Meet the Alumni: Class of 2015
Eliz Ayaydin is a San Francisco-based strategist and designer. Currently a product strategist at Swirl McGarryBowen, she has helped companies gain clarity on their vision, reinvent their products, and communicate their story. After graduating from Products of Design, Eliz worked as a design and innovation strategist at fuseproject, Lippincott, and Doblin. From inventing new products to re-positioning existing brands, she's consulted companies across industries ranging from tech to travel. With a BA in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies focused on Art & Design from Vanderbilt University, Eliz came into the Products of Design program positioned at the overlap between design and psychology. While at SVA, she applied an abundance of design methods to multidisciplinary projects, ranging from designing a marketplace for Creatives to a smart pregnancy device concept, where the latter was featured in renowned publications such as Fast Company. Her thesis, entitled I Was There When, explores how people deal with traumatic memories.
George is the Founder of Kynsho and the Strategy Director of ROCHAMEAU. He has collaborated with brand and digital agencies including Wolff Olins and AKQA. His work includes leading the strategic re-positioning of the MapQuest brand, developing a line extension for Starbucks and creating a strategic vision for the WindowsPhone. With over 10 years experience as a Brand and Digital Consultant, George has led the strategic re-positioning of brands, inspired designers and engineers to invent new offers, and influenced how media buying agencies create compelling brand messaging. Now he makes and advises companies how to create commercially and culturally relevant products, services and experiences. George holds a Bachelor’s degree from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.
Vidhi is a Design Strategist with a background in Product and Multidisciplinary Design. After completing her MFA at Products of Design, she worked as a Design Researcher and Strategist at IA Collaborative. Vidhi has worked for clients across the globe including Xerox, Qualcomm, Discover, Fedex and Amgen. As part of the program at SVA, she interned at The Meme, as a research and strategy consultant for clients like Samsung, Pill Pack and Healthbox. Vidhi has worked on projects from creating banking services for rural India to designing smart pregnancy devices eventually featuring in Fast Company. Originally from India, Vidhi received her undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from Srishti School of Art Design and Technology in Bengaluru. Her master's thesis, entitled Kona: Changing Perspective on Learning in India, was presented in May 2015.
Lance is a Designer at Goldman Sachs in New York City. After completing his MFA at Products of Design, he worked as a Senior Designer at PSFK, and then as a Senior Designer at Human Condition Global. He also freelanced for Info, and Unreasonable Women at New Lab in Brooklyn, NY. A Texas native, Lance attended the University of Texas at Austin where he earned his BFA in Design. His Masters Thesis, entitled Grey Space, was presented in May 2015.
Steve is a Designer in Residence responsible for Branch Transformation at Ponce Bank and is teaching design led research in the Transdisciplinary Design MFA Program at Parsons in New York City. As founder of Spin Cycle Post Steve pioneered digital post-production workflows for independent feature films throughout the 90’s and 00’s, collaborating with filmmakers including Ang Lee, Hal Hartley, Michael Almereyda, visual artists Matthew Barney, Pierre Huyghe, and Mika Rottenberg, and Choreographers Trisha Brown and Cathy Weis. His own work has been featured at The New Museum, The Queens Museum of Art and Art-In-General. Steve founded Twelve Ton Rose, a creative design consultancy based in New York City, through which he is currently Designer in Residence focused on Branch Transformation at Ponce Bank. Steve's design work inspires creative thinking and dialog using the lenses of future studies, speculative design, and experience design through workshops and conceptual design artifacts. His thesis, entitled Enough is the New More: Reframing Scarcity to Feel Like Abundance, was presented in May 2015.
Lusha is currently a Ph.D. Student at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Hailing from Guangzhou, China, she gained a BA in Industrial design at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts before coming to Products of Design. Her work has been recognized in various international design competitions, such as the IF Design Award, and holds five patents. After her MFA she worked as an Industrial Designer at Pip Tompkin Studio and at Quirky, and interned at littleBits. Her thesis, entitled It’s Chinese to me: Luck and Cultural Empathy, explored the disconnect between Chinese and American culture.
Andrés is a Salvadoran industrial designer who is currently a UI/UX Designer at Go Ahead Tours. Previously, he was a designer at Wundersauce and a Footwear Designer at Schwilliamz Create Consultants. He received his Bachelor's degree in Industrial Design at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, working in the model-making department at Hasbro Inc. during his junior year. Andrés has been shaped by a life of constant travel, and dreams of one day opening a design firm in Latin America. His thesis, entitled Shift: A Proposal to Lift Community Morale, explores the continuum of optimism.
Berk Ilhan is a New York-based product and experience designer whose work focuses on bringing humanity, delight, and empathy to technology. His designs have been recognized by over 15 international design awards, including the Red Dot Best of the Best and iF Design Award, and he has been featured on numerous television networks including CNN. As the Director of Innovation and Strategy for 10XBeta, Berk designed many products for company's global clients including KLM, PUMA, NRG, as well as health technology startups focused on disruptive innovation such as Inspiren and Myovue. In addition, he co-created a Design Thinking curriculum for Thomas Jefferson University's JeffSolves Incubation Program, and co-directed the program for three years, facilitating design workshops and giving lectures. Berk holds an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from Middle East Technical University, Ankara. His Masters Thesis, entitled Uplift: Happiness & Communication in the Context of Cancer, has enjoyed considerable renown.
Lucy is a New York-based Designer and Creative Strategist. She is the Co-Founder of Trouble Makers Inc.—best known for their Critter Bitters line of cocktail bitters. Previously, she was the Brand Creative Senior Manager at Mara Hoffman, and the Creative Director of OTEM, a new direct-co-consumer fine jewelry maker. Immediately upon graduating from Products of Design, Lucy was a Strategist at Sub Rosa in NYC. Lucy holds an undergraduate degree in History from New York University. In addition to launching new businesses, she has shown at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair and presented at New York Fashion Week. Her work has been featured online at Core77, Archinect, Food&Wine and Epicurious, Her thesis, entitled The Void: Finding Value in Nothing, sought to reframe the “role of absence” in people’s daily lives.
Miguel is a New York-based designer with a passion for food systems. He is a Fellow at SVA's Groundfloor Incubator where he is currently developing a social venture called Mobile Market to get fresh produce and healthy package-free goods to food deserts. Miguel’s love for food and design started during a 10-day workshop at the Domaine de Boisbuchet, France, where he began to study the physical, emotional and experiential benefits associated with cooking. He received a scholarship from the non-profit Food First to attend a food sovereignty agricultural tour in Oaxaca, Mexico. During his stay Mexico Miguel had the opportunity to work and learn from several farmers and artisanal food makers. In addition, he has made furniture for private clients, and continued his art production, exhibiting in galleries and outdoor events. Miguel holds an undergraduate degree from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona. His thesis, In Knead: Rebuilding Intent in Our Relationship with Food, examines the importance of how food can be a material for design.
Julia Plevin is a nature-centered designer, strategist, and writer based in San Francisco. She is the creator of The Forest Bathing Club and author of a forthcoming book on forest bathing (Ten Speed Press, Spring 2019). She's also the co-founder of Trouble Makers Inc., a design collaborative with the goal of making challenging issues digestible. They received an Awesome Without Borders grant and a Core77 award along with press from Popular Science, New Yorker, The Telegraph, Food & Wine, and Epicurious for their first product, Critter Bitters, which aims to change the attitude around eating insects. She's worked at IDEO and SYPartners and has experience leading creative teams around the world. Her writing has been published in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, and VentureBeat. Julia holds a B.A. in History from Dartmouth College. Her thesis, Gowanus Outdoors Club: A Field Guide to Soliphilia, was presented in May 2015.
May (Shuchang) is a New York-based designer. Passionate about solving business challenges, May designed and built CoFoundersLab, Koyfin and 1000 Angels. Her overarching goal is researching critical issues within Chinese society and creating solutions. Her focus concerns Chinese women, and her work “Her Nature” was acquired by the Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum for their permanent collection in Beijing, China. May graduated from China Central Academy of Fine Arts where she majored in Product Design. Her thesis, entitled Her Sense: Women, Technology and Intervention, is aimed at helping women in the workplace by creating technology that builds confidence.
Heath Wagoner is a designer and design activist residing in Brooklyn, and currently a Venture Fellow at SVA's Groundfloor Incubator. His work since graduating from Products of Design has been broad—from designing dining experiences for American Express to working as a Color and Material Specialist for Nike Vision at Marchon Eyewear. Holding a BFA in Metalsmithing, Heath was a T- Fellow at the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator. He also works closely with Visual AIDS on various projects such as co-managing their partnership with Story Corps. Prior to receiving his MFA, Heath worked in the fashion industry for acclaimed jewelry designer Pamela Love, consulted for designers such as Harbison Collection, Juniper Design, and TUZA jewelry, and run his own line of bespoke men’s accessories. His thesis, Disclosional: Creating Conversation Around, In, and Outside HIV, explored the power of open and honest conversations.
Brandon is an Art Director and Designer at Staple Design in New York City. Since graduating from Products of Design, Brandon has enjoyed an abundant freelance career, designing for companies such as MKG Experiential Marketing, Mother, and The Future Project. He has been a Scenic Designer for QVC, a Retail Designer for Coach, and a Studio Assistant for Chen Chen and Kai Williams. Brandon obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design Technology from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Brandon's thesis, The Spectacle, was an investigation into Guy Debord’s theory of the same name and how it relates to today.
Elisa is a Senior Art Director at Red Antler in New York City. Over the course of her career she has worked with such organizations as Mother New York, IDEO, Etsy, Casper, Allbirds, Android Pay, Google, Anthropologie, Coach, Kate Spade and Princeton Architectural Press. Elisa has a strong background in designing and making products both physical and digital, and ranges in scale from hand-held objects to complete spaces. She combines this with her skills in art direction, graphic design, strategy, research, service design, systems thinking, business-modeling and user-experience to create designs that are both visually and intellectually stimulating. Her work has been exhibited at New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and in several online publications including DesignSponge, DailyCandy, DesignMilk and others. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received her BFA in Furniture Design with Honors. Elisa's master's thesis, entitled Things, explores how we ascribe value to our everyday possessions.