This past summer, SVA Products of Design and the Omidyar Network collaborated on a four-weeks project around the topic of Interdependence, examining how design might address one of society’s most pressing challenges of the moment: our increasingly polarized personal and political landscape.

The team consisted of six emerging designers: Smruti Adya (PoD ’18), Alexia Cohen (PoD ’18), Will Crum (PoD ’18), Andrew Schlesinger (PoD’18), Mahya Soltani (MFADesign ’18), and Qixuan Wang (PoD ’19), led by faculty advisor Jennifer Rittner. Guest experts included Alexa Courtney (Frontier Design Group), Marc Dones (FutureLab), Travis Granfar (Bestir Group), Douglas Rushkoff (Culture critic + author), Richard Tyson (Gensler), and Roy Steiner (Omidyar Network).

Rittner offers, “Together we explored the means to build a stronger, more resilient society that capacitates our already deeply interconnected lives. We sought to reveal the invisible yet vast network of global connections to energize our capacity for empathy, curiosity and joy. We imagined ways to lubricate social interactions between variously segregated groups of people, bringing them into more nuanced relationships with one another with intention and care. We harnessed the capacities of design to instantiate our collective values, beliefs and desires. And we held fast to the belief that healing cultural anxiety and polarization benefits us all. As was so clearly articulated by the Omidyar Network’s Roy Steiner, “We simply are interdependent.” We’ll follow up with more project posts soon, but for now, please enjoy the book chronicling the project, and designed by Mahya Soltani.