Meet the Alumni: Class of 2014
Damon is a Product Designer at Motivate, defining the future of bike share for New York City's Citi Bike system, as well as other bike share programs around the world. As an interaction designer at frog design, he worked with a diverse list of forward-thinking clients to tackle big challenges through research, strategy and design in the fields of finance, health care, transportation and consumer products. He has helped define opportunities from startups to such Fortune 500 clients as Google, Starbucks, Verizon, and BNY Mellon. Damon's portfolio is split between client and self-proposed projects, creating a unique perspective for purposeful design. He has been the recipient of numerous accolades and has been recognized by Red Dot Design Awards, Core77, IDSA, The Design Museum of London, The Verge, The Guardian and Fast Company. His thesis, entitled Hacking the Orchestra of Life: A Movement for Capturing Ambient Energy, explores the space of energy generation through human-made sources.
Matt is a Designer at SYPartners in New York City. Prior to joining MFA Products of Design, Matthew acted as studio manager for the artist duo Faile, in addition to running the online print shop Paper Monster. He holds undergraduate degrees in Economics and Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and began his professional career in advertising before transitioning to working in the fine art world. Matt'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.
Rona is a graphic designer in interactive media at 2x4 in New York City. After graduating from Products of Design, Rona was a Visual Experience Designer at Local Projects and a Designer at Birsel + Seck. She has also interned for Natasha Jen at Pentagram and freelanced for Benjamin Critton Art. Dept., Natalie Jeremijenko, Ana Kraš, Nissan Future Lab, and Adidas Originals. Rona holds a BA in Interior Architecture and Environmental Design from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Her master's thesis, COEXIST: Mixing With Urban Wildlife, studies the relationship between city and nature through the lens of urban wildlife.
Willy is a designer based in New York City. Interested in both human-centered and environmentally aware design, the majority of Willy's work takes the form of practical products that solve design problems, rather than conceptual pieces. Prior to joining MFA Products of Design, he earned a BFA in Product Design from Parsons The New School for Design.
Richard is the Founder and Creative Director at Richard Clarkson Studio, an innovative art and design studio based in Brooklyn whose clients include Google, IBM, Coca-Cola, and Miley Cyrus. During his studies at the Products of Design program, Richard realized and developed a strong passion for physical computing and business management. Utilizing these and other key skillsets, Richard launched his studio with his flagship product, the Smart Cloud. The studio has continued to grow, reaching international buyers and press with ever-evolving projects and products. Richard's thesis, entitled Super. Moments of Remarkable, was presented in May 2014.
Mansi is a Design & Innovation Specialist at Women's World Banking in New York City. Originally from the industrial city of Kanpur in North India, where she grew up around leather manufacturing facilities, Mansi is also the co-founder of TRMTAB, a collection of upcycled leather goods made from manufacturing material waste. Mansi studied Economics and Computer Science at Bryn Mawr, and has always been interested in the role of design across various industries. Following her graduation from Products of Design, she spent several years as a behaviorial designer at FinalMile Consulting and as a product developer as Prachi Leathers in her native India. Mansi's thesis, titled BETTER: The Prejudices & Practices of Mass Production, began with the goal to bring sustainability to the larger fashion system.
Charlotta is a Design Strategist at Redscout in New York City. After graduating from Products of Design, she joined PSFK Labs as a Strategy Consultant and Designer, where she developed strategies and product and service offerings for clients such as Nike, IBM Watson, Staples and Google. Her academic pursuits include a BFA in Industrial design from Lund University, Sweden in 2011, which launched her into a career as an Furniture Designer at Claesson Koivisto Rune Architect and Design office in Stockholm, Sweden. Charlotta's subsequent work won Elle Interior awards domestically and abroad—exhibiting in Stockholm, Milan and New York. Her thesis, entitled Whateverest: Exploring the Landscape of Apathy and Agency, was presented in May 2014.
Clay is an environmental experience designer based in New York City. Currently an Associate Design Director in Experiential at Madwell, Clay previously worked at Collins where he was the Director of Experience Design. While at Collins, Clay was responsible for the design and creative direction of The Jim Henson Exhibition, a permanent museum exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. Other recent projects include a performance space for Spotify, a launch event for Ford and an immersive pop-up activation for CHEP. Prior to joining MFA Products of design, Clay studied Architectural Studies and Studio Art at the University of Pittsburgh. His thesis, entitled Lucid: Seeing as a Tool for Learning, examines the importance of tactile experiences in how we understand the world around us.
Kathryn is Creative Director at Austin’s Argodesign. Immediately following her graduation from Products of Design, she spent three years as Design Lead and UX Designer for IBM in Austin. Passionate about near-future technology, artificial intelligence, design strategy, and smart objects, she is the author of Prototyping for Designers, published by O'Reilly Media, and regularly speaks about prototyping, design thinking, and user experience design. Kathryn's thesis, entitled Presence: How to Use Digital Technology to Live a More Analog Life, explores approaches to limiting the distraction caused by modern information technology.
Cassandra is a User Experience Researcher at American Express, and has worked as a Design Researcher at frog design, and Associate Director of Research at Basset & Partners. With two of her sisters, she founded Make & Do, which is producing Chalo! Let’s Go!, a documentary film about sustainable fashion design. Casandra has led client-driven projects for Nike, Converse, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Dannon, SonoSite, MNML and agency-led assignments with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and McCann. As a student at MFA Products of Design, she co-founded TRMTAB, limited edition collections of upcycled leather goods made from manufacturing material waste. Cassandra's thesis, entitled Five+: An Exploration of Mindful Experience Through the Lens of Sense, focuses on the question of happiness and how it is achieved.
Samantha is a design strategist at the New York City-based product design and brand strategy firm Aruliden, and worked as a brand strategist at Orla Kiely. Her diverse design background, spanning product, graphic, interior and experience design, allows her to understand the business and design needs of clients including Verizon, Bose, Google and Staples. She also works to introduce students to design thinking as a tool for real world problem solving through partnerships with schools and the New York Public Library. Prior to her transition to strategy, Samantha leveraged her interior design education from Drexel University as a commercial interior designer and residential design consultant in Philadelphia, and as an exhibition designer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Her personal design work has been featured on Fast Company, HGTV, Make Magazine, Grid Magazine, and Refinery29. Samantha's thesis, entitled Around: Drawing out Relief and Engagement in the Urban Environment, explores overcoming everyday frustrations in New York City.
Zena Verda Pesta is an artist/designer, lifelong learner, and facilitator based in Brooklyn. She currently collaborates with Beam Center and Beam Camp to bring fresh new perspectives to artist and designers sharing their practice with kids. Prior to her graduate studies in design at Products of Design, she was an instructor at the Pratt Institute. Zena's thesis, entitled State of the Art Project, explores apprenticeship programs for teens partnering with local making and process-based businesses, schools, and local practitioners of art and design.
Joseph is the Head of Invention at Future Laboratories in New York City, where he was also a founding member. Prior to that, he was the Chief of Staff at The Future Project. While studying at MFA Products of Design, Joseph taught digital fabrication and physical computing at day-camps and after-school programs for teens, and professional development workshops for teachers. He's worked with the Institute of Play, the Makerbot Foundation, and such museums as the American Museum of Natural History, the Jewish Museum, and the Guggenheim. Joseph's thesis, entitled The Teacher's Lounge, was presented in 2014.
Emi is a San Francisco-based, Japanese-born designer with a passion for creating meaningful experience through environmental and product design. She currently is a Senior Environments Designer at Landor in San Francisco and has worked as a Senior Designer at Manifold. Emi has designed environmental and product experiences for Lavazza Coffee, Best Buy, Geek Squad, Dyson, Electrolux, AT&T, Nike, GE, Target, GitHub, Swedish NATO Force and other non-profit organizations. Prior to MFA Products of Design, Emi studied Industrial Design at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. When she's not designing, Emi is an ambassador for local running groups and help others achieve their goals through distance running. Her thesis, entitled In The Running: Human Mobility in a Sedentary World, examines the barriers to physical fitness in contemporary life.