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Parsons the New School for Design

New Power, Emergence, and Bottom-Up Change

By on November 21, 2014

Kate M. Purpose is a “rapidly growing social business” located just around the corner from our studio on 5th Avenue. [1] The company states that its focus is on “creating and scaling movements that have significant social impact.”[2] Jeremy Heimans is the founder and CEO of Purpose. His TED talk, recently featured on TED’s homepage, […]

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Creating Space for Transformation

By Alix Gerber on November 19, 2014


In Transdisciplinary design, we’re always talking about transformation. How can we change the way we record skills in higher education? How can we change our course towards a socially and ecologically unsustainable future? How can we change the way community organizations collaborate? These are big challenges, stuck in webs of complex systems, where the effect […]

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Love is telepathic! Micro-narratives in the urban space

By Isabella Brandalise on

2014-11-06 08.14.42

A city is a live system, a result of people’s everyday experiences, apprehensions and appropriations. As Walter Benjamin once said, “to live means to leave traces” [1]. We continuously form the spaces around us, consciously or not. Being a new inhabitant of New York City, this blog post is an attempt to capture some micro-narratives […]

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Creating business models at a design school

By Ricardo Dutra Goncalves on

SmallBigWorld team

At Parsons, we have co-created an environment that encourages people to think broadly, collaborate and speculate about solutions and possibilities for the future. Early on in the program, I learned that design was about the quality of our ideas and how we could start bringing them into reality based on exploring what users think and […]

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By Mei-Ling Lu on November 17, 2014


We buy things online and can receive them just a day after the day we ordered. We travel everywhere by car, by train or by plane. We use smartphone and laptop to deal with everything. We don’t have to be worried about feeling hot in the summer or feeling cold in the winter because of […]

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Sick to the core: design and scale in Costa Rica’s healthcare

By Andrea S. Morales Coto / www.mentapurpura.com on November 11, 2014

“Come on! The Caja is agonizing!” reads a sign at a local Costa Rican protest, in 2012. Photo by Fernando, http://bit.ly/1DIpkxs

As I’m writing this, 110 000 people are patiently waiting in their homes in Costa Rica, with an ailment that probably does not allow them to walk, talk, eat, or just sit, comfortably. They’re waiting for the year 2016, 2020, or even 2025, for the surgery that will finally cure them. You see, in Costa […]

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A cup of chai’s meaning: from Mumbai to New York

By Ricardo Dutra Goncalves on November 4, 2014


Once I had a great friend and personal mentor coming over for breakfast, when we were also supposed to discuss about life and struggles. She is one of the greatest designers “by practice” I have ever met (someone who has not had the traditional training but deeply practices the principles we often discuss in the […]

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A Future Notebook

By Janson Cheng on November 1, 2014


Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer, Chelsea Green Publishing (December 3, 2008), 2008

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Speculative Design – Save Food from the Refrigerator

By Mei-Ling Lu on

Save Food from the Fridge

Designer: Jihyun Ryou [1] http://www.savefoodfromthefridge.com “Speculative design is a means of speculating about how things could be – to imagine possible futures.” [2] “It establishes a provocative starting point from which a design process emerges. The result is an evolution of fluctuating iteration and reflection using designed objects to provoke questions and stimulate discussion.” [3] […]

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Open Source Architecture

By Sneha Srinivasan on

OpenS Arch 1

Steven Weber’s book, ”Success of Open Source” led to an animated discussion in class the other day. The class seemed divided on how this model could be successful in any other field other than software and coding. Even though it seemed like a promising phenomenon, for the lack of any concrete examples or models, I […]

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By Andrea Burgueño on


     “A big definition of who you are as a designer is the way that you look at the world”[1]    “It is a new kind of urban layer moving very slowly across the city”[2]    “it feels almost inevitable, it feels almost un-designed”[3]     “Will create things with new awareness and also […]

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The Risks of Too Speculative Design

By Veronica Uribe A. on


Yes, designers have a special ability for futuring, because in order to introduce new designs in the world they observe, research, define, ideate, test and prototype. That is why speculative design is a valuable practice. However, in my opinion, by remaining mostly in the ideation phase, speculative design projects risk losing this especial value in futuring, because they face no longer “wicked problem”.

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The Complex World Needs New Professionals

By on October 31, 2014

Businessman with card

Sungmy K     Several years ago when I was in South Korea, I had a conversation of professionalism with my designer friends. We met by similar interests during social lives, and we all had work experiences for some years. Our common concern was that there are so many interesting disciplines and issues in the […]

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Systematic Change Through Ritual

By Alix Gerber on


A friend and I have been having this debate for at least a year: he argues that some people are inherently “bad”, committing acts that are destructive to society like murder and theft because they were born a murderer or thief, and I respond that nobody is “bad” – people who are destructive to society commit these acts because […]

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TransDesign: From Chaos to Shifting Mindsets

By Aya Jaffar on

Making Meaning

When I was in finishing my undergraduate Design degree in Toronto, I wrote a manifesto to encapsulate my experience as a perplexed young designer. I was perplexed because I saw a clear schism between what I learned in design history courses and what we produced in the actual studio.

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Charter Cities: Trying to Solve Our Wicked Problems

By on

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.58.25 AM

Kate M. In their 1973 article, “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning,” Horst Rittel and Melivn Webber argue that professionalizing social services, similar to approaches taken in science or business, is not an effective approach to solving issues around social policy.[1] Published in the wake of the social, cultural, and political turmoil experienced in […]

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Black Mirror: Fifteen Million Merits

By Laura Dusi and Stephanie Lukito on

Main character greets his avatar in the morning

A British TV show, Black Mirror, presents an alternative approach to speculative design. The episode called “Fifteen Million Merits” (see youtube link at the end of post) happens in a possible future, where a reality TV show that we know mimics life, becomes life itself. In this future, citizens sustain their living by riding fixed […]

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Brasília: dare to speculate, dare to implement

By Isabella Brandalise and Cameron Hanson on October 28, 2014


What if an uncanny city popped up in the middle of nowhere? What if the city plan was so radical that a country’s entire political structure was shifted? Such is the case for Brasília, the capital of Brazil. What started as two lines on a paper manifested into a concrete masterpiece. Brasília is an example […]

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Hand Over Your Tools

By on December 19, 2013


When Bruce Nussbaum wrote about humanitarian design as the new design imperialism, like others in the class, I began to question if we as designers living in privileged situations should act at all? I had a conversation with a classmate who had witnessed the failures of a particular humanitarian design project while living in an […]

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