Design Mediated Difference

Date: 2017-present
Status: Fieldwork complete | Currently doing the data analysis and writing

This project investigates how design as a social and material practice helps us talk about difference in mixed communities. Through participatory design, my project collaborators and I have investigated this question across intergenerational, interinstitutional, and intercultural contexts in New York City. We do so through various approaches to difference such as finding consensus and exercising gritted teeth tolerance. Fieldwork, ongoing data analysis, and our own convictions ultimately show that we need design approaches that:

1) Support rather than suppress the rise of conflict (conflict is inevitable when it comes to difference as much as we try to tip toe around it)
2) Mediate the difficult confrontations that happen as a result.

The projected outcome is a framework for conflict-based design-mediated approach to difference that takes into account some of the nuances of conflict at sociological, psychological, and designerly levels. You can find a longer project rationale here or check out the pieces published so far:

> Encountering Difference through Ambiguity 
> Encountering Difference through Unmaking 
> Encountering Difference through Religion

Envisioned Framework

Supporting Shelter Customization in Protracted Displacement Contexts

Date: 2014-2020
Status: Complete

This project started during my M.Arch degree. It was motivated by the startling fact that the average displacement period is 17 years – which many spend in camps not built to last that long. My project partner and I investigated 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon to understand how they evolved over six decades, and worked back from there to see what structural “seeds” would have been more sound for long-term development. We generated our own data by tracing the 12 camps from satellite images (it took 3 months), conducting interviews with individuals who grew up in camps, and consulting experts from design, journalism, human rights, and public health. This work led to a best M.Arch thesis award. Upon moving to ICT, I wanted to continue this work by designing low-tech tools to help camp dwellers construct their own shelters in structurally sound ways. This vision was never fully realized because shelter (as I found during field work) is a hard intervention space due to land politics. But the project generated new insights such as the disparity between refugee and IDP (Internally Displaced Person) conditions even within geographically proximate camps. Or that those who experience protracted displacement (immigrants or refugees) use shelter design as a form of past reclamation. You can read below about the project chronologically:

> How it started: M.Arch Dissertation
> A primer for situating shelter issues within ICT discourse
> Envisioning the paper-digital-paper shelter framework
> The original vision (I miss that excitement and naivety) that we gave up on it after 5 edit-and-resubmit
> Tool demo
> Data on shelter permanence and customization in camps and some insights on ICT use in them
> TEDxUofT Talk
> The scaled back but published Memory through Design paper [CHI ’20 Honorable Mention]


Date: 2011-2014
Status: Complete

IM Blanky is a computational fabric panel comprised of tilt sensors inter-weaved as a grid on fabric in geometrically interesting patterns. Accelerometers and embedded sensors detect the tiniest motions, allowing vital signals such as heartbeat, temperature, and breathing patterns to be remotely monitored and stored for clinical analysis. It could also self-model its shape and function as a 3d scanner using tilt information. Read more here, or check out IM Blanky on:

[dezeen][reuters][architizer][domus][Stitches – Suzhou Fast Forward][Vimeo][In Print]