Ten students and faculty from the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship flew out to New York City in early April to huddle with first year MFA Transdisciplinary Design students to discuss a most pressing issue: the future of mobility.
Sponsored by Ford Motor Company, this three-day collaboration was the jumping off point for a multi-month project between Ford and Parsons. Students of TransDesign were tasked with pushing past current interventions surrounding mobility, transportation and access, and to use the tools of speculative design imagine possible futures.
Ford’s Definition of Mobility
Accessibility for people, goods and services to go where they need or want safely, efficiently and affordably – providing a simplified and fun customer experience. Our goal is to make mobility affordable in every sense of the word – economically, environmentally and socially.
In the three-day intensive weekend, the objective was to explore the world of mobility through particular strategies and techniques. These exercises included:
- Exploration. Six groups of three went out any where they wanted in the City, with the objective to sample new forms of transportation and to use photography, note-taking and conversation to gather fragments of city living.
- Extrapolation. Using various items from a 99¢ store, groups quickly modeled some sort of object that was representative of a future mode, system or by-product of mobility. Quick insights were garnered by the process of thinking through making.
- Immersion. Guest presentations on gridlocked cities and drivers of change. Presentations by Ford, Garry Golden (Professional Futurist), and Stephan Sigrist (Director of W.I.R.E. – Web for Interdisciplinary Research and Expertise).
- Scenarios. Unlike the two previous exercises which had short time limits, this final step of the weekend allowed students a full day to piece together a more polished prototype that could improve mobility in some way. Ideas ranged from nature-filled skylights in subway cars to adoption of local currencies to an office on wheels.
Next steps? In the timeline of the mobility project, this intensive weekend was just a springboard to five more weeks of research, honing and prototyping before the TransDesign students presented their projects as their final assignment in their studio class. But for the three days where students from twelve different countries came together, the weekend was a cross-collaboration of ideas, expertise, working styles, educational systems, and cultural backgrounds. German SSES student Vera Fuest characterized the Parsons experience as follows:
The students that are part of the Transdisciplinary Design Program at Parsons School of Design are an extremely diverse group of people that felt like a big family where everyone is strongly appreciated for their individual interests. I have not met so much great talent in one place in any other city that I have been studying in so far. In Germany, from where I come from, students are pushed to take the straight academical career and every step on the side of the direct path needs to be justified. At Parsons School of Design, it seemed to me that the zig zag way was crucial for the profile of the students. The more diverse their experiences and the more inspiring it would be for the other students. I wish that this would be supported more strongly in Germany as well. [Full article here]
Parsons and SSES is very grateful to Ford for making this collaboration possible.