In this new design track, students learn to design for complex environments that exist in the digital, physical and multi-modal realms. Most of the products and communications we interact with are situated within complex physical spaces (our homes, classrooms, places of business, shopping malls, even amusement parks). We also interact with complex online environments such as large websites, social networking and virtual reality environments. And increasingly we interact in ‘smart’ physical spaces with multi-modal communications in a combination of the analog and the digital. 

  • Discovery Panel in Context
  • Gestures

Discovery Panel

by Jessica Headrick
The Discovery Panel is a platform for students to share inspiration, collaborate, and present their work more effectively. This multi-screen display fulfills the absence of a dynamic presentation tool and facilitates helpful critique.

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  • Uploading process notes
  • Group meeting
  • Beginning group call
  • Live collaborative work


by Deborah Lee
Mirror is a solution for collaboration between two students in different places, ie studio and home. It is a glanceable tabletop interface that can be used for live collaboration on Adobe files and other process work.

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Phipps Redesign

by Chris Perry
Examination of the environment at the Phipps Conservatory for inspiration, and a proposal to improve this environment. Process: http://cperrye.tumblr.com/tagged/A3 Final: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzZCcv3TTaGCWVZSZ0swTV9uOGs/view?usp=sharing Reflection: http://cperrye.tumblr.com/post/135421199787/a3-reflection-phipps

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  • Conflict Kitchen

A3: Environments Experience Design Story

by Faith Kaufman
I created a redesign for the Conflict Kitchen environment. I began by analyzing the digital and physical spaces. I then considered what possibilities exist for the space and made a design story to express what I feel should be changed.

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Paper Planes

by Chris Perry
Most of the ideas generated in the brainstorming process are never used, simply because they do not fit within the scope of a project. In this augmented studio environment, students are able to take the good ideas they have that they won't be using and release them into the ether in the form of floating paper planes. These planes move between studios, and can be opened and read using an augmented reality app.

  • ArtCat Icon
  • Intro to ArtCat
  • ArtCat in Gallery Space


by Lily Kim
ArtCat helps to create an immersive museum experience for young kids, introducing them to art in a fun and interesting way.

  • Shuffle Projection Model
  • Using Shuffle Mobile App
  • Viewing 2D Space from 3D Perspectives
  • Working on Shuffle Remotely

A4 Designing the Studio of the Future

by Gillan Johnson
In this project I collaborated with another student to design a system within our studio space that aided environments designers in their process of combining digital and physical prototyping tools. The final product consisted of a Projection/Application software system called Shuffle that created hybrid environments of physical and digital mapping and prototyping, allowing for a more layered and informed viewing of a space that will aid future design decisions made by the user.

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  • Mirror Interface 1
  • Mirror Interface 2
  • Mirror Interface 3

Environments Studio A4

by Sharon Yu
I proposed to create an interactive mirror display that acts as a looking glass into the studio for users to answer the essential question of whether or not they should go to studio through qualifiers including the amount of people in studio and the amount of work that is assigned. Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/79zYGOuF35k

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Feed the Fish

by Chris Perry
Projections of fish provide ambient information to initiate sharing food in and across studios.

  • Proposal Slide
  • Brick Diagram/Implementation
  • Effect

Phipps Conservatory ReDesign Concept

by Deborah Lee
An environments proposal in which I implement an engaging, educational element into the current immersive botanical environment. Phipps Conservatory has very subtle hints of manmade factors, and it is important to stay with that trend.

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Green Heat: Studio of The Future

by Jasper Tom
Green Heat is a concept for a smart, sustainable, personalized heating system. A user controls their personal environment with a small fan and heating pad which are powered by a pedal generator underneath their desk. The physical action of pedaling induces a natural increase in temperature and physicalizes the energy a person uses, making electricity a more tangible, valuable resource. My objective was to reduce energy use in a studio setting and eliminate the need for steam radiators.

Studio Learning Environment Redesign

by Carolyn Zhou
Prototyping Learning Environments: Prototype the design studio as a learning environment of the future. Explore online, physical, and hybrid learning environments scenarios. (Partner: Lily Kim) See more: https://carolynyzhou.wordpress.com/a4/

In our curriculum, environments are seen as integrated and dynamic systems that require the design of interactions at multiple levels of scale. Students acquire a diverse set of skills that includes a deep understanding of spatial relationships, designing with and for emerging, multi-media technologies and an understanding of the cognitive challenges presented by multi-modal spaces. 

Students who focus on the design of environments delve deep into systems thinking and systems dynamics and spend time learning to collaborate and lead within multi-disciplinary teams (solving large problems involving complex spaces almost always involves teams of people from different disciplines).

Like students in our communication and product design tracks, students in environments engage in a design process that involves research, observation, prototyping in both analog and digital media and rigorous evaluation. Designers with the ability to work in multi-disciplinary teams designing useful, delightful, educational and surprising experiences for users will be in ever greater demand in the coming decade.

Design for environments can include the design of large corporate environments where furniture, products and multi-media/computer devices must work together to support productivity, the design of multi-modal entertainment facilities, retail showrooms as well as large, multi-media websites, virtual reality spaces, ‘smart’ hospital rooms and the interior of automobiles with ‘smart’ electronics. Our alumni have been associated with the design of exhibitions and ‘smart’ spaces for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, concepts for the redesign of the Hall of Architecture for the Carnegie Museum of Art and automotive interior designs for BMW.