Esther Kang (She/her)

Esther Y. Kang (She/her)

PhD in Transition Design

Esther is the Owner and Principal of studio eyk, mentor at NEW Inc, collaborator at the Tech Solidarity Lab (at Carnegie Mellon University's HCII), and PhD candidate and Teaching Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design. Her research explores a politic that accounts for [critical] transnational relations in the welfare of [othered] local communities through critical inquires on place, imperialism, class and race. Esther applies theoretical, ethnographic, and archival methods to this work, which takes place in Los Angeles, CA and across Korea.

Previously, Esther led teams across sectors for 10+ years where she brought community-based or community-oriented ethos and practices to historically hierarchical spaces. Examples of projects include equity-centered housing policies for the state of New York, resident-centered city budgeting strategies for South Bend, IN, community-owned databank for Two Bridges (NYC), and transition planning for a White House Initiative under the Obama administration.

Past teaching appointments include New York University (NYU), Pratt Institute, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Art Center College of Design. She was also the primary thesis advisor to MFA candidates in Design for Social Innovation (DSI) at the School of Visual Arts.

Esther received her MA in social design from the Maryland Institute College of Art and her BFA with concentrations in art theory and photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Research interests include:

  • The role and potential of historical narratives in shaping the speculative nature of design
  • Critical place inquiry and design research
  • Multi-situated ethnography and archival research
  • Power asymmetries in multi-ethnic & multi-species contexts and geopolitical realities / histories

Design Studies courses Esther teaches:

Design Center elective that Esther designed, developed and taught: