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Parsons the New School for Design: R&D Advanced Methods Final Group Project Spring 2014


Globally, nearly 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year1. With a significant portion being generated at the consumer level, how can we combat this systemic problem by starting in the home?


• Applying behavioral science to design thinking.


The assignment asked us to apply research and design frameworks explored in class to address a pressing social problem of our choice. We elected to focus on a topic that’s not only a global issue, but impacts our own daily lives: food waste.


Find information/ inspiration. INQUIRE.

Real World

Observe, interview. INVESTIGATE.



Make connections, find patterns. INTERPRET.

Design and prototype. INITIATE.



Test it out, consider revisions. IMPROVE.

Filter, narrow options. INTEGRATE.

Going in with goals... Address the problem from the bottom up. Let micro-level changes breed macro ones. Empower the consumer to join the battle. Spread awareness, modify behavior by harnessing what they’re familiar with: technology (an App).


This was NOT a linear process.

It required backtracking and continual referral to previous stages. Constant reiteration of solution, frequent rejection of assumptions.


Research was broken down into two overarching phases: (1) Preliminary, and (2) Real World. We had already begun the project with the idea of an App-based solution in mind and were eager to see if our research findings would support this concept.

As it’s easy to lose focus once out in the field, we dedicated the first few weeks of the project to gaining full familiarity with all things related to our topic. The goal of Preliminary Research was to investigate (a) shopper demographics / psychographics; (b) consequences of global food waste; and (c) current solutions to the problem.


User Personas

Creating theoretical profiles of our target customer.

Frequently Disposed

Size shows frequency of use Frequently bought

Infrequently bought

mid point- 2 months

Fruit, Vegetables Deli Meats & Cheese Eggs

Raw Meat


Doesn’t Expire



Expires Quickly Flour


Icecream Potato chips, Nuts Sugar, Vinegar, Cornstarch, Salt, Vanilla extract, Honey




Uncooked rice Frozen dinners Soda

Coffee beans

Infrequently Disposed

Position Map

Defining what products we should focus on.


BRIDGING THE GAP Expectations vs. Reality

Separating fact from fiction - what hypotheses actually ring true?

Though useful in laying a project’s groundwork, secondary research has its shortcomings: it’s not customized to a project’s particular needs and often induces researchers to make false assumptions. The goal of Real World Research was to fill in the gaps and give us a more accurate, inside view of our topic. 7

• What are the typical behaviors of grocery shoppers? • What characteristics of the store affect these behaviors? • What characteristics of the shopper affect these behaviors?

• What pre-shopping behaviors do people engage in? • How do people handle groceries after a shopping trip? • How does a housewife prepare a meal from limited ingredients?


Where we visited, what we looked out for.

A suburban housewife... a student living in the city... a young filmmaker with two roommates... • Discuss your food purchasing patterns. How often do you buy groceries, how much do you typically spend? What are your go-to stores? • Discuss how you deal with cooking, storing, and discarding food. How often do you cook for yourself, versus going out to eat? What factors influence your decision? • Discuss how you handle purchased groceries. Do you closely keep track of expiration dates? Do you use an organizational system to help you manage food? • Discuss how familiar you are with the food waste crisis. What consequence concerns you the most? What would motivate you to be less wasteful?


Who we talked to, what we asked.


We made many fascinating discoveries during our research phases, so it was critical to Extract the useful from the irrelevant after a Review of all Findings.

With over ten hours of observation conducted and six different people interviewed between team members, open discussion was vital during this phase. The goal of the Review was to share raw findings and chief takeaways, then to begin synthesizing individual ideas such that we had a clearer definition of the problem



The products, design elements, and behaviors that stood out.


The emotions, biases, and mindsets that were revealed.


New Questions Grocery Shopping Hypothesis Question: Do behaviors during actual food purchasing impact food wastefulness? Solution Question: How can grocery retailers be included in our solution? Eating Out Hypothesis Question: Is there a relationship between eating out behaviors and food wastefulness? Solution Question: What role can utilizing leftovers play in addressing the problem? Cooking Hypothesis Question: Do behaviors in the kitchen influence wastefulness Solution Question: Can building culinary knowledge be part of the solution? Storage / Management Hypothesis Question: Does better overall kitchen organization result in food waste reductions? Solution Question: Will there be a need to introduce / redesign products to compliment our App? Diet / Health Hypothesis Question: Are more health-conscious individuals less wasteful? Solution Question: Will our App require features for diet / lifestyle maintenance? Food Waste Knowledge Hypothesis Question: Does awareness of the crisis actually result in less wasteful behaviors? Solution Question: Will including an educational component help moviate people to be less wasteful?

A Problem-Specific Solution

Adjusting initial questions to better target the issue.

Team member feedback served as a fantastic filter - it allowed us to Extract the most useful insights from all other findings. Armed with a stronger definition of the problem, we were now better prepared to develop our answer to it. 11

• PRE-TRIP: Shopping lists, budgeting. • KITCHEN: Organization, saving leftovers. • APPS: Tracking, price comparison, recipes. • PRODUCT: Appearance, brand, origins, health benefits, price Proximity, format, assortment, coupons.

• • • • • • • • •

Diets Culture Gender Income Awareness Generation Cooking proficienc Lifestyle / schedules Household size / composition

Categorizing Patterns

Chief takeaways from observations and interviews.

Summarizing Insights

Main reasons behind household food waste.


Findings supported our initial concept of an App-based Solution, and also unveiled the specifc features it should include. Of course, it was important to Reflect and evaluate our product prototype post-Create, in order to see if further iterations should be explored.

From awareness-building Love Food, Hate Waste, to food-sharing LeftOverSwap, there are plenty of waste-combatting Apps currently out there. The goal of the Create phase was to merge the capabilities of all such mobile solutions into one seamless, easy to understand platform.


The App

Easy navigation, visually engaging, profile customization.

The Support

Scannable label modifications that inform and empower the user.


A Consumer-Centric Answer

Must-have App components based on research findings.

Listed above are our App’s prominent features. Now that we’re ready to “deliver” our product, the next step was to explore how to actually introduce it to the marketplace and gauge its usefulness to the real consumer. These were the goals of the Reflect phase. 15


Simple logo, pleasing color scheme. “At a Glance”, savings calculator. Sense of community, tracking, finding recipes


Unclear home page, weak overall responsiveness. Partnerhips with retailers and restaurants.

User Probe

Feedback from a friend, Ethan.

Campaign Poster

Communicating value to the consumer.



Parsons the New School for Design: Design in Everyday Experience Final Group Project Spring 2013


Design affects our everyday lives - in the products we use, the places we visit, the behaviors and attitudes we adopt. How has Saturdays Surf NYC applied this wisdom to its 31 Crosby Street location and overall brand?


• Systems thinking. • Deductive reasoning. • Looking at the world as a designer.


This assignment asked us to build, research, and verify our own theory based on ideas learned in class. Urban planning wisdoms and the basics of human psychology laid the groundwork for our investigation on how strategic spatial design is an important ingredient to a company’s success.

Jacobs and Tuan

31 Crosby Street

A Rival

Our Own


Business Proposal

City diversity, space v. place. DESIGN FOR EXPERIENCE. “Culture crafting.” DESIGN AS BUSINESS STRATEGY.

Coffee + surf under one roof. EXPERIENCE FOR OURSELVES. Charm + energy, juxtaposed. NEIGHBORHOOD AS ECOSYSTEM.


Integrate artifacts, make recommendations. VERIFY THEORY.

Going in with a theory... Both tangible and intangible signifiers of meaning are knitted within a city’s spacial fabric.

Successful businesses understand how to harness theories of space and place.


This was NOT about inductive thinking.

It began with a general idea, then sought to validate it by examining a specific, real world example. Life’s best lessons are learned outside the classroom.


Our Own Hypothesis took from the ideas of two champions of systems thinking: Jane Jacobs and Yi-Fu Tuan. Therefore, applying their concepts challenged us to take on many roles: a consumer, a designer, a business strategist... and, most importantly, an ethnographer.

Chief takeaways from Jacobs and Tuan: What promises enduring street vibrancy? High diversity (mixed users drawn by mixed uses - for work, for play, and for everything in-between). Space versus place - how are the two terms related to each other? Co-dependently (abstract spaces are transformed into concrete realities as we experience and endow them with value).


Quotes from Jacobs and Tuan

Using their words to frame our project.


Project Brief

A deductive approach: Combining Tuan and Jacobs’ ideas to choose our site.

With various overlaps between the two treatises, it was easy for us to utilize both in shaping Our Own hypothesis. Now we felt that the best site to prove our theory would be a coffee shop - as an “in-between” place, many have become almost second homes to their customers. But among all of New York’s coffee retailers, which to select? One that strongly captures Jacobs’ “mixed use” principle, of course - a store that wears many hats, is located in a vibant neighborhood, and blends things beyond just coffee. 23

Hypothesis: Brainstorming

Saturdays: A cool fashion boutique or a hip surfer cafÊ? Honing in and defining our project’s goals.

SWOT Analysis

The experience perspective meets a business lens.


31 Crosby Street’s recipe to success is one part flavorful coffee, one part quality apparel, and one part prime real estate - its tucked away location in the vibrant Soho district. Theory Application was therefore conducted in both environments.

Getting a true feel of 31 Crosby Street was achieved through the collection of “artifacts”, the fruits of our regular trips to the store. These included observational notes, videos / photographs, and interviews with staff and customers.


Artifacts: Personal

Artifacts: Ms. Dana Droppo, Media Contact

Reaching out to the company, including its perspective.


Store Location: Premier Downtown

Perfect for those living, working, and surfing in NYC.

Notes Tuan: “Learning to know the neighborhood requires identification of significant localties, such as street corners and architectural landmarks, within the neighborhood space. Objects and places are centers of value.�4 Hearkening his words, we now took a step back to consider the macroenviromental factors which have helped shape the store to what it is today. How has its presence as a cultural vestige affected and been affected by its surrounding Soho neighborhood? 27


Artifacts: Mapquest

to see what lies nearby.

Artifacts: Personal

Documenting idiosyncrasies and juxtapositions.


Project Nodal Map

Intergrating and illustrating the linkages within the system.

Social research isn’t just about collecting data to prove a hypothesis. At the end of the day, its value lies within how its results are harnessed to solve a problem. For a firm, this can include sustaining relevancy and being at the helm of innovation. Although our findings revealed that 31 Crosby Street’s design encourages a congruence between the store and its users’ behavioural needs, we felt that the brand can do better in reaching female surfers, a market that’s on the rise. Addressing this untapped consumer segment was thus what lay at the heart of our Business Proposal. 29

Key Supportive Statistics

Basing our proposal on concrete facts.


Summarizing our recommendation visually and succinctly.


Getting a real taste of 31 Crosby Street and the zeitgeist spirit of Soho (not to mention a cup of Saturdays’ famous personal blend of La Colombe!) certainly made us realize how fun ethnographic research can be. But now for the Synthesis of all the artifacts collected at Our Spaces, and gathering more from A Rival to strengthen the verification of our theory

Staying true to systems thinking, we decided to bring another “node” to our analysis: A Rival and Saturdays’ main competitor, Lost Weekend NYC. The same researc methodology was now applied to a brand with a similiar business model, but situated in a different NYC neighborhood.




Washington University in St. Louis: Styleta Runway Show and Promotions Winter 2010


How can we help fashion non-profit Styleta introduce its new chapter to the WashU community?


• Organizing people. • Working with a limited budget. • Promoting a new organization.


Styleta is a student-run, fashion non-profit which collects and sells donated designer clothing, with proceeds given to its charity partners. In fall 2010, it introduced a new chapter to Washington University in St. Louis. As Creative Director, I was in charge of overseeing all promotional efforts.

The University

Cultivate a subculture. GAIN SOME FOOTING.

The Executive Team

Get to know each other. ALIGNMENT WILL ATTRACT OTHERS.


Apparel and accessories, equipment and facilities. BE INVENTIVE.


Models, photographers, volunteers, stylists. LOOK OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL.

Photo Shoots

Endorse Styleta, advertise runway event. BUILD THE BRAND.

Runway Show

An entire evening affair. GO ALL OUT.

Going in with constraints... A campus community lacking any strong interest in fashion. Limited budget and resources. No group membership, a fresh executive board.


This was NOT about always being right.

It required recognizing when to step back and listen to, learn from, others. Know what you don’t know, appreciate what other’s do.


The two greatest challenges faced by myself and fellow members of The Executive Team were (1) The University’s lack of any official organization devoted to fashion, and (2) our own leadership inexperience. The first step, then, was to Foster: within the school, an interest in fashion; within our board, a strong sense of camaraderie and shared mission.

Chats with students and trend spotting around The University revealed that many of our peers had already fallen in love with fashion on a personal level - those who did channeled their obsession through extraordinary outfits that stood out from the rest of the sweats-wearing student populace. It was therefore an opportune time to introduce a legitimate student group that offered these fashionistas a way to use their style expertise for social good.


Campus Style

Realizing an unaddressed need: a student-run fashion group.

A Guerilla Fashion Show

Spreading awareness - models storm the school’s cafeteria.


Three Fellow Executives

Clockwise from top: Jentien Pan, Campus Director; Marissa Pomerance, Head of Styling; Aycan Nur Saǧir, Director of Finance.

What kind of leadership boards are people most drawn to? Ones with members who have both their personal and professional interests well aligned, who play off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The Executive Team thus made sure to dedicate time to getting to know each other. 39


Bonding over good food and drinks, nice weather, and laughs.

Getting Down to Business

From pre-show planning to photoshoots and wardrobe selection... learning each other’s work ethics.


From Materials to People (and a heavy investment of our personal time), our promotional activities would require a significant amount of resources. To Source our goals required me to be relentlessly inventive and a persuasive spokesperson for our nascent organization.

Where we fell most resource deficient was in clothing and accessories - pieces for photo shoots and the runway show. Our solution: reaching out to local boutiques, explaining our mission, and asking to borrow merchandise. Their reaction: 100% openness, with many allowing us to freely browse their stores and take any items we wished.


Local St. Louis Boutiques

Special thanks to Pitaya and Ziezo for opening their doors to us.

Building Our “Closet”

Goodie-filled gift bags for show attendees, thanks to L’occitane, Lush, and Bare Essentials; great finds from Ziezo; fruits of Pitya’s generosity.


The Models

Just one important group of generous volunteers.

Models, stylists, photographers, DJs... we’d need a lot of help to turn our promotional vision into a reality! But to our happy surprise, whether when looking inside our school or to the wider St. Louis community for support, the People we came across were more than eager to lend their skills and time, without compensation. As a leader, I was extremely moved by what happens when passion meets purpose, by the natural sense of fellowship that blossoms when a diverse group of individuals are united under the same philanthropic mission. 43

The Stylists

Professional or student..? Bethany Laska works her magic, Ilana Moreno gives it a try.

Everyone Else

Clockwise from top: Sienna Malik gets a wardrobe fix from Jenny Saylak; Christopher Carter lets nothing stop him from getting the perfect shot; DJ Zac Blue preps for his set; volunteers organize looks as head stylist Marissa Pomerance looks on.


To truly unveil the Styleta brand with a bang, we decided to end the semester with a fullon fashion extravaganza - similar to NYC’s Fashion’s Night Out, an entire evening affair that’d include a Runway Show, refreshments, and a pop-up sale. To Promote the event, we first held a series of Photo Shoots, selecting the best images to use for show flyers

The two main things I learned while directing my first Photo Shoots: (1) communication is key, and (2) assert yourself, but listen. From wardrobe selection to model poses, I’d frequently butt heads with other executives and our professional photographer. When to step in versus when to give others “carte blanche”... a good leader needs to be able to discern between the two.


Striking a balance: what I envision,

The Process

input of others.

The Results

Some of my favorite shots.


Styleta Presents: Fashion’s Night Out

Final promotional flyer for the event.

From casting calls and line-up choreography, to theme development and individual look selection, the process of producing a cohesive Runway Show taught me how to think on my feet and juggle various responsibilities at once, a massive challenge given the sheer number of participants involved. 47

The Process

Keeping everyone aligned: A moodboard to inspire my team, a color-coded show line-up to guide and choreograqph models.

The Results

Fully pleased with the evening’s outcome: A jam-packed venue, attendees flocking to the pop-up shop, all models doing us proud.



Parsons the New School for Design: YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund First Round Scholar Winner Fall 2014


Today’s dynamic retail landscape has left many companies struggling to retain relevancy. So non-profit YMA FSF asked: How can JCPenney reinvent itself and reach a younger customer base: the Millennials?


• Planning and implementing a new business strategy.


The retail landscape has morphed dramatically during the past few years. The YMA FSF non-profit challenged students to rescue JCPenney, a brand which has struggled to adapt to these shifts. We were asked to propose a new strategy for the company and counteract the pitfalls of ex-CEO Ron Johnson.

Industry & Customer Omnichannel retailing, the Millennial takeover. A CAPRICIOUS SYSTEM.

Johnson’s Reign

His successes and failures. TOO MUCH, TOO FAST, TOO SOON.


A New Logo

Packaging everything together. BE BRIEF BUT CONVINCING.

Fresh but familiar. “EMBRACE” BY JCP.

A New Collection


For the young and careerdriven. AFFORDABLE EXCLUSIVITY.

Attending the awards dinner. HARD WORK PAYS OFF.

A general objective: How can the firm capture and retain Millennials?

Specific requirements: consumer profile, SWOT analysis, new brand name, sales plan, product assortment, promotional campaign... 51

This was NOT just about the numbers.

It required looking beyond financial reports and thinking for a team of hybrid minds: a designer, marketer, etc. The ability to span different worlds is a rare, invaluable skill.


As one of the world’s oldest and largest department store chains, JCPenney is a wellknown retailer in the fashion industry. But since its 1900 origins, the company has arguably lost its way. To be sure, it wasn’t just the pitfalls of Johnson’s Reign which led JCP so astray. I first had to Assess the possible Industry & Customer nuances which contributed to its struggles.

“To do all in our power to pack the customer’s dollar full of value, quality, and satisfaction.”5 This was but one of the seven guiding principles set by founder James Cash Penney. But given new Industry & Customer conditions, is this strategic premise unsuitable for today’s retail environment?


The Rise of Omnichannel

Retail’s gone digital, 24/7, and seamless. How will this affect JCP’s brick-and-mortar strategies? What opportunities is it missing out on?

The Rise of Millennials

Connected, adventurous, and ethnically diverse. How can JCP reach such a demanding consumer segment? What can be done instore and online to enhance their shopping experiences?


The Ron

former head of Johnson became

Who is Ron Johnson?

retail operations JCPenney’s new

at Apple, Inc. CEO in 2012.

During Johnson’s Reign, he introduced various changes in hopes of transforming JCP into “America’s favorite store”: a different logo, a new pricing strategy, and brand-dedicated in-store boutiques. I argue that it was not the radicality of such concepts where Johnson fell short, but his neglection to first test them out and understand the JCP customer. In fact, had they been revised, rolled out more gradually, and crafted to better capitalize upon JCP’s core competencies, his strategies held significant potential 55

Johnson’s Innovations

Bold ideas, but poor execution? Customers confused by new logo and shift from coupons to everyday low pricing. Joe Fresh “store-within-a-store” boutiques prove successful.

The Public Attacks

Too stuck in the Apple mindset? Numerous news outlets chronicle Johnson’s mistakes, while consumers turn to social media to complain.


Two critical pieces our application had to have were A New Logo and A New Collection for the brand. This was how the competition asked us to be both right- and left-brained thinkers - to Devise a proposal by seeing in numbers and in pixels.

What exactly makes a company logo great? It has to be simple but unique... timeless but adaptable... etc., etc. With a very limited graphic design background, coming up with A New Logo for JCPenney which captures such dichotomies was a major challenge for me.


The new logo’s patriotic colors project the firm’s century-old American legacy. The square alludes to the company’s 2011 logo. Finally, the half circle represents the worldly values of the Millennial consumer. The word “Embrace” will communicate the firm’s strong interest in “embracing” Millennials as a new core client group. Once this message takes hold in the marketplace, the label can then be simplified to an “e”, a letter which can evolve to capture other linguistic connotations - “environmentalism”, “exclusivity”, “esteem”, “economical”, “expression”, “experience”, etc. Explanation The reasoning behind my design.

The results of various


Final Logo iterations.

- Rosaline Hsieh6

Inspirational Outings

No business analysis is complete without examining rivals: Visiting JCP and competitor Macy’s to find collection ideas.

The desire for a good work-life balance - given this chief takeaway from research on the Millennial consumer, A New Collection from the brand would have to let wearers transition effortlessly from day to night, from work to play. 59

Assortment Plan

Versatile career-wear staples and accessories - perfect for the busy Millennial.

All in

about the numbers business courses



using set

6-Month Sales Plan

what I reasonable

learned goals.

Two things to Submit: first, the Application; then, a happy and huge “YES!� to attend the celebratory awards dinner organized for the winning scholars.

Given the Application’s 14-page limit, I admit that packaging all my work together felt at times the most difficult part of the entire process. Summarizing all of my research in a succinct yet persuasive write-up... bringing in the stats to support my proposal... organizing an Appendix section... making sure that the entire dossier flowed from start to finish... Indeed, the experience taught me how to be a good critic of my own work.


SWOT Analysis

Adopting a macro-level perspective would an outside analyst tell JCP’s


Presentation’s key - opening with a warm, visual greeting to readers and an overview of my brief’s format.


how story?

YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund

Since 1937, the non-profit YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund has advanced the fashion industry by helping students pursue careers in design, merchandising, retailing and business.

A huge “YES!” (and sigh of relief) when receiving the invite to the awards dinner. A great way to celebrate months of hard work, to meet students from other universities who share my same interests in fashion, and to absorb the wisdoms of the industry’s elite. 63

The Memorable Night

Clockwise from top: Designer Tamara Mellon shares words of advice; myself with my mentor, Dean Stadel; fellow Parsons student Paul Kim secures a $30,000-round win; excited scholars enjoy wellearned applause; host Linda Fargo offers warm congratulations.



Parsons the New School for Design: Analyzing Trends Product Mood Board Fall 2014


A product’s package serves more than as a brand’s salesman. How can we extract cultural codes and deeper consumer narratives from the words and symbols it uses?


• Presenting a trend mood board. • Using semiotics to find patterns


The assignment asked us to shed assumptions and learn just from the details. We were challenged to catalog and decode a package’s language, then assemble a concise and graphic mood board that told a compelling trend story, with the product as its centerpiece.





Use a thesaurus to build linguistic taxonomies. CONNOTATIONS.

List key words and phrases. SEMIOTICS.



Consider logos and imagery. SYMBOLOGY.

What current cultural patterns emerge? THINK: CONTEXT.

Binaries reveal unexplored territories. “NOT-NESS”.

What broader narrative is being told? THINK: OPPORTUNITY.

Going in with just a product... A breakfast food: What macro cultural narratives does it capture?

Bob’s Redmill Steelcut Oats: How does the brand and product’s packaging seek to address these codes?


This was NOT a marketing exercise.

It was about the physical process of mood boarding, of seeing the product as a cultural artifact, not mere promotional material. Don’t give us a brand pitch.


The first workshop was spent on the basics we’re asked to simply Collect key Language and Visuals from the packaging. The goal was to avoid framing our product’s meaning in our own biases and generalizations.

The key words which immediately stood out to me included “Organic”, “All Natural”, and “Award-Winning”. It seemed that the Language used sought not only communicate the health benefits and quality of the package’s contents, but also to justify the brand’s superiority over rivals.


Embracing the Inductive Process

Starting only with no jumping to


what’s there conclusions!

Mood Board Materials

Multi-colored post-its and Sharpie pens.

Visuals - mere marketing fluff or artifacts of macro trend narratives? Does an image only serve to occupy blatant branding space, or could it suggest wider cultural phenomena? Separating the two possibilities from each other was especially critical when pulling the packaging’s graphic details. 71

Utilizing Pinterest

The perfect platform for building a visual inventory pinning related images and products to get ideas flowing.

Does help

including humanize

a the

The Man Behind the Brand

friendly portrait of brand in consumers’


“Bob” eyes?

Now it was time to Connect the dots - running thesaurus searches on all the key words I’d accumulated. Both Synonyms and Antonyms helped expand words’ linguistic connotations - thus serving as essential building blocks for later trend decoding.

Key words had been written on blue post-it notes; their Synonyms were given a different color. The process of laddering up linguistic analogues side-by-side helped reveal important code shifts - that is, how a word’s past meaning / connotations have markedly tranformed over time.


An invaluable resource - my go-to site for forming my semiotic analysis.









Mood Board Beginnings





[...] the anything comes


understanding knowing what it

of is

rather than what it is. We know about clean, only because we know about dirty. We understand the concept of “processed” food because we have a framework of “fresh” [...]

shows how we understand what is going on by splitting the world about us into pairs of

Virginia Valentine, Semiotic Solutions6

Understanding the role of linguistic polarities in meaning-making.

Hearkening to Virginia Valentine’s words of wisdom, I also made sure to collect the Antonyms of the key words pulled. These were written out on post-its of a different color. 75

Considering the “Not-Ness”

Similar product, different messaging: What does the brand not want to stand for? How does “Bob” differ from “the Quaker Man” in the eyes of consumers?

Trends: Past vs. Present

Exploring the “not-ness” of one of my key codes, “Authenticity”.


Too often, a firm falls victim to the marketing mind-trap: thinking what it’s selling are goods and services, when what’s actually being “sold” are the signs and meanings of its brand. The last step in the analytical prodess was to Curate Trends from key packaging details, then Codes from the trends.

What is the current state of the cultural story hinted at by the product? To answer this question, searches were run on key language pulled to uncover what overarching social Trends they could be capturing. For a brand, such insights are invaluable - they help them craft long-term strategies which are more sustainable than quick-fix solutions


Consumer is King

Inspecting how people craft their own cognitive roadmaps from brand messaging - how can firms translate motives into favorable behaviors?

Debunking Myths

Understanding codes by their historical context what do trend shifts hint at where they’re heading?


Final Four Codes

“Authenticity”, “Civility”, “Slowness”, and “Simplicity” - current codes with strong brand value. Tradition trumps modernity, but “realness” must be justified.

What separates Codes from trends is that the former is an affirmation of moving away from something that’s losing cultural relevancy. Brands which position consumers as their North Star in strategy planning need to be especially aware of such code shift signals - how else can they remain emotionally connected to their customers? 79

The Codal Shifts

Examining code legacies - new meanings for the new consumer, new opportunities for brands.

Final Mood Board

Key words and visuals, synonyms and “not-ness�, trends, codes... grouped and layered, side-by-side.



Parsons the New School for Design: Innovation Final Group Project Spring 2014


Today, the words “innovation” and “technology” often go hand in hand. But can we understand a fashion trend - the camouflage print - as just as ground-breaking?


• Connecting subcultural systems in one legacy map. • Applying concepts from Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations.


The assignment challenged us to pick an innovation and define its significance from a historical standpoint - in short, tell its story. This meant including a rich cast of characters - its early adopters - and plotline - how its meaning and use have transformed over time. Final deliverables included a dossier and a visual legacy map.


Crypsis and mimesis. NATURAL SELECTION.


Gestalt, optics, cognition. BIOMIMICRY.

New Users

From military and hunters to musicians and artists. REINVENTORS.

New Uses

In the System

Interplay between subcultures. DIFFUSION: SUSTAINED.

In Fashion

From concealment to brazen self-expression. REINVENTION.

Commerce v. art form. DIFFUSION: WIDESPREAD.

Fashion - Less about dress, more as meaning maker. Reveals what’s happening.

Culture - As a system that changes over time. The ongoing rapport between subcultural groups and the innovations that result. 83

This was NOT just about the business of fashion.

It required seeing it besides as a form of consumption. Fashion as a social process. Fashion as how we activley negotiate social boundaries.


To tell the full story of camouflage, its Origins were categorized into its two broadest user genres: Animals and Humans. By starting with its birthplace - in nature - I can better revealhow camo’s next group of adopters - people - reinvented it over time.

According to author Jude Stewart, camouflage as a print “arose from a perfect intellectual storm in the early 20th century, drawing on theories of natural selection, Gestalt psychology, optics and cognition.”8 But of course, before the concept was adopted by human beings, it already had a long history of being used by Animals.


Camo Originators

The three main methods of camouflage: crypsis, or blending in with one’s surroundings; mimesis, defined as making an object look like something else; and motion dazzle, which employs bold patterns to allow an object to be difficult to perceive when it is moving.


Camo as a Print

Adopting the concept of perceptual gameplay from the natural world - how humans have borrowed the idea of patterned disorder.

Who were the next “camo participants”? Humans - with earliest patrons including a group of WWI French artists, dubbed “camoufleurs”, who replaced the brightly colored uniforms of soldiers with less conspicuous designs in duller palates. Already, we can see the overlaps between subcultural systems - in this case, that of science and art. 87

The Military

The use of the print by the military was an innovation of its own - it gave birth to the term “military camouflage�. The canvas: Army uniforms and equipment. Use value: Invisibility and stealth.


Famous artists like Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso turned to the print for creative stimulus, and their colorful results continue to inspire others. The canvas: Anything, everything. Use value: Aesthetic marvels.


The story of camouflage’s Evolution extends well beyond the fashion world - in terms of its New Uses (concealment v. self-expression), its canvas (people v. things), and its mode of production (hand-made v. computer generated). At the heart of all these variations, of course, are the New Users who developed them.

It’s important to note that the subcultural groups who’ve shaped and been shaped by the innovation are not limited to the five categories of New Users discussed to the right.


The Reinventors

From student protesters and musicians, to zoologists and huntsmen - an exploration of the main camo culture participants outside of fashion.


The Reinventions

From pure visual enthrallment and commercial paraphernalia, to combat subterfuge and pop culture - past and present cultural proof of the print’s universal appeal.

Given camo’s persistent use by the aforementioned subcultures, who knows what New Uses groups it has not yet touched will come up with..? 91

Performance Art

In his renowned 2008 “Hiding in the City” series, inventive artist Liu Bolin brings the camo concept to the concrete jungle.

Nautical Optics

Mariam Bantjes’ stunning “Laser Sailboat” for Wallpaper Magazine’s 2010 Salon del Mobile exhibition.


By confirming the diffusion principles theorized by Everett Rogers9, the camouflage print can serve as a basic framework for understanding innovations in general. Its Implications, both In the System and In Fashion, can therefore be utilized by researchers and change agencies.

To portray how the innovation works In the System, three main subsystem timelines were framed side-by-side in a single legacy map. The central one focuses on its evolution in the fashion industry; the top dives into its transformation in the military world; and finally, the bottom line investigates how its been harnessed by other cultural stakeholders.


The Legacy Map

Taking this treble-line approach to mapping the pattern’s story illuminates how its reinventive quality is a key reason behind its rapid rate of diffusion. Viewers can also easily see how it, as a fashion innovation, influences and is influenced by the outer world.


Now: A Wardrobe Necessity

Unleased from localite channels, the print has undeniably reached the mass consumer. Through camo-covered pieces, anyone can emulate a favorite celebrity, participate in fashion-fowardness, and become reinventors themselves.

What emerged as a life-saving strategy for militia squadrons has since conquered the mass consumer marketplace. Seen on products ranging from prom dresses, childrenswear, sunglasses, etc., the camouflageprint is also a regular feature In Fashion trend reports from various publications. 95

How Fashion Made the Print Its Own

No longer limited to mottled mosaics of olive, forest greens, and muddy browns, nor simple textiles - the print gets a much needed rejuvenation from fashion’s elite.



Scott Francisco Pilot Projects Design Collective LLC Professor and Mentor Fall 2013 - Present


With over 20 years of experience in architecture, strategic consulting, and education, Scott has become a fantastic mentor to me since my days as just a humble student in his class.


• Building lifelong networks from school relations.


The contents of this section will differ a bit from previous ones, as it is not based on a single project. However, I’d love to end things with this “role”, as it is one which has transformed remarkably over time. Scott was one of my first professors at The New School, and, looking back, it’s certainly been quite a journey growing as an individual, with him serving as both a professional and spiritual guide.

DIY Cat Fort

Ways of Working Ways of Seeing

Client Projects

Shelters for feral colonies. SOCIAL GOOD.

Lead and collaborate. NO “I” IN TEAM. Everything in the Moleskine. SKETCH, SKETCH, SKETCH.

Strategy presentation decks. IGNITE NEW VISIONS.

Handbag: Reimagined


Conceptualize, from sketch to store. INNOVATION.

Style ideas, networking. ANYTHING TO LEND A HAND.

Going in naive... Transferred from a Liberal Arts school. So how do designers perceive the world? Believed her career lies only within fashion. But so many other industries meld right- and left-brained thinking...


This was NOT just for the sake of my career.

Well-versed in various topics, ranging from finance, fashion, architecture and sustainability, Scott exposed me to an eclectic breadth of perspectives which only expanded my personal scope of curiosities.


As a Student in Scott’s Introduction to Design & Management class, I was introduced to new Ways of Working and Ways of Thinking. Lessons in both I know I will continue to turn to throughout my life.

How to really get students involved in the learning process? Jump start class sessions with a brief but engaging lecture, than challenge them to apply the concepts right then and there. Through our frequent real world expeditions and in-class experiments, I learned invaluable Ways of Working as a strategic designer.


Less lectures,

In-Class Collaborations

more hands-on teamwork. Getting us out of our seats.

Visiting a co-working space it’s successfully blended

Field Expeditions

in Brooklyn, documenting how community with productivity.


My Moleskine

A designer’s memoirs - even class lectures were captured in sketch-form.

After having Scott as an instructor, I found myself firmly attached to my Moleskine - the notebook became another appendage, blossomed into an extension of who I am. Sketching everything and anything thus became secondary nature. This was how Scott trained us in the Ways of Seeing the world as a designer - through the mere act of putting pencil to paper. 103

1. Traditional African Letter Opener. Visit a NYC flea market, source an artifact that intrigues you, sketch your discovery. 2. MOMA Chair Exhibit. Browse the museum’s displays, consider their objectives and the designers’ intentions. 3. Orchard Street, LES. Wander the area, note the mixed spaces that exist, create a visual poem that tells its story.

Observational Vignettes

Who needs high-tech apps, software and gadgets? Proof that putting mind to paper, not computer, is still the best way to spark ideas and creativity.


My hunger for knowledge not yet satiated, I was ecstatic to receive an internship offer from Scott after the semester ended. As a Pilot Projects Intern, I was given complete creative freedom over projects such as our DIY Cat Fort and Handbag: Reimagined.

Non-profit Architects for Animals’ annual “Giving Shelter” event challenges design firms to conceive habitats to help solve NYC’s feral cat problem. Rather than a ready-made construction, we proposed a DIY Cat Fort step-by-step guide that lets anyone join the effort.


Design Proposal: DIY Cat Fort

Goals: Clandestine adventure meets community engagement, use of natural materials found on site. Inspiration: Traditional Native American shelter building, Where the Wild Things Are.


Process > Results

From honing old skills (sketching, painting) to learning new ones (sewing, photography), this project taught me to embrace the design process as an odyssey - a journey filled with challenges and serendipitous discoveries.

Innovation doesn’t always require creating something entirely new. In Handbag: Reimagined, we took on transforming the handbag from an architect’s perspective: can it be redesigned as a layered composition, one which allows a wearer to easily adjust all of its dimensions? 107

The Design Process

From sketching the concept and sourcing materials, to editting prototypes and Photoshopping product shots - the results and skills I learned along the way.


My relationship with Scott certainly didn’t end once my internship wrapped up. Since then, I have worked with his firm as a Collaborator on various other Client Projects, and have been more than happy to lend a hand with any more Personal assignments.

One of my favorite Client Projects I worked on was building several presentations that traced how YSL has transformed as a brand since its storied origins. Research included a biographical snapshot of Yves Saint Laurent, as well as runway show analyses and the company’s business strategies, past and present.


Presentation Decks

YSL happenings since new Creative Director Hedi Slimane’s takeover.



Pilot Projects events and scrumptious suppers the best places to meet interesting people and absorb new ideas!

After eveything Scott had done to help me better define my career goals, it felt wonderful to be able lend my support in his own Personal projects. We are of course still in touch today, and I hope to continue collaborating with him on whatever design challenges come his way. 111

Scott’s Wardrobe Guide

My affair with fashion put to good use - personalized ideas for some closet refreshing, complete with a LES shopping guide.





One of the first questions people ask me when I tell them my major is "Well... what exactly does someone with a degree in Strategic Design &...