Colloquium 11.1: Boston University, Call for Submissions

Call for design research abstracts. Deadline: June 1, 2024.

Submission Deadline: Saturday, June 1, 2024.

Event date: Friday, October 25, 2024
Format: In-person Only
Location: Boston University, College of Fine Art, School of Visual Arts

Design + ____________

What is design research?

In honor of Design Incubation’s 10th anniversary, we are examining the ways design and design research has changed over the past decade. How do we define design research, as designers, scholars and educators?

We invite designers — practitioners, creators, educators and students — for a live, in-person event, to examine their own creative research and practice and the adjacencies that touch their work. Design + Social Justice, Design + Curation, Design + Performance …what are some of the subjects that drive your own design curiosity? How does the intersection of such content areas inform your creative practice, your pedagogy, your research? 

The 2024 Colloquium will be organized to showcase your design research in lively, interactive sessions that may take the form of presentations, performances, workshops and / or demonstrations. 

Interact with us!

Submit abstracts describing your Design + __________. 

We invite designers—practitioners and educators—to submit abstracts of design research. This is an in-person event.

Double-blind peer-reviewed colloquium abstracts will be published online. Please review the articles, Quick Start Guide for Writing Abstracts and Writing an Academic Research Abstract: For Communication Design Scholars prior to submitting.

Accepted presentations are videotaped in-advance by the researchers for publication online on the Design Incubation channel which is due by August 1, 2024.

A day-long colloquium will be held at Boston University, College of Fine Art, School of Visual Arts on Friday, October 25, 2024. This event is open to all interested in Communication Design research.

Hosts: Kristen Coogan and Mary Yang.

Moderators: Liz DeLuna, Camila Afanador Llach, Dan Wong.

Maternal Health Hackathon: Community-Led Design for Reproductive Justice in Arkansas

Participants from across the state were gathered to identify the root causes of the maternal health crisis and generate actionable visions for change

Bree McMahon
Assistant Professor
University of Arkansas

Alison Place
Assistant Professor
University of Arkansas

Since 2019, the maternal mortality rate in the United States has increased by more than 15%, according to the CDC. While the number of women who die during or after childbirth has fallen globally in recent decades, it has nearly doubled in the U.S. since 1987. In Arkansas, the maternal death rate is one of the highest in the nation. Arkansas also ranks fourth among states where a majority of women live in a maternal healthcare desert, with 37 counties that do not have a single OB/GYN. Furthermore, Arkansas has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country and, since the Dobbs decision in June 2022, the fourth strictest anti-abortion laws in the country. The lack of access to providers coupled with laws that lead to forced birth has created a complex crisis of reproductive justice in the state, which disproportionately affects women who are poor, Black, and live in rural areas.  

Understanding the crisis of maternal health in the United States is difficult due to a lack of data, as well as a lack of access to data, because there is no national system for tracking maternal health issues, and laws and guidelines vary from state to state. In 2020, funded by a federal legislative proposal, the Arkansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee published findings that cited a distinct lack of data in the state as a key barrier to improving outcomes. In Arkansas, another significant challenge is the disparate and disconnected nature of birth worker communities. The experiences and perspectives of stakeholders vary widely, and there is a lack of collective understanding of the roots of problems or possible solutions. 

As designers, we explored how design can help untangle the complexities of birth and motherhood and dismantle the systems that perpetuate oppressive and manipulative practices. We were interested in how disparate stakeholders might provide valuable perspectives on this crisis, which could help to articulate a path forward. When it comes to complex systems, designers have a unique ability to approach issues from a collaborative mindset while also keeping in mind users and desirable (and undesirable) outcomes. 

Since 2022, we’ve teamed up with a group of researchers at the University of Arkansas with backgrounds in nursing, business, and design to generate various community-led design approaches to addressing the maternal health crisis. Inspired by the 2014 “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck!” Hackathon at the MIT Media Lab, we hosted the Arkansas Maternal Health Community Hackathon in 2023. Traditionally, hackathons are multi-day events attended by multidisciplinary professionals, such as programmers, designers, and engineers. While typical hackathons are rooted in patriarchal tech culture, feminist researchers and designers have recently co-opted them as participatory spaces for social change. With an emphasis on relationship-building and care, feminist hackathons lay the groundwork for a plurality of community-led solutions to complex problems that are equitable, sustainable, and inclusive.  

The Arkansas Maternal Health Community Hackathon was a free one-day event that brought participants from across the state together to identify the root causes of the maternal health crisis and generate actionable visions for change. The two primary goals of the hackathon were to start conversations and build connections, so we designed the event to make people feel comfortable and to accommodate a wide variety of needs. Nearly 100 people registered for the event, and 72 of them attended. Attendees included parents of all genders, birth workers, nurses, doctors, midwives, doulas, public health experts, legal experts, policymakers, journalists, designers, and artists. We were strategic in our promotion of the event, focusing especially on inviting people from rural areas of the state and practitioners with expertise in marginalized populations. Funding was provided to cover travel and lodging for attendees who came from other areas of the state.  

Programming was focused on clearly framing the maternal health crisis and providing opportunities for attendees to form deep connections and dialogues. The day’s events included two keynote speakers; an advocacy session on how to talk to legislators about maternal health; a documentary screening by Every Mother Counts, a national organization devoted to maternal health; a networking and storytelling space; a resource room; a pre-/post-natal yoga session; and free childcare. With the support of facilitated activities and an on-site makerspace, some participants formed teams to address specific problems related to maternal and infant health. Volunteer designers worked with practitioners and organizations to strategize ways to approach various problems and discuss possible outcomes. Projects completed as a result of the hackathon included promotional materials for a local midwife, information design about prenatal care options for a local hospital, screen-printed tote bags with home birth kits for a local midwife, and a strategy and prototype for a website for the women’s hospital. We captured the perspectives of attendees by inviting them to participate in a qualitative research study about the barriers to maternal health in the state. We also produced a short documentary about the event (link in PDF). 

The impact of the event was evident in the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received. We heard from dozens of participants during and after the event that it was incredibly meaningful for them to come together in a supported space to work toward addressing this enormous problem. Many said they would like the hackathon to be an annual event. We are excited by the relationships formed and the community built through this one event. With the feminist hackathon as a guide, we are continuing to build a model for participatory design with diverse communities to build coalitions in the uphill battle toward reproductive justice in the South.

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards winner recipient in the category of Service.

Bree McMahon is a designer and educator driven by examining complex topics through dialogical prompts that encourage conversation, critical perspective, and collective learning. She is an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Arkansas School of Art and currently serves as the inaugural director of graduate studies for the Master of Design in Communication Design program. Her research is situated within design pedagogy and the state of the design discipline. After the birth of her first child, she established an additional research trajectory concerned with maternal health, health literacy, and storytelling for improving birth outcomes in the United States. Prior to teaching, she worked with start-ups, small businesses, and non-profits within her various communities across the country. She received her M.G.D. from North Carolina State University College of Design and previous degrees in graphic design and art history from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Alison Place is a designer, educator, and researcher who works at the intersection of feminism and design to create spaces for critical making and radical speculation. She is the author of Feminist Designer: On the Personal and the Political in Design published by MIT Press in 2023. She is an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Arkansas School of Art, where she also serves as the director of the graphic design program. She has held several leadership roles in the design community, including two terms on the AIGA Design Educators Community National Steering Committee, and has earned multiple national awards for her scholarship and creative work. Previously, she worked for more than ten years as a creative director and designer for nonprofit and higher education institutions. She earned an M.F.A. in experience design from Miami University of Ohio, as well as degrees in graphic design and journalism from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

Colloquium 10.3: Tenth Anniversary Edition June 2024, Call for Submissions

Call for design research abstracts. Deadline: Friday, April 26, 2024

Submission Deadline: Friday, April 26, 2024.

Event date: Friday, June 7, 2024
Location: St John’s University, Manhattan Campus

We invite designers—practitioners, creators, and educators—to submit abstracts of design research, creative investigations, and productions. This is a hybrid event format. In-person will be located at St. John’s University, Manhattan Campus.

Double-blind peer-reviewed colloquium abstracts will be published online. Please review the articles, Quick Start Guide for Writing Abstracts and Writing an Academic Research Abstract: For Communication Design Scholars before submitting.

Accepted presentations will be videotaped by the researchers and published online on the Design Incubation channel which is due by Friday, May 10, 2024. A moderated discussion will be held virtually on Friday, June 7, 2024. We encourage all attendees to watch the videos in advance of the moderated discussion. This event is open to all people interested in Communication Design research.

Presentation format is Pecha Kucha.

For more details, see the colloquia details and description. Abstracts can be submitted online for peer review.

Visualizing Self-Tracked Data to Navigate Well-being

An explorative process, grounded in Positive Psychology’s core concepts like gratitude, acts of kindness, goal-setting, and mindfulness

Yvette Shen
Associate Professor
Ohio State University

As a visual communication design educator specializing in Information Design and Data Visualization, Shen views teaching as a collaborative journey of discovery with her students. The journey in education here goes beyond honing technical skills, venturing into an enlightening realm where learning outgrows traditional methods and tools.

Since 2018, students entering her classroom have embarked on this explorative process, grounded in Positive Psychology’s core concepts like gratitude, acts of kindness, goal-setting, and mindfulness. Through meticulously structured visualization projects that involve tracking and visually rendering their behavior and emotion over time, they not only learn design skills but also engage in profound self-reflection, leading to meaningful well-being insights. In these classes, students engage in the active self-tracking of their daily experiences, encompassing everything from emotional states and physical activities to altruistic behaviors and environmental interactions. This process, supported by a combination of manual logging and digital tools and rooted in Positive Psychology principles, yields a rich dataset. This data becomes a canvas for each participant to visualize and analyze, offering unique insights into students’ narratives.

This educational strategy bridges the practical application of data visualization with the theoretical constructs of Positive Psychology. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, students’ self-tracked metrics evolved beyond mere numbers. Interpreted through Positive Psychology principles, these metrics narrated stories of resilience, coping, and the joy found in everyday interactions. Acts of kindness, when quantified and analyzed, transformed into powerful reflections of character strengths such as empathy and compassion. The synergy of data visualization with Positive Psychology equips students with a dual-lens: the self-tracking acts as a reflective mirror, while Positive Psychology offers interpretive tools to decipher these reflections. More than 180 students have engaged with this pedagogical model over the years, revealing that the alignment of daily actions with personal values fosters a sense of purpose. Moreover, the act of savoring positivity encourages students to cultivate an appreciative outlook on life.

Navigating through the data visualization process presents its challenges. Students must make coherent sense of raw data and determine the most impactful visual representations. Dissecting qualitative data to discern patterns and crafting personal stories from it remains a continuously evolving puzzle, demanding critical engagement and thoughtful interpretation. While the course centers on the foundational principles of information design—including the gathering, sorting, categorization, and analysis of information—the incorporation of Positive Psychology highlights a vibrant nexus between data visualization and personal well-being. Students not only master design intricacies but also witness the empowering effect of design on individual well-being. They emerge with enhanced data literacy, design thinking skills, and a strengthened culture of introspection and ongoing personal development.

This educational journey in Information Design and Data Visualization aims to transcend scholarly pursuit; it seeks to become a transformative experience that enriches student lives. It cultivates an appreciation for the storytelling power of data and deepens the significance of introspection in personal growth. The hope is that this approach to Information Design will exemplify how the meticulous art of visual communication, in synergy with human-centered design philosophy, can illuminate the path to holistic wellness and enlightened self-awareness.

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards runner-up recipient in the category of Teaching.

Yvette Shen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Design at the Ohio State University and the program coordinator in the area of Visual Communication Design. The focus of her current creative and research pursuits is centered on the field of information design and information visualization. Specifically, she is interested in exploring how design can facilitate a deeper understanding of complex information and foster increased interest in learning, as well as how visualization and user experience can promote positive behaviors and emotions. Yvette holds an M.F.A. degree in Visual Communication Design and a B.S. degree in Computer Science.

You Look Like the Right Type

In a daily ritual since 2008, exact-dialogue fragments of overheard conversations are made into illustrated quotes

Mark Addison Smith
Associate Professor
DePaul University

On November 23, 2008, in the Chicago downtown loop, while hurrying to catch the subway, a young woman approached Mark Addison Smith and asked for a cigarette. “I don’t smoke,” he said. She snapped her fingers and replied: “Ahhh, you look like the right type.” Suddenly and strangely inspired by the exchange, he raced home and illustrated their brief conversation with expressive hand lettering, and a daily artistic practice was born.

In a daily ritual since 2008, Smith redraws exact-dialogue fragments of overheard conversations as 7×11-inch India ink works-on-paper, combining verbatim, hand-drawn text with visual and tonal embellishment; he often draws more than one quote per day. For gallery installations and artist’s books, Smith edits the single drawings into larger, theme-based conversations between people who have never met or exchanged words. When amassed together as modular narratives, the black and white drawings—voiced by strangers and collectively titled You Look Like The Right Type—share grayscale conversations across time, place, age, and gender (the who, what, when, where, why, and how of documentary storytelling). And the audience, as interlocutor, triangulates the conversation by reading that which was once spoken (a tenet of grammatology) and making their own non-linear, grayscale associations between text, image, and completion of what’s left unsaid.

https://www.markaddisonsmith.com/you-look-like-the-right-type

November 2023 marked the fifteenth anniversary of Mark Addison Smith’s You Look Like The Right Type archive, now containing over 6,000 works-on-paper; he has never missed a day of eavesdropping and drawing other people’s words since he first began this series.

Select exhibitions:

In 2023, McMaster Gallery, within the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina, celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of You Look Like The Right Type with an exhibition of Smith’s drawings, artist’s books, and sketchbooks. The exhibition spotlighted drawings Smith generated during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, in which he held remote conversations with strangers across the world and translated their words into drawn, visual essays of how they were grappling with the pandemic.

In 2019, The Bakery Atlanta, co-presented by Atlanta’s Eyedrum Gallery, celebrated the tenth anniversary of You Look Like The Right Type with an exhibition of 365 drawings.

Other solo exhibitions include Chicago’s Center on Halsted Gallery, where Smith showcased the original 24 drawings from his Years Yet Yesterday drawing series, sourced in language spoken by gay rights activist Larry Kramer, to commemorate World AIDS Day.

Group exhibitions include the Center for Book Arts in New York, Co-Prosperity in Chicago, Hegyvidék Gallery in Budapest, the Kinsey Institute in Bloomington, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York, and Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA).

Mark Addison Smith’s type specimens and broadsides are included in the permanent collections at Emory University, the Kinsey Institute, Leslie-Lohman, Ringling College of Art and Design, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Select interviews with Mark Addison Smith about this work:

Steven Heller, “The Daily Heller: Drawing to Manage Stress,” PRINT, July 1, 2022.

Debbie Millman, “Illustrating Sound,” The Mic, produced by NYCxDesign, episode one, October 30, 2020. 

Mark S. King, “This gay artist draws what he (secretly) hears you say on the streets,” Queerty, September 5, 2020.

Steven Heller, “The Daily Heller: Typographic Eavesdropping,” PRINT, May 5, 2020.

Kathryn Weinstein, “Sharing Loudly,” Designer, University & College Designers Association, Volume 24, Number 2, Summer 2017.

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards winner recipient in the category of Scholarship: Creative Works.

Mark Addison Smith is a queer artist whose design specialization is typographic storytelling: allowing illustrative text to convey a visual narrative through printed matter, artist books, and site installations. With his on-going, text-based archive, You Look Like The Right Type, he has been drawing snippets of overheard conversations every single day since 2008 and exhibiting the works as larger-scale conversations between strangers exchanging words on topics never spoken. You Look Like the Right Type has been featured in All Things Letters, Deadline, Design Sponge, Goodtype, Hyperallergic, I Love Typography, PRINT Magazine’s The Daily Heller, Queerty, MAGMA Brand Design’s Slanted Magazine, and in conversation with Debbie Millman for the very first episode of NYCxDesign’s podcast, The Mic. His artist’s books are housed in over 80 permanent collections and library archives, including Brooklyn Museum Artists’ Books Collection, Center for Book Arts, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Getty Research Institute, Guggenheim Museum Library and Archives, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, Library of Congress, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas J. Watson Library, MoMA Franklin Furnace, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at the University of Southern California, Smithsonian American Art and National Portrait Gallery Library Artists’ Book Collection, Walker Art Center Archives and Library, and the Whitney Museum of American Art Frances Mulhall Achilles Library. Smith holds a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

Making History: Teaching Design History Methods in Studio

Learning outcomes emphasized gathering information, examining sources, interpreting evidence, connecting design to social contexts, and crafting historical narratives in text and image

Aggie Toppins
Associate Professor
Washington University in St. Louis

In Spring 2023, Toppins introduced a new course called “Making History” in which students had the opportunity to learn historical research methods and use them in their studio work. At the time, WashU had only one design history course, an elective survey of graphic design, which one student in my class had taken. An ungraded quiz on the first day of class showed that most students had no sense of what was (or was not) considered canonical. None were familiar with prevailing themes in graphic design history. Unlike a survey course, which tasks students with absorbing a broad scope of historical content, this course focused on making inquiries into the past. Learning outcomes emphasized gathering information, examining sources, interpreting evidence, connecting design to social contexts, and crafting historical narratives in text and image. 

Toppins’ teaching methods were hands-on and high-impact. Having secured a $2500 Sam Fox School teaching grant, she was able to bring in a number of guest speakers and take students on field trips. Students visited local archives, museums, and historical sites. They listened to scholars and designers with diverse backgrounds discuss their research methods and outcomes. They got to physically handle historical objects from cuneiform tablets to mid-century paste-ups. Students also read historical texts, critical essays, and watched documentaries to prepare for in-class discussions and debates. After each of these activities, students responded to prompts in a provided sketchbook. The sketchbook served as the “field notes” component of the course, in which students recorded their ongoing reflections and took notes on research. In most cases, the sketchbook helped students locate the topic for their final, self-guided project. Throughout the semester, leading up to this project, students engaged in four workshops that instilled specific methods. Each workshop resulted in a short outcome, like a zine or broadside, that kept students connecting the dots between making historical inquiries and making graphic design. The final project asked students to pursue a topic of their own interest. Students became primary investigators, forming their own questions and mapping out their own research approaches.

Student work from this class was strong in terms of formal design and critical positioning. Students could articulate their goals, match appropriate research methods to their questions, and translate their findings into criteria for design projects. They also became familiar with graphic design history’s prevailing themes by thinking critically about historiography and methodology.  Another important outcome of this course is that it gave Toppins the chance to test exercises and content for her forthcoming book, Thinking Through Graphic Design History. Some student work from this class will be published in the book, which will reach market in 2025.

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards winner recipient in the category of Teaching.

Aggie Toppins is an Associate Professor of Communication Design and Chair of Design at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. She combines studio practice and critical writing to explore the social life of graphics. Aggie’s creative work has been internationally exhibited and garnered national design awards including the Type Director’s Club ‘Certificate of Typographic Excellence,’ and the SECAC Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design award. Her recent writing has been published by Design and Culture, Design Issues, Diseña, Slanted, Eye, and AIGA Eye on Design. She has written essays for Briar Levit’s book Baseline Shift: Untold Stories of Women in Graphic Design History and Ali Place’s recent volume, Feminist Designer. Her first book Thinking Through Graphic Design History will be published by Bloomsbury in 2025.

Co-Creating Compassion: Engaging the Alzheimer’s Community in Social Robotics for Caregiving

A robot for individuals grappling with Alzheimer’s disease that offers companionship, support, and aid in various caregiving tasks

Kimberly Mitchell
Assistant Professor
University of Tennessee-Knoxville

By 2025, the number of people aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s + dementia is projected to reach 7.2 million — an 11% increase from those affected right now. By 2060, this number is projected to reach 13.8 million. This deeply affects our caregivers – In 2021, family members and friends provided more than 271 billion dollars of unpaid care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. While technology will never replace human touch and person-centered care–technology can enhance caregiving–especially with routine tasks like organizing appointments, and medication reminders. 

Mitchell Mitchell is a graphic designer with a background in gerontology who is co-leading a multi-year, multidisciplinary project aimed at developing a social robot for Alzheimer’s caregiving by harnessing the collective expertise of undergraduate and graduate students spanning diverse fields such as engineering, computer science, architecture, and graphic design. Together, they are collaborating with the local Alzheimer’s community to conceptualize and co-design a friendly robot. This innovative project aims to develop a socially interactive robot tailored to assist in easing the challenges of dementia caregiving.

Mitchell’s design expertise bridges the gap between technical functionalities and user experience. She ensures that the technology developed aligns with the needs and expectations of the Alzheimer’s community. Mitchell’s additional expertise in gerontology enables a deeper understanding of the needs, behaviors, and limitations of Alzheimer’s patients. This insight informs the design process, ensuring that the robot’s interface, visuals, and interactions are tailored to the specific needs of the end-users. 

Originating from a collaborative endeavor between faculty members in biomedical engineering and design, Mitchell assumed the role of project oversight. Her responsibilities encompassed the development and leadership of two Institutional Review Board (IRB) studies. These studies incorporate user testing methodologies and participatory focus groups to glean invaluable insights directly from the Alzheimer’s community.

By leveraging this diverse pool of talent and engaging directly with the end-users, Mitchell and her team aspire to create a socially adept robot. This robot aims to offer companionship, support, and aid in various caregiving tasks for individuals grappling with Alzheimer’s disease. The inclusive and collaborative nature of this project underscores its commitment to addressing the real needs of those affected by dementia, empowering them through innovative technological solutions.

By involving the local Alzheimer’s community in all aspects of the project, the team ensures that the robot’s development is grounded in real-world scenarios and feedback. This participatory approach fosters empathy-driven design, making the technology more relevant and impactful for end-users.

The project’s outcomes, such as award-winning publications, peer-reviewed funding, undergraduate research awards, and acceptance in the local Alzheimer community showcase the effectiveness of integrating a gerontology-informed graphic design approach within a multidisciplinary context. 

The unique perspective Mitchell brings as a graphic designer with a gerontology background enriches the project by emphasizing user-centered design, ensuring that the social robot developed for Alzheimer’s caregiving is not just technically proficient but also deeply empathetic and effective in meeting the complex needs of the patients and caregivers.

Direct Outcomes

Mitchell, her students, and her research partner, Dr. Xiaopeng Zhao, have co-authored three peer-reviewed international publications – two of which she was the lead author on, and both received awards for “best paper” and “honorary mention.” Additionally, the project has had exposure nationally and internationally, where she has presented different facets of the project at 4 national and 2 international conferences. Finally, one of her undergraduate graphic design student researchers received first place at the University of Tennessee’s “Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement” (EuRECA) competition.

Publications
  1. Mitchell Mitchell, Robert Bray, Ella Hosse, Matt Rightsell, Luke Macdougall, Xiaopeng Zhao, “Co-designing a friendly robot to ease dementia,” a peer-reviewed paper accepted in Advances in the Human Side of Service Engineering book, July 2023, Best Paper Award (Honorary Mention), 2023
  2. Mitchell Mitchell, Luke Macdougall, John Hooten,  Robert Bray, Xiaopeng Zhao, “Designing a multi-disciplinary class to create a social robot for Alzheimer’s,” a peer-reviewed paper accepted in Advances in the Human Side of Service Engineering book, pp 33-40, July 2022, *Best Paper Award (2nd place) https://doi.org/10.54941/ahfe1002538
  3. Robert Bray., Luke MacDougall, Cody Blankenship, Mitchell Mitchell, Fei Yuan., Silvia Cerel-Suhl, & Xiaopeng Zhao, (2023, February). “Development and assessment of a friendly robot to ease dementia,” a peer-reviewed paper in Computer Science vol 13818. Springer, Cham (pp. 381-391). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-24670-8_34
Presentations
  1. “Using design to empower students to be a force of change: designing interdisciplinary experiences to address the needs of ad and dementia patients,” Gerontological Society of America, Indianapolis, Indiana, November 2022, A presentation showing how an interdisciplinary class was created to solve problems related to Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.
  2. Designing a multi-disciplinary class to create a social robot for Alzheimer’s,” 13th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics, virtual, July 2022, Presented the collaborative role and responsibilities of undergraduate and graduate students in the design of a social robot.
  3. “Using design to empower students to be a force of change,” Emerging Technologies in Aging & Dementia Conference, Knoxville, TN, June 2022, A presentation showing how to use human-centered design to solve real-world problems related to dementia care.
  4. “Design and validation of a social robot for Alzheimer’s disease,” American Society on Aging, April 2022, Presented initial data on the design and user testing of our prototype robot.
  5. “Designing socially assistive robots for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementia,” Gerontological Society of America 2021 Scientific Meeting, virtual, November 2021, Presented a research paper explaining the demand for additional help in caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.
  6. “Addressing dementia disparities using socially assistive robots,” 2nd Latinos & Alzheimer’s Symposium, virtual, May 2021, Presented collaborative research with the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering and the School of Design in the creation of a low-cost social robot.
Awards    
  • Human Side of Service Engineering paper, Honorary mention, 2023 
  • Eureca, 1st place undergraduate researcher in division, 2023 
  • Human Side of Service Engineering paper, 2nd place paper, 2022 
  • Undergraduate Research Funding award, $3,000 (2023), $1,500 (2022)
  • 2023 Alma and Hal Research Award, $10,000

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards runner-up recipient in the category of Scholarship: Publication.

Kimberly Mitchell is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She holds her BFA and MFA in Graphic Design and a certificate in Gerontology. She is an award-winning designer and researcher who focuses on understanding and improving experiences that support the health and well-being of underserved populations, particularly among older adults. Her multidisciplinary research focuses on the social impact of design, and how by creating awareness, a designer can improve a community’s quality of life. Her work bridges design and gerontology. Her most recent project involves co-designing with the community an AI robot interface as a conversational partner and monitor for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.

Centered: People and Ideas Diversifying Design

Examples of sophisticated, intelligent design from many cultures around the world

Kaleena Sales
Associate Professor
Tennessee State University

This book has its origins in Beyond the Bauhaus, a series of short essays Sales developed through her board service with AIGA’s Design Educators Community Steering Committee in 2019. Her goal with that series was to amplify design work from underrepresented groups who have been left out of the design canon. The first article featured the beautifully designed West African Adinkra symbols from the Akan people of Côte d’Ivoire and discussed the deep meaning within the symbols, as well as the use of common visual principles within the designs. What she hoped to demonstrate to readers was that there were examples of sophisticated, intelligent design in many cultures around the world, many of which were developed prior to movements like the Bauhaus. The next essay was on the work of AfriCOBRA, a civil rights–era artist collective based in Chicago. While the work of AfriCOBRA has made its impact within the fine arts scene, gaining notoriety during the height of the Black Power Movement, she sought to share their work through the lens of design. Though the group did not self-identify as designers, if educators and practitioners are interested in learning from diverse design methodologies, it makes sense to look beyond the boundaries of our professional discipline to find examples of successful design. In AfriCOBRA’s work, we find a delightful use of expressive lettering, rhythmic patterns, and bold colors. This work is particularly inspiring because these artists found a way to codify their visual language. They decided on a shared aesthetic vision and executed it time and again. Working against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, these artists intentionally pursued a Black aesthetic, reflecting pride in their community and identities. 

As the article series grew, contributors began to submit essays about other design histories worthy of inclusion in the canon. Caspar Lam and YuJune Park wrote an essay about the Chinese Type Archive featuring the evolving typographic language of modern Chinese. Stephen Child and Isabella D’Agnenica contributed an article on the Gee’s Bend Quilters, a group of Black women from Alabama who mastered an improvisational style of quilting. Dina Benbrahim wrote an essay titled “Moroccan Design Stories, with Shape and Soul,” analyzing the typographic and geometric designs found within Moroccan design history. Other early contributors to the article series were Ali Place, who examined the role of women in computer programming, and Aggie Toppins, who investigated the story behind the I AM a Man placard from the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike.

As this work moved from an article series to a book, there was space for some of these essays to develop into fuller writings with more in-depth research. A critical component that she hoped to achieve was to peel back the aesthetic layers of the designs to allow each reader to understand the social, political, and cultural contexts surrounding the making of the work. In examining the contexts, readers will discover how different cultural groups determine meaning, and how non-canonical ideologies and methods offer additional ways of making than what is offered by the grid-based Swiss styles of mainstream graphic design.

When she began this book process, she envisioned a neat and streamlined series of essays, matching in length and format. What developed over time became something much more organic, with essays and interviews of varying lengths. Often, she was left speechless and humbled at the generous sharing of knowledge. Nuveen Barwari’s essay, “Kurdish Fragments: Mapping Pattern as Language,” discusses the displacement of millions of Kurdish people and its impact on decorative art practices. She examines Kurdish rugs as artifacts of erasure, explaining how identity is employed through metaphors and floral themes. In her interview with Sadie Red Wing, she explains how Indigenous tribal communities have used Traditional Ecological Knowledge to inform their understanding of design and how visual sovereignty is at the heart of her work. In her conversation with Saki Mafundikwa, he explains how the colorful visual landscape of Zimbabwe offers a counter to the white space of German and Swiss design. She also draws comparisons between design and American soul music, bringing to light the creative genius of Black people across cultures and disciplines. Other essays and interviews in the book offer similar insight into perspectives and ideologies that aren’t reflected in modernist design. Further still, design leaders Ellen Lupton and Cheryl D. Holmes Miller offer perspective on the future of design, its pedagogy, and ways to reconcile the past. Practitioners Tré Seals of Vocal Type and Zipeng Zhu discuss the relationship between their work and their identity.

This small sampling of stories offers more than a quick glimpse into design artifacts. she asks of the reader to consider what we don’t know, and what questions have yet to be asked. she asks the reader to rethink the definition of design to expand beyond contemporary and digital practices and beyond the boundaries of the Western design canon.

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards winner recipient in the category of Scholarship: Publication.

Kaleena Sales is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Chair of the Department of Art and Design at Tennessee State University, an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) in Nashville, TN. Her research is rooted in racial justice and equity, with a specific focus on the ways culture informs aesthetics. Kaleena is co-author of the book, Extra-Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Non-Binary Field Guild for Graphic Designers, alongside Ellen Lupton, Farah Kafei, Jennifer Tobias, Josh A. Halstead, Leslie Xia, and Valentina Vergara. Through her service on AIGA’s Design Educators Community Steering Committee, Kaleena advocated for a more inclusive view of design history through her Beyond the Bauhaus writing series, which served as inspiration for her new book, Centered: People and Ideas Diversifying Design, published by Princeton Architectural Press. Kaleena is currently researching the intersection of Black culture and design as a doctoral student at North Carolina State University.

Feminist Designer

A book that explores emerging feminist practices in design

Alison Place
Assistant Professor
University of Arkansas

Additional contributors: Jennifer Armbrust, Dina Benbrahim, Madeline Avram Blount, Elizabeth Byrd, Benedetta Crippa, Alexandra Crosby, Laura Devendorf, Rachael Dietkus, Ashley K. Eberhart, Griselda Flesler, Aimi Hamraie, Gaby Hernández, Alexis Hope, Jeff Kasper, Ellen Kellogg, Aasawari Kulkarni, Eden Laurin, Una Lee, Andrew Mallinson, Claudia Marina, Victor G. Martinez, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Margaret Middleton, Maryam Mustafa, Becky Nasadowski, Maya Ober, Nina Paim, Elizabeth Pérez, Heather Snyder Quinn, Cami Rincón, Jenn Roberts, Velvet A. Johnson Ross, In-ah Shin, Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard, Ayako Takase, Attia Taylor, Rebecca Tegtmeyer, Aggie Toppins, Ilaria Vanni, Joana Varon, Manon Vergerio, Mandy Harris Williams, Sarah Williams.

Published in September of 2023 by MIT Press, Feminist Designer: On the Personal and the Political in Design is a book that explores emerging feminist practices in design. Place wrote this book, primarily, for her students, in whom she observed strong passion for addressing feminist issues through design with little understanding of the histories and power structures that undergird them. The writing and concepts in the book are intended to be accessible for a wide audience, not just an academic one. Her own writing makes up about one-third of the book, while the rest is comprised of contributions from other designers. Contributors were solicited through an open call for proposals or by direct invitation, with a significant effort made to assemble a diverse array of identities, background, disciplines and perspectives. Each contributor was paid an honorarium, funded by an advance from the publisher.

Book Blurb

Feminist Designer brings together a constellation of voices and perspectives to examine the intersection of design and feminist theory. For decades, the feminist refrain within design has hinged on the representation and inclusion of women in the field. This collection, however, is a call to move beyond this narrow application. Feminist design is not just about who does design—it is about how we do design and why. Feminist frameworks for design activism are now more relevant than ever, as they emphasize collaborative processes that aim to disrupt and dismantle power hierarchies while centering feminist ways of knowing and doing.

The first book in nearly three decades to address such practices in design, Feminist Designer contains essays, case studies, and dialogues by 43 contributors from 16 different countries. Place engages a wide variety of design disciplines, from graphic design to disability design to algorithmic design, and explores key feminist themes, such as power, knowledge, care, plurality, liberation, and community. Through diverse, sometimes conflicting, intersectional perspectives, this book contributes new design methods informed by a multiplicity of feminisms that confront design’s patriarchal origins while ushering in new pathways for making critical and meaningful change.

Book Design

In addition to writing the book, she also designed it, which was a feminist project in itself. The three typefaces used are Bastardo Grotesk (Giulia Boggio), Cofo Sans (Contrast Type Foundry), and Fraunces (Phaedra Charles)—all created by designers who identify as women, non-binary or trans. The typography on the cover makes a loud statement with the title and subtitle in large, bold type with a spot varnish, echoing an unwavering chant of feminist protest. The addition of emoji-style glyphs on each line speak to the snarky ambivalence felt by an emerging generation of feminists. The purple hues merge the historical purple of the 20th century suffragettes, with the effervescence of so-called Gen Z lavender. In the feminist spirit of citation, the name of every contributor in the book is featured on the cover in alphabetical order, giving credit where credit is due. The interior of the book is designed for accessible reading, plus ease of skimming; sections are short, with headlines, decks, and pull quotes like a magazine.

Outcomes

The book has received much positive recognition from the media, with excerpts published in Design Observer and Fast Company; several reviews in major outlets including the Boston Globe, Metropolis Magazine, and Madame Architect; and was named one of the best design books of 2023 by both Fast Company and the Architect’s Newspaper. Currently, there are seven journal reviews in progress expected to be published next year in top journals, including Design and Culture, Design Issues, and the Journal of Feminist Pedagogy. Place has been interviewed about the book on two podcasts, Scratching the Surface and The Deep Dive, and invited to speak at DePaul University in Chicago in 2024. Though it has only been four months since the book was published, she is excited to see the conversations about feminist design that have been initiated, and she look forward to expanding and amplifying those in the months to come.

This project was the 2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards winner recipient in the category of Scholarship: Publication.

Alison Place is a designer, educator and researcher who works at the intersection of feminism and design to create spaces for critical making and radical speculation. She is the author of Feminist Designer: On the Personal and the Political in Design published by MIT Press in 2023. She is an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Arkansas School of Art, where she also serves as the director of the graphic design program. She has held several leadership roles in the design community, including two terms on the AIGA Design Educators Community National Steering Committee, and has earned multiple national awards for her scholarship and creative work. Previously, she worked for more than ten years as a creative director and designer for nonprofit and higher education institutions. She earned an M.F.A. in experience design from Miami University of Ohio, as well as degrees in graphic design and journalism from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

The 2023 Design Incubation Communication Design Educators Awards

2023 Design Incubation Educators Awards competition in 4 categories: Creative Work, Published Research, Teaching, Service

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2023 Communication Design Educators Awards!

SCHOLARSHIP: PUBLICATIONS


Winner

Feminist Designer

Alison Place
Assistant Professor
University of Arkansas

Additional contributors: Jennifer Armbrust, Dina Benbrahim, Madeline Avram Blount, Elizabeth Byrd, Benedetta Crippa, Alexandra Crosby, Laura Devendorf, Rachael Dietkus, Ashley K. Eberhart, Griselda Flesler, Aimi Hamraie, Gaby Hernández, Alexis Hope, Jeff Kasper, Ellen Kellogg, Aasawari Kulkarni, Eden Laurin, Una Lee, Andrew Mallinson, Claudia Marina, Victor G. Martinez, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Margaret Middleton, Maryam Mustafa, Becky Nasadowski, Maya Ober, Nina Paim, Elizabeth Pérez, Heather Snyder Quinn, Cami Rincón, Jenn Roberts, Velvet A. Johnson Ross, In-ah Shin, Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard, Ayako Takase, Attia Taylor, Rebecca Tegtmeyer, Aggie Toppins, Ilaria Vanni, Joana Varon, Manon Vergerio, Mandy Harris Williams, Sarah Williams.


Winner

Centered: People and Ideas Diversifying Design

Kaleena Sales
Associate Professor
Tennessee State University


Runner up

Co-Creating Compassion: Engaging the Alzheimer’s Community in Social Robotics for Caregiving

Kimberly Mitchell
Assistant Professor
University of Tennessee-Knoxville

SCHOLARSHIP: CREATIVE PRODUCTION
Winner

You Look Like the Right Type

Mark Addison Smith
Associate Professor
DePaul University

TEACHING
Winner

Making History: Teaching Design History Methods in Studio

Aggie Toppins
Associate Professor
Washington University in St. Louis

Runner up

Visualizing Self-Tracked Data to Navigate Well-being

Yvette Shen
Associate Professor
Ohio State University

SERVICE
Winner

Maternal Health Hackathon:
Community-Led Design for Reproductive Justice in Arkansas

Bree McMahon
Assistant Professor
University of Arkansas

Alison Place
Assistant Professor
University of Arkansas

2023 JURY

Steven McCarthy (Chair)
Professor Emeritus
University of Minnesota

Helen Armstrong
Professor
North Carolina State University

Anne H. Berry
Associate Professor
Cleveland State University

Warren Lehrer
Founding Faculty
School of Visual Arts, MFA Design

Ana Raposo
Lecturer
ESAD – Escola Superior de Arte e Design
Porto, Portugal

Neeta Verma
Associate Professor
University of Notre Dame