September 26, 2014

New faculty member Matt Epler has recently won a fellowship with NYC’s  Economic Development Corporation as New York’s next Top Maker. His project Kinograph is an open source film scanner/telecine for digitizing all gauges of film. It uses components available on the internet, a few 3D printed parts, and a consumer level camera and it produces high quality video with sound.

Congrats Matt! 

September 25, 2014

Jeffrey Zeldman has been called the “Miles Davis of web design” and ”Godfather of the web”. We happily call him faculty. Here, Jeffrey discusses the last twenty years of web design and his role as a community organizer. 

August 19, 2014

See Think Make: new San Francisco event series


Alumni Erin Moore, Alison Shaw (Class of 2012), and Tash Wong (Class of 2013) have recently launched a new event series See/Think/Make in San Francisco. 

Designed to bring together the curious and capable, each event will explore Interaction Design through a particular lens:

  • See: Understanding the role of exploration, observation, and empathy in the creative process

  • Think: Unpacking large concepts and finding new ways to solve problems

  • Make: Getting down and doing the work of making our ideas real

The first event, held August 28, will feature Erin Moore, Senior UX Designer at Twitter, who will discuss why paying attention to the world around us is actually the first step to designing great products. A designer’s ability to see things from different points of view is crucial to designing products that connect people and create meaningful experiences. In her talk, Erin tells three stories that have captured her attention and shows how these stories can give designers a fresh perspective on their everyday work. A panel discussion will follow.

Sign up for the first event, see what else is in store, and follow See/Think/Make on Twitter. 

July 11, 2014

Single Office Seeks Pragmatic Partner


Join the team! The MFA Interaction Design department is looking for a Senior Systems Administrator. It is a full-time role responsible for overseeing the planning, coordinating, integrating, and monitoring all technical and digital aspects for the graduate Interaction Design department, both internally and externally facing.

Some responsibilities include:

  • Oversee the department website, managing any design and functional updates to the website, as well as the workflow for content and asset updates.
  • Support graduate students, faculty, and staff; serve as primary technical liaison for the department for all parties both internal and external.
  • Perform routine system backups; install and maintain Mac applications; diagnose and resolve hardware and software issues.
  • Review industry trends and faculty news to maintain foresight to keep staff and department as current, providing updates in weekly meetings.

For the full list of responsibilities/qualifications and to see if you are a match!!

June 2, 2014

Tackling Citi Bike Related Problems


Last Thursday, students Amy Wu and Luke Stern presented at Citi Bike NYC Data Showcase, the second examination of all the data produced by Citi Bike rides. Amy and Luke sought to enhance the tourist experience with ideas requiring little budget or resource.

Next City writes:

Citi Bikes’ software and hardware interfaces can be rage-inducing. They’ve been working with students studying interface design at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). The goal is in large part to reduce the sort of friction that can occur when you attempt to put your credit card in and generate a printed code to unlock a bike, all under the watchful gaze of those in line behind you. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. And it’s impossible to know which experience you’ll have until you try…

The research team is working towards: 

“We’re trying to hack the user experience of Citi Bike,” said Luke Stern, who presented alongside his fellow SVA student Amy Wu. Their research team has mocked up a system that would allow casual users to pre-pay away from the maddening crowds, either online or by mobile phone, by accessing a wider variety of passes than currently exist — a $2 single-ride pass, or a $15 Weekend Pass, good for three days. 

Read the full article at Next City and see the work of the student research team. 

Read the article  and see the teams work

May 30, 2014

Meet the 2014 Summer Instructors: Noa Younse

A few quick questions with Noa Younse, summer instructor for Code Literacy, An Introduction to Interactive Programming.


Noa Younse is a designer interested in computational techniques for visualizing data and generating algorithmic art. For the past two summers, he’s encouraged students at SVA to develop their coding ability through a variety of introductory classes.  This summer he returns to teach Code Literacy, helping designers express themselves programatically.

Tell us something about your summer course we might not expect based on its course description.

Learning to code at any level not only gives you the ability to explore creative expression in a new medium, but also provides the opportunity for an alternative approach to problem solving.  Over time this mental shift can actually start to influence the way in which you approach seemingly unrelated tasks. The aim of the course is to provide the foundation for this new perspective.

What will students be making or working on in your class this year?

We will go over some of the basic concepts of object oriented programing and integrate some data gathering and analysis to create a few light data visualizations.  Since no prior knowledge of coding is required, we will work on establishing the fundamentals of coding as well as integrating existing snippets into our code.  

Got a good book or article recommendation for people interested in the course?

Nathan Yau’s site,, maintains a great collection of data stories created with various tools.  It is a good reminder that there is no limit to how a narrative can take shape.  

What are you excited for in NYC this summer (aside from the summer intensive)?

The warm weather – as much fun as this past winter was… it’ll be nice to be able to spend an afternoon outdoors at my local beer garden.  

What are you working on these days?

I often have several projects going on simultaneously, most of which have independent themes and clients.  The most recent project was a magazine graphic based on data from the NASA archives in which we formulated a quasi-flowing word cloud from popular terms of the era.  Currently I am looking at a dataset of pharmaceutical interactions in Africa.

Research Methods is one of five summer intensive courses in interaction design offered to the public by the MFA Interaction Design program at SVA. To learn more about the program, visit the Summer Intensive in Interaction Design

May 20, 2014

Meet the 2014 Summer Instructors: Jodi Leo

A few quick questions with Jodi Leo, summer instructor for Research Methods in Interaction Design.


For the past two years, students attending the Summer Intensive in Interaction Design have had the chance to work with Jodi Leo, a designer, researcher and educator by trade. Jodi helps students overcome any fears or myths in approaching design research, and generally makes the process lots of fun.  We caught up with Jodi to learn what she’s excited for this summer.

Jodi, tell us something about your summer course we might not expect based on its course description.

Students are often surprised that the final project is so focused on producing design. While we do survey research techniques and practices, we do so in order to pair them with the iterative problem-solving skills we need to hone as designers. 

What will students be making or working on in your class this year?

The final 3 contenders for a focus of our research and design are (1) a major national newspaper, (2) a popular social network and (3) a lifeline to the community. I’m still working with my contacts at each organization to make sure they can commit.

Got a good book or article recommendation for people interested in the course?

Steve Portigal’s book, Interviewing Users (5/2013, Rosenfeld Media) really helps students get into the right mindset for the class and provides and outstanding take on setup, moderation, and analysis. My favorite recent article was written by a 2014 Code for America Fellow named Kavi Harshawat and is called “Research and Cookies.”  I would point students to it because of how resourceful Kavi was in setting up his research station, meeting participants where they are, and because it shows what I often see in class, which is how observing people use what you make can really change your worldview. I’m also really excited that Jan Chipchase just started his own embedded design and research studio, Studio D Radiodurans.

What are you excited for in NYC this summer (aside from the summer intensive)?

As a resident of Brooklyn Heights, I take advantage of Brooklyn Bridge Park quite a bit each summer. For those of you staying near SVA and up for a 4-mile walk, I recommend getting up early on Sunday with a favorite book (or the NY Times) and walking down to the Brooklyn Bridge, walking over, hitting Smorgasburg for lunch, then walking up to Brooklyn Bridge Park, stopping to do the crossword or read by the public pool or in any one of the beautifully landscaped areas, and stopping for a beverage at any one of the outdoor cafes in the park. You can time all of this to coincide with one of the Celebrate Brooklyn Dance Parties – I’m going to the one on May 22nd, the African Dance Party with Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars. You’ll also find me taking advantage of two amazing scenes near my office – the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club and on Monday nights, Night Train with Wyatt Cenac at Littlefield. 

What are you working on these days?

I’m a founding member of a brand new product called Imprint, which aims to amplify and preserve the love in peoples lives by creating beautiful, lasting, living records of loved ones. 

With Imprint you can easily collaborate with friends and family to gather personal stories, pictures, and memorabilia to make beautiful, lasting, living records. We just launched our private beta last week and we’d love readers to sign up for an invitation to the private beta at

Research Methods is one of five summer intensive courses in interaction design offered to the public by the MFA Interaction Design program at SVA. To learn more about the program, visit the Summer Intensive in Interaction Design

May 16, 2014

The Parable of Yellowstone: Frank Chimero closes OPEN IXD


Photo credit, Amy Wu

Designer, illustrator, writer, and teacher Frank Chimero was Closing Keynote speaker at this year’s Thesis Festival, OPEN IXD. He began with a story of Yellowstone Park’s 1,200 troublesome bears:

Since design is frequently framed as problem-solving, and this is an interaction design program—and there is clearly some kind of interaction happening between a man, a bear, a car, and a sandwich—I want to ask everyone: how would you respond to the bear problem?

There are two options, he went on to say:

The first path is the method chosen by the early rangers at Yellowstone in the 19th century. They had to contend with a similar problem as our bears when wolves were eating the neighboring ranchers’ livestock. (Again, a conflict over who gets to eat what. Animals are not particularly good at observing human rules.) The rangers opted to eliminate what caused the problem and hunted the wolves to the point of near extinction. Problem solved, I guess, but not in the most elegant fashion.

And the second way:

[Is] a more gentle and time-consuming approach. In the ’70s, the park introduced what they called a “bear management” program. As much as I want this to be about bears in white-collared jobs holding coffee mugs, it is not. The funny thing about the bear management program is that it’s really a people management program. The best way to prevent bear and human brush-ups is to have people behave responsibly: place edibles in bear-proof receptacles, slow down and watch out for bears on the road, and so on. It’s easier to direct and instruct a person than a bear.

Why this story?

I’m sharing this weird parable about Yellowstone, because it describes both sides of how to approach problems. Some designers want to shoot the wolves, others want to manage the bears. One is trying to make an antidote, the other invests in a process to keep things open and adaptable. … We often mischaracterize design as a practice of problem-solving, as if the problems go away. But closure, at least in my experience, is so rare in design.


[T]he next time you’re sitting down to work on a design project, ask yourself: what am I being asked to do? Do I need to shoot wolves or manage bears?

Rather than shooting the source of the problem, we are aiming to be the shepherd. Thank you, Frank.

If you missed, it, don’t miss the transript in its entirety!

May 13, 2014

OPEN IXD: Thesis Festival Tomorrow!

Join the Class of 2014 in the presentation of their thesis projects!

OPEN IXD is the MFA Interaction Design Festival at the School of Visual Arts. It’s a collaborative celebration of the work from 14 interaction design students who present their theses in individual expression. Inside the theater, the class of 2014 presents their experience through story; outside, prototypes are in the open for play and exploration.

Watch us behind the scenesRSVP, and view the days schedule

May 7, 2014

Alex Wright Publishes Cataloging the World

Faculty Alex Wright recently published his second book, Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age, due out in June from Oxford University Press.

Paul Otlet was a Belgian bibliographer and entrepreneur who, in 1934, described something very much like the World Wide Web. Otlet was more than just a technological visionary, however. He saw his global network—the Mundaneum—as part of a utopian plan to accelerate social progress, unify the world’s governments, and ultimately foster a great spiritual awakening.

Publishers Weekly review reads: 

“In this enlightening profile, Wright revives and contextualizes the now largely forgotten work of “visionary information theorist” Paul Otlet… Wright is certain that ‘Otlet’s vision for an international knowledge network… points toward a more purposeful vision of what the global network could yet become,’ and his biography could help set that in motion.”

Read more details, see more wonderful reviews, and preorder the book!