Work in Progress is a podcast that is interested in the ways design students talk about their thesis projects. Each episode is hosted by Karissa Munaf, a senior at Parsons School of Design. She began this project as part of her thesis project. The conversations will focus on the subject matter but particularly on the research, process, and the unforetold stories that students have throughout their thesis journeys.
09. What is the power of a playlist?
Charis Forrester is a senior studying Communication Design at Parsons School of Design. For her first experiment, Charis created and branded her own indie record label called "Dirty Boots." She was inspired by Factory Records and their way of cataloging everything, so the idea she had for "Dirty Boots" was to attribute a boot to every new release. However, in her second experiment, she wanted to reach a bigger audience—something that is more relatable while still keeping her passion and love for music. So she decided to explore the cultural significance of playlists. She is creating multiple zines that consist of people's playlist submissions. Each zine has its own mood, such as joy, parties, love, anger, and pain. In this conversation, I got to learn so much about the art of creating a playlist--it is like a love language as Charis says it. I got to learn more about the type of music that she loves so much, from the history of post-punk to the bands, and lastly, I learned that there is so much power in the sharing of music that often gets overlooked.
08. What can black aesthetics teach you about influence and inspirations?
Will Howell is a senior studying Communication Design at Parsons School of Design. For thesis, Will decided to devote his thesis project to explore more of his identity. Will is an African-American designer, so a lot of his research centers on black aesthetics in graphic design. In his first experiment, he curated a visual zine of some of the major contributing characters who make up the black design aesthetic over the past 100 years. Due to America's history of racism and poor documentation of the black existence, this zine became a point of reference for a younger version of himself. For his second experiment, he made the decision to pivot from found material to original material to try and do something he had never done before, which is to design a capsule collection. He wanted to explore what his aesthetic is like as a black designer while keeping in mind some of the key points raised in Sylvia Harris's "Searching for a Black Aesthetic in American Graphic Design" essay. The final form will be a virtual exhibition that showcases the different garments designed with a concept called "starting from zero." This was a very meaningful conversation to me since it was my first time learning so much about black aesthetics—from the origins and history to the ideology itself. I learned that the black aesthetic influences a lot of us in many different ways which I think often gets overlooked. In the end, Will taught me a lot about what it means to try new things and to be authentic in what I do.
07. How does art open conversations about morality and laws?
Eva Serrano Reisner is a senior studying Communication Design at Parsons School of Design. Eva began her thesis journey by asking the question, "Are laws moral?" but the question felt too open, so she expanded upon this question and ended up with, "How does current American democracy prevent a true way of living under one's own morals?" She approached the question in two different ways. Her first experiment was to redesign the voting ballot, and for the final form, Eva is rewriting the laws that only contain the word "God" in the US code. The reason for this is to show the relationship between Christianity and American laws—to prove that it exists. Through this project, Eva is hoping that she could present these ideas without forcing an overly critical voice. The goal is to make people aware so that they can have their own thoughts on the matter, and allow others to take action.
06. What does empathy in branding look like?
Danni Go is a very talented communication design student at Parsons School of Design. In this episode, we talked a little bit about her first project which was to explore the relationship between brand identity and personal identity. She created a book that consists of a survey of questions given to various brand users to investigate their personal relationships with their chosen brand. For her final project, Danni is creating her own benefit corporation that is centered on empathy called "Core Empath Corp." She is designing a brand manual for her corporation and doing case studies of multiple brands which are selected by influencers and herself. In our conversation, I got to finally ask the question I've been wanting to ask, and that is "What does designing with empathy truly mean?" So many designers have mentioned it but I never really understood it. We talked a lot about what empathy looks like—figuratively and visually—in branding, what it means to be a conscious consumer, and lastly, Danni taught me that it's okay to question what you're doing because it's all part of the process of learning and adapting to your career.
05. What is this phenomenon called the digital space?
Felitasari Rekso, also known as Tata, is a Communication Design student at Parsons School of Design. Talking about her thesis project is a little different from the other students I've talked to. Instead of focusing on one subject, we are talking about the medium that she chose for all of her projects. Her first looks into different applications that could store photographs in the digital space and understanding why we are so obsessed with remembering specific events in our lives. Moving on to her second experiment, she redesigned what a museum archive could look like today, one that involves AR and virtual experience. Lastly, her third experiment is to study the infrastructure of Jakarta through multimedia art. So yes, ranging topics but explored through the same medium. In this ep, we'll talk a lot about the digital space, from our obsession with storing photographs online to creating design work with AR, and we realized how working on her thesis projects helped her learn more about herself as a designer and the way she works.
04. How do we express our past family traumas through art?
Mi Chen, also known as Stella, is a Communication Design student at Parsons School of Design. Her thesis topic explores the question, "How does our traumatic experience with our family-of-origin impact our adulthood?" She approached this question in two different ways. First, she did a short film consists of video interviews with Chinese students and asked them about their past family traumas. Second, she designed a virtual exhibition showcasing different traumatic experiences that happened in multiple places in her house. Each traumatic experience is expressed through a form of digital art. In this episode, we talked about how to express our deepest and darkest emotions through art, which is something I have never done before, and how creating art or films can give us some sort of closure.