Spring Mentors


03/18/2022 12:00 am

Each semester, MDes students get the opportunity to learn from and interact with various invited guest speakers and mentors. This spring, Design Frameworks and Capstone Studio have a great line-up of guests with backgrounds ranging from critical theory to robotic fabrication to XR technologies to strategic foresight. The program is so thankful for the time of these esteemed guests and the knowledge they bring to our academic discourse and practices.
Design Frameworks

From left, top to bottom: Clive Dilnot, Xiaowei Wang, Lonny Brooks, Deepa Butoliya, Radha Mistry, Nabil Harfoush, Cameron Tonkinwise, Hilmar Koch.

  • Clive Dilnot — Clive Dilnot is an independent author, editor, and critic focusing on design studies. He was a professor of design studies in the School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons School of Design, where he joined in 2002 as Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Previously, he was a professor of design studies and Director of Design Initiatives at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and taught at Harvard University and universities and colleges in England, Hong Kong, and Australia.
  • Xiaowei Wang — Xiaowei R. Wang is an artist, writer, organizer and coder. Their collaborative project FLOAT Beijing created air quality-sensing kites to challenge censorship and was an Index Design Awards finalist. Other projects have been featured by the New York Times, BBC, CNN, VICE, and elsewhere. Their most recent project, The Future of Memory, was a recipient of the Mozilla Creative Media Award. They are the author of the book Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech In China’s Countryside and one of the lead stewards of Logic School, an organizing community for tech workers.
  • Lonny Brooks — Lonny Brooks is a futurist with deep expertise in long-term thinking, Afro-futurism, and the ways organizations (especially forecasting think tanks), interaction designers, and college students envision the future of media and information technologies. He has spoken extensively in major venues across the nation.
  • Deepa Butoliya — Deepa Butoliya is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan in the School of Art and Design. She explores design from a decolonial perspective and investigates various global designerly practices that are marginalized in the mainstream design discourse. She applies this approach to her work in critical/speculative design futures and teaching.
  • Radha Mistry — Radha Mistry leads the Foresight practice in the Strategic Foresight group at Autodesk and teaches in the Transdisciplinary Design program at Parsons School of Design. A fresh and forceful voice in the foresight community, she has presented widely on futures issues.
  • Nabil Harfoush — Futurist, entrepreneur, and co-founder of the foresight program at Ontario College of Art and Design (one of the first in North America), co-founder of the OCAD Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group, Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard, and currently Director of the OCAD U Resilience Design Lab.
  • Cameron Tonkinwise — Cameron is the Professor of Design Studies at the University of Technology Sydney. He is also the Director of the UTS Design Innovation Research Centre, incorporating the Designing out Crime Research Project. Cameron has a background in continental philosophy and continues to research what design practice can learn from material culture studies and sociologies of technology. His primary area of research and teaching is Sustainable Design. Cameron’s current focus, in collaboration with colleagues at CMU School of Design, and an international network of scholar-practitioners, is Transition Design – design-enabled multi-level, multi-stage structural change toward more sustainable futures.
  • Hilmar Koch — Hilmar Koch leads the Media and Entertainment Futures group at Autodesk. He won an Academy Award for technical achievement and held various leadership positions at Industrial Light and Magic. His filmography includes Star Wars III & VII, Avatar, Super 8, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, etc. His current interests are in technology futures, teamwork, and innovating in organizational contexts.

Capstone Studio

From left: Dan Gillete, Luisa Caldas, Ken Goldberg, Julian Bleecker
  • Dan Gillette — Dan Gillette works at the intersection of design and culture, with a special focus on co-design, education, public health, disability, civic life, and healthcare. As a designer, Dan has guided the design of a communication device for children with autism; virtual worlds; smart spaces; environmental sensing systems; precision medicine apps; accessible voting interfaces; healthcare at-a-distance systems; innovation curricula for all levels of the education system; educational software; museum exhibits; new research and design methodologies; experimental protocols; social networks; science engagement services; machine vision systems; fellowship programs in both academia and industry; and touch, voice, gesture, aural, and haptic interfaces. As a researcher, he has served on state, national, and international committees and workgroups focused on topics including healthcare without walls, computer accessibility standards, artificial intelligence, developmental disabilities, nursing education, and job readiness.
  • Luisa Caldas — Luisa Caldas is a Professor in the Department of Architecture and director of the XR Lab. She holds a Ph.D. in Architecture and Building Technology from MIT and an MSc from the Bartlett Graduate School, University College London. Caldas received her professional architecture degree from the University of Lisbon and practiced as a licensed architect before becoming a researcher, educator, and immersive environments creator. Caldas founded and directs the XR Lab – Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Laboratory at UC Berkeley. The lab’s research focuses on the use of immersive environments for building design and simulation, healthcare design, ADA, parametric and generative design, UI/UX, narrative, and storytelling. She is a member of the HTC Center for Enhanced Reality at UC Berkeley.
  • Ken Goldberg — Ken Goldberg is the William S. Floyd Distinguished Chair in Engineering at UC Berkeley and an award-winning roboticist, filmmaker, artist, and popular public speaker on AI and robotics. Ken trains the next generation of researchers and entrepreneurs in his research lab at UC Berkeley; he has published over 300 papers, 3 books, and holds 9 US Patents. Ken’s artwork has been featured in 70 art exhibits including the 2000 Whitney Biennial. He is a pioneer in technology and artistic visual expression, bridging the “two cultures” of art and science. With unique skills in communication and creative problem solving, invention, and thinking on the edge, Ken has presented over 600 invited lectures at events around the world.
  • Julian Bleecker — Julian Bleecker is a creative leader with the range of a generalist. He is at his best when he is working with organizations translating the “now” into the “next”. He is an engineer with multiple degrees, so he knows what it means to execute on ideas. He has a Ph.D. in technology and culture, giving him unique perspectives and insights into the meaning of new ideas and how they will fit within marketplaces. In the end, his greatest superpower is that he is able to look at the world a bit sideways and see opportunities to create products and experiences that are unanticipated, unexpected, and beautiful alternatives to the status quo.