For a program that bills itself as "an MFA that teaches you everything from industrial design to interaction design, from service design to social innovation design, and from business design to design and climate" the projects coming out of the (now 10-year old) MFA in Products of Design department at SVA in NYC bear out the promise. We picked 5 outstanding projects from the program to feature—spanning systems-based platforms to products of sheer joy. Check them out below!
Kuddle: The Phone Charger That Requires 2 Phones
"If only one partner puts their phone down, the device won't charge. Like a metaphor of a relationship, the phones will only charge if the two are close together on the dock."
Kuddle is a wireless phone charger that encourages couples to spend more meaningful time communicating face-to-face. Designed by graduate Crystal Ching Yi Lo, the ingenious dock only charges when two phones are placed side-by-side. In her research, she found that "just having a phone out and present during a conversation (on the table between a couple, for instance) interferes with the sense of connection and the feelings of closeness experienced." Kuddle addresses this with charm and humor.
FireLink: Fighting Fire with Data
For his thesis project, Ted Scoufis created Firelink—an information management ecosystem for firefighters "that focuses on the 4:30 minutes between receiving the call from dispatch and arrival on the scene." The system provides firefighters with real-time insight into the conditions of the building they are responding to, along with data input from the FDY firefighters. This data is collected and then disseminated via two main modes: the command center tablet app, and a helmet-mounted augmented reality heads-up display."
MoMA Partnership: Roller Coasters
Every year, the MFA Products of Design students enjoy an exclusive partnership with the Museum of Modern Art's Wholesale Division—creating products for possible manufacturing and inclusion in their wholesale line and catalog. One of the recent products to emerge from the partnership are alumnus Hui Zheng's "Roller Coasters"—playful silicone coasters that "transform your drink's condensation droplets into balls in a maze." Available for purchase on the MoMA Store's site here.
Frie Menstrual Blood Plant Fertilizer
Designed by Class of 2020 Pantea Parsa, Frei is a speculative object in the form of a vessel for watering and fertilizing plants, using a mixture of water and menstrual blood. "Blood is generally used as a plant fertilizer since it contains three essential plant nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium." Pantea offers. "However, Frei nourishes plants and also aims to nurture a woman's relationship with her intimate partner. Blood is only a mediator. Women remind their partners about the shared responsibility of procreation by gifting them Frei and giving them their menstrual blood every month.
Hiatus for iOS: Transforms "Productivity Apps" into more playful ones
Designed by Karan Mahendra Bansal, Hiatus is an iOS feature that reinforces a work/life balance by "subverting productivity and injecting play into your work-oriented phones during non-work hours." The app is clever and almost sneaky: Once enabled, Hiatus "replaces the quantitative interfaces with ones geared toward qualitative fun, hiding 'productivity apps' within the App Library and replacing them with fun counterparts." In the demo below, you can see that Zoom is replaced with HouseParty, Mail is replaced with Yo, the Stocks is replaced with Breathe, and Trello is replaced with solitaire.
Attend SVA's Products of Design upcoming Open House events to learn more about the MFA curriculum and meet current faculty and students. Open House takes places November 11th and December 9th, register now.