2023 College of Design Research & Creative Scholarship Showcase

June 6, 2023

Every year faculty, instructors, researchers, and students from across the College of Design present their research during the annual Research and Creative Scholarship Showcase. You can learn more about the 2023 presenters and their work in this year’s round-up.

Assessment of Perceptual Interference in Multimodal Wearable Haptic Systems

Niharikha Subash (PhD Candidate), Associate Professor Brad Holschuh (Apparel Design)

How does interference affect detection thresholds of simultaneous multimodal haptic cues?

Multi-haptic devices use our skin to convey sensory information to the brain, which can create more realistic touch feedback. However, combining different types of haptic feedback in one wearable device can cause interference, making it hard to tell the difference between each stimulus. Other senses like vision can also affect how we perceive touch feedback. Vibrotactile and compression/squeeze are commonly used haptic actuation techniques, but we need to understand how they interact when integrated with wearable devices. This study aims to identify the factors that affect the perception of multi-haptic devices, including the impact of interference, the effect of visual cues, and the design parameters of soft goods. The goal is to create a guideline for haptic designers to make better wearable devices.

Barriers to Meeting Sustainable Development Goals as Identified Through Case Study Analysis

Director Richard Graves, Research Fellow Daniel Handeen (both Center for Sustainable Building Research), Graduate Research Assistant Macklyn Hutchison (Master of Urban and Regional Planning)

Development projects sometimes fail to meet the ambitious sustainable development goals they set to foster healthy, complete communities. Why are we falling short?

The Center for Sustainable Building Research reviewed seven large-scale sustainable projects in Minnesota and identified common challenges in achieving sustainability goals. These challenges include the lack of specific regulations for district systems, legal hurdles, and high costs and financial risks associated with sustainable development. To overcome these barriers, cities and developers can take steps to reduce costs and risks and improve the likelihood of meeting sustainability goals. The analysis used the 21st Century Development matrix, which provides guidelines for creating regenerative communities that prioritize environmental health, resource utilization, and equity. Although the matrix alone is not an objective measure of sustainability, it helps document and evaluate progress from today’s standard performance level towards regenerative ideals.

Bush Foundation Ecosystem Grant

Director Thomas Fisher; Design & Research Fellow Joseph Hang; Graduate Research Assistants Ebtehal Bahnasy, Rutuja Malpure, Jakob Mahla, Javkhlan “Java” Nyamjav, Nardos Tamirat Shitta, Jingyuan “Jeff” Yao; Undergraduate Research Assistants Long Au, Mia Miao, Jason Xiong, Yuechen “Stella” Zhang, Yaqi “Julie” Zhu" (all Minnesota Design Center)

Bush Foundation Ecosystem grants "support organizations helping people solve problems across a number of issues," and the Minnesota Design Center (MDC) used its three-year research grant in a number of ways including:

  • fund BIPOC undergraduate and graduate research assistants
  • provide design assistance to the diverse community in Minneapolis’s Root District to envision a future equitable and sustainable district that embraces the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan Goals
  • show how the West Bank Business Association can create a new community facility for the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis
  • launch a non-profit that creates tech hubs for youth who lack access to technology
  • explore strategies for mobility hubs in Grand Rapids related to its autonomous shuttle
  • convene city, county, and park board planners to coordinate their public works projects
  • develop a human-centered, non-credit design certificate for adult learners
  • conduct workshops related to the impact of the pandemic on diverse communities
  • look at how the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals relate to the Comprehensive Plans of the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and affect development

Read the MDC's full 2022 Bush Ecosystem Report to learn more.

A Case Study on the American Designer Hannah Troy, who Translated Couture into American Ready-To-Wear in the Mid-20th Century

Nancy V. Martin (PhD '23, Design)

How did the American apparel designer Hannah Troy translate looks promoted by Parisian couturiers for the American womenswear market between 1947 and 1955?

This study examines how American designer Hannah Troy adapted the style of original couture designs to appeal to the American market between 1947 and 1955. The study compared Troy's work to that of contemporary American designers and Parisian couturiers using a historical-comparative and material culture methodology. The post-World War II era saw the rise of two competing clothing production systems: couture and ready-to-wear. Couture garments are individually customized and often handmade, while ready-to-wear clothing is mass-produced with mechanization. Hannah Troy's success as a mid-1950s American ready-to-wear designer is used as a case study to illustrate how American designers adapted Parisian couture aesthetics to meet the expectations of American women.

Collection and Analysis of a Representative Dataset of Human Skin Colors

Bolanle Dahunsi (PhD ‘23, Design), Justin Geeslin (PhD Candidate), Lab Manager Heidi Woelfle, Professor Lucy Dunne (Apparel Design)

The fashion industry struggles with a diversity of representation, and white female models tend to be overrepresented. The ongoing dissatisfaction with this trend has led to efforts to include more people of color in fashion. As representation improves, designers are beginning to consider a broader range of potential customers. However, the breadth of human skin tones is not well-characterized in a way that can be used by designers. This study sought to clearly define the spectrum within which human skin colors fall using the RGB and LAB spaces, and understand which system provides a more clearly defined range for human skin colors. Images from cabinet members from 32 countries across the globe were collected and average skin color values for each image were extracted using Photoshop in both the LAB and RGB spaces. The numerical ranges identified here help build on ongoing work to improve the personalization of apparel recommendations based on individual physical features.

Construction Materials: Environmental Impact Study

Director Richard Graves, Research Fellow Liz Kutschke (both Center for Sustainable Building Research)

An examination of the feasibility, costs, and environmental benefits of requiring state construction project bids to specify products with a type III environmental product declaration. 

CSBR partnered with the Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) at the University of Washington to perform an environmental impact study of construction materials to support the work of B3 (Buildings, Benchmarks, and Beyond). B3 tools and guidelines are designed to help make buildings more energy efficient and sustainable. The B3 programs have been developed for and are required on State-funded projects in Minnesota, and are also easily applied to any project.

This report provides an overview of low environmental impact material policies, focusing on the use of environmental product declarations (EPDs), which are third-party–verified documents that report the environmental impacts of products. It also reviews available EPDs for building materials; reviews and summarizes programs in other states and countries; assesses feasibility, cost, and environmental benefits of using EDPs in state construction; and provides policy recommendations for the State of Minnesota.

Following this effort, B3 Staff held five focus group meetings with designers, engineers, owners, and other interested parties to understand the current and future landscape of embodied carbon reduction efforts, and for stakeholders to share their experiences and perspectives.

Creative Problem Solving for Kids

Stephanie Heidorn (MFA ‘23, Design)

The purpose of this project was to develop resources that teach creativity and creative problem-solving skills in a way that elementary students can readily understand and apply in their daily lives.

This research highlights the increasing importance of teaching creative thinking skills, which can enhance student motivation, engagement, and academic achievement. Developing creativity skills also prepares students for future careers and promotes personal well-being. However, teachers face challenges in implementing recommended theories and techniques due to a lack of practical resources. To address this issue, this thesis and accompanying book, Creative Problem Solving for Kids, were developed based on current research and a qualitative study of nine third and fourth-grade teachers in Minnesota. The resource teaches creativity and creative problem-solving skills to elementary students in a way that is easy to understand and apply in their daily lives, providing a solution to the lack of training, materials, and time faced by teachers in teaching creative skills in the classroom.

Creativity in the Schools

Professor Brad Hokanson (Graphic Design), Todd Hunter (Anoka High School)

Can creativity be developed in high schools through College in the Schools, engaging students and advancing the outreach of the University?

Creativity is an inherent trait in humans, but measured creativity peaks in fourth grade. It is an essential skill often ignored in traditional education. Through the Concurrent Enrollment Program, students at Anoka High School (AHS) participated in Creative Problem Solving, a College of Design credit course that is designed to develop learner creativity. Todd Hunter, an instructor at AHS and director of its maker space, presented a section of the CDes course in Fall 2021. High school students who took the course were compared to students from the parallel university course using the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking and scored comparably if not higher in most metrics. This provides a model for outreach, research, and engagement.

Design and Development of a Novel Haptic Skin Strain System

Robert Pettys-Baker (PhD Candidate), Associate Professor Brad Holschuh (Apparel Design)

How can we produce haptic skin strain on the body in larger areas and without the use of adhesion?

This project aims to develop wearable technology that can artificially create skin strain, which is an understudied mode of haptic interaction. Skin strain is a common form of touch sensation that accommodates body movements and encodes caring touch. The development of this novel haptic technology could lead to new and interesting forms of interaction. The project will focus on four areas of examination: (1) improving the production of artificial skin strain for ease of use and production; (2) exploring how technical elements interface with the body; (3) understanding how the perception of skin strain changes based on body areas and orientations; and (4) investigating how artificial skin strain interacts with unique features of the skin.

Design Longevity; A Solution for Changing Consumers' Behavior

Mansoureh Nikookar (PhD Candidate), Professor Elizabeth Bye (Apparel Design)

Is it possible to change consumption behavior through design-led approaches?

Our buying habits have a significant impact on the environment. The continuous production and consumption of goods contribute to pollution, waste, and depletion of natural resources. Consumers can make a positive impact by choosing products that are designed for longevity. Design longevity aims to create products that are intended to last longer than traditional items and involves careful consideration of materials, manufacturing processes, and product lifecycles. In the apparel industry, design-led approaches to increase clothing longevity have reduced environmental footprints, improved waste management, and changed consumers’ values and behaviors by slowing consumption. A challenge researchers working to change manufacturers’ and consumers’ behavior is the gap between theory and designing and manufacturing thoughtfully designed garments. This pilot study aims to increase garments’ longevity and applicability and to design garments capable of being longer in use and transformable for different seasons and situations.

Do Consumers Always Believe Humans Create Better Boxes than AI? The Context-dependent Role of Creativity in Fashion and Meal Subscriptions

Professor Hyunjoo Im (Retail Merchandising), Garim Lee (PhD ‘23, Design)

How do consumers evaluate AI-generated (vs. human-generated) recommendations?

This research project aims to develop and test a theoretical model that predicts how consumers respond to AI vs. human curators in subscription box services. The study tests the role of stereotyping in shaping consumer perception of creativity, while also considering contextual moderators such as shopping goals and product categories. Three studies were conducted and results showed that consumers are more likely to follow recommendations made by humans compared to those made by AI, with perceived creativity of the recommender explaining the effect. Differences across product categories and shopping goals were also observed, highlighting the importance of context in understanding consumer responses to recommendations in subscription box services. The study adds to the understanding of how consumers respond to curation services and provides insights for improving AI recommendation systems.

Earthen Tectonics

Assistant Professor Jessica Rossi-Mastracci (Landscape Architecture), Associate Professor Adam Marcus (California College of the Arts); Genevieve Hircock, Cole Feriancek, Kennawak Geneti, Nicolas Brueske, Logan Stein, Rachel Mansun, Dan Dorr, Lauren Tateosian, Fran Di Caprio, Lizzie Cai, Sanidhya Kumal, and Michael Hempel (all Master of Architecture)

The "Earthen Tectonics" workshop combined experimental analog rammed earth material practice with an iterative digital parametric design and fabrication process, viewing fabrication as integral in the design process. The students created surface patterns and tectonics using Grasshopper and RhinoCAM, and fabricated wooden molds with a 3-axis CNC router. They poured rammed earth modules into the molds to explore different mixtures, tamping techniques, and surface performance. While the wooden modules could be precise due to the high-fidelity capabilities of the CNC router, rammed earth is a low-fidelity and imprecise material, leading to unanticipated outcomes in the casts. These lost textures, imprecise forms, and emerging geometries became a source of inspiration.

The Effect of Autonomy Need Satisfaction and Escapism Motivation on Consumers’ Variety-seeking Behavior in Metaverse

Terry Haekyung Kim (PhD Candidate); Professor Hyunjoo Im (Retail Merchandising)

Based on the self-determination theory, this study investigates consumers’ psychological states (e.g., autonomy need satisfaction, escapism motivation, positive affect) to explain variety-seeking in the metaverse.
This study investigates how consumers' behavior differs in the metaverse, a rapidly growing virtual shared world, compared to the real world. Consumers may become more adventurous and exploratory in the metaverse due to its altered physical laws, leading to increased variety-seeking behaviors. The study examines consumers' psychological states to explain this behavior and found that consumers in the metaverse condition reported higher variety-seeking intentions than those in the real world. Escapism motivation moderated the effects of the metaverse on autonomy need satisfaction, which positively influenced positive affect and variety-seeking intention. The study shows that the metaverse experience can increase consumers' variety-seeking behaviors by satisfying their motivational needs.

Evolving Design Thesis Ideas through Studio Production

Professor James Boyd Brent, Professor Brad Hokanson, Professor Daniel Jasper, (all Graphic Design), Neda Barbazi, Kara Rajcic, Quang Anh, Stephanie Heidorn, Alisha Ghaju, Sam Reed, Giselle Kian, and Lei Feng (all Design MFA)

The question of using studio production to assist in generating ideas related to graphic design graduate thesis work. Work completed in one module of Design PRAXIS Studio, Fall 2022.

During a 5-week learning module within Design Praxis Studio, graduate students practiced translating ideas into image production through repeat pattern making, dyeing workshops, and production. The work culminated in each participant framing their visual production in terms of their own design research ideas. Participants were encouraged to make connections between their finished screen print and their graphic design graduate student activity—and to speculate on any connections, no matter how tenuous, with their actual or potential thesis research. The titles and text below are condensed versions of their longer written responses:

  • Neda Barbazi: Woman Life Freedom—Reflecting the murder in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Zhina Amini, the Kurdish Iranian woman arrested for so-called “inappropriate hijab”: a powder keg moment that ignited the first counter-revolution in history led by women.
  • Kara Rajcic: Creativity in motion—exploring the relationships between yoga, divergent thinking, and visual communication.
  • Quang Anh Le: Airport icons around the world, out of context
  • Stephanie Heidorn: FLAME Creative Process Symbol - Repeat Pattern
  • Alisha Ghaju: Attention to detail, and the portrayal of the social and the cultural, in the Ghibli Studio movies of Hayao Miyazaki
  • Sam Reed: Bringing the Digital into the Analog—Minecraft
  • Giselle Kian: Representing symbols of nature, tradition, and the complexity of the surrounding environment—trial and error
  • Lei Feng: Beauty, imagination, and order: Wild Peas.

Experimenting with the Gestalt Principle to Develop a Modular Structure in Apparel Design

Boowon Kim (PhD Candidate), Nick Cave, and Liat Smestad

How can the Gestalt principle develop modular structures in apparel design?
This project experimented with Gestalt design principles to assemble the modular structure in a garment. This conceptual garment design began with design ideation using paper, then constructed with a fabric. A paper was laser cut with a circle shape and structured with a circle unit repetition. Then, the circles were laser cut with 100% wool felt and hand sewn to each other. The final design was determined while the hand-sewn circle units were draped on a dress form, considering the balance, harmony, and symmetry of the silhouette. As the garment follows the modular structure, the design can transform into other designs by simply detaching or attaching the circle units. The design shows how modular structure can apply to apparel design while providing sustainable design solutions as the modular structure extends product longevity with transformation.

Exploring Biophilic Design in Educational Spaces

Fullah Hazazi (PhD Candidate)

Exploring Biophilic Design in Educational Spaces: A Literature Review
This research highlights studies on the value and importance of biophilic design in educational spaces and their impact on student’s academic success and well-being.

Flexible Learning Ecosystem Prototype

Principal Investigator Anna Pravinata, Adjunct Associate Professor & Project Director Nina Ebbighausen, Alliiance Project Coordinator Adam Ariano

How can physical spaces be designed to support sustained student-centered learning in higher education?
This project focuses on physical learning spaces and how they can meet the changing demands of student-centered education. This project explores how these spaces have been influenced by the pandemic and how they can adapt in the future. Our goal is to understand the drivers for change in education and design learning environments that are responsive to evolving pedagogy. The Flexible Learning Ecosystem prototype is being developed through research and workshops with educational leaders. It consists of modular building blocks that offer flexibility in space size, formality, privacy, and resources, and can be combined in various ways to meet different needs. Dynamic, individual learning spaces can be easily modified by users to optimize instruction and support student-centered learning.

From Metaverse to the Real World: The Role of Avatar-self Congruence in Virtual Purchasing Behavior

Jinsu Park (PhD Candidate), Associate Professor Naeun (Lauren) Kim (Retail Merchandising)

The object of the study is to explore the role of appearance similarity and self-congruence with an avatar on virtual product purchase intentions and link the virtual consumption intentions to that of the real world.
This study explored the impact of avatar appearance similarity on virtual product purchase intention in the metaverse. It also investigated the influence of virtual behavior on real-world behavior. A survey was conducted with 164 users of the ZEPETO metaverse platform. The results showed that avatar appearance similarity positively affected virtual product purchase intention, and this relationship was fully mediated by avatar-self congruence. Additionally, virtual product purchase intention had an influence on real product purchase intention. These findings highlight the importance of high-quality avatar customization for users and suggest that retail brands can leverage the metaverse as a marketing tool and a testing ground for new products.

The Generative Function of the Occlusion Map: Square Spirals and the Structure of Visibility

Professor Mike Christenson (Architecture)

Can we define and implement a method for generating architectural floor plans consistent with the structure of visibility in Le Corbusier’s Museum of Unlimited Extension?

This project showcases the potential of generative design strategies using digital tools to uncover hidden architectural qualities in existing buildings. It explores a "designerly analysis" approach that reveals underlying compositional and spatial principles, drawing inspiration from various architectural precedents. Specifically, it falls within the framework of Principle-Based Design (PRBD) as defined by Eilouti, which deduces form-composition principles from a morphological analysis of studied precedents. The case study focuses on Le Corbusier's Museum of Unlimited Extension, known for its visibility structure that alternately reveals and obscures views of the horizon. By creating an occlusion map, floor plans are generated that align with Le Corbusier's concept, as evidenced by a comparative analysis of three built iterations of the museum.

An Immersive Maker Program for Underrepresented Students in North Minneapolis, Minnesota

Professor Abimbola Asojo (Interior Design) and Dr. Lesa Covington Clarkson (College of Education and Human Development)

The Diversity and Design Program and its Design Summer Camp develops and implements culturally responsive pedagogy for underrepresented K-12 students to learn about design and mathematics. Short-term outcomes include providing equal access to immersive maker curricula to underrepresented students and investigating and mitigating the impact of learning losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increasing the Energy Efficiency of Buildings through On-Body Supplemental Heating

Professor Lucy Dunne (Wearable Technology Lab), Research Fellow Rolf Jacobson (Center for Sustainable Building Research)

Can on-body heating using powered thermal garments help increase the energy efficiency of buildings through lower space temperatures while maintaining occupant comfort?
This study assessed the energy-saving potential of on-body heating devices in various building types, sizes, and ages using energy simulations of DOE reference buildings. The analysis involved basic assumptions about device usage and building operational parameters. By lowering setpoint temperatures during occupied and unoccupied hours and assuming all occupants wore on-body heating devices for personal comfort, significant energy savings were observed across all test buildings. This suggests that on-body heating devices could be a valuable tool for achieving energy efficiency goals. The potential for energy savings was influenced by heat load and occupant density, with higher heat loads and lower occupant densities leading to greater savings. This implies that older buildings with poor thermal insulation, inefficient mechanical systems, large buildings with fewer occupants, or spaces with regular low occupancy periods could benefit from this technology.

Indoor Environmental Quality Factors in Learning: A Qualitative Analysis of the Impacts of Acoustics on Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Michael Lekan-Kehinde (MS ‘23, Architecture; PhD Candidate)

Is the current acoustical guideline for designing K-12 learning spaces suitable for students with autism? What performance threshold and material recommendation would ensure an improvement in the suitability of students with autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that can be complex, multifactorial, and pervasive and is widely described under the umbrella term of Neurodiversity. About 30% of the population is currently estimated to be neurodiverse. The design of spaces should adequately accommodate the needs of neurodiverse individuals in childhood and help them integrate into adult life. Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) factors, including acoustics, impact their language acquisition, concentration, and comfort. However, limited research exists on the impact of acoustics on students with ASD. This qualitative research aims to understand the experiences of students with ASD, evaluate the suitability of current acoustic guidelines, and provide recommendations from industry experts to enhance the acoustics of learning spaces for students with ASD.

Institutes, Institutions, and Institutionality

Assistant Professor Alex Maymind (Architecture)

This research looks at the influence of post-1968 pedagogical debates on the formation of institutes and institutionality.
This research examines the development of architectural research institutes in the mid-1960s, preceding the significant events of 1968. It explores the challenges of institutionality for an architectural nonprofit in New York City,  the Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS) and how those challenges influenced their research, production, and pedagogical innovations in addressing urban problems. Archival analysis of organizational documents,  supports a counterhistory and reveals relationships with other institutions, subject formations, and control mechanisms. Emphasizing the materiality of language and paperwork connects tangible documents to intangible goals and ambitions of institutions. For example, IAUS's para-institutional nature is evident in its ongoing process of defining its scope, methods, protocols, personnel, and management.

Investing in North Minneapolis

Professor Julia Robinson (Architecture), Adjunct Professor Savannah Steele (Architecture), Julia Friedrichsen (M.Arch ‘23), Jaycie Thomsen (Northside Safety NET Environmental Initiative- Director of Intern Program and Consultant), Timothy Griffin (Minnesota Design Center), Jamil Ford (Mobilize Design & Architecture, Consultant), Michael Chaney (Project Sweetie Pie, Consultant), Rochelle Washington (Fiscal Agent ), Shawn Lewis (Minneapolis Parks Foundation)

The Investing in North Minneapolis project engages the community in developing grassroots urban designs that express North Minneapolis residents’ vision for their neighborhood’s future.
Investing in North Minneapolis is a collaborative effort between North Minneapolis organizations, individuals, and the University of Minnesota School of Architecture. Over a four-year period (2021–2025), the project aims to involve the community in developing grassroots urban designs that reflect the residents' vision for the neighborhood's future. University students and Northside Safety NET interns work together in an urban design class, collaborating with community members to create designs that build on existing assets, identify missing elements, and propose desired environmental changes. The project area spans from Olson Memorial Avenue to Lowry Avenue and from Theodore Wirth Parkway to the Mississippi River, with the goal of fostering a sustainable and equitable future for North Minneapolis.

Kontea's Memorial for the Killed and Missing

Professor Tasoulla Hadjiyanni (Interior Design)          

How can refugees use memorial design to foster connections in displacement, instill pride in younger generations, and honor young men killed in action alongside historically excluded populations such as elderly, mentally ill, and disabled women?
Dr. Hadjiyanni partnered with Kontea's Municipal Council in Cyprus as a curator to lead the development of Kontea's Memorial for the Killed and Missing. The two-year participatory design process involved studying memorials worldwide, collecting materials and archives related to the nine individuals, and engaging in dialogues with families, village administration, fundraising committees, and the Committee on Memorials. The goal of the memorial is to honor the nine community members lost since the 1974 Turkish invasion, inspire younger generations, and connect displaced refugees. The resulting proposal is titled “Learn their stories” and includes sculptures from 10 local artists that pay tribute to each of the murdered and missing. The aim is to inaugurate the Memorial in 2024, marking the 50-year anniversary of the invasion.

Label Equity and Consumer Beliefs about Bidirectional Distribution and Local Food

Garim Lee (PhD ‘23, Design), Professor Hye-Young Kim (Retail Merchandising), Director Kathryn Draeger (Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships), Professor Karen Donohue (Carlson School of Management), Co-Director Greg Schweser (Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships), Ren Olive (Formerly Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships)

How do consumers evaluate the locally produced products distributed by a bidirectional distribution strategy based on the product information on the label?

The "Rural Grocery to Wholesale (F2G2W) Model" is a bidirectional distribution supply-chain model that utilizes rural grocery stores and wholesale trucks to redistribute locally grown produce through wholesale markets. This model aims to provide improved access to wholesale markets for small and medium-sized local farms. However, there is limited academic knowledge and consumer awareness regarding the perceived benefits of this distribution strategy. To address this gap, this study investigated the impact of product packaging on consumers' evaluations of the bidirectional distribution strategy. The study found that labeling products as "locally-grown" increased perceptions of environmental friendliness and food quality while labeling them as "bidirectionally distributed" increased perceptions of environmental friendliness. Both labels positively influenced purchase intention, with the greatest effect observed when both labels were present. It is recommended that local farms actively utilize both labels to maximize desired consumer responses and increase sales.

Land-based Interventions for Climate Change Infrastructure

Assistant Professor Jessica Rossi-Mastracci (Landscape Architecture), with Graduate Research Assistants: Torey Erin (MLA Candidate), Aubrey Olson (MLA ‘22), Marla Brown (MLA ‘21)

Utilizing ‘Research Through Design’ as a primary method of exploration, this work tests ‘low-tech’ land-based infrastructures (LBI) as alternative infrastructural forms for climate change adaptation.

This work explores 'low-tech' land-based infrastructures (LBI) as alternative forms of climate change adaptation using the 'Research Through Design' method. LBIs involve simple construction techniques and are implemented through a legible design framework to enhance ecological and hydrological processes, support human and non-human systems, and create resilient landscape infrastructure. Drawing inspiration from embedded knowledge in low-tech interventions, the project develops climate-adaptable material assemblies and landscape infrastructures through iterative drawing, modeling, and small-scale installations. The project categorizes and diagrams various infrastructural typologies related to land, water, air, and fire to visualize their formal and functional characteristics. By dissecting and manipulating these typologies, new possibilities and multi-functionality are uncovered. The next steps involve transforming typologies based on site-specific scenarios to examine the impact of site characteristics, adjacencies, and climate on the form.

Lines of Flight, Human

Associate Professor John Kim (Macalester College), Associate Professor Adam Marcus (California College of the Arts), Associate Professor-in-Practice Molly Reichert (Architecture)

Lines of Flight, Human aims to spatialize historical and cultural data related to the site’s history; serves as a dynamic and engaging public artwork for both people within the space and pedestrians on the street level; and meets design standards for reducing bird mortality.
Lines of Flight, Human is an architectural facade design created for the new Public Service Building in Minneapolis. It explores the history of human migration to the region and its impact on both human and non-human life. The project uses computational techniques to incorporate cultural data on migration and dispossession into a pattern that meets bird-safety standards. The design process involves custom algorithms, data-driven workflows, and recursive iterations to integrate cultural information, effective communication, and bird-friendly parameters. This project serves as a case study in data spatialization, examining its implications for future communicative facades, the limitations of data-driven design, and the potential to expand these workflows to address other aspects of building performance. It also considers theoretical aspects such as site-specificity, land acknowledgment, immigration politics, and bird mortality reduction.

Mental Health in Design Education – Infusing Empathy and Cross-disciplinarity

Professor Tasoulla Hadjiyanni (Interior Design), Instructor Quynh Akers (Product Design), Kira Davies (Interior Design); and Resha Tejpaul (MN Robotics Institute)

How can complex problems with transformative societal implications, such as mental health, be infused into the curriculum in ways that are sensitive to students as well as empowering?
In Spring 2022, a collaborative partnership was formed between interior design, product design, and computer science to address the integration of complex challenges like mental health into the curriculum. Building on a previous interdisciplinary collaboration, which explored the relationship between interiors and behaviors associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), this new partnership focused on developing prototypes for sink hardware and soap dispensers that could aid in the diagnosis and treatment of youth with OCD. Students in PDES 2772 – Product Design Studio 2 developed prototypes for sink hardware and soap dispensers that can be used in practice for the diagnosis and treatment of youth with OCD. The process raised concerns about understanding OCD compulsions, ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the products, and accommodating diverse experiences. Additionally, the process revealed a need to incorporate these types of engagements in performance evaluations and college-wide communication to foster further innovations in teaching and scholarship.

A Mixed Methods Exploration of Expertise in Aesthetic Judgment of Apparel for Different Body Shapes

Bolanle Dahunsi (PhD ‘23, Design)

Is expert knowledge of prescriptive relationships between body and garment attributes for “conventional” female consumers predictive of subjective aesthetic judgments of taste by young adult viewers?
The fashion industry's rapid growth has led to a wide array of clothing options, making it challenging for consumers to make appropriate choices. Decision support systems, such as apparel recommenders, are commonly used to simplify the purchase process. However, existing systems face two main challenges. Firstly, people with similar tastes may not necessarily look good in the same styles. Secondly, consumers prefer recommendations for unique and complementary items rather than similar ones to what they already own. To address these challenges, this research aims to integrate physical features, garment characteristics, and aesthetic principles into apparel recommendations. By utilizing a mixed methods approach, the study seeks to gather requirements for inclusive user profiles based on body shape from professional stylists and assess any differences or similarities in stylists' advice and young adult viewers' aesthetic perceptions.

Mycelium as Foam Replacement in Fab Lab

Fabrication Technician Annie Henly (College of Design Fabrication Workshop)

Can we use mycelium grown in a substrate as a biodegradable replacement for Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) and/or High-Density Urethane (HDU) foam in the Fab Lab?

Students in the College of Design’s Fabrication Shop utilize various foams for sculpting, routing topography, and creating quick prototypes. However, these foams are typically discarded after the project is completed. Could mycelium serve as a suitable biodegradable alternative? Mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi, forms a white web of strands within a substrate. The shop initially used pre-made kits containing a mixture of wood chips and mycelium.

The resulting material was comparable to foam for carving and creating quick prototypes, especially when mixed with cornstarch or sawdust. However, routing did not achieve the same level of fine detail as with XPS foam. The Fab Shop encountered difficulties in sterilizing substrates and scaling up production. The Fab Shop has established connections with UMN's Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, which could aid in future scaling efforts.

"Oh, happy day!" Examining the Role of AI-powered Voice Assistants as a Positive Technology in the Formation of Brand Loyalty

Jennifer Huh (PhD Candidate), Professor Hye-Young Kim (Retail Merchandising), Garim Lee (PhD ‘23, Design)

This project investigates the role of AI-powered voice assistants as a positive technology tool that brings an increase in a person’s wellness, self-growth, and happiness.
AI-powered voice assistants have revolutionized consumers' lives by enabling hands-free information search, transactions, and music playback, enhancing the overall quality of life. However, little attention has been given to developing a unique voice channel and brand-matched voice for these assistants, despite their potential to greatly impact consumers and brands. This research explores how AI-powered voice assistants can enhance daily experiences and serve as a bridge between consumers and brands. Using the positive technology paradigm and flow transformation strategy, a between-subjects experimental study was conducted to examine the effects of locus of agency (high vs. low) and brand image-voice congruency (congruent vs. incongruent) on perceived control, flow, consumer happiness, and brand loyalty. The findings suggest that when voice assistants promote individual control and align with the brand's image, they can effectively enhance consumer experiences and happiness, fostering a strong relationship with the brand.

Perceiving Through Colors: Visual Supports for Children with Autism

Neda Barbazi (PhD Candidate) and Assistant Professor Cecilia Xi Wang (Graphic Design)

Our research investigates and highlights the relationship between autism and colors by decoding the needs of autistic children.
Visual supports are essential tools for enhancing communication and interaction among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These supports help them understand concepts, express their needs, and navigate their environment. Color plays a crucial role in effective visual interaction and can have various impacts on children with autism. Research suggests that autistic children may perceive colors differently from neurotypical children, and it is important to consider the effects of color to create an optimal setting for them. This study aims to explore the relationship between autism and colors by investigating color perception, identifying autism-friendly colors, and determining how colors can improve interaction skills and attention span in different settings for children with ASD. The research emphasizes the need for an in-depth investigation of color's physiological and psychological effects, reliable data collection methods, data analysis, and technology-based guidelines for parents, caregivers, teachers, and individuals with autism.

Pre- and Post-Occupancy Evaluations  

Noor Abdelhamid (MS ‘22, Architecture), Mady Gulon (MS ‘23, Architecture), Cara Prosser & Donovan Nelson (Perkins&Will advisors), Professor Julia Robinson (Architecture)

How can pre- and post-occupancy methods be incorporated as a more frequent, normative practice in the design process?
The architectural design process typically involves a dialogue between the designer and the user, but this dialogue is often limited to the initial design phase. However, an alternative approach suggests extending this dialogue through pre- and post-occupancy evaluations (PPOEs). In this study, a Minneapolis clinic that previously underwent a pre-occupancy evaluation at a different location will now undergo a post-occupancy evaluation. By comparing the results of these evaluations, the extent to which the user-informed design intent was achieved can be determined. The research findings will be used to enhance an existing PPOE Toolkit, aiming to incorporate PPOEs as a standard practice in the design process. This toolkit will provide valuable insights and support for designers in their pursuit of user-centered design.

Project Overcoat

Research Fellow Garrett Mosiman and Research Fellow Liz Kutschke (both Center for Sustainable Building Research)

The potential for retrofits resulting in deep energy savings for multifamily residential buildings using a novel exterior upgrade panel system and updated mechanical equipment.      
This project explores an innovative exterior upgrade based on the "studless" exterior wall system developed by the NorthernSTAR Building America Partnership. The system uses a large-format oriented strand board (OSB) as the structural component, with control layers and finishes applied externally. The retrofit strategy presented here eliminates one layer of OSB and replaces it with a membrane for air/water/vapor control and rigid insulation for thermal control. The panel fabrication follows the EnergieSprong technique, which involves using a 3D laser scanner to measure the building and generate a computer model. This model guides computer-controlled manufacturing equipment to produce the panels with pre-installed fenestration and finishes, simplifying on-site installation. This research contributes to the documentation and reporting on the proposed panel, its energy and thermal performance, manufacturing, and installation methods, mechanical system modifications, and cost-effectiveness.

Qionglai Historic Center Urban Renovation

Assistant Professor Dingliang Yang (Architecture)

The masterplan scheme to redevelop the historic center of Qionglai County in Chengdu Municipality, China.

A Qualitative Study of Practitioner Perspectives on Landscape Architecture and Equity

Professor Kristine Miller (Landscape Architecture), Department Administrator Amanda Smoot, Rachel McNamara (BED ‘19), Professor-in-Practice Joe Favour (Landscape Architecture), James St. George-Schreder (MLA Candidate)

This study sought to understand landscape architecture practitioner perspectives on challenges to and opportunities for advancing equity through landscape architecture.
This qualitative study aimed to explore how equity can be advanced in landscape architecture based on practitioner perspectives. The study conducted 25 interviews with public practice designers and private and nonprofit practitioners working on public projects. The member check survey conducted in May 2020 provided an opportunity to review interview themes in light of the events surrounding George Floyd's murder and subsequent protests. Findings revealed that the lack of diversity in landscape architectural education and practice was seen as a barrier to equity. Professional power and engagement with the community were identified as avenues to address the unequal impacts of environmental design. Furthermore, education on equity and collaboration with community organizations is needed to promote equity-driven design projects. The research findings were shared with ASLA-MN members and future plans include conducting focus groups with design firm leaders in the Twin Cities.

Secondary Networks: Local Feasibility of Salvaged Lumber for Reuse in Mass Timber

Mady Gulon (MS ‘23, Architecture), Associate Professor Malini Srivastava (Architecture), Adjunct Assistant Professor Chris Wingate (Architecture), Blair Satterfield (University of British Columbia), Marc Swackhamer (University of Colorado)

What is the local feasibility of building a dowel Cross Laminated Timber (dCLT) product with collected secondary lumber?
The research explores the local potential for salvaged secondary (waste) lumber to serve as material stock for dowel Cross Laminated Timer (dCLT). Using a mixed methods approach, including prototyping and interviews, the investigation seeks to understand the systems implicated in the reuse of secondary lumber.

Sewn Shape Memory Alloy Actuators for Wearable Haptic Devices

Robert Pettys Baker (PhD Candidate), Lab Manager Heidi Woelfle, (Wearable Technology Lab), Associate Professor Brad Holschuh (Apparel Design)

Can shape memory alloy wires be sewn using industrial cover stitch machines, and what possibilities do these novel actuators present?
This project aims to simplify the integration of actuation elements into wearable devices by sewing them onto fabric using a cover stitch machine. Shape memory alloys (SMAs) are used as threads in the sewing process. This approach allows for actuators to be seamlessly integrated onto textile surfaces without the need for additional anchoring elements, reducing bulkiness and the risk of snagging. Coverstitches, made with multiple threads, offer flexibility in creating different actuator formations by replacing some threads with SMA fibers. The initial development has focused on a three-thread combination with SMA in the bottom looper and kevlar in two needles. The activation of the actuators results in both stiffening and multi-axial contraction depending on the fabric on which the stitch is sewn. This innovation has significant potential for wearable haptic technologies in various industries.

Shopping Experiences of Aging Consumers In the US: A Meta-analysis

Professor Juanjuan Wu (Retail Merchandising) and Yiling Zhang (PhD Candidate)

What are the shopping experiences of aging consumers in multi-channel retailing in the US?
This meta-analysis focuses on aging consumers in different shopping channels in the US, drawing on24 relevant studies conducted between 2000 and 2021. The analysis utilizes the Stimulus-Organism-Response model to examine the relationships between stimuli, organisms (consumers), and responses. It considers consumers' personal traits and their impact on the model, introducing an "orientation" variable to represent consumer traits. This extends the Stimulus-Organism-Response model and serves as a conceptual framework for future research on the shopping behaviors of aging consumers. The findings from previous studies are presented within the extended model to enhance our understanding of aging consumers' needs and responses across different shopping channels.

Soft Wearable Systems to Prevent and Rehabilitate Musculoskeletal Injuries

Lab Manager Heidi Woelfle, Alireza Golgouneh (College of Science & Engineering), Niharikha Subash (PhD Candidate), Miles Priebe (College of Science & Engineering), Taylor Boothe (Apparel Design), Professor Lucy Dunne (Apparel Design), Associate Professor Brad Holschuh (Apparel Design)

How can we enable custom-fit device placement through an E-textile garment platform?
This project aims to address the time-consuming process of building prototypes for e-textile garments, which hinders product development and wearable system research. Customizing device placement often requires building new garments for each individual. To overcome this challenge, we are developing an e-textile garment platform with a "plug-and-play" capability, allowing devices to be easily repositioned using a simple connector. Our team has created a flexible and stretchable 7-layer e-textile infrastructure that interfaces with a repositionable connector provided by our partner, LumeoTech. This connector enables both mechanical and electrical connections, allowing components to be attached anywhere on the garment. Currently, we are testing the system in lower-limb rehabilitation applications, specifically focusing on post-ACL surgery rehabilitation, in collaboration with experts in Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Sparking Creativity: How Play and Humor Fuel Innovation and Design

Professor Barry Kudrowitz (Product Design)

How do play and humor fuel innovation and design?
Sparking Creativity combines popular culture and design theory to explore the role of play and humor in fueling innovation. It emphasizes the need for creative solutions to global problems and offers empirically supported methods to enhance creativity by embracing play and humor. The book uses examples from popular culture, such as Seinfeld, Apples to Apples, and Adventure Time, to demonstrate the relationship between these seemingly trivial domains and innovation. With five main parts and engaging subsections, the book features colorful pictures to illustrate concepts. Written in a humorous and accessible style, it targets creative-minded individuals such as entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, industry leaders, parents, educators, and students. It encourages a playful approach throughout the design process to foster truly innovative solutions.

Stitching & Sustainability: Home Garment Making Skills as a Tool for Change in Fashion

Sara Wilcox (MA ‘23, Design)

How do home garment makers’ skills and knowledge inform their decisions about their clothing throughout its lifespan, including making, maintenance, and disposal?
To address the growing issue of textile waste, it is crucial for consumers to adopt more sustainable practices and view clothing as valuable rather than disposable. Understanding consumers' garment use and maintenance habits is key to improving sustainability in the fashion industry. This research focuses on home garment makers, a unique group whose knowledge of garment production influences their clothing choices and disposal practices. Through in-depth interviews with fifteen makers, the study reveals themes such as the significant time and creativity invested in handmade garments, extensive knowledge of garment-making techniques, and a strong commitment to sustainability. The findings indicate that increased education in garment making could lead to consumers placing a higher value on clothing, resulting in reduced textile waste overall.

Synced Brand (Mis)Match Effect on Brand Attitudes and Purchase Intention

Garim Lee (PhD ‘23, Design), Asma Sifaoui (University of Texas–Austin), Associate Professor Claire M. Segijn (Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication)

Will advertising effectiveness differ depending on whether a synced ad is synchronized with the same or a competitor brand?
Synced advertising is a new personalized strategy that delivers synchronized ads across multiple media platforms using real-time consumption data. This study investigated the effects of syncing ads from the same brand or a competitor brand. Two online experiments were conducted: one with participants reading a scenario (Study 1; N=122), and the other with participants multitasking using their devices (Study 2; N=227). Study 1 found that syncing the same brand across media yielded the highest positive brand attitudes and purchase intention, followed by syncing a competitor brand, and no synchronization. However, these differences were non-significant in Study 2. This research provides empirical evidence on the effectiveness of synced advertising and offers implications for theory, practice, and methodology in this field.

Tangible E-Textile Interface for Digital Patternmaking with Soft Goods

Professor Lucy Dunne (Apparel Design), Lab Manager Heidi Woelfle, Research Assistant Olaitan Adeleke

Can we capture the physical information provided by fashion designers draping patterns on the form to simultaneously digitize the pattern for CAD applications?
This project aims to simplify the process of digitizing garment patterns by integrating e-textile components into the fabric used for draping. Currently, designers drape fabric on a mannequin and then digitize the shape using a separate digitizing table. With the proposed approach, the fabric itself becomes a digitizing interface. A keypad matrix embedded in the fabric allows the designer to create circuit connections by pinning the fabric, which is then read by a microcontroller and displayed as a 2D layout on a screen. This proof-of-concept device preserves manual skills and processes while seamlessly integrating with digital systems. It serves as an initial step towards an automatic digitizing system for apparel designers.

Teacher Perspectives on Designing for Problem-Solving

Justin Baker (PhD Candidate) Associate Professor David DeLiema (College of Education and Human Development), Betsy Stretch (PhD ‘23, Curriculum & Instruction)

How do teachers in an elementary school that values child self-determination think about and design for the learning of problem-solving skills?
Teachers and staff at The School of Northern Lights (SNL), a St. Paul charter school, adopt a philosophy that encourages children to learn through play, collaboration, and student-driven projects, with broader aims of developing children’s social skills, generalized problem-solving, and love of learning. As part of a larger study investigating how adults support the development of children’s autonomous problem-solving skills in play-oriented environments, researchers conducted artifact-based interviews with eight teaching staff at SNL. Building on Sandoval’s concept of the conjecture map (2013), the researchers used interactive maps to guide the teachers through visualizing and describing how they think about and design their learning environments to support the development of these skills with their students. This project was partially funded by the HFE Micro-Grant program.

Theoretical Compression Modeling for Engineering Fit in Lower Limb Compression Garments

Eric Beaudette (PhD ‘23, Human Factors & Ergonomics), Professor Lucy Dunne (Apparel Design)

How can theoretical compression modeling be used for efficiently creating and evaluating lower limb compression garment sizing systems?
Defining the "fit" of wearables is crucial for accommodating different body shapes and determining appropriate sizing. While societal norms define "proper fit" in clothing, wearable devices require a more context-specific "functional fit." Compression garments, used in athletics and medicine, offer varying compression levels across users that make it challenging to develop a sizing system based on functional fit parameters. This research extends prior work in compression modeling and optimization algorithms to assess the potential of generating specifications for lower limb compression garments. It explores the benefits and limitations of optimization-based sizing systems for medical applications. Using the CAESAR anthropometric database, measurements from 74 scans are extracted and theoretical sizing systems are created and tested using Rhino software.

Transforming Quilts into Garments: Designers' Experiences with Upcycling

Colleen Pokorny (PhD ‘23, Design), Professor Missy Bye (Apparel Design)

The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to describe designers' experiences when upcycling second-hand quilts into fashion garments.
This research explores the intersection of quiltmaking, sustainability, and fashion by examining the experiences of designers who upcycle quilts into fashion garments. The act of cutting quilts for fashion purposes has sparked debate among quilt scholars and designers. While some view it as devaluing cultural heritage, others see it as a sustainable practice that showcases quiltmaking publicly. This study focuses on designers' perspectives and experiences in transforming quilts into garments, a topic not extensively researched before. Through interviews, photo elicitation, and content analysis, the essence of designers' experiences is captured. The findings offer new insights into the reuse, repurposing, and revaluation of material culture through design processes.

Qionglai Historic Center Urban Renovation: Wenmai Lane Commercial Space and Xinshan Community Center and Bookstore

Assistant Professor Dingliang Yang (Architecture)

The revitalization project of the Linchuan Ancient City Cultural District of Qionglai County in Chengdu (China) focuses on retrofitting and re-articulating the relationship of existing morphologies through the specific intervention of a well-defined architectural typology and form.
VARI Design was responsible for three projects in the overall master plan for the Linchuan Ancient City Cultural District of Qionglai County in Chengdu (China).  The design process emphasized a "morphological perspective" that considered the relationship between typology and morphology. By precisely integrating architectural type and program within the urban and historical context, we aimed to create an innovative yet contextual architectural form. The design focused on facilitating a harmonious spatial dialogue between the new and old, as well as the reinvented and historical elements. The goal was to establish a balanced and cohesive relationship between these elements within the specific context.

Every year faculty, instructors, researchers, and students from across the College of Design present their research during the annual Research and Creative Scholarship Showcase. You can learn more about the 2022 presenters and their work in this year’s round-up.

Every year faculty, instructors, researchers, and students within the College of Design present their work during the annual Research and Creative Scholarship Showcase. While the 2021 showcase happened virtually, the research was as impressive as ever!

From the effects of advertisements on purchasing behavior to improving the fit of surgical gloves, faculty and students from across the college are working on the forefront of design research and creative scholarship.