Senior Year: Design Research Studio

Instructors: Stacie Rohrbach, Stuart Candy, Terry Irwin

August 28th, 2017: First Day of Classes

“Dance with us.” — Terry Irwin

Terry kept telling us to “dance together.” To dance with them. This perfectly summarizes our last three years and this studio. As the first class to go through the new curriculum for the undergraduate degree in the School of Design, we have been “dancing” and stumbling our way to this final year. The first class presented the framework and a starting point for an exciting year. Over the past few years, it felt like we had been the guinea pigs, testing and trying out a new step of classes and guidelines for the future of the School of Design. On our first day of senior year, it made sense why we had taken the path that we had to get to this point.

Our first lecture and topic for the week (including the reading) focused on transition design and understanding systems level thinking. Transition design brings together new knowledge and skillsets. It breaks down the complexity of the world around us to see how everything fits together. Through systems thinking and analysis, we can begin to understand the interdependence and connectivity of the world and experiences within society.

This semester, we will learn about how our education will lead to the future of design. We are learning with our instructors about design theories and finding interventions. We will work on creating successful design practices and find our natural proclivities. It seems that the most important things will be to remain open, ready for change, deal with the ambiguity and communicate with each other about what we’re thinking and feeling.

Going into the class, I felt apprehensive and unsure what to expect. As we went through the syllabus, Terry said “take care of each other.” We live in a world where everyone is focused on themselves. I really want to take this to heart and make sure that I am contributing to the happiness of studio, checking in to see that everyone is good and that we’re functioning like a happy family.

The last thing that struck home was another comment from the instructors. “Remember why you’re here.” When I left Pittsburgh for the summer, I had been feeling burnt out and tired. I’m not sure it was design or it was life that was getting me down. I was exhausted from everything. Being away from home this summer and experiencing a new “life,” I had time to reflect. For me, being CMU means putting my best effort forward in design, in my other classes, in my relationships, and in my future. I think that with the uncertainty of “what will happen next” and being back in this large studio setting, it will be a tremendous oppportunity to hone in on what is important and focus on concluding this CMU chapter in a positive way. I think keeping those words “remember why you’re here” in the back of my head will help lead to a successful semester.

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