Hi there. My name is Zach Bachiri. I’m a first year Master of Design candidate at Carnegie Mellon. This post is going to be a brief introduction to all things me, written for Molly Steenson’s Interaction and Service Design Concepts course. If you’re finding your way to this post from somewhere else, welcome.

Me. Young and old.

Where am I coming from?

I’m originally from Melrose, MA, a suburb just north of Boston. I can basically sum up my childhood by saying that I played a lot of soccer. I ended up staying in the Boston area for college and went to Northeastern University. After stumbling my way through a year of the computer engineering program, I decided hardware wasn’t for me. I wanted to build software, s0 I switched into the computer science program. After stumbling through 2 years and 2 co-ops of the computer science program, I decided building software wasn’t for me.

Design had been on my radar for a while but I hadn’t considered it as a career. I went through small crisis freshman year when I almost switched into the architecture program, but that was about as far as I got. When I was a developer, I was furious that I was building things but didn’t have a say in the larger questions about what we were building, or if we were even building the right thing. That was my entryway into design as a real path forward for me. Design was a chance to figure out what the “thing” was.

After my second co-op I switched into the combined Computer Science and Interactive Media program at Northeastern and joined Scout, the student-run design studio. Finally I felt like I was in the right place. At Scout I started something called Scout Labs, which was where I really started to discover the type of work I hoped to be doing. We got together a group of interdisciplinary students and worked on social issues in the Boston area through the lens of human-centered design. I realized design wasn’t just the craft of making a poster or an app, but could be a framework for approaching some really interesting, high-level problems.

After graduating I worked at three different internships before coming to Carnegie Mellon. First at SMAKK in Brooklyn, then at Intrepid in Cambridge, and finally at SYPartners in Manhattan. Rather than taking a full-time position, I figured doing internships was an opportunity to get a variety of real-world practice under my belt before committing to anything. I had the chance to work on websites, native apps, branding, print materials, and everything in between. Though I felt as if I still wasn’t doing the higher altitude design work I hoped to. So midway through my second internship I applied to the Carnegie Mellon M.Des. program. I only applied to this program, since it was the only one I believed was worth dedicating 2 years of my time (and a boat load of money). It struck the right balance for me between conceptual and practical, while having an inspiring world view of design as a vehicle for social change. And here I am today.

Where am I going?

Wow, tough questions Zach.

Really though, I’m not sure. I know the type of work I would like to be doing. I want to doing research-based design in the social innovation space, but I’m not quite yet sure of the specifics (like where, in what context, or what medium). A big reason why I’m at Carnegie Mellon is to figure out some of those things. One inkling I do have about my long term career is that I won’t be a “Designer” forever, but I’ll always be “designing”. I imagine after practicing for a while I will tackle some things outside of the traditional idea of design practice. Maybe I’ll start a social enterprise, maybe I’ll go be a photographer full-time, maybe I’ll join the circus. But that’s very much speculative, so don’t hold me to it.


Okay that’s all the important stuff, so here are a few fun things.

I’m really into street photography. In Boston and New York I would pretty much spend every weekend walking around photographing. Pittsburgh is a lot less dense though, so I’ll have to figure something out.

So go ahead and follow me on Instagram.

A spread from a photo book I’m putting together.

I also play a few instruments (drums, guitar, viola, a bit of piano) and am in a band named Yohannes.