Products of Design MFA graduate Ziyun Qi’s thesis, Animate: Bringing Charm and Magic to everyday life, aims to help people see the exciting in the mundane, and to re-vitalize, re-energize, and above all, re-animate the objects around us that previously gave us life, hope, and spirit. Qi argues that modern life has conditioned people to crave novelty. “We are addicted to anything that is new, and discontented with what we already have,” Qi adds. “Everything that lacks superlative status and isn’t the newest, the most expensive, or the most popular, lacks both appeal and specialness.” She began the thesis with an exploration of how stories influence us and shape our behavior.
“We live in a universe that is in constant motion. Whether we are running, driving, working, playing or even sleeping, our every action designs the world we live in from microscopic to inter-planetary.” So begins Chelsea Stewart’s master’s thesis, Atto: An Exploration Between Design and Movement, which investigates opportunities for movement to shape design, and for design to shape movement. From simple actions to complex systems, Atto aims to find a design narrative between people, objects, and the information moving around us.
In Flux, the master’s thesis of Isioma Iyamah, is about how we communicate our identities, both verbally and non-verbally. It’s about the myriad ways we create and conceptualize our spaces, using language and behavior to structure, categorize and tell our stories. And it explores the patterns of behavior that frame our social identities.
Jon Lung's master's thesis, At the Ready, is an inquiry into "preparedness" in all its forms—from the fancifully speculative, to the soberly real. It traverses the many boundaries of design in order to understand how to better fortify oneself for the ever-changing challenges that life throws our way. His thesis journey started at the individual scale—focusing on how he could better prepare himself personally. As the project continued, he looked at how he could use his skills and abilities to help those he cared about. And toward the end of his thesis journey, he concentrated less on the objects of preparedness, and more on the requisite skills.
Products of Design student, Adam Fujita, has spent the last year connecting the dots of his own experiences of xenophobia and bias—through the lens of his thesis design work using the experiences of others. His hypothesis was “to provide the undocumented community of New York City with tools—in the form of products and services—to foster greater tolerance in our communities, and to ultimately create a generation of highly successful people.” The work culminated in his thesis, XENO: From the Foreign to the Familiar.
To start of the day of the third annual MFA Products of Design Thesis Presentations, aptly named "T3IRD", program chair Allan Chochinov welcomes guests, families, and simulcast viewers, discusses the unique thesis protocol of the MFA program, and talks about "how the number 3 is special across all human endeavor." Enjoy!
Product and Experiential Designer Belen Tenorio’s thesis, Re-Mind, explores productivity, and re-evaluates Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Hyperactivity Disorder in the context of a quick-fix society that too eagerly medicates individuals.
Almost since birth, Louise-Anne van ‘t Riet has spent her spare time in museums and galleries. “When I’m surrounded by art, I have the feeling that my mind flies;” she proclaims, “that time is suspended and nothing else matters other than recharging my energy.” Lou is a designer whose work is very often influenced by art—it always inspires her and helps her to meditate and escape. But her thesis is not about creating art. Rather, Lou’s products and services are an attempt to make art accessible, enjoyable, and understandable to people who don’t appreciate art.
Products of Design MFA graduate Panisa Khunprasert’s thesis, Hereafter, uses her role as a designer to create products and services that enable us to externalize grief in an empowering and beautiful way. The world of bereavement—in a contemporary society which does not talk about death or grief—is fertile ground for design.
This year, the students of the MFA Products of Design took home 3 different honors in this year's Core77 Design Awards! The recognized work spanned multiple categories—from Interaction Design and Service Design to Furniture and Lighting. Check them out below, and click to see the complete projects on Core77!
Here, There & Elsewhere is a masters thesis project about the experiences of travel and place. Leila Santiago was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, one of the largest and most complex cities in the world. There she trained as an architect and urbanist, studying the built environment and the complexities of the urban space. In the midst all of that, Leila also learned that the urban space "is a place for playing."
On April 11th, Cameron Tonkinwise came to Products of Design to deliver his annual "closing" lecture to the MFA design students. In what has become a yearly ritual, Cameron brings an always-provocative and entertaining thesis—this time, in a critique of the holiest-of-holy design keystones—empathy. Cameron is the Director of Design Studies at the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. Cameron has a background in philosophy; his dissertation concerned the educational philosophies of Martin Heidegger. Cameron continues to research what designers can learn from philosophies of making, material culture studies and sociologies of technology.
On May 6th, the third group of MFA Products of Design graduates presented their thesis projects at the SVA Theatre in New York City. Look for comprehensive project posts coming up, but for now please enjoy snapshots of the day!
As part of NYCxDesign, the students of the MFA in Products of Design at the School of Visual Arts present ACCESS LTD, a set of roving checkpoints that investigates the way access is granted and denied by design—based on where we’re from, what we look like, how we speak, and what we own. Embracing the international theme at the Wanted Design show, the students explore the way our national, cultural, and personal identities determine our opportunities—both locally and globally. Despite global common ground and interdependence, our differences continue to influence what rights and privileges we enjoy. Using the language and tropes of border control, the work invite guests visiting the Wanted Design exhibition to examine the role of design in granting or limiting an individual’s access to place, people, and prosperity.
Graduating students of SVA’s MFA in Products of Design present PARALLEL TIMES, an exhibition of artifacts developed through the varied lenses of extrapolated futures.
Guided by Sinclair Smith in the Product Futuring class, and employing the endangered vernacular of the newspaper, students constructed advertisements for a product accessory representing a utopian or dystopian future—envisioning a world to reach for or avoid. They then used the insights gleaned from these future accessories to refract backwards in time, designing critical products for the here-and-now within Raymond Loewy’s “most advanced, yet acceptable” framework.