Letter from the Director

The state of the school

The State of the School of Design is strong and getting stronger every day. We have accomplished so much in the last two years, and we are poised to move even further ahead very rapidly and very soon.

Let me begin with the most important people in our department, our students. Our students are the reason we are all here, and you students are incredible. Just some of the highlights of the last year alone include MA in Design student James Getomer winning a first place in the state-wide CSU Research Competition for Project Daybreak: Increasing student access to mental health support through UX research and service design.

Two of our students were awarded Marcus Undergraduate Research Awards. Crystal Candalla (working with Asst. Professor Josh McVeigh-Schultz), was awarded for her proposal “Embodiment in XR:  Using Research through Design (RtD) Techniques in VR to Explore New Approaches to:  Attention, Interaction Rituals, and Spatial Metaphors”. The other winner from Design is Anucha Poh Maga (working with Associate Professor Silvan Linn) on developing a conversion kit that would allow anyone with a motorcycle to easily transform it into a hybrid vehicle. I must note here, there were 10 awards given and Design students with their faculty mentors recieved 2 of them.

For the last six years our students have been finalists in the international “Stanford Design Challenge on Longevity”, and the last two years are no exception. This prestigious competition attracts entrants from all over world as they work to solve the complex problems of aging in contemporary society. Professor Ricardo Gomes has mentored seven finalist teams in the in the Challenge since 2013. In the 2017/18 Challenge, SF State was the only program with two finalists presenting out of the eight international teams: Seven Bridges and Gather. Seira Yasumatsu won third place for her work on “Gather" in 2018. In 2019, a team of SFSU Design students (again, only 8 teams from over 90 proposals from all over the world made the finals) presented “Invite” at Stanford in April. Prof Gomes is continuing this important work this year, mentoring new teams to enter the competition.

Our undergraduate program has almost doubled in size and our graduate program (under the leadership of Dr. Chu), has more than doubled. Our MA Design alumni are working in leading firms all over the Bay Area, in the emergent fields of UX, Service Design and Design Research as well as the traditional Vis Com and Product firms all over the Bay. Our MA Design program is proud to be included in the SF State Scholars program this year. This is  a "4+1" program for outstanding undergraduate students to apply to recieve a Master's degree in 5 years. We'll be rolling out the information and application process soon.

Our student groups, AIGA, IDSA, DesignGuild, and EPT have robust membership and are planning a number of events and initiatives. If you are not part of those groups, please check them out. You will hear of all their activities in the coming year.

These are only the broad highlights of Design student's achievements. Our students have won scholarships, have graduated and are working at amazing jobs in leading firms in the Bay Area and beyond (one notable example is Eva Rodriguez, class of 2018, who is an Art Director at Ozzy Media. She is the youngest Art Director I have ever met in my long career, and I know we have more such students coming up in our program now). You can see some of our outstanding student work in the hallways, and we are developing more presentations of student work in booklets and online magazines (Issuu). Stay tuned.

Our faculty are outstanding. Our senior faculty are active leaders in the profession; some highlights include Professor Gomes continuing his work in  Collaborative Inclusive Design with a presentation at the Institute for Human Centered Design in Boston last May;  Associate Professor Trogu continues to  expand his scholarship on Information Design alongside his work with Associate Professor Linn on Metamaterials; Dr. Hsiao-Yun’s Chu’s continued scholarship on Buckminster Fuller’s legacy in Design; Associate Professor Singer’s scholarship and work on “Project Anywhere”, and my own conference papers on Justice Design and Urban Transitional Design. There is just too much professional activity to list here. Please see our individual faculty pages for more information on our professional work in the last two years.

We are proud to be joined by three outstanding new Assistant Professors: Dr. Josh McVeigh-Schultz (Vis Com, XR, UX and HCI, working on speculative design and ritual), Prof Saskia Van Kampen (Vis Com, exploring design pedagogy as well as community building and placemaking through creative practice) and Prof Ellen Christensen (Vis Com, community, placemaking, experimental mapping and visualization). Please join us in welcoming them to our dynamic community.

We could not ask for a better group of Adjunct Professors than the group we have. All of them are experts in their areas and their dedication to the students is only matched by the T/TT faculty above. I am so proud to know and work with all of them.

We are fortunate to be awarded a search for a new professor in Industrial Design as well as a coveted T2S2 search. The Provost’s office has awarded only 6 searches for “Tenure-Track for Student Success” initiative. We have one of those searches. The information for the positions can be found here: https://design.sfsu.edu/jobs-design. The fact that we were awarded one of these positions displays the support we have garnered from the administration.

We have transformed some of our facilities; we’ve re-built FA 153 into a thriving rapid prototyping and teaching area that is used by all three of our programs. Last year we repaired and painted the hallways and installed a new system for hanging work (metal bars the length of the hallway and hanging work with magnets). FA 141 is being transformed into a contemporary facility serving high-end computer needs for both Product Design and Vis Com.  New furniture is appearing in classrooms, in DesignSpace, and in the shops. We’ve introduced black and white printers for students to use in the classrooms, and we’ve upgraded our displays in all classrooms. FA 123 is a thriving student space that we will continue to support this year by adding a printing station in that room as well.

We are also busy behind the scenes, working on curriculum, assessing our program, and updating key materials such as our Bulletin and our department working documents. This dynamic growth in the department would not be possible without our outstanding Staff. If you haven’t met them, please seek them out- Rosa Valencia and Kathleen Walters in the office and Richard Ortiz and Jim Tay in our shops. Seek them out and thank them for all the hard work they do with and for all of us.

This is an exciting time to be in the School of Design. In a sense (even though we’ve been here for many years) we are a start-up. There is still a lot of work to do, and we all need to be doing it together: Students, Faculty and Staff. We are growing and changing and, yes, there are challenges. But the rewards are all so much greater. Thank you for being here and for being a part of this truly exciting time in our history as a department.