Designers and other creative professionals play a vital role in the health and growth of the American economy. To drive home the point, SVA recently teamed up with the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Press Center in New York to present a briefing for journalists on the theme “Innovation in Design: The Creative Economy.” The event showcased products and services that originated in the four graduate design departments at SVA.
“Innovation is part of the curriculum at SVA,” the College’s Provost, Jeffrey Nesin, told journalists from Korean, Chinese, German and American media outlets. “From their first day, students and faculty are asked to do something that hasn’t been done before.” Provost Nesin hosted the event, and was joined by MFA Design Co–chair Lita Talarico, MFA Design for Social Innovation Chair Cheryl Heller, MFA Interaction Design Chair Liz Danzico and MFA Products of Design Chair Allan Chochinov.
The reporters gathered at MFA Products of Design, whose space looks and feels like a thriving startup, for presentations by student and alumni entrepreneurs who are tackling issues related to healthcare, hunger and transportation, among others.
Josh Treuhaft (MFA 2014 Design for Social Innovation) introduced journalists to his thesis project, Eat Everything, with a delicious repast made from salvaged food. His initiative has been raising awareness about food waste—in both the economic and environmental sense—via meals crafted by gourmet chefs from rescued, yet perfectly edible, produce.
Richard Clarkson (MFA 2014 Products of Design) demonstrated The Cloud—essentially a motion-sensitive indoor thunderstorm. When the device unexpectedly went from prototype to must-have accessory for home or office, Clarkson, like so many other design school graduates, suddenly became a small business owner.
MFA Interaction Design students Amy Wu and Luke Stern presented their improved user interface for CitiBike’s bike share program. The design started as class assignment, but CitiBike was so impressed that they adopted it for use on all 300+ kiosks around New York City. The project is an example of real-world challenges and opportunities available to SVA students through partnerships with New York City businesses and other organizations.
Problem-solving is at the core of design training today. Jenny Rozbruch (MFA 2013 Design) gave a preview of GreyMatters, her iPad app for people with dementia and their caregivers. Expected to hit the market in early 2015, the unique platform addresses a gap in one of society’s fastest-growing issues: elder care.
Also on the agenda: a tour of the Visible Futures Lab by director Leif Mangelsen. The correspondents were enthralled by the facility and the state-of-the-art prototyping equipment that makes it possible for students to move quickly from concept to product.
“As competition from the global marketplace increases,” Nesin told the group, “designers have a growing influence on everything from how our telephones work to how we get around. And as design has become more integral to the economy, so it has become more integral to SVA.”
All photos by Bridget Badore (BFA 2013 Photography).