We are excited to share student projects, department news, event information, and photos from the MFA in Products of Design program. Check back frequently for updates.

Masters Thesis: Five+: An Exploration of Mindful Experience Through the Lens of Sense, by Cassandra Michel

Masters Thesis: Five+: An Exploration of Mindful Experience Through the Lens of Sense, by Cassandra Michel

Products of Design MFA student Cassandra Michel’s thesis titled “Five+: An Exploration of Mindful Experience Through the Lens of Sense,” started as a question of happiness and how happiness is achieved. She began by conducting research, discovering the philosophy of Mathieu Richard who proposes that happiness is a skill that is cultivated.

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Cassandra also identified a 2010 Harvard research study conducted by Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert which revealed that humans have a unique ability for mind-wandering. Mind-wandering is the ability to think about the past and the future, but can quickly lead to unhappiness. In the Buddha’s Brain, Neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson contends “our vastly more developed brain is fertile ground for a harvest of suffering. Only we humans worry about the future, regret the past, and blame ourselves for the present. We get frustrated when we can’t have what we want, and disappointed when what we like ends. We suffer that we suffer.”

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Masters Thesis: The End. By Matthew Barber

Masters Thesis: The End. By Matthew Barber

Products of Design MFA student Matthew Barber’s thesis, entitled “The End.” looks at the shifting landscape of death and dying in today’s society, and the consequences of living an increasingly digital life. Matthew chose to tackle this subject after observing the effects of his grandmother’s passing from dementia. “I think this thesis really began back in 2011,” he reflects, “I saw my family struggling with my grandmother’s passing and thought that there must be a better way. I wanted to understand why this was so hard on us.”

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Instead of looking at traditional patient-driven solutions, Matt began by looking into design solutions based on the patient’s extended family and friends. He saw an opportunity to investigate the terminally ill, but more specifically, the things and the people that they leave behind.

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Masters Thesis: The Teacher’s Lounge, by Joseph Weissgold

Masters Thesis: The Teacher’s Lounge, by Joseph Weissgold

Products of Design MFA student Joseph Weissgold has spent the past year exposing the similarities he’s seen between his two background disciplines: Education and Design. Both these disciplines, he argues, are in a state of transformation, shifting from industries focused on optimizing efficiency through mass-produced offerings, to industries focused on experiences that are flexible enough to be personally relevant to their intended audiences—whether users or students.

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Masters Thesis: In the Running: Human Mobility in a Sedentary World, by Emi Yasaka

Masters Thesis: In the Running: Human Mobility in a Sedentary World, by Emi Yasaka

Products of Design MFA student Emi Yasaka’s thesis, entitled “In The Running,” examines the barriers to physical fitness in contemporary life. The project was inspired by her own running journey, as well as her experience with a local community running program catering to underserved. Developed through environmental, cultural and social lenses, as well as through perceived motivational factors, inner-city youth, the thesis resulted in three principal offerings.

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Masters Thesis: Around: Drawing out Relief and Engagement in the Urban Environment, by Samantha Moore

Masters Thesis: Around: Drawing out Relief and Engagement in the Urban Environment, by Samantha Moore

Products of Design MFA student Samantha Moore’s thesis, entitled “Around: Drawing out Relief and Engagement in the Urban Environment,” explores overcoming everyday frustrations in New York City. The thesis began as a personal journey for relief but was soon reframed and applied to a larger audience.

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Initial research led to examining relief in the form of escape, diagnosis and prescription. Inspired by Ray Oldenburg’s book The Great Good Place, Moore thought about the “third place,”—a place of refuge between home and work—and how this idea could apply to the on-the-go lifestyle of New Yorkers by creating a speculative portable room-scape that people can take with them.

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