Esther Kang (She/her)

Esther Y. Kang (She/her)

PhD in Transition Design

Esther is a PhD candidate and Teaching Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design. Her work focuses on the relationship between design, affect, and biopolitics. Esther is also a member of CMU's Tech Solidarity Lab where she is conducting research on the future of essential work and workers in the wake of automation technology and COVID.

Previously, Esther led teams across sectors for 10+ years where she brought participatory design 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:

  • Visceral ways of knowing and their political implications
  • Politics of emotion and embodiment
  • Emancipatory, liberatory, and participatory practices
  • Pluriversal design, designs, and designing
  • Designing in the afterlives of colonialism, imperialism, and enslavement
  • Power asymmetries in multi-ethnic contexts and geopolitical realities / histories

Design Studies courses I teach:

  • Cultures
  • Places