4D Design at Cranbrook: Projections for a New Model of Interaction Design Education

talk – 30 min | Feb 4 – 11:30

What if a design program enabled student work to flow freely from physical manifestations to digital ones, and vice versa? What if there were no set classes, but the directive to students pursue individual passion projects while an ever-evolving, curated collection of visiting designers challenges them with intensive charettes? What if students were selected to build upon one another’s knowledge, rather than rely on professors to deliver a codified body of information?

These questions are part of my current exploration as founder and head of the 4D program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, a storied institution with a well established tradition in American design education and an ongoing reputation for bleeding edge experimentation. In this talk I’ll discuss a proposed framework for the new 4D Design department which will build on Cranbrook’s unique pedagogy and run as a design laboratory for creative applications of emerging technology. I’ll detail the topics and media that I hope to explore as well as a structure for seeking resources that can students develop a resilient approach to working in an area where a mastery of the medium is a moving target. I’ll look at key milestones as well as metrics for success, acknowledging the considerable challenges that graduate art and design programs face today. And I’ll consider multiple types of potential career paths for graduates.

Attendees will ideally come away with questions and new thoughts around the potential of revising and restructuring their own curricula in order to empower the design student of the future.

Carla Diana

Carla Diana
Cranbrook Academy of Art, United States

About the speaker

Carla Diana

Carla Diana

Cranbrook Academy of Art, United States

Carla Diana is a creative professional who tries to live as close to the near future as possible. In her studio and at the award-winning product innovation firm Smart Design, her projects have included domestic robots, mobile devices and sentient kitchen appliances. Carla maintains an independent practice which includes a line of digitally distributed furniture, a series of sound-based sculptural installations and a selection of pieces that are best described as dynamic “virtual objects”. She is the creator of interactive sound project Repercussion.org, and designer for the iconic humanoid robot, Simon.

Carla has the honor of being Smart Design’s first Smart Fellow. In 2012 she founded the Smart Interaction Lab, an initiative focused on design explorations in the form of tinkering and hands-on experimentation.Prior to Smart, Carla worked at frog design, Planetii, Sarkissian-Mason, and Karim Rashid’s studio. Early in her career, she led a product design research lab within the Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) where she published a series of product review articles and presented her work on national TV.

Carla has an MFA in Design from Cranbrook and a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Cooper Union. From 2002-07 she was Professor of Interactive Design at SCAD, where she co-wrote the college’s first Interactive Design program and developed the first Physical Computing courses. From 2007-08 she was Visiting Assistant Professor of ID at the Georgia Tech and currently teaches at SVA and Drexel University. She has written for Fast Company’s Co. Design, Interactions, Core77, The AIGA Journal, and Good Housekeeping.

She writes and lectures extensively on the topic of design technology and robotics.

In 2008, the NY Times Magazine called Carla an “alpha geek”.

Specialties: Tangible interaction, Interaction design, industrial design, convergent technologies, user interface, device prototyping, design theory, interactive installations, material culture, aesthetics, hacking, making, tinkering

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