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PROJECT OBJECTIVE:

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The following interviews are part of a larger project for a thirdyear Directed Studies in Design Futures. We have conducted these interviews with Emily Carr alumni to gather knowledge about design practices, methodologies, experiences and advocay, while simultaneously taking the opportunity to showcase former students of Emily Carr University. The interviews were prepared with two specific audiences in mind; Current, the Design Research Journal, and the Design째, which both are web based publishing mediums for design research and degree content respectively. We are excited to share with you the outcomes of our project, and to create a legacy for Emily Carr, sharing the experiences and insights of alumni.

Bree + Solveig


The following is an interview with the 2010 Industrial Design Graduate and Parsons School of Design student, Jayson Rupert. The interview was conducted via email in December, 2011.


Our interview with Jayson Rupert was conducted via email due to the fact that Jayson is now living in New York while pursing a masters degree at Parsons School of Design. Jayson graduated in 2010 from Emily Carr’s Industrial Design program and is now in his second year of of graduate school, studying transdisciplinary design.

Current:Tell us about transdisciplinary design and

classmates are graphic and industrial designers,

what transdisciplinary designers are.

computer programmers, photographers,

Transdisciplinary design is actually rather difficult

environmental scientists, dancers, musicians,

to describe as being a specific ‘thing’. It’s more

journalists etc. There is truly an amazing mix of

of an approach to problem solving which is just

people in my program.

as reflective of the individual using it, as it is a methodology on its own. I guess one could

Current: How did you end up applying to

describe ‘transdesign’ as a bridge between

Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons after graduating

capacities in any number of disciplines, providing a

at ECUAD? What was the transition like for you, were

framework to address complex problem spaces.

you prepared?

A transdisciplinary designer is someone using

In my third year at Emily Carr, I was struggling

capabilities from one or more specific fields and

to figure out where I would fit in as an industrial

combining them with a design strategy to create

designer. The director of the transdisciplinary

innovative solutions. There are an increasing

design program, Jamer Hunt, was giving a lecture

number of problems in the world today that do not

one night at Emily Carr about his new program

have an established discipline which addresses

at Parsons. The way he spoke of design really

them; problems which are too complex and have

resonated with me and seemed to open new

too many stakeholders to be solved through

doors to the transformative potential of design. I

just one lense or approach. Transdisciplinary

applied to Parsons while I was in the middle of my

design is meant to bring disciplines together to

final year at Emily Carr.

work collaboratively on these types of problems,

I was more prepared for transdesign than I was for

developing a common working vocabulary. My

New York. Emily Carr really helped me develop


a strong and thoughtful process in my design

Current: Tell us about your grad project “Insite” and

practice. Collaborating on my senior project with

how this informed your journey as a designer. What

Angela Henderson, a fellow classmate and dear

did your experiences with this project lead you to?

friend, really helped prepare me for the highly

The project Angela Henderson and I did with Insite

collaborative environment at Parsons. I don’t think

definitely changed my life. I’m still asked to do

anything can prepare you for living in New York.

interviews about that experience alone. I guess the biggest impact that experience had on me was

Current: What is the New School Collective? What

around the assumptions we often make as people,

kind of curriculum/courses do you encounter?

which then informs design. I really can’t design

The New School is a collection of schools focused

effectively until I’ve experienced the world from

around social research, international affairs and

their perspective. Research is critical to effective

the arts. The best part of Parsons being under

sustainable design. My experience with Insite has

the New School umbrella is that I have been

helped me see where my heart belongs in design.

able to take a wide range of courses. So in

I really enjoy helping people, particularly the users,

addition to my design studio courses, research

develop their voice within the design process, and

methods, seminars and intensives, I have also

developing the outcome to be truly reflective of

been taking graduate level courses in public health

their needs and desires.

and epidemiology. There are so many amazing courses to choose from, it’s hard to choose which area to focus on, but I chose health sciences to compliment my design background. Current: What is it like to take a Masters Degree in New York? How have your experiences at ECUAD transferred?

Going to school in New York is beyond words, almost. Everyday is an adventure and there are so many talented people around to help inform your work. New York, in general, has so many experts in so many fields. It can actually be overwhelming. While at Emily Carr, I was always encouraged to go beyond the walls of the school, to meet people and collaborate. The ability to engage outside of my comfort zone has been incredibly valuable, especially in New York.


Current: What does design research mean to you?

and that you have taken the time to prepare for

I guess to me it means contextualizing myself in the collaborating. It shows respect and it goes a long problem; having the best possible understanding

way with people when you are asking them to

of the problem space in a limited amount of time.

share personal information.

It’s about being effective, quickly getting to the key issues through literature reviews and then primary

Current: How do you see design as a tool for social

investigating in the field. Ethnographic skills and

impact?

communication skills will really help you unearth

Designers have an appreciation for scale and what

important insights. It’s also important to be able

forces are at play within a given problem space. A

to make connections and to facilitate deeper

design methodology can map systems of abstract

discussions about what you discover.

infrastructures, explore leverage points, and frame them in ways that motivate people to become

“Designers have an appreciation for scale and what forces are at play within a given problem space.”

interested and participate in the desired change. People respond well to design when it reflects their needs and wants in a way that doesn’t dictate behavior, but demonstrates an opportunity for an improved outcome. Current: What is your ambition as a designer?

I’m very interested in public health and designing health interventions. I would like to use design methodologies to help develop effective ways of improving physical and mental health in the contexts of aging, privacy, addiction, and human sexuality.

Current: How do you build trust and establish report in your design research?

That’s probably the hardest part. Building trust comes with being honest and transparent. People can often be skeptical of what your intentions are or what you want from them. It’s important to respect that skepticism as being valid. It’s my responsibility as a designer to plan ahead and make time for participants or co-creators to get to know me and what the project is about. People also want to see that you’ve done your homework


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Emliy Carr Design Futures Alumni Interviews 2011 - Jayson Rupert