As an avid climber and hiker, Alexia Cohen found herself interested in examining the role of women in the great outdoors. When she started climbing three years ago, she attended an event organized by Flash Foxy—a group of women dedicated to celebrating and empowering women climbers. Through this event, she met her climbing partner Janice, who as Alexia recalls “quickly became a friend and a mentor. Her guidance and support helped me develop my climbing technique and become more comfortable in this new space.” She also began to understand the importance of community and women mentors in traditionally male-dominated spaces.
In her thesis Prosumerism: Crafting Alternate Consumption Experiences, Sowmya Iyer explores whether products and services can ease the consumer’s guilt of excessive spending and materialism by providing them with options that best fit their values of sustainability. She also wanted to find out if these products/services could be adaptive to the consumer’s lifestyle and built for their convenience. As part of her research process, Sowmya spoke to researchers, innovators, educators, authors, and artists exploring ways to reduce the effects of modern consumerism on the environment.
The #MeToo Awareness Campaign was designed by student Eugenia Ramos Alonso for Making Studio. She wanted to highlight the frequency of the hashtag #MeToo and raise awareness of how common acts of sexual assault take place.
CARA is a menstrual product and waste carrier designed for use in multi-day trips outdoors. Designed by recent grad Alexia Cohen as part of her thesis, DARE + DEFY: A Woman’s Place in the Great Outdoors, CARA—from the word carapace, meaning the shell of a turtle—features an expandable waste collection container at the center, with two separate dry enclosures at the top and bottom to keep unused menstrual products, toilet paper, and/or wipes clean and ready to use.
Manako Tamura has spent the last year trying to reconcile her experience as an assimilated immigrant of color by interviewing, designing for and reflecting with the generation 1.5 immigrants of color who, like her, migrated to the US in the most formative years of their identities. Going into this journey, she first thought her thesis was going to be about transnationalism, where the main tension she had to resolve was around immigrants’ countries of origin and their adopted homelands. “As I spoke with users and experts on the subject, it became clear that the real tensions had to do with the transactional nature of assimilation where,” she reveals, “one could not embody both American and another culture.”
Lassor Feasley’s thesis You Are on the Fastest Route: Intentional Community and Responsible Autonomy examines how self-driving cars might impact American culture and the habits of everyday life. For many Americans, the traditional motor vehicle mediates access to everything from social and economic connections to childhood independence and family roles. "What happens when the underlying calculous behind motor age culture is rewritten and the way people explore and understand the world is reimagined?”, Lassor asks. Through his research, Lassor wanted to try and anticipate the consequences that autonomous cars might inspire. Over the past year, he has explored the social, the economic, and the ethical aspects of car culture, and leverages the tools of design to imagine how an advanced mobility system might drive positive change.
Juho Lee’s thesis work was inspired by the conversation that he had with his close friend about depression and suicidal feelings in South Korea during the summer of 2017. He recalls, “It seemed like a very serious issue, and I didn’t know what my friend was going through until he shared his suicide ideation. Even though he said he is okay now and laughed it off when he told me, I didn’t know how to respond.” This experience made Juho realize that perhaps Korean men are unable to reach out for help when they really need it. As someone who spent his youth in South Korea, Juho also recognized that he never learned how to discuss the topic of suicide with anyone. This insight inspired his master’s thesis Cast Away: Designs for Socially Isolated Korean Men Contemplating Suicide.
The historical mindset towards people with physical disabilities has been one of pity and exclusion. While the notion of pity and exclusion is looked down upon in liberal societies, an understanding of what constitutes the objectification of people with disabilities, as well as a greater effort towards inclusion, is still not widespread. The voices of people with limb loss and limb differences (LL/D) are not part of an extensive ongoing conversation about their rights, needs and wants. Through her thesis Upgrade, Adya aims to create the conditions that lead to more open conversations about and with people with LL/D and their acceptance in society, as well as easier access to products and services that improve their quality of life.
Before Jingting He started her thesis, she did a year-long project that consisted of sliding anonymous thank-you notes underneath the Department Chair’s office door every Monday morning. By designing these letters anonymously, she felt she could express herself more freely and creatively. She wouldn't have realized she was creative enough to produce such delightful work if she hadn’t given herself a mask of anonymity. Therefore, Jingting developed A Mask That Reveals: Exploration and Expression Through Anonymity, a thesis that creates anonymous platforms to help people explore and express other sides of themselves.
Louis Elwood-Leach’s thesis Invisible Possessions explores the rise of these invisible products and considers opportunities to reclaim our relationship with possessions in an augmented age that increasingly values access over possession, experience over product, and machine over individual. Elwood-Leach argues that in losing sight of the possessions in our lives, we are losing the means to engage with our memories, culture and sense of self.