Xumeng Mou considers herself lucky to have been born a daydreamer. Growing up in an environment that valued so-called rationality and objectivity over fantasy and creativity placed her natural inclinations at odds with outside expectations. This inner conflict led her to explore the human mind and to examine whether daydreams should rightfully be considered “barriers to success.”
Arjun Kalyanpur’s master’s thesis, Invisible Tethers, posits that people are connected to one another through time via shared experiences and history with objects and places. Initially driven by a personal fascination with time, it was not until a trip to California that his thesis began to take shape.
We are thrilled that three veteran design practitioners will be joining the faculty of Products of Design in the fall. Learn more about them below!
As part of her semester project in Design for Sustainability and Resilience, first-year student Sowmya Iyer chose to re-design the packaging and promotional strategy for a local, farm-based business in Upstate New York called Saratoga Apple. Her goals were to use design to help the business educate its customers around the topic of local farming practices, along with enhancing the user experience for customers visiting its tasting room.
Julia Lindpaintner’s thesis work was inspired by her own experience of serving on a grand jury in Manhattan during the summer of 2016. It profoundly changed her understanding of the judicial system, and in particular, the way she saw her role in it. “My mental model shifted,” Julia states. She further explains, “Instead of seeing the judicial system as an autonomous force over which I had no influence, I felt viscerally the way in which we, as citizens, are collectively responsible for the system and the outcomes it produces.”
Josh Corn’s master thesis, Awe and Astonishment: Wonder in the Age of Democratized Magic, aims to inspire wonder and awe through the design of products, services, and experiences. Josh asserts that the door to people’s curiosity and wonder is closing due to the evolution of technology. Josh states, “science pushes on to understand the world around us and as technology continues to innovate, we have seen a diminishment in the value we place on the unknown and the mysteries around us.”
Jenna Witzleben’s Master’s thesis, Finding the Wild: A Visceral Approach to Sustainability, explores an alternative future trajectory—“rewilding”—and how physical and emotional reconnection with our natural environments can inspire lifestyles of environmental stewardship.
Design for social impact is the practice of interrogating systems—institutional, economic, social, political, interpersonal—in order to define opportunities for change that give voice to those who has been disenfranchised or marginalized by design. In essence, this field of study provides a methodology for examining domains of power through Socratic inquiry, structural and systems-based design thinking, and solutions-based design making.
Eye Posture is a striking photographic series – created by student Chris Rand, to raise awareness of the ill posture that New York City commuters maintain habitually while looking at their cell phones. This series emphasizes the risks of the behavior that people willingly participate in for an average of 2.8 hours per day during their daily commute.
This year, the students of the MFA Products of Design took home 2 honors in this year's Core77 Design Awards! The recognized work spanned multiple categories—from Service Design to Design for Social Impact to Strategy and Research. Interaction Design and Service Design to Furniture and Lighting. Check them out below, and click to see the complete projects on Core77!