Sunday, April 1, 2007

Thesis presentations will be held Friday, April 27, 2007 at 9 am, in the Design Center, in PS 43

Pratt's main campus is located at 200 Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn. (Map)

Thesis student work will also be on display in the gallery on the second floor of the Design Center.

9:00 Coffee
9:20 Corina Garona
9:40 Arthur Occhi
10:00 Roberto Achacoso
10:20 Alexandra Dymowska
10:40 Rich Pinto
11:00 Break
11:20 Jen Fisher
11:40 Nivedita Dixit
12:20 Akemi Tanaka
12:40 Ashley Pace
1:00 Lunch Break
2:00 Luis Quehl
2:20 Rachel Walker
2:40 Judy Hoysak
3:00 Yuki Hirayama
3:20 Break
3:40 Julie Ember
4:00 Preston Price
4:20 Will Staley
4:40 Refreshments outside the Design Center Gallery, 2nd floor

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rachel Walker - You Are Here: Freeway Design for Urban Orientation

Driving through Detroit's canyon-like freeways, one gets the sense of being in a tunnel. The walls close on both sides, a driver is unable to discern what landscape he or she is driving through. The only cue to the outside world is the sky above. As the nation’s most dire example of urban shrinkage, Detroit has many miles of design opportunity along its freeways. The walls are bare and visitors and residents need to understand what is beyond these barriers. My thesis proposes kinetic surface design that relays information about the city to travelers to increase familiarity with the physical city, its residents and resources.


Rachel Walker’s parents vividly recall her first design endeavor. A two-year-old Rachel found the leather arms of her mother’s “Wassily” chair lacking a compelling surface design. So the toddler drew a near perfect straight line in red pen along the caramel colored leather strip. Rachel has been designing ever since.

Rachel Walker -

Nivedita Dixit - Subway Adventures: Human powered objects for the world beneath New York City

A large number of New Yorkers descend underground to commute everyday. The subway is an interesting place where thousands of people cross paths with each other. In fact,it creates a whole new society, with its own culture, rituals, fears and myths. These confines of the underground also form an unspoken bond between the commuters and their subway. My thesis is an exploration to strengthen this bond by engaging commuters with human powered objects to create fun, a sense togetherness and awareness toward sustainable energy sources.


In the past ten years, Nivedita has received a bachelor's degree in Architecture from India and has attended a post-graduate diploma in Design, at the National Institute of Design also in India. Now, she is a candidate for a M.I.D from Pratt Institute. Upon graduating, Nivedita wishes to pursue designing products, and systems which improve and enrich people's life.

Nivedita Dixit -

Yuki Hirayama - Design for Murderball

Yuki wishes, through design, to encourage others to overcome obstacles to the personal satisfaction of achievement. This desire has brought her into contact with the intrepid players of the fast-paced and brutal sport of Wheelchair Rugby; also known as Murderball. During travel in Japan and the USA, she observed and interviewed players (most of who are quadriplegics) at various levels of competition from local to international. As a result she uncovered a variety of their equipment needs, both on and off the court. She sees the endeavor to meet these needs as a challenge to promote the facing of challenges.     

Abstract (PDF, 500 KB)


Yuki Hirayama is drawn to challenges and anyone else drawn to them. Among recent tests of her endurance, (besides the thesis project), stand two completed NYC Marathons. During a remarkably whimsical childhood in Japan, she was known to paint snow and suddenly put a friend on hold to run outside and pick flowers.

Yuki Hirayama -

Luis Quehl - Design for Industrial Processes

Why do consumer products get all the design glory? In "Design for Industrial Processes" I examine this question, and develop a "lone industrial designer’s strategy" for finding and addressing the needs of industrial users. The user of an industrial product is rarely the same person as the buyer. That separation upsets the typical consumer product design strategy. Complicated industrial processes can also intimidate and confuse outsiders. I test my new strategy against these problems by designing solutions that carry produce from the processing factory all the way to the retail display.

Abstract (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Architect turned industrial designer… Do you really want to know about me? Just read about the thesis, that's what this is about.

Luis Quehl -

Julie Ember - Fun and Free: Design for Anti-Static Living

In the name of making life “easier”, many design technologies for the body such as the chair and shoe may end up doing more harm than good. This is probably because they are not designed with the body’s main need in mind: the need to move. Our bodies need things that facilitate and encourage fun and free movement. This thesis explores two ways that design can work for the body—through a shoe that enables free movement for the foot, and through parks that encourage physical play for adults.


Thriving on the visual, playful, and intellectual, Julie decided it would be a good idea to satisfy all three at once by being a designer. She believes design should tackle big problems and small problems while always remaining human, relatable, and fun.

Julie Ember -

Alexandra Dymowska - Quiet Resonance: Bringing Depth and Mystery to Everyday Objects and Spaces

Alexandra posits a comprehensive method for designing simple, sublime objects and spaces which are both calming and stimulating. She discusses germane philosophies, cultures and artists, compares designs possessing these qualities to those which do not, and identifies characteristics promoting the desired aesthetic response. In addition to research, her thesis features an applied component incorporating principles identified. These original designs are worthy of contemplation, possessing an ineffable, transcendental quality. Topics include Japanese and Shaker traditions, evolution, abstraction, minimalist expressionism, musical perspectives, and hidden underlying structures.


Polish-born Alexandra Dymowska earned her BFA at Columbia Collage. A Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, she played for the Redskins and Lakers before semi-retirement (Pratt). Given her light workload, she moonlighted for no-profits EarthPledge and archi-treasures, winning Mayor Daley’s 3rd Prize (three projects competed). Next stop-Detroit, designing a quietly-resonant, contemplative Hummer.

Alexandra Dymowska -

Roberto Achacoso - The Blankie Effect: Designing for Emotional Comfort

Humans are very adept at designing things to protect ourselves from danger. From the first primitive straw shoes to the latest Kevlar jackets, we have always been excellent at sheltering, clothing, padding, and separating ourselves from things that could harm us. But can design address the related fear and anxiety that these dangers cause? A little fear is good; It keeps us alert, protected and alive. But when fear and anxiety irrationally paralyze us, can we use our creative ingenuity to overcome it?


Last century, Roberto graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Biological Science and subsequently spent years working in internet and software development. After many days and nights of designing things of bits and bytes, while dreaming off making things of nuts and bolts, he decided that this will be his "Century of Design."

Roberto Achacoso -

Arthur Occhi - Underground Worlds: Lighting the Way for Visitors

For most of us being underground is a fleeting experience, perhaps a quick subway ride that we are oblivious to. Viewing images of tunnel builders made me wonder what it would be like to work in or explore the underground, rather than merely pass through it. Underground environments are typically not glamorous places, yet what happens underground impacts our lives in many ways that we are unaware of.
What exactly goes on underground, either in artificial or natural environments, and why is it important? What kinds of tools are used and what are they used for? This thesis will design for what is, perhaps, the most critical design issue for people underground: personal lighting.


Arthur was sorely disappointed at the tender age of five upon learning that a full scale drivable Mach 5 did not exist, dashing his original career plan of becoming the next Speed Racer. A native New Yorker, Arthur came to Pratt after a career in the financial services industry, which included work as an equity analyst and most recently as a financial PR executive. He holds an MBA from Fordham University and lives with his wife and two children in Westchester County.

Arthur Occhi -

Preston Price - Transportation 2040: Eco-Effective Mobility and the Future

Personal transportation and how it’s used is a major issue on a long list of topics that need to be addressed if industrial designers want to positively shape the future culture and environment. Because of our need to be free, independent and individual, the automobile has been the perfect expression of man’s inherent desire for autonomy. The car, while simultaneously advancing our fundamental way of life pollutes, wastes natural resources, and is inefficient. This thesis will be my first step in the direction of designing for a society that is hungry for alternatives that are sustainable, thoughtful and progresses our understanding of a global need to be eco-effective.


Artist, nature lover and adventurer; Preston’s enthusiasm for life is evident in everything he does. After growing up in the conservative south and studying liberal arts as a young adult, he soon realized that his experiences were unique, ultimately to be shared with others. Through design, Preston continues to offer the world his distinct point of view.

Preston Price -

Ashley E.B. Pace - Family Ties: Modern Frameworks for Textile Heirlooms

The development of a piece of fabric from a single strand is a fascinating process, making solid surface from separate components. Traditional woven items, although mostly utilitarian, become important family heirlooms because they are created through a loved one’s time-consuming effort and are a powerful link to one’s emotional history. How can we continue to create items that pass on legacy in our fast-paced, mass-produced society? By producing “framework” objects, the consumer is able to add an element of personal handwork to the frame, and, therefore, the piece becomes a unique personal heirloom customized to the owner of the piece. This thesis will explore frameworks for textiles that will fulfill the role of legacy by creating personal artifacts for families.

Abstract (PDF, 4 MB)

Born and bred in Tennessee, Ashley earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree at the University of Tennessee in 2001, and subsequently worked in architecture for four years in both Nashville, Tennessee and New Haven, Connecticut. She moved with her husband to New York City in 2005 to continue her design education at Pratt. Her heart is still in the South, and she longs to return to the land of Dollywood and the Great Smoky Mountains. She is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her first child in August.

Ashley E.B. Pace -

Corina Garona - Sick and Tired: Altering the Waiting Experience in a Medical Environment

The anticipation of medical care is arguably one of the most distressing and uncomfortable experiences for an individual. This thesis explores the emotionally-charged moments spent in a medical setting and challenges the idea that waiting is idle and passive. It is a consideration of what occurs when control is put in the hands of patients, and they are allowed to shape their environment as they await the attention of a healthcare provider. This study relies on the premise that a positive, calming, or cathartic waiting experience could result in more effective medical visit, and ideally a healthier individual.


Originally from Argentina, Corina moved to the U.S. at an early age. After receiving her B.A. in English at UCLA, she worked in the publishing world but continuously dabbled in her creative interests—studying illustration, architecture, and product design. In 2004, she decided to seriously pursue her passion for creating and began her graduate work in industrial design at Pratt Institute. Most recently, she interned with Laga/One80 Design.

Corina Garona -

Jennifer Fisher - Natural Distractions

The products of Jennifer’s thesis, Natural Distractions, weigh approximately 1,246 pounds. They attempt to create moments of distraction in urban environments, by integrating positive attributes of nature into products. The goal of this process is to encourage people to escape from the stresses of everyday life by focusing on something else. Her thesis addresses this issue through products that either use nature in a surprising way, or that enhance an outdoor space. One of her products, Green Blocks, has been installed in La Plaza Cultural, a community garden in Manhattan.

Abstract (PDF, 1 MB)


As a child Jennifer Fisher became fascinated with design while constructing a cardboard box tunnel. Now she designs furniture, textiles, and tableware, using materials from fabric to concrete. She has a background in Engineering Psychology and Design Research. In her free time she likes to hang flowers from street signs.

Jennifer Fisher -

Judy Hoysak - Bean Screens and Vege Tables: Products for Indoor Vegetable Gardening

Gardening is a fun, satisfying hobby, and indoor vegetable gardens can beautify the home while providing tasty and healthy foods. Indoors, ornamental non-edible plants are common but the potential beauty of vegetable gardens is often ignored, and most indoor vegetable gardening products are not designed for use within a living area. Lighting, soil substrates, and heirloom plant varieties were researched before determining successful combinations that would maximize existing negative space possibilities. These designs are made of high-quality materials and function as furniture pieces in the modern home; the concepts are transferable to any design style.

Abstract (PDF, 1 MB)


Judy lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two cats, dog, fig tree, olive tree, and blueberry bush. Before Pratt, she worked as a baseball card designer for Topps. Judy has interned at ceMMent Design and Jonathan Adler. She would like to continue to design products and furniture related to gardening.

Judy Hoysak -

Akemi Tanaka - Give Me Shelter! Design for Animal Well-being

Millions of pets are thrown away every year in the U.S. alone. Animal shelters provide the best and worst chances for a better life for these sensitive creatures. How can designers and non-designers, alike, improve the quality of life for all of our nation's homeless animals? “Give Me Shelter! Design for Animal Well-being” explores low or no-cost solutions that anyone, anywhere can initiate to improve their local shelter. Get involved at and be a part of the solution.


Akemi always roots for the underdog. This has included choosing a gimpy guinea pig because that was the only guarantee that she would have a good home. Naming her Tilly, short for tilted head, she lived a long and happy life. Tanaka’s passion for the natural world and for other living beings helps guide her design philosophy and uncover universal solutions.

Akemi Tanaka -

William J. Staley - Thrive: A Global Sustainable Design Initiative

Helena-West Helena, Arkansas at one time was a booming Mississippi River delta city. Today, typical to most of the region's cities, survival is a skill residents say they have polished. Over the summer of 2006 I lived and worked in Helena-West Helena to research and create a design, using local resources and skills, that could help the situation. The final product is Thrive: A National Sustainable Design Initiative. Let's put sustainable design centers in the top twenty most impoverished counties in the United States and send students on a field trip to fight climate change, poverty, and racism through architecture, product and communications design projects.


Born and raised in Little Rock and DC, William feels blessed to live the life creativity has built. After studying architecture, graphic, and Industrial design, William now seeks to apply his holistic background to projects, and views design as a service profession that exists to make life better .

William J. Staley -

Rich Pinto - Charles and Ray EA: Aesthetic Design by Evolution Algorithms

Computers are an integral part of 21st century design. From initial user research, conceptual ideation, form refinement, and mass production, a digital tool aids product design at every stage. Computers can make a product that performs better, lasts longer, has less environmental footprint, etc. than products designed without their use. But can a computer create beautiful objects? Can a program learn the nuances of aesthetic beauty that exists in a visually pleasing design? Using the latest in evolutionary computation, combined with the rigorous, methodological three-dimensional design process developed by Rowena Reed Kostellow, this project seeks to find out.


Rich Pinto’s interest in design began early in life, constructing fantastical vehicles out of a “digital” toy: the LEGO. Creative design has been integral in his process ever since. Rich has degrees in Psychology, Art History, Biomechanics and Ergonomics, and looks forward to combining these disciplines to answer design questions yet to be posed.

Rich Pinto -