Does this expression ultimately add to or detract from the value of our lives?” and “What are the flavors of communications someone might want to send after one’s passing?”
Last Works is a speculative provocation pointing to the challenges around online accountability. But it also tries to negotiate the technological imperative and the tidal wave of social media offerings that come at us at an ever-increasing rate. Ultimately, it asks us to consider the ethics of “dying in a digital age,” and what designed artifacts we are will to live (and die) with.
As the second year students round the bend into their third month of thesis work, they have found that naming their thesis—right from the second week!—has been a fruitful way to understand their area of inquiry and surfacing their unique point of view. The following names are sure to yet change and evolve, but they do provide a nice glimpse into some of the inquiry:
Presence: How to Use Digital Technology to Live a More Analog Life, by Kathryn McElroy
Mixing with Synantropes: Exploration of Humans and Non-Human Animals’ Co-Existence in an Urban Environment, by Rona Binay
Hacking the Orchestra of Life: The Benefits of Harvesting Ambient Energy, by Damon Ahola
The End., by Matthew Barber
Organic Manufacturing: Rethinking the Way we Make Things, by Willy Chan
In the Running: Keeping Your Head and Heart Active in a Sedentary World, by Emi Yasaka
Super: An investigation of the remarkable in the Constructed Environment, by Richard Clarkson
Fashion Conscious: The Practices and Prejudices of Fashion Mass Production, by Mansi Gupta
Whateverest. Reharnessing Peer Pressure to Overcome Apathy, by Charlotta Hellichius
Lucid: Technology and the Scales of Seeing, by Clay Kippen
Mindfulness 3.0: Demystifying Mindfulness and Designing New Strategies for Accessible Participation, by Cassandra Michel
Around: Accessing Relief and Engagement in the Built Environment, by Samantha Moore
The Talk: Facilitating Healthy Conversations About Sex, Before Sex, by Gaïa Orain
Partnership Creation; Neotney is Needed: Why Morale, Momentum & Measure Help Us Navigate a Landscape of Possibilities, by Zena Pesta
The Art of Lesson Design: Supporting the Process Work of Teachers, by Joseph Weissgold