Marysol Ortega Pallanez

Marysol Ortega Pallanez

PhD in Transition Design

Marysol is an interaction designer, educator, and embroiderer. She successfully defended her doctoral thesis and received a PhD in Design from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in April of 2023. In the School of Design at CMU she was a teaching fellow from 2018–2022. As a teaching fellow, Marysol led courses in Design Studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She was also an adjunct instructor in the Human Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) at CMU from 2019–2020 teaching courses in interaction design.
Additional teaching experiences include Universidad Tecmilenio in Mexico, teaching both courses in design theory and practice, and executive education courses in Transition Design for ITESM (Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education) in Mexico, and UdelaR (University of the Republic) & SARAS (South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies) in Uruguay. 
In professional practice, she has worked in the areas of service design and digital products collaborating with organizations in Mexico, the Bay Area in the US, the Scandinavian countries, The Netherlands, among others. Prior to joining the doctoral program in Transition Design here at CMU, she worked at Fjord —a service design consultancy—in the Stockholm and Copenhagen studios. At Fjord, Marysol's role was of driving service and experience strategy, leading generative workshops and defining interaction design structure for areas as employee experience, banking services, and the humanitarian sector.
Marysol is a Fulbright scholar with a Master in Graphic Design from North Carolina State University (2013) and a BFA in Graphic Design from Universidad Del Valle de Mexico (2004). She is one the creators and hosts of Design in Transition/Diseño en Transición, a bilingual podcast about designing for systems level change toward sustainable and equitable futures.
Areas of inquiry:
  • Pedagogical and care-based design practices
  • The politics of textile-making
  • The role of narrative and embodiment in addressing systemic challenges
  • Future-making through pluriversal design. 

Dissertation title:
Becoming Resonant in Design: An inquiry into public space exclusion in Hermosillo, Mexico through women-plant relations

Advisory Committee: Jonathan Chapman, PhD, Carnegie Mellon University (primary), and Tania Pérez-Bustos, PhD, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

External Examiner: Andrea Botero Cabrera, PhD, Aalto University

Dissertation Abstract:
The latest developments in design theory especially in the areas of Participatory Design, Transition Design, Design for Social Innovation, and Pluriversal Designs call for designing that is localized, relational, and takes the sustainment and healing of the web of life as a matter of care. Yet, current expressions of design theory in practice expose missing threads between concepts and lived experience, particularly in nuanced understandings of ways-of-being as designers entangled in socioecological work. Situated in the desert city of Hermosillo, Mexico, this practice-based inquiry aims at weaving new threads between design practice and theory to cultivate attunement for specificities in our designing. As a result, I call for a new way-of-being as a designer, one that cultivates design sensibilities that attune and correspond with forms of worldmaking like the ones found in Hermosillo. For this new way-of-being as a designer, I propose a design philosophy I characterize as resonant, as it involves a back-and-forth between intentionality and attentionality from the designer. Thus, the resonant design philosophy’s positions the design endeavor in a paradigm of caring for relations through designing for conditions of creative autonomy. As part of it, this resonant design philosophy invites designers to engage in caring for our designing.