How to design with an eye for business

From online services to clothing lines, these grad student projects marry artistic talent with entrepreneurship

Published June 2, 2011 12:29AM (EDT)

A screenshot from Nicole Pivirotto's presentation on her project entitled "Reliq"
A screenshot from Nicole Pivirotto's presentation on her project entitled "Reliq"

In May, the School of Visual Arts graduated its MFA students in the Designer as Author program. Led by co-chairs Steven Heller and Lita Talarico, this is one of the first design programs that asks students to not just create winning work, but to actually execute on their entrepreneurial ideas and turn them into viable businesses. (One such idea to come out of the program is the famous redesign of the pill bottle by 2005 grad Deborah Adler).

This year's students pitched their ideas in a thesis exhibition called Ideopolis, a thematic "city within a city ... where ideas that have value for the makers and users are developed, executed, and marketed ... The Ideopolis Thesis Forum is the final presentation of the students' entrepreneurial products and campaigns -- a wide range of outcomes reflecting extensive interests and concerns."

Twenty students shared their ideas -- some more fully realized than others, but all impressive in their own right -- in 15-minute presentations during one long but inspiring day. I was lucky enough to catch a few of them and wanted to share them with you here.

--------------------------- Project: Foodstalk Student: Tyler Mintz

Foodstalk, a multi-platform event, is a way to come together and talk about locally grown and artisinally made foods. Using New York City as a case study, Foodstalk seeks to reconnect people with their food, the land it comes from, and the people who produce it. Our mission is to increase people's understanding of the importance and value of locally grown food. Through our website, campaigns, and ongoing series of events, Foodstalk encourages people to consider where their food comes from.

--------------------------- Project: Milestones Student: Andy Sir

Milestones is a personal archive and keepsake for the digital photos, videos, and music that make up the stories of your life. Documenting life today produces tons of personal data, creating a digital identity. If not maintained, this identity can be lost in a digital abyss. Milestones is a product that allows you to save personal files while acting as a physical reminder, resulting in an on-screen viewing experience to create a close emotional connection with your digital assets for years to come.

--------------------------- Project: Arlequin TV Student: Jules Tardy

Arlequin TV is a pan-European cultural channel. It lives on the Web and has a strong focus on independent music videos. Arlequin TV is primarily aimed at the Euro-generation, composed of students and young professionals. Music is used as a tool to guide the audience toward more engaging content, such as films, books and art. By bringing together Europe's vibrant cultural scenes, Arlequin TV enables young Europeans to share a common cultural and entertainment platform.

--------------------------- Project: Reliq Student: Nicole Pivirotto

Reliq is an online service, providing users with the mechanisms to quantify the importance of their objects. This website explores the types of value most commonly attributed to an object (monetary, historical, and personal), giving us a better understanding of the objects that we treasure. Reliq allows users to join a community of people who are passionate about objects and take part in the pleasurable act of viewing and reading the stories behind our most meaningful things.

--------------------------- Project: ROWAN Student: Lauren Wolff

ROWAN is a clothing line for young adults focused on people with tactile sensitivity, a common symptom for people on the autism spectrum and with sensory processing disorder. Tactile sensitivity has been described as making typical fabric and garment seams feel like sandpaper. ROWAN blends the latest in textile innovation and garment construction savvy to create a line of virtually seamless, comfortable and stylish clothing. The collection is contemporary in detailing and classic in silhouette -- desirable for anyone who seeks smart comfort.

--------------------------- Project: ManMade Student: Thipchat Arthasarnprasit

ManMade is an online rating system for men's clothing specifically made in America. Our goal is to ensure people have the most accurate information to make the best buying decision. It is never too late to support one's domestic economy. I am not asking people to buy only things made in the USA, but I would like them to at least consider buying American-made products if the option exists. If people are aware of American-made products, and they change their buying habits even slightly, the U.S. domestic economy will benefit.

--------------------------- Project: The Revealist Student: Cristina Vasquez

The Revealist is an urban campaign designed to invite New Yorkers to interact with and rediscover their city and its rich, unique heritage in an engaging and unexpected way. The city of New York has forever been considered the place in which to pursue goals and chase dreams, often swallowing people into its fast city dynamic. The Revealist prompts the hordes of busy New Yorkers away from their daily routine by playfully sparking their curiosity and momentarily engaging them with the wonderful stories that make this city what it is today.

--------------------------- Project: 3-Way Street Student: Ron Gabriel

3-Way Street is a campaign to help NYC pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists transition to a shared-streets mentality after decades of policy favoring cars. The major expansion of bike lanes has exposed a clash of long-standing bad habits -- such as jaywalking, running red lights, and plowing through crosswalks. The growing pains associated with change are creating a backlash threatening the city's evolution. The campaign's goal is to show our interconnection and shared role in improving the safety and usability of our streets.

--------------------------- Project: Re:Mark Student: Samantha Katz

Re:Mark, an online network for high school students and teachers, extends the classroom experience beyond its limits through interactive and collaborative assignments. How do you keep students engaged? Meet them where they live: online. Re:mark enables teachers to create dynamic collaborative assignments allowing students to participate anywhere using their computer, phone, or tablet. Part homework assignment. Part discussion forum. Part data visualizer. Teachers can change the way they motivate and engage their students.


Project: 11:11 Student: Karen Soukup

11:11 is a mobile app and emotion-based social network that prompts young adult cancer patients/survivors daily to reflect upon, express, and track their emotional variance. Inspired by Robert Plutchik's Psychoevolutionary Theory of Emotion, 11:11 empowers users by encouraging the expression of a range of universal human emotions with hopes of reducing feelings of isolation and generating social support. Additive tags further create an experiential escape, while curating empathy between strangers and attributing personal insight to each day, at 11:11.

--------------------------- Project: The Intern Student: Maja Cule

The Intern is an online magazine about the pleasure and sorrow of working in a creative industry that promotes good working etiquette. In the last decade, interning has become a mode of free employment in a majority of internationally known creative studios. Although sweatshop workers and interns receive the same paycheck, interns enjoy the rare privilege to learn through other people's mistakes. The Intern is an online magazine investigating the contemporary value of work that provides tips on surviving in a black and white office space.

--------------------------- Project: Fuzz Bucket Student: Jennie Glaser

Fuzz Bucket is a retail yarn store housed in a vintage airstream trailer that travels around the United states and sets up shop in public spaces. Fuzz Bucket brings a spectacle atmosphere with it that will attract knitters and intersect with non-knitters in unexpected places. Non-knitters can learn to knit with the Fuzz Bucket community and enjoy the pure sensory experience of natural fibers. They also can discover that knitting is an accessible creative practice that satisfies a basic human need for tangibility.

--------------------------- Project: WeDo Student: Wess Gott

WeDo is an online social calendar to share and discuss local stuff to do. use it to find the buzz in your city or stay in the loop With friends. There is no easy way to share events online. Invitations require commitment, and calendars are not social. WeDo helps you plan your social agenda through recommendations from friends, places, and experts. Plans can form around friends' mutual interests. By reimagining the online calendar, WeDo creates an ecosystem for businesses to promote events and people to share them.

--------------------------- Project: The Grand Assembly Student: Lillian Lee

The Grand Assembly is a curated online community introducing an older generation (60+) of creatives to a Wider audience through their crafts and life stories. The community resides on a website where visitors can meet the individuals through their video portraits, sign up for their on-demand workshops, collaborate on special projects, buy their work or commission them for future work. At the Grand Assembly we believe in the ageless power of creativity and its ability in bringing generations together.

--------------------------- Project: Wildhood Student: Rosina Bosco

Wildhood is a mobile application that enables children to bring their neighborhood to life through a location-based game of discovery, creative expression, and collection. The lost city of Wildhood needs your help! Save the wild creatures by hunting down the landmarks that are holding these creatures captive. Photograph the landmarks you discover, and transform them into wild creatures. With Wildhood, children become familiarized with their city, use their imagination, and take ownership of their world. Work to build your Wildhood!

--------------------------- Project: (A) Typical Day Student: Jinah Min

(A) Typical Day is a series of 365 (arbitrary/absurd) celebratory days of everyday life, published through a printed calendar and an email newsletter service. It is suggesting a positive/mindful attitude for people who are looking for enlightening and joyful moments in ordinary life. The project collects stories that are emotional, creating re.ective pauses, and will bring mindful insights to the audience with a humorous and easy approach on creating exaggerated celebratory days. Everyday is special.

--------------------------- ProjectEvangeline Student: Katie Positerry

Evangeline is a children's storybook series that celebrates Cajun culture in south Louisiana by having children embrace their Cajun french roots through the language. This story of an American culture is told by Evangeline, a 5-year-old girl of Cajun descent who learns Cajun French from her grandfather. The books showcase language as a window into a culture and teach French terms with English pronunciations. Evangeline embarks on different adventures in Cajun Country, where she encounters these new customs and terminologies.

--------------------------- Project: Seize Your Power Days Student: Lydia Reynolds

Seize Your Power Days is an exploration, campaign, and Website aimed at empowering young adult Women through basic knowledge about their bodies. This project puts a name to the time leading up to ovulation. Scientific research has validated anecdotal claims that women change psychologically and physically throughout their cycles. Through a combination of humor and rigor, Seize Your Power Days offers products of design that live in a mixture of science, myth, stereotype, feminism, sexism, and ultimately, power.

--------------------------- ProjectRubbish Student: Chris Seabrooks

Rubbish is a program for kids to explore their creativity through the materials around them, encouraging them to find experimental ways of problem-solving. The workshop allows play and experimentation through arts and recreational activities, to allow student to test their theories and try again. There are no wrong ways of problem-solving, only more efficient ways.


Project The Common Spectacle Student: Andrew Schaff

The Common Spectacle is a lifestyle brand grown out of the celebration of commonplace tools. Offering a variety of limited edition products from custom-made pencils packaged in cedar pencil boxes to silk-screened t-shirts, prints, vinyl wall graphics, amongst other accessories, The Common Spectacle is on a mission to change the way people perceive the "mundane," and awaken their curiosity of the functional and cultural treasures that are right in front of us.

Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2011.

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By Aaron Kenedi

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