Human experiences are in part shaped by the environments people inhabit and interact with. Environments designers shape the materials that form designed environments, interactions within such environments, and consequently the resulting experiences. Usually, environments are experienced holistically: physically, digitally, socially, culturally, within space-time, and so forth.
We live in hybrid times. We simultaneously engage with physical and digital environments. For example, a visit to an urban center may require shifting your attention between the physical environment and mobile devices (e.g., map applications, photos, social media). The physical and digital are likely to blend even further with smart spaces, internet of things, mixed reality, sensor networks, big data, artificial intelligence, smart cities, and mixed reality interfaces.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
by Lily Kim
ArtCat helps to create an immersive museum experience for young kids, introducing them to art in a fun and interesting way.
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.
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
Feed the Fish
by Chris Perry
Projections of fish provide ambient information to initiate sharing food in and across studios.
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.
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.
Why focus on designed environments as a design track?
The Environments track was launched in 2014 with the School of Design's new curriculum. We recognized that increasingly designed experiences involve larger designed and natural contexts. Designer Eliel Saarinen said "Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan."
Environments are the broader context where human interactions and resulting experiences occur. Increasingly, artificial environments are experienced through integrated communications, products, interactions, and services. Imagine your last visit to an airport, hospital, branded retail store, museum, park or educational institution. Now imagine the same experience without wifi, a mobile data service plan, or a charged mobile battery. Increasingly, delightful experiences in designed environments involve the seamless integration of designed parts and nature.
Environments designers seek to holistically design places that result in meaningful human experiences. Typically, architects and interior designers design buildings and interiors, however environments designers bring an understanding of users and interactions that aids storytelling, usability, experience and the integration of technology into specific places.
How much an environment is actually designed varies. The passenger experience of an airport environment, a branded retail experience, or an interactive museum environment can be fully designed. In other cases, environments designers shape only some aspects. For example, in an outdoor event, only some details of the experience are designed (e.g., invitations, seating arrangements, catering, music) but not the others (e.g., weather, sunset, wind, insects). Likewise, the design of a covered bus stop operates within the surrounding built environment, transportation infrastructure, cultural conventions, climate, and so forth.
Why should designers be interested in shaping "designed environments"?
Everything that happens around us, happens within environments—interactions between people and things, and between people and people. Designers who are able to take an environments perspective learn to integrate and synthesize knowledge and practices across domains and contexts, and across different timespans.
What specific skills do environments designers possess?
Environments designers shape the experiences people have in the spaces and systems they inhabit both physically or virtually. We work with time, atmosphere, connectivity, form, material, pixels, and emerging tools (e.g. sensors, artificial intelligence, data).
What kind of work do "environments trained" designers go on to do in the world?
Our students create environments that tell stories, educate and entertain. This includes the design of interactive exhibitions, smart retail spaces, smart homes, and place-based apps. Our students have interned at: Apple, Google, NASA, Microsoft, Samsung, LinkedIn, Facebook, Dubberly Design Office, Deeplocal, frog design, odopod design, Blast Motion, and so forth.
There are six core classes within the Environments track:
Studio 1 Environments: Form and Context & Lab (Fall sophomore)
Students learn to define thresholds, materials, and human interactions within physical and digital environments.
Studio 2 Environments: Design for interaction & Lab (Spring sophomore)
Students explore the effects of "time" "space" and "scale" as fundamentals of an environment through storytelling and simulation.
Studio 3 Environments: Complex systems (Fall junior)
Students explore the complexity of how form, data, branding, and storytelling are integral to interactions and experiences in environments.
Studio 4 Environments: Social Systems (Spring junior)
Students explore design, behavior, and people's understanding, in physical, digital, and hybrid environments.
There are many departments at Carnegie Mellon University where environments designers can take elective courses. Environments track design students are encouraged to take their "Design Electives" across campus in IDeATE, Architecture, Music, Drama, Art, Computer Science, HCII, and so forth. Email a 100-word proposal of the Environments Design Elective class you would like to take outside of the School of Design to count as a "Design Elective" to Peter Scupelli and cc Melissa Cicozi so we can approve it for you.