Connecting Scholars, Building Community, Design Research Network(ing) | Design Incubation Affiliated Society Meeting

This open forum will have design scholars and researchers discuss various research topics, offer their ideas, discuss opportunities for contributors/participants/collaborators, and open dialog regarding multiple challenges within the design research field.

Friday, February 12, 2021
12:30 PM Eastern Time (the US and Canada)
Online ZOOM Event

This is the Affiliated Society meeting of the 109th CAA Annual Conference. The meeting is open to non-conference attendees as well. Please register in advance for this event.


Please join us at The College Art Association (CAA) Design Incubation Affiliated Society meeting | Connecting Scholars, Building Community, Design Research Network(ing) virtually on Friday, February 12, from 12:30-1:30 pm (EST).

Design Incubation is a volunteer academic organization whose focus and mission are facilitating research and scholarship in design. We aim to foster discussion and collaboration among academics and industry professionals. We are a resource for those working and studying within the field.

This open forum will have design scholars and researchers discuss various research topics, offer their ideas, discuss opportunities for contributors/participants/collaborators, and open dialog regarding multiple challenges within the design research field. Design Incubation will also be discussing some of their ongoing work with the mission/focus of supporting design research.

Some of the questions we will discuss with panelists include:

  • How did you determine your research agenda?
  • How do your dept and institution define and support the work you do?
  • How would you describe/categorize your dept and institution?
  • If you were going to position your research within a category, would you say your work addresses: design theory,
    design history, design practice, design research (traditional graphic design, speculative design, UXUI, typography, AR, VR, creative computing, design solutions, etc.), design pedagogy, something else?


Dan Wong
Associate Professor, New York City College of Technology, CUNY
Co-founder/Executive Director, Design Incubation

Dan’s research considers the forms and methodologies of communication design research and innovates through the practice of communication design.


Heather­­­ Snyder Quinn
Assistant Professor, DePaul University’s School of Design
Director of Design Futures, Design Incubation

Heather’s research uses design fiction and speculative design to question the ethics of emerging technologies, challenge technocratic power, and imagine possible futures.

Jessica Barness
Associate Professor, School of Visual Communication Design, Kent State University
Director of Research Initiatives, Design Incubation

Jessica’s research focuses on social media, publication practices, and the design of scholarship, and how these relate to issues of power and representation.

Ayako Takase
Assistant Professor of Industrial Design, Rhode Island School of Design
Director of Master Program
Co-Founder, Observatory Design

Ayako’s design research focuses on evolving relationships between people, objects, and technology in the context of work.

Penina Acayo Laker
Assistant Professor, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University St. Louis
Co-Principal Investigator, Mobility for All by All

Penina’s research centers around topics that utilize a human-centered approach to solving social problems.

Registration required. Please use your institutional email to register.

The Machine Hand

Contemporary type design history of emulating hand manipulation of a brush.

Ryan Molloy
Eastern Michigan University

Single-line fonts—also known as engraving fonts, pen plotter fonts, and stick fonts—have a long history ranging from architectural hand drafting to use on pen plotters and engraving devices. As applications of digital fabrication—cnc milling, 3D printing, laser engraving, pen plotters, and craft cutters—have become more commonplace the demand for single line fonts has increased. Majority of the fonts produced and used today are outline fonts, enclosed and filled vector graphic forms. In contrast, a single-line font is composed solely of single vector lines (not enclosed). In applications of digital fabrication the use of single-fonts significantly reduces production time because machine paths are not duplicated.

Contemporary type design has long had a history of emulating the contrasting strokes created through hand manipulation of a brush. The increased demand from maker communities for single-line fonts has led to the development and commercialization of new single-line fonts or tools to convert outline fonts into single-line fonts. However, despite the traditions of type design and the movements of the machine allowing the potential to mimic traditional form of lettering most single-line fonts are designed only for a constant stroke weight. This presentation will showcase a number of personal typographic experiments and typefaces created in an attempt to find novel solutions and applications to the design of single-line fonts. From pen plotters, to engraving, to the creation of letterpress wood type, and drawing inspiration from calligraphy to graffiti the work seeks to ask how can we further reinsert the hand into digital writing.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1: Oakland University, MI on October 17, 2020.

The Future of Water

This project examines the critical relationship between storytelling and information, specifically, quantitative insights, within a dynamic virtual setting, of current events in the social sector—our global water crisis.

Jeannie Joshi
Joshi Design LLC (

Mike Edwards
Founder/Lead Technologist
rich | strange (

“The question of ‘experience’ is frequently debated in design circles, and particularly in educational circles where students have a tendency to mistake software as a way to transform themselves into film directors. The prevailing sentiment seems influenced not only by the stylistic urge to layer but also by the expectation that design must address new and complex audiences in new and complex ways.”

—Jessica Helfand, Essays on Graphic Design, New Media, and Visual Culture.

As interactive technologies become more complex and traditional narrative structures more layered—information and data are themselves becoming a powerful narrative tool.

Driven by our passion for both social impact and mixed reality, this project examines the critical relationship between storytelling and information, specifically, quantitative insights, within a dynamic virtual setting, of current events in the social sector—our global water crisis.

We begin to shape a new territory for human-centric interaction design through the use of mixed reality, striking a balance between craft and execution, context and purpose.

This project, Future of Water, is a proof of concept, of a virtual-reality data experience, that aims to critique the scarcity of information innovation within larger problem areas—in this instance, the global water gap.

Breaking down the quantitative data sets from McKinsey & Company’s economic report “Charting Our Water Future” our work:

  • showcases how VR affordances can adapt and illuminate these quantitative insights within the setting of mixed reality
  • suggests a process of divergent and convergent thinking for a diversity of stakeholders, including educators
  • demonstrates the transformative power of mixed reality storytelling, and
    educates our audience on the challenges that designers will face in creating functional solutions working with edge technologies


This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.4: Parsons Integrated Design on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

A Selfish Communication

Brian Dougan
Associate Professor of Architecture
American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

From within the hasty pace of academic change, the absence of certain platitudinous expertise in design education together with an emphasis in nascent design technologies has resulted in an unavoidable deficit in terms of how students work. The contemporary attack is often cold, hurried and lackluster. I am impressed by student’s many technological and sociological advantages and their fluencies in calculation and fabrication methods, but disappointed with their abilities to negotiate their own human sensitivities. My default role in most every creative academic endeavor is to teach students how-to-do whatever it is that requires doing. How-to work might be a better way to describe the role or even, how-to communicate – communicate to the immediate community, the professor and most importantly, to themselves. How to speak well about what it is they are trying to say. My role is to teach them that how they say something fundamentally effects what that something is.

I am developing an approach for teaching design students how to be drawers. It is about learning to draw and drawing to learn. In a first year drawing studio, I orchestrated a series of lessons about “seeing” in relation to coordination; a craft based approach emphasizing how one cooperates and coordinates with tools. The lessons are concerned with hand/tool coordination and with hand/eye coordination. I initially rely on blind contour exercises stressing an honest relationship between the seer and the seen. Eventually the seers are liberated from exclusive blindness to varying degrees of judgment. I have been calling this process, ‘the spectrum of judication’. Through the student’s virgin eyes, the poles of the spectrum are in diametrical opposition – immeasurable quality and calculated recognition. The intentionally gradated engagement has produced a generally high quality of product and a rather large collection of seemingly confident young drawers.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.1: Kean University on Saturday, Oct 22, 2016.

Design for Dystopia

Amelia Marzec
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Queens College
Hunter College

Imagine a future where the American dollar is worthless. To re-build the economy, citizens must use the only resource available: decades of postconsumer waste. With no way to afford expensive international electronics, but with a deep human desire to connect, they sift through products that have been subject to planned obsolescence for the possibility of working parts. The goal is to build a new communications infrastructure that is community-controlled and far from the prying eyes of any government.

In the global economy, we have enjoyed more connectedness than ever before; but have paid a price in privacy and autonomy. Governments can and will suppress communication, as we have seen during Arab Spring and the Hong Kong protests. Centralized internet and phone systems are not able to survive natural disasters, as we’ve seen during the Tohoku Earthquake and Hurricane Sandy. If roads are closed, gas is rationed and the internet is down, it is impossible to order any supplies. It is time to remove the mystique surrounding the production of telecommunications systems. We must learn to use what is at hand to be prepared for disruptions.

Design for Dystopia traces several projects from concept to outcome: a project that allows people to send messages offline using their mobile phones, bypassing their cell phone provider; a project that re-envisions the structure of electronics manufacturing in America; and thoughts on furthering the design of a more democratic communications infrastructure, using native materials. We need to consider that the devices and methods with which we are dependent on to communicate and receive our content are also political, and we need to address what is actually necessary for basic communication.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.5: Rhode Island School of Design on Saturday, March 7, 2015.