Prof. Neri Oxman firstname.lastname@example.org
Labs Wednesdays 7:00 – 9:00 PM (location varies)
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
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
February 11 Tues LECTURE 2 – DESIGN OF REPRESENTATION
Notation, Information and Communication
Issue Assignment 1: Design a Representational System
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
James Grady and Mark Schifferli, Fathom
Carl Lostritto, Assistant Professor, RISD
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
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
March 11 Tues ASSIGNMENT 1 DUE- CLASS PRESENTATIONS
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
Aranda, Benjamin, and Chris Lasch. Tooling. New York: Princeton Architectural
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
Prof. Sang bae Kim, Mechanical Engineering/ Robotics, MIT
Prof. Skylar Tibbits, Director of Self Assembly Lab, MIT
Pearce, Peter. Structure in Nature Is a Strategy for Design. Cambridge: MIT
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
Professor Kevin Slavin, Playful Systems Group Media Lab
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
Professor Patrick Winston, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science MIT
Minsky, Marvin L. The Society of Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986.
Winston, Patrick Henry. Artificial Intelligence. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley
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
Lee Moreau, Principal of Continuum
Dario Buzzini, Design Director, IDEO
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
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: http://archigram.westminster.ac.uk/
Mark Wigley, Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of
Desire. Rotterdam: Witte de With, 1998.
May 14 Wed ASSIGNMENT 3 COMPLETE AND PLAYED BY CLASSMATES
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.