In preparation for the Thesis I course and during the summer between the two years of the program, the masters students engage in thesis reading and send "check-in" emails to each other three times before the start of fall. With Eden Lew's permission, here's what she wrote to her classmates for her first check-in:

I realized that I'm really in love with this mystery/ behind-the-scenes because it relates to the type of role I'd like to play as a designer.


Hi everyone,

Hope you're all having fun summers! This is my thesis update:

My thesis is still exploring the design strategies behind heists, thefts, and criminal mastery. So far I'm having fun finding articles about crime and reading the plots to historical art heists. I'm starting to make some rules for myself. For example, "no serial killers." I'm not interested in that kind of plotting. I'm interested in heists, stealing goods/money, seeing how people design their teams and the objects they use. I'm also interested in mobs and how they're a powerful hidden force. I realized that I'm really in love with this mystery/ behind-the-scenes because it relates to the type of role I'd like to play as a designer. Designers do the invisible dirty work that produces a clean, succinct message/product. Especially during design performance or with the CMMTTEE last semester, I saw our family-like design groups pulling off intricately planned performances and projects. I've started reading some books and did some initial brainstorming and mental preparation on my blog. I have a list of movies and a list of books I am starting to get through. 

Thesis Blog: 

Book List: 

  • The Sinatra Club: My Life Inside the New York Mafia by Sal Polisi and Steve Dougherty (started reading)
  • A Burglar's Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh (on pre-orer!)
  • Five Families The Rise, Decline and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires by Selwyn Raab
  • Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking by Christopher Hadnagy
  • Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman (started reading)
  • Book of Codes: Understanding the World of Hidden Messages by Paul Lunde
  • Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell
  • Supertheif: A Master Burglar, the Mafia and the Biggest Bank Heist in U.S. History by Rick Porrello

Goals for books: I'm not a great reader, so I have a sketchbook I'm carrying around to help me jot down interesting facts or phrases that make me think while I read these books. And for sharing on the blog, I plan on making more sketches or diagrams that help me synthesize what I'm reading. 

Movie List:

  • The Italian Job (1969) - watched
  • The Italian Job (2003) - need to rewatch
  • Ocean’s 11 (1960) 
  • Ocean's Eleven (2001) - need to rewatch
  • Ocean’s Twelve (2004) - need to rewatch
  • Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) - need to rewatch
  • The Usual Suspects (1995)
  • The Bank Job (2008) - watched
  • The Inside Job (2010)
  • Fast Five (2011) - need to rewatch
  • Croupier (1998)
  • The Godfather (1972)
  • The Godfather Pt II (1974)
  • The Godfather Pt III (1990)
  • The Theives (2012) - need to rewatch
  • Heat (1995) 
  • Ronin (1998)
  • A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
  • Catch Me if You Can (2002) - need to rewatch
  • Reservoir Dogs - need to rewatch
  • The Sting (1973)
  • Inside Man (2006)
  • Bottle Rocket (1996)
  • Goodfellas (1990) - need to rewatch

Goals for Movies: So far I've watched 2 movies and I'm working on diagramming the heists in the movies. I made worksheets for myself to take notes on the team members, to record the goal of the crime and to find the risks and holes in where the crime could have gone wrong. I made a section on my blog to keep a collection of these illustrated diagrams. I haven't uploaded any yet, but I hope to finish some soon.


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