Design Research Studio


After studio today / going through the Meadows’ reading I have a better understanding of what is going to take place this year, what type of projects we are going to encounter and how we are going to be geared into thinking. I am excited to do something more theory based as I do believe this will help in other fields of work.

I, however, also am uncertain about things. After working in a branding studio this summer, I do see I was working in the lower end of the “T” field, and yes I do see the importance to push the thinking process — I still hope I get the chance to experiment and push my communication design knowledge and deliverables — not just the thought process behind projects.

I am interested to begin dissecting different systems, specifically social systems, and how design can begin infiltrating thought throughout the system. I do hope that the systems and transitional design thought process does not take away from the creating side of projects.

I hope that the lectures continue to be interesting and provocative to my design knowledge while challenging me to apply the more visually creative side to these ideas, allowing me to grow in both ends of the spectrum at the same time. I am excited to collaborate with my classmates from other tracks and see what happens when we put all of our expertise together — having said that, I hope there will be less conflict then last year, the group project work environments last year were extremely difficult to work and now that time feels like a dark shadow in the past.

I have never really thought I would become or were that interested in becoming a designer whom is aware of transition design, after doing further research I am excited to see where it leads me as I do see its importance, I, however, am more interested in how transitional designs’ theories lead me in my wanting for personal growth — visually.


***I apologize for the lack of Medium posts, I have been overwhelmed by getting back into school as I ended work the Friday before school / with getting my website complete (it isnt complete but it is at a place I am happy with, will be making further adjustments in the future). This is not an accuse, just wanted to let you know what was happening and that im sorry and am finally catching up***

It has been difficult to not let the information presented in class overwhelm me. There are a lot of new concepts and ways of thinking and thought and attempting to apply them have been difficult at times. At many instances I have felt unsuited for transition design thinking due to lack of knowledge and interests; however, I do understand its importance and necessity. I do understand the importance of systems research and how it can be applied to smaller projects as well. As a communication designer I see the importance of systems knowledge to be necessary, however, I feel uncertain with it as the overarching theme. It feels strange coming from such a deliverable heavy three years of school as well as a three month internship at a design firm to return to a studio that has not had any design “creations” yet. As I stated — I do get why what we are learning is important and I do not want to fight that, however, the lack of “lower spectrum” projects that utilize high spectrum thought and knowledge has disappointed me so far.

My group is researching public transport and the systems that make it up, as well as how public transport as a system effects Pittsburgh as a whole. Even the pace has been slow, I do appreciate it, as it has allowed my group to move step by step and to not get too overwhelmed. I am, however, constantly reminded by how much knowledge I am lacking and how researching this wicked problem as a group and as a individual is one that will take an almost infinite amount of time. As I began my research I found myself being interested in the infrastructure of Pittsburgh — specifically how its marvelous revamp as a city also resulted in segregation and how lack of funding has created a variety of problems ranging from lines being cut to defective bridges. Focusing on infrastructure at the core has also allowed me to track my research and move through the project at a more digestible speed. Other parts of the public transport system include social ones, political, economic and environmental issues. It has been interesting tracking what makes up the infrastructure system in Pittsburgh and how they infiltrate and negatively effect other parts of the system. For example, when Pittsburgh went through an urban planning renewal and hundreds of bridges and highways were built to better connect and move people, towns were also segregated and split. It is interesting to see how intermingled every part of this system is as well as how large.

Today’s class furthered these thoughts of intertwined core issues and mapping out the stakeholders as almost personas allowed us as group to further see connections — both negative and positive. By selecting three pivotal groups we were able to map out key ideologies and see how they were related as well as how one negative factor , in our case budget, can deeply effect a broad spectrum.


I found this reading to further my understanding of key concepts like a wicked problem and how it is one that is difficult or impossible to solve as it requires a large variety of skills. A wicked problem is one that is almost impossible to solve as the system(s) it effects are almost endless. Seeing a “complete” example of a wicked problem mapped out into a system was important knowledge to me as well as my group as it allowed us to organize our initial research into separate systems that made up the wicked problem.


The idea that everything is part of a system that is part of a system that is part of a system — and so on. How a particular part of a system can have effects both on the system it is in, but as well as systems that are effected by the system the part is in. This idea is one that can be applied to a wicked problem, like the one my studio group is studying class, but also something as minimal like a print pamphlet. Infiltration on a smaller system may have colossal ramifications on any system depending on if the intervention has been made with care or not. When acting on systems, I think this idea serves as a cue that research is necessary and not just research limited to the system you are meaning on intervening on, but also the systems that may be effected by the system you have effected. When I view this concept this way I am able to see how design can be utilized and how a message — or problem, can spread and effect other systems.

I also think it is important to note the detrimental effects that can occur when systems thinking is not applied and how systems like a town or even household can be effected by things like a highway or bridge that is connecting one region of a city to another. The research made to support a intervention must also consider the future and time as a factor, Capra states, which, I as well think, are extremely important factors. The idea that a design decision, or any decision made in the present will not have negative effects on the future — will not be obsolete. I think this idea is extremely important in any line of deliverables or work and relates to something as simple as design decisions made on a poster and if they have not been thought about and have been utilized due to their popularity to if a highway should be built through a certain community. In order to stand the longevity and test of time ideas need to be executed with futurist thought in order to be effective.

My group is currently examining the wicked problem — public transport. I have been largely interested in Pittsburgh’s infrastructure; Capra’s work only furthers my belief that decisions made in Pittsburgh’s core and in Pittsburgh’s city planning have not been made to create a sustainable society. Capra’s work also shows how the decisions that have been made are shallow ecological ones. I would align my views with that of Capra’s in terms of the deep ecology lens — how decisions must be made in a broader picture. I think the idea of deep ecology further’s the importance for designing for the future as well as the effects an intervention may have on different systems.


Looking at how “anyone can fight back and can influence the course of events” and can “develop creative ideas and projects” are two ideas that immediately attracted me — in thinking in context of my life, how design and the tools I have can be utilized to produce change effectively. I think these ideas are extremely important in graphic design / design in general and how every creation and every entity that creates that creation must be made with thought and reason. I like the analogy of the kitchen being too small and how the design of something like a kitchen, without systems research, can be inadequate and ineffective due to major oversights. I now see the importance of the wants, needs and fears activity from class today — how in order to create a completely effective intervention, all these things must be thought of. I enjoy how liberating this piece is so far — how Jungk calls you to action, how he wants you to feel that you can generate visions and ideas of the future that are worthy as well.

I kind of feel a socialist tone to this article — which isnt bad, but how I can personally term the idea that the people need to propose change as they are the ones’ effected. I do see why and how this is necessary and how this can lead to a future where there is possibility of systems coexisting in harmony, however, this is a far distant thought. I do also see how important a future workshop can be in terms of research — how it allows people who are not normally heard speak and how a broader range of information can be tapped. I also liked the idea that future social inventions need to be less superficial — how they cannot be repaired with the intervention of an institution but need to be analyzed at the core and solved systematically and ritually — not forcefully.



Block begins his piece very optimistically stating how he is drawn to every call to action for improvement, he states that the, “world we are creating does not come close to fulfilling its promise”, how it is our responsibility to intervene. I like this point of view, the idea that we are all capable in creating change and how we are accountable for our actions — I think this can be related to my design ideologies in a way, how everything we make must have intent and reason and every decision we make in our designs must also be made with intent.

I like how Block talks about the importance of community as well as the feeling of belonging. I have felt lonely for a many intervals at CMU but the close friends I have has created a community where I have been amble to foster knowledge and ideas as well as have them questioned, allowing my ideas to further develop and grow. By defining structure as “a quest not only for form but also for purpose, direction and continuity” is something I want to align my design practice to — again back to everything having meaning and thought out. Thinking about social structures and further relating it the studio project, shows how the lack of structure in the overall planning of Pittsburgh’s infrastructure has resulted in social structures receding into different groups, resulting in social division.

“Transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole” to me makes a lot of sense in terms of developing better communities and systems, however, as a graphic designer by trade (currently) I can see how this can influence my work on the surface level but am not sure how to fully integrate these type of ideas in my craft where I still enjoy experimenting with different forms and visual ideas. I do agree with Block’s ideology that we are living in an age of isolation — where you dont even know the neighbors who live next door, I can see how a unification of sorts both socially and ideologically can allow for growth in society, but am uncertain, again, how to begin integrating any of these ideas into daily routine, however, it is interesting to begin to think about it.



The introduction of Dator’s piece states how as designers we must not only be concerned with ourselves, but also our, “ancestors … [and] unborn generations yet to come” — this aligns with the overall theme of how design cannot be “fast”, how design and every decision we make that goes towards our design needs to take into account longevity and think of the future as well as the current state. Applying this personally is rather difficult, however, in terms of graphic design I believe that when design decisions are made with purpose and not because certain traits are trendy or current, the overall design will be able to last longer. On a broader spectrum, relating to Dator’s piece, I do believe in this world of commerce, we have not thought about the future and the overall prosperity of this planet, in terms of daily routine. Many users, including myself, live a rather wasteful life — ex. last week there was a leak in my trashbag and instead of cleaning out the trashcan, due to its low cost I purchased a new trashcan. If this example is applied to larger problems — then we have a real problem. By neglecting our obligations to future generations we are resulting in a decline in many fields including environmental and social spheres of influence. This is reiterated in our studio project, where Pittsburgh at the time applied improvements to it’s infrastructure, including new highways and bridges, without thinking that future communities that were divided by these “improvements” would decline based on their location. As Dator states, we need to stop thinking “selfishly” and look towards the future, this, however, in every application can and is difficult.

For my independent study I am working on creating a typeface that gives “a voice” to those without. I am taking inspiration from the Declaration of Independence and am aiming at creating something that is stylistically the opposite of it, expressing my opinions on it’s validity. This intent on social intervention has caused me to research the history of the document, it’s context as well as the current social and political context and the dissatisfaction that is vastly present. I am describing this project, contextually, as Dator states, “society as a social invention and you as a social inventor”, in this application I am attempting a social invention of a typeface that breaks barriers, a typeface that is strong and allows users to speak freely, boldly and strongly in order to intervene on the current social state of this country. In order to build this typeface, like Dator states, I must think both conventionally but also creatively. I am beginning to think of its style and intent, however, I must still build out the best way it can be applied — where it will live in order to serve as a intervention. Looking forward in the ideation phase of this project, I will definitely look at and consider DeBono’s six thinking hats in order to begin framing how this creative solution can actually be a solution.


Self thought not allowed
A manifesto is born
Design must intervene

Graphic design dead
Aesthetic autonomy 
No self thought applied

My haikus revolve around the concept that graphic design is becoming irrelevant. As user experience design gains importance and as user experience and communication designers need less and less traditional training, the atmosphere of the industry has become rather of a panic. In the future’s society, we will need to fight for our importance as graphic designers and continue to fight for relevancy. The first haiku is that of a personal anecdote, while the second is that of the industry.



Pittsburgh’s bridges, which were once key characteristics of this city have become virtually obsolete as repairs and maintenance have become too expensive and the budget for their repairs has steadily increased to nothing.

Due to the increase in the cost of living amounts affluent neighborhoods, where tech has been prospering, the city has become much more segregated, causing those of the lower echelons to move further and further away from the city center. Commuting for these individuals into the city, where the majority of employment exists, is also extremely difficult as the transport system has become privately owned and caters more to those whom live in gentrified areas. This lack of transportation, segregation and isolation of these areas have resulted in hazardous living conditions — much of Pittsburgh has been left to rot.

In order to create more optimal living standards for those of the upper class, new bridges and highways have been built through sections of Pittsburgh to better connect the upper class, however, the erection of these structures have further segregated and isolated lower income areas. The overall decay of much of Pittsburgh has resulted in physical barriers that have further segregated the city, allowing some regions to prosper while others collapse and transgress.

Since transportation with the hyperloop to travel longer distances is incredibly fast and with the presence of technology that allows people to work remotely more than ever, people don’t need to make as many decisions to live somewhere based on the job they get. People are invested in their community more because they are living with the people they want to, and feel a sense of belonging and connection there. Each community has its own identity and flavor, and people often visit other communities for tourism. Despite the distinct communities, communities are all aware of how they depend on each other. They contribute to the community and understand sustainability as a part of maintaining it. People also value locally made and produced goods and food more.

I created this community flyer from the future to express the diversity in communities that have been created in our ideal future. In our ideal future, because of the hyperloop users are able to live in more diverse communities due to the lack of the need to live close to your employment. This flyer shows various languages, which is meant to illustrate how communities have evolved and diversified, as well as how communities are stronger together.

This exercise was useful in the conceptualization and likeliness of our desired future, it assisted in breaking it down by year and looking at how probable it is. It also allowed us to see map out the steps that are necessary to get to our desired goal.


ORANGE — It is interesting to read how the island is reliant on tourism to be self-sufficient and sustainable, it seams like a rather precarious mean. It seams like this future has blocked Hawaii into solely existing and existing for tourism, which is shown in the ongoing struggle to maintain a eco-friendly reputation. This idea is also shown in the lack of natural resources and how they are only utilized for one purpose — tourism. I see this as a rather precarious future where the whole system will collapse if there are problems with tourism.

SILVER — This future seams more like a “big brother” ideology, where order is implemented with force. In this future, ones’ life is regulated by fear and guilt, where people are living with great constraints. In this future, one is living entirely for the collective whole and not for the self.

MAROON — It seams as if there has been a digression in civilization in terms of governing and movability, however, there have been a increasing push in solving problems in a more energy-efficient and environmental way. The increase in importance in art is also something very interesting and important to me, in how art can bring communities together and how art has the power to make users think differently.

BLUE — I think this future is the most extreme case example, where it is not very likely that this will be a byproduct of today’s civilization.


I see the importance in the introduction of this document — how it is essential to begin to think sustainably in order to sustain ones’ lifestyle as well as the planet’s growth and development. We must evolve our lifestyles in order to sustain the growth as a planet, and our lifestyles must no longer be based on past and current consumption and production patterns but think for the future. In order to provoke this change we need to understand what factors influence individual behavior in favor of sustainable patterns and how these sustainable patterns can begin to infiltrate and influence daily life. We need to think about consuming, living, moving and health / society factors and how they effect us negatively / unsustainably and how these ideologies can be altered. Current infrastructure and the environments we live in need to be thought of in different ways that stimulate sustainability. I agree that this huge problem cannot be solved with one ultimatum or solution, it will require many different solutions where one option cannot solve every problem, there must be alternative solutions for users. These solutions must also be realistically adaptable, they cannot be out of grasp for users, users must be “nudged” in the correct way. This study furthers the belief that futuristic and transitional thinking is necessary to move forward. In any field, the transitional and systematic thought processes will assist in a more in depth and stronger solution. In terms of a sustainable future, the current lifestyles and consumptions patterns of this planet need to be analyzed and then intervened on, however, in order to intervene appropriately and systematically, the entire system needs to be mapped out first.


The synergistic satisfiers, or basic human needs, is a concise overview of what is necessary to ones’ lifestyle. Thinking in terms of 9 variables creates appropriate framework for allowing for intervention. Keeping these variables in mind allows users to more fully begin to solve problems.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.