Art & Design

Current Student Research

  

Elnaz Aliasl Mamaghani

MDes candidate in Industrial Design
Email: aliaslma@ualberta.ca

In high school, I was enthusiastic about solving geometry problems in my spare time to find smart and simple solutions this was where I found the joy of innovation. Later, I studied architecture in university and I learned how to cultivate a creative mind to design. So I could work on different interior design projects ranging from renovating or creating a totally new place regarding to dwellers needs and likes. The main purpose of mine for higher education is to scaffold my architectural knowledge with Industrial Design. The area which really attracts me is Feminism in Design. I, as a woman, have witnessed numerous societal issues that women face in their daily lives, due to limited presence of feminism in Industrial Design. Moreover, women suffer from constant gap between what they are offered and what they want. I am eager to have more research experience in this field in order to help women of my country to feel comfortable and confident to participate in society and give them a voice.

Anna Chakravorty

MDes candidate in Visual Communication Design
Email: chakravo@ualberta.ca

Through attention to the minutest of detail, functionality is what I strive for. In my journey as a visual designer, I’ve always sought to (re)evaluate and assimilate concepts thereby, reinforcing my understanding of ‘good’ design. After graduating from NIFT, India, I worked as user interface and experience designer for two years which made me realise my inclination towards digital mediums. My motivation for pursuing a master’s degree is I want to explore the confluence of culture with design and technology. Rapid advancement without moral accountability has led to the demise of local communities (and culture), gradually wiping out indigenous arts and crafts and hence I feel it is upon us to initiate an appropriate effort for the preservation and promotion of such intricate knowledge. My idea is to explore how digital mediums can be used as an effective way of communication for promoting tourism and culture. In conclusion, a structured program that lays down the fundamentals of design and the applicability of them in this fast-changing landscape is what draws me to this course. Bringing design to the forefront of innovation and keeping myself updated with the changes around, under the mentorship of the faculty will certainly provide me with the skill set needed to implement my ideas, ones that are not only limited to functional design but those that are sustainable, both economically and socially.

Bahaa Harmouche

MDes candidate in Visual Communication Design
Email: harmouch@ualberta.ca

After 13 years working in the advertising industry on commercial and social issues and understanding the value of visual communication, it disturbs me to see an increasing number of AIDS related deaths in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Knowing the power of media (films, TV productions, diverse print and digital communications), it is frustrating to witness the marginalization and discrimination of HIV-infected people in the 21st century in the MENA region. HIV is still represented in diverse media by sad visual expressions that depict AIDS as a deadly disease. In my Master’s study, I hope to research questions that open a discourse on diverse socio-cultural matters such as the following: How has HIV/AIDS been visually represented in MENA cultures? Are these representations homogeneous across countries, classes, religions, age and sexual orientation? To what extend do such representations demonize, stereotype or foster a degree of discrimination against people living with AIDS? I feel confident that the M.Des. in Visual Communication program offered by the University oh Alberta will enhance my theoretical and research background, especially in socio-cultural issues that are close to my heart.

Travis Holmes

MDes candidate in Visual Communication Design
Email: tholmes1@ualberta.ca

I am currently focused on my development as a designer and creative thinker. My research interests are currently with independent publishing. It’s basically what drew me into design in the first place. The question I have been wondering lately is, how do zines, or independent print publications, grow and evolve into the digital platform. What is possible and how can they change? Print publication has its obvious limitations, which aren’t bad, but there are more options for the user to experience with the sharing of story and knowledge through digital outlets. I’m very interested in the user‘s experience. Zines are typically produced on small budgets. I’m interested in limitations of production cost of digital design. I would like to find the essence of the zine and use it to move tastefully from analog to digital. I am curious about the concept of “surprise.” I hope my research can uncover something unique.

Sarah Jackson

MDes candidate in Visual Communication Design
Email: smjackso@ualberta.ca

I have spent the past 12 years working as a designer, illustrator and art director. I am also an active feminist performance artist, through which I have taken part in various initiatives and experiments, such as participating in a “temporary placemaking/pop-up urbanism” project through Make Something Edmonton and City of Edmonton's CITYlab. My design work has won Distinction and Gold ACE Awards, Redgee Design Awards and I have been featured in Avenue magazine, Alberta Venture and Design Edge magazine. Broadly, my research interests centre around communication design, art, media and gender. More specifically, I am interested in the analyses of female identity and the performance of gender. I am planning on focusing my thesis research on female-owned spaces of performance art where gender is actively questioned and explored, particularly in the sphere of entertainment culture, such as with new burlesque. The relationship between performance art and female identity is complicated and politically charged — particularly in new burlesque, which pulls from both historic and pop culture references of the feminine, purposefully combining elements of beauty and the grotesque, pleasure and discomfort. This is an intimate discussion with a live audience that pulls on the tools of pleasure, humour, and live performance in an era where spatially distant, solitary and pre-recorded digital access are becoming the norm. I see new burlesque as a critical and uniquely positioned female art form that provides a space for performers and audiences to explore identity and the performance of gender. The questions I am curious about exploring include: what does live performance art mean in a digital media era? What pleasurable, physical experiences are we lacking in our modern-day human interactions and what can these experiences offer us? What do female-owned spaces like new burlesque say about the current cultural experience of female identity?

Derek Jagodzinsky

MDes candidate in Industrial Design
Email: derekj@ualberta.ca

After Graduating with a Bachelor of Design degree from the University of Alberta in 2010, I launched my fashion label LUXX ready to wear that focuses on Modern Native design. As an Aboriginal designer, I feel a strong need to use my art to reflect upon, and generate discussion of, critical social issues as well as cultural phenomena. I fuse tradition with modernism, illustrating how far the North has come in the world. Fashion is a highly influential medium, and communicates at a very intimate level. It is a form visual of communication that we use every day. In my Industrial Design studies I will be focusing on Modern native design that will infuse tradition and technology. I am currently focused on my development as a designer and creative thinker. My research interests are currently with independent publishing. It’s basically what drew me into design in the first place. The question I have been wondering lately is, how do zines, or independent print publications, grow and evolve into the digital platform. What is possible and how can they change? Print publication has its obvious limitations, which aren’t bad, but there are more options for the user to experience with the sharing of story and knowledge through digital outlets. I’m very interested in the user‘s experience. Zines are typically produced on small budgets. I’m interested in limitations of production cost of digital design. I would like to find the essence of the zine and use it to move tastefully from analog to digital. I am curious about the concept of “surprise.” I hope my research can uncover something unique.

Devaki Joshi

MDes candidate in Visual Communication Design
Email: devakiaj@ualberta.ca

My passion and study of creative art forms like music, dance and drawing drove me to choose design school for my undergraduate studies. While working on projects based on Illustrations, Information Design, Publication Design, Map Design and Identity Design, I attended Typography, User Experience Design, Design Management and Color Theory workshops held during the course and what I have learned has enhanced my skills. My final year project 'History Textbook Redesign' which was based on Information Design, allowed me to explore different areas like Information Graphics, Publication Design, Map Design, Illustrations and Icon Design. The solution is based on extensive research. During my professional tenure in Companies like Infotools, Velocita Brand Consultants and Onio Design I handled projects like space design, book design, identity design and visual language for the brand and several more projects on Information Design. They made me realize the relationship between different design fields. Similarly, I was also exposed to the field of design research. My contribution for some ‘Research Projects' developed my interest in Ethnographic Research Interaction design, User Experience Design and information design goes hand in hand. I look forward to the opportunity to expand my horizons in the fast-paced and diverse environment of the University of Alberta, Art & Design Department. Additionally, I will also be able to share my experience and knowledge and learn from others experience. I strongly feel that the interdisciplinary approach that this university has to offer will contribute to my knowledge of Design.

Xin Lou

MDes candidate in Industrial Design
Email: xlou@ualberta.ca

I have come to a deep understanding of industrial design and I love to study it in University. I participated in actual design works actively to enhance my professional level. The reason I decided to pursue my study after graduation is that there are far more things waiting for me to explore. I have become fully aware that industrial design has been playing an increasingly significant role in meeting the needs of humans in our daily life. I am determined to engage in designing more ergonomically and intelligent products with high technology. I want to explore interdisciplinary emerging design issues, such as global warming, human health, energy shortage and intelligence. I believe that many of these problems could be solved by the combination of industrial design and technology. The University of Alberta offers me an opportunity to turn idealizations into future realities. The U of A's professional interdisciplinary design teaching, abundant resources and International learning environment will deepen my understanding of creative thinking, design theory and practice.

Michiko Maruyama

MDes candidate in Industrial Design
Email: maruyama@ualberta.ca

I am half Japanese and half Irish, a unique combination, which I call “Jirish”. In 2008, I graduated with distinction from the University of Alberta’s Industrial Design Bachelor Degree Program, Engineering Route. As an industrial designer, I found my niche in toy design and children’s furniture. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer requiring surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Inspired by everything that I saw and experienced as a patient, I switched from toy design to medical design. My interest in medicine continued to grow and with the encouragement of my mentor, Dr. Shaun Robinson, I pursued a career in medicine. In 2010, I was accepted into medical school at the University of British Columbia, Northern Medical Program. I am now in my second year of cardiac surgery residency at the University of Alberta. Despite the long hours in the operating room, overnight call shifts and training to be an open heart surgeon, I still find time to explore art and design. I am interested in medical design including surgical equipment, prosthetics, products and tools. My second area of interest includes medical education and looking at creative methods to assist the transfer of knowledge - from toy design for pediatric patients to simulation models for surgical residents. My goal is to integrate my background in art and design with my medical career to create creative solutions and to advance the medical field. I look forward to working towards this goal during my Master of Design education.

Azadeh Mokhberi

MDes candidate in Visual Communication Design
Email: mokhberi@ualberta.ca

Designing something out of anything is my passion all my life. Since I was a child, working with my hands make my ideas tangible; by making graphic design, painting, model making, sewing, Puppetry and storytelling.
I did my bachelor in computer engineering, and with a great passion in art, I graduated my Master degree in Industrial design.
I have experiences as a service designer, and art manager in several projects. I have gained a good knowledge as well as skills in traditional Persian pottery making, and later became a school teacher to propagate those techniques. I have also voluntary worked in charities related to disabilities and cancer. Such experiences have enriched my attitudes, and helped me to put my heart and soul to design for vulnerable groups, and to improve their lives via better interaction with new technological advancements.
Now, I strongly persist to gain higher level of knowledge and experiences in this field. I am eager to focus in user research, user experiences studies, interaction and communication design ones. My strong motivation is to study an interdisciplinary program in design, in an international context focusing on new challenges. I am determined to focus in Humanistic aspects of design, because design can improve, facilitate and make new technologies more pleasurable for people with special needs. As an example, aging population across the world requires serious efforts and careful attention to design services compatible with their needs, with focus on independence in order to improve safety, security, and welfare as well as facilitate distance care. Communications in healthcare systems is also one of my research interests.

Mischa Patel

MDes candidate in Visual Communication Design
Email: bhumycka@ualberta.ca

During the course of my undergraduate degree in design from the University of Hertfordshire (UK), I found myself increasingly interested in the intersections between various design spheres. Instead of working in a commercial design studio, I would like to find my footing in related aspects of communication, such as ethnographic visual culture and digital inclusivity. I am certain that the program at the University of Alberta is especially suited to my aims from graduate studies, in that it affords me the opportunity locate specific research interests within the discipline. As an international student, I expect to learn a great deal from exposure to unfamiliar lifestyles and world views different from those I have grown up with. Particularly interesting for me now, is to observe how cultural collisions in an ethnographically diverse nation might affect its design language, or perhaps, pose challenges to it. By incorporating the arts, crafts and folklore of local groups within my own practice, I want to bring their story to an audience that would otherwise be unaware of the beauty and mysticism of their traditions. I would like also to investigate methods through which design could be used as a responsive tool to integrate new technologies in culturally viable projects. My ultimate aim will be to concretize my own methodology around the dissolution of cultural compartments, and share with new audiences my experiences as a design thinker.

Reyhaneh Alizadeh Rabiei

MDes candidate in Industrial Design
Email: ralizade@ualberta.ca

I have been studying design for more than twelve years. I have majored in Industrial design at the university and have studied graphic design in high-school. When I was going to choose my university major I had already been in many graphical design projects due to my high school major and for that reason I wanted something more out of design, something with a physical actual representation in people's lives that can leave a footprint on their lifestyle. Furthermore, I wanted to play a more active role in solving environmental problems such as all kinds of pollution, public health, deforestation and last but not least, resource depletion, which threaten human existence and ecosystem balance; and I chose industrial design. I wrote my Bachelor of Art thesis on ways of improving and designing a pediatric dental units; the research focused on medical and human-centered design factors and ergonomic principles by personal observation, conducting surveys, collecting papers and reviewing literature on the subject. The result was a concept product that could improve the experience for children and help dentists with a smoother dental procedure. Along with my academic studies, I started working for a foreign language institute as a senior graphic designer and a member of their Research and development group. During the time, I was given the opportunity to design four series of educational books that could meet industry standards especially since American and British publications already dominate the market and students have gotten used to global standards in this subject. In the course of designing the books, I did a wide research on international publications and employed presentation, visual communication and storytelling skills that I had learned during my high school majoring in graphic design, and applied interaction design principles to the layout of the books. We achieved a positive result, which affected students’ and teachers’ relationship with books and increased student’s understanding of subjects. Studying and working on two general fields of design for almost twelve years and winning two national awards for my illustrations in graphic design field, I want to further fulfill my dream by becoming a part of a more advanced and comprehensive educational program in higher academic levels. That is the reason, I am pursuing to have an outstanding graduate education to continue with my studies and to broaden my knowledge and experience in Design field. I am specifically interested in doing research and working on Medical Design, Human-Centered Design, Interaction Design and Sustainable Design fields.

Zohreh Valiary

MDes candidate in Visual Communication Design
Email: valiarye@ualberta.ca

I conducted a comprehensive study in Arts ranging from music and literature to visual arts to prepare for the university entrance exam for a degree in Graphic Design—the first step on my path to pursue a career in design.Graphic Design quickly became my passion. Publication Design, Calligraphy, and Typography became my firm favorites at school, so I started taking Calligraphy and continued this class to the highest level. Moreover, I attended drawing clubs in order to improve my drawing skill, as I believe drawing is essential for any graphic designer since it is the basis of all visual arts. To accomplish my bachelor degree, I designed and illustrated book covers for Milan Kundera's famous novels. Simultaneously, I prepared myself for the graduate studies in Painting. To fulfill the requirements of my master's degree, I painted a series illustrating the difficulties of women in my society as a practical project. I also made an exploration in traditional miniatures of Iran for my thesis. I used the skills I previously learned in graphic design to clarify the message of my paintings, and from this I learned how fine art and graphic design skills complement and build on each other. I planned to pursue a Masters in Visual Communication Design because I wanted to transform the artistic knowledge I possess into international language and break through the barriers imposed on me in my previous education. In addition, my interest in Typography means I want to learn about it for other languages than my own. I am passionate about Publication Design, and I want to expand my knowledge of the research and theories in this area, and put this knowledge into practice in my work.

E. Jessamyn Van Horn

MDes candidate in Industrial Design
Email: evanhorn@ualberta.ca

While I have been an artist since I was a child, I spent my undergraduate and early professional years in Business Management. However, the call of art and design is strong and I kept feeling a desire to return to it. My career took some twists and turns in my journey back to design. I entered the healthcare industry when I became a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and then eventually was able to parlay that knowledge into a job with a construction company that was a subsidiary of the healthcare company I worked for. Through this construction position, I have been able to not only continue to utilize my management skills, but also to stretch my creative wings again by exploring the concepts of design and function of interior spaces and furniture design for nursing homes. Our focus is on the residents and staff who live and work in these spaces and who utilize our furniture products. This strange and twisted career path has spurned a curiosity about the interaction between interior spaces, specifically small spaces, and the products that we need and use within them. Additionally, there is the challenge of how those spaces and products have to change and adapt when the user has health, mobility, or aging issues. My goal in this master’s program is to explore the concept of interior design and small space living and to integrate the challenges of health/aging to discover new solutions for people with these issues.

Carson Wronko

MDes candidate in Industrial Design
Email: wronko@ualberta.ca

I have become interested in taking natural materials to their basics, then through a playful process of examining and extending the nature of their materiality, form, structure and scale. Conceptually, I isolate the objects to its bare function with a formal minimalistic mentality then introduce fine woodworking skills of joinery to visually and structurally enhance the object. The process of woodworking has informed many of my decisions when designing. Wood is a complex and wonderful material; it offers a sense of warmth, patina and familiarity. But knowing its limitations is fundamental to a successful product, in terms of its suitability for production longevity.

Siyi Xie

MDes candidate in Industrial Design
Email: sx3@ualberta.ca

Design attracts me as a vivacious and adventurous world attracts an inquisitive child. My internship in an architectural design company enabled me to gain practical experience in commercial design while I was studying in China. I decided to pursue my study after graduation, because there are far more things waiting for exploration. My main research focus on improving the sustainability of products and the humanization of user experience, include guiding sign design, health care products design and daily products design. I am willing to take different kinds of challenges by using design research methods involving new knowledge. It is designers’ duty to chase every possibility and to push the limits.The University of Alberta offers me an opportunity to continue my study, to train design thinking and to improve innovation ability. This is a progress of enhancing abilities in turning idealizations into realizable future. Designers should never stop absorbing others as well as self-examination. I hope to deepen my understanding of design by interdisciplinary approach, and I believe my experience in the U of A will contribute to my design theory.