Athina Papadopoulou
4.110J / MAS.330J / MAS.650J 
Instructors          Prof. Meejin Yoon        
                             Prof. Neri Oxman        
TAs                      David Costanza          
                            Athina Papadopoulou 
                            Alexis Sablone            
Schedule            Lectures                               Tuesday 10:00 – 12:00      E14-633
                            Labs                                     Wednesdays 7:00 – 9:00 PM (location varies)
Class Site 
                            4.110J / MAS.330J (Undergraduate Course Number)
                            MAS.650 (Graduate Course Number)
                            Prereq: None
                            U (Spring)
                            2-2-8 HASS-A
Explores the reciprocal relationships among design, science, and technology across scales. Covers a wide range of topics from visualization, fabrication, computation, material ecology, interaction, architecture, to games and performance. Examines how transformations in science and technology have influenced design thinking and vice versa. Students collaborate on interdisciplinary design projects and creative opportunities. Additional work is required of students taking the graduate version of the course.
N. Oxman, J. M. Yoon
Inspired by Charles and Ray Eames’ canonical “Powers of Ten,” the course explores the relationship between disciplines through the lens of Design. It examines how transformations in science and technology have influenced design thinking and vice versa. It offers interdisciplinary tools and methods to represent, model, design and fabricate objects and systems across physical, economical and social scales. Structured as core lectures and labs, the course is organized by “systems” such as Design of Information, Design of Fabrication, Design of Intelligence, Design of Play and Design of Innovation. Leaders in the fields of Design, Computer Science, Material Science, and Mechanical Engineering will contribute through guest lectures. We will learn design tools - digital and analog; we will develop design methods - disciplinary and anti-disciplinary and we will design things - material and immaterial.
The course creates a new pedagogical paradigm for education, which cuts across various disciplines and scales, to demonstrate that Design is not a Discipline but a way of looking at the world that promotes the synthesis of interdisciplinary knowledge across scales in order to create objects and systems for the greater good. This is partly due to the fact that such challenges – such as the race to cure cancer, the mars landing mission and the challenge to design sustainable cities and buildings – require, perhaps more than ever, an interdisciplinary skill set and an ability to operate across multiple scales with creativity.
The history of design innovation provides endless examples of cross disciplinary individuals and innovations.  Buckminster Fuller, for instance, was a designer, a futurist, an inventor, an author and a systems theorist. His designs based on the geodesic dome has inspired not only generations of designers, architects, engineers and urban planners but also chemists, material scientists and physicists who were inspired by his representation of the physical world.  Charles and Ray Eames were mid-century American designers working at a range of scales and in a variety of media, from furniture and military aircraft parts to films and exhibitions. Their experiments in design fabrication, and cultural media are a useful reference for design education today.  An example of the value of learning across disciplines today is found in Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book, Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer, which tells the story of how the process of inventing cell dyes to trace the growth of cancerous tissues was actually inspired by textile design. 
Design has expanded to include a broad range of scales and disciplines, shifting from the production of objects to the design of experiences, data, networks, territories, and social frameworks. Designers are no longer exclusively committed to design autonomous objects (buildings, cars, furniture and household products), but rather are conceiving and testing whole ecologies of design experiences (robotic construction systems, transportation systems, health care experiences, water distribution, and clean energy). This has prompted Tim Brown, CEO of the design consultancy firm IDEO to state, “Design is too important to be left to designers.” The scope of design ecologies is so broad and so integrated with other disciplines that traditionally trained designers are ill equipped to tackle the new breadth of design tasks at hand. Interdisciplinary teams must work together to design the systems, experiences, environments and futures for our increasingly complex world.
Design Across Scales, Disciplines and Problem Contexts responds to this challenge by creating a course that is not a traditional design course for designers, but a design course about culture, science and technology to serve as a foundation for all students regardless of major.
Attendance to Lectures and Labs are required.  Those who can demonstrate advanced ability in topics for the Lab sessions may be excused with the permission of the Lab TA. However, First Lab Session (2/5/14) is required for all students. Readings are recommended but not required. 
For Undergraduates, the final grade is distributed as follows:
Class Participation- 25%; Assignment 1-  25%; Assignment 2-  25%; Assignment 3- 25%
For Graduate students, the final grade is distributed as follows:
Class Participation- 20%; Assignment 1-  20%; Assignment 2- 20%; Assignment 3- 20%; Assignment 4- 20%
February 4        Tues     LECTURE 1- DESIGN ACROSS SCALES
                                      Recommended Readings:
                                      Architecture. Grey Room. (2001): 7-29.
                                      Paola Antonelli, et. al., Design and the Elastic Mind. New York: Museum of
                                      Modern Art; London: Thames & Hudson, 2008.Top of Form
                                      Morrison, Philip, and Phylis Morrison. Powers of Ten: A Book About the
                                      Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero.
                                      Redding, Conn: Scientific American Library, 1982.Top of Form
February 5        Wed     LAB– Documentation and 2-Dimensional Representation
                                       ***First Lab Session Required for All Students
                                      Image Processing and Illustration
                                      Filming and Photography
                                      Basic 2D Representation and Editing
                                      Portfolio Skills
February 11       Tues    LECTURE 2 – DESIGN OF REPRESENTATION
                                       Notation, Information and Communication
                                      Issue Assignment 1: Design a Representational System
                                      Recommended Readings:
                                      Daston, Lorraine, and Peter Galison. Objectivity. New York: Zone Books, 2007.
                                      Maeda, John. The Laws of Simplicity. The MIT Press, © 2006.Books24x7.
                                      Web. Feb. 1, 2013.                                                       
                                      McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium is the Message”. Understanding Media: The
                                      Extensions of Man. New York: Signet, 1964.
                                      Tufte, Edward. Envisioning Information. Cheshire, CN: Graphics Press, 1990.
February 12       Wed   LAB– 3-Dimensional Representation Design Tools
                                      3-D for Beginners: Introduction to computer modeling
                                      3-D for Advanced: Parametrics/ Grasshopper (Assumes Rhino 3D Skills)
February 18       Tues     NO CLASS (Monday classes held for President’s Day)
February 19       Wed     LAB – Data Visualization with Processing
                                       Conveying messages with Graphics. Choosing the right Graph for the right data.
                                       Data-Ink ratio Optimization. Overview of Processing and useful Resources.
February 25       Tues   LECTURE 3 – DESIGN OF INFORMATION
                                      Guest Speakers:          
                                      James Grady and Mark Schifferli, Fathom
                                      Carl Lostritto, Assistant Professor, RISD
                                      Recommended Readings:
                                      Maeda, John. Creative Code. London: Thames & Hudson, 2004.
                                      Reas, Casey, and Ben Fry. Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual
                                      Designers and Artists. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2007.
                                      Fry, Ben. Visualizing Data. Beijing: O'Reilly Media, Inc, 2008.
February 26       Wed    LAB – Fabrication Overview
                                       Autocad/Rhino 2d to Laser cutting, water-jet cutting, routing.
March 4             Tues    LECTURE 4 – DATA & MEDIA
                                       Computation, Big Data, and Media                                          
                                      Guest Speakers:          
                                      Leila Kinney, Ex. Director of Arts Initiatives, MIT CAST
                                      Prof. Cesar Hidalgo, Macro Connections Group at Media Lab
                                      Ben Rubin, EAR Studio
March 5             Wed    LAB – STUDIO SESSION for Assignment #1
                                      Design a Representational System
March 12           Wed     WORKSHOP with  OLAFUR ELIASSON
March 18           Tues    LECTURE 5 – DESIGN OF FABRICATION
                                      Tools, Technique and Technologies
                                      Issue Assignment 2: Design Something that Helps you Make Something
                                      Recommended Readings:
                                      Aranda, Benjamin, and Chris Lasch. Tooling. New York: Princeton Architectural
                                      Press, 2006.
                                      Giedion, Sigfried. Mechanization Takes Command, a Contribution to Anonymous
                                      History. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1948.
                                      Sakamoto, Tomoko, and Albert Ferré. From Control to Design:
                                      Parametric/Algorithmic Architecture. Barcelona: Actar-D, 2008.
March 19           Wed    LAB– ADVANCED FABRICATION
                                      2D/3D milling, 3D Printing, Casting and Molding, Thermoforming
March 25           Tues    SPRING BREAK- NO CLASS
March 26           Wed    SPRING BREAK- NO LAB
April 1               Tues    LECTURE 6 – MIMICRY & SELF ASSEMBLY
                                      Models, Systems, Processes
                                      Guest Speakers:
                                      Prof. Sang bae Kim, Mechanical Engineering/ Robotics, MIT
                                      Prof. Skylar Tibbits, Director of Self Assembly Lab, MIT
                                      Recommended Readings:
                                      Pearce, Peter. Structure in Nature Is a Strategy for Design. Cambridge: MIT
                                      Press, 1978.
                                      Ball, Philip. Nature's Patterns: A Tapestry in Three Parts. Oxford: Oxford
                                      University Press, 2009.
April 2               Wed     LAB– Introduction to Robotics
                                      Introduction to basic robotic tools including actuators (servos/steppers),
                                      microcontrollers (arduino), and sensors. Demonstration of KUKA robotic arm and
                                      more advanced robotic controls.
April 8               Tues    LECTURE 7 - DESIGN OF PLAY
                                      Games and constructs
                                      Guest Speaker:
                                      Professor Kevin Slavin, Playful Systems Group Media Lab
                                      Recommended Readings:
                                      Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. Boston:
                                      Beacon Press, 1955.
                                      Galloway, Alexander R. Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Minneapolis:  
                                      University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
                                      Walker, Rob. “An Interview with Kevin Slavin.” Design Observer. 10 Oct. 2011.
April 9               Wed     LAB - Working session for assignment #2
April 15             Tues    ASSIGNMENT 2 DUE – CLASS PRESENTATIONS
                                      Issue Assignment 3: Design a Game
April 16             Wed     LAB - Observation
                                      Learning observation techniques for investigating user needs/wants and finding
                                      ideas based on user interactions. Real-world activities based around quantifying
                                      interactions with a focus on game design.
April 22             Tues    PATRIOTS DAY- NO CLASS
April 23             Wed     LAB - Brainstorming
                                      Bringing needs/wants and interactions from the observation session and
                                      transforming them into ideas for game design using a series of brainstorming
                                      techniques. Activities around creativity as a skill and use for developing design
                                      GRADUATE ASSIGNMENT DUE
April 29             Tues    LECTURE 8 - DESIGN OF INTELLIGENCE
                                      From Mind to Machine
                                      Guest Speaker:
                                      Professor Patrick Winston, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science MIT
                                      Recommended Readings:
                                      Minsky, Marvin L. The Society of Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986. 
                                      Winston, Patrick Henry.  Artificial Intelligence. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley
                                      Pub. Co.,1992.
                                      Wiener, Norbert. Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in the Animal and
                                      the Machine, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1948.
                                      Claude E. Shannon (1948). “A mathematical theory of communication,” The Bell
                                      System Technical Journal 27: 379-423, 623-656.
                                      Simon, Herbert A. The Sciences of the Artificial. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press,
April 30             Wed     LAB 11 – Working session for assignment #3
May 6                Tues    LECTURE 9 - DESIGN OF INNOVATION
                                      Strategy and Branding
                                      Guest Speaker:
                                      Lee Moreau, Principal of Continuum
                                      Dario Buzzini, Design Director, IDEO
                                      Recommended Readings:
                                      Brown, Tim, and Barry Kātz. Change by Design: How Design Thinking                                                               Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.New York: Harper Business, 2009
                                      Mau, Bruce, and Jennifer Leonard. Massive Change. London: Phaidon, 2004.
                                      McDonough, William, and Michael Braungart. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the
                                      Way We Make Things. New York: North Point Press, 2002. 
May 7                Wed     LAB – 12 Testing for assignment #3
                                      In lab testing of the game concepts and prototypes in a quantifiable manner for
                                      design iteration.
May 13              Tues    DESIGN OF FUTURES
                                      Envisioning Part and PResent Futures
                                      Jameson, Fredric. Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and
                                      Other Science Fictions. London: Verso, 2005.
                                      Cook, Peter. 1999. Archigram. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
                                      Online Archigram archive of images:
                                      Mark Wigley, Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of
                                      Desire. Rotterdam: Witte de With, 1998.
                                      Play 3 games, Observe, & Document
May 19-23          TBD    FINAL EXAM
                                      PRESENTATION OF ASSIGNMENT 3 -  ALL
* Changes to the schedule, if necessary, will be announced via email and/or during class.
* Supplemental Graduate Student Assignment due date will be determined in advance of the due date.




Medellin abstracted

Daniel Lizardo

Emily Royall and Daniel Lizardo

This updated video incorporates video of the Processing program that we created for the project

By Dan, Lisa and Sam

The Pirate's Race!

Ilica Mahajan

Ilica Mahajan

Kojo Welbeck

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Lock'n Play

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Chando Ao

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Marcos Esparza


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Paolo Passeri

Marcos Esparza


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SideScraper - Final project

Team members: 

Zachary Hendlin

Alex Norton

Pearl Bhatnagar

Karen Johnson

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Tina Yau and 3 OthersTalia Kaufman
Emma Haley
Douglas D Coughran


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Doug Coughran

Emma Haley

Talia Kaufmann

Tina Yau

Freeform Cellular Concrete

Daniel Lizardo

Daniel Lizardo


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Anthony Kawecki, Andrew Hong, Marcus Esparza, Edward Hoa, Pearl Bhatnagar, Daniel Lizardo