Join us for an afternoon of waste brands, fluid fashion, stream-of-consciousness search, post UX OS, bathroom book clubs, hapticscapes, topographic touch screens, six-flags for self-driving cars, carbon coastlines, real-time re-casting, odiferous interactions, aliveness storage systems, robot roommates, time-released memories, dialogic machine logic, delivery service supplications, user-tracked imaginaria…

Hosted by MDP Thesis Lead Faculty: Elise Co, Sean Donahue, and Tim Durfee

Guest Respondents: Mashinka Firunts Hakopian, Ph.D., Associate Professor, ArtCenter College of Design; and Robert Kett, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Design Anthropology, ArtCenter College of Design and Adjunct Curator of Architecture + Design at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

2024 Graduates

Yixin Chen


Many visions of fully-automated traffic systems relegate humans to be mere passive cargo in their moving bubbles, cut-off from the thrills of driving. AV-topia proposes a network of integrated urban amusements for the entertainment of these bored future passengers. A simple exit from the freeway leads to looping thrill-rides through buildings, or public fountain carwashes, or slow and scenic drives that evoke the traffic jams of a bygone – pre-AV – era.

Leslie Ho (She/Her)

Durational Memory Camera

Memories are appreciated in a click and outputs a cross stitch pattern, involving a multilayered and possibly indecipherable visualization of memories to anyone but the ones who create it. This camera captures moments but is visually inaccessible until it is stitched, allowing a lengthening of time between moment and recollection.

Giah Kim

BLOMs (Bio-technological Living Olfactory Memory system)

This system is about the complex interplay between human experience and technological advancement, particularly in the context of how we perceive and interact with the passage of time. Through the human body and senses, it discourses about the dimensions of aliveness that exist in the past, present, and future.

Hongming Li

Delivery Immortal System

‘Delivery Immortal System’ introduces an AR-based mobile shrine to empower gig economy delivery workers in China, where labor rights fall short, and traffic accidents are rampant. By offering blessings and social support from the immortal, the system seeks to intervene in and disrupt the practices that lead to algorithm-driven worker exploitation, risk, and endangerment.

Minzy Li


Artifact is a unique brand that merges environmental awareness with interactive exploration. It’s based on the idea that human influence has significantly affected animal habitats and behaviors, potentially sparking a new kind of evolution. On the Artifacts website, you’ll find a story-driven guide that prompts you to collect specific materials. These materials are then sent to a designated site, in exchange for a biodegradable product designed for use with animals. This adventure not only provides a tangible way to contribute to sustainability but also deepens your understanding of animal adaptation in the modern world.

Rue Qian (She/Her)

Algorithm Deformed: ‘Unstable Infusion’

Disrupting the repetitive, singular functioning of standard generative AI algorithms, ‘Unstable Infusion’ is its deformed version that relies on collectivity and iterative subversion of each step of the image generation. It transforms AI from a mere tool into a medium through which our collective vision could be explored, and a generative site against algorithmic generalization of distinct narratives of our own.

Mario Santanilla (He/Him)

Future Mediators: Exploring Human Interaction in the Age of AI OS

Future Mediators –in the form of a visual manifesto– argues that the massive disruptions of several key technologies –specifically AI, AR, and quantum computing– will produce new domains and new agendas for design: to re-build the place and agency of the user within a technological ecology that no longer requires engagement with contentinterfaces in the traditional sense, but instead foregrounds experiential interactions (temporal, spatial, social, cultural) supported by instrumentalized machine intelligence.

Eric Dunstan Christopher Schubert


MOMEX is a speculative interface for storing, replaying, and sharing momes—moments and memories crafted into augmented reality. The project illustrates holistic mixed-reality interventions that engage us in emotional and psychological ways, whether for healing or forging deeper connections with digital worlds and the people that inhabit them.

Finley Yuheng Sun(He/Him)


“Splash” reimagines digital fashion creation and virtual try-ons in VR, using 3D scanning for non-standard mannequins. Capturing dynamic poses, it creates fluid, inclusive garments embodying movement and identity. Challenging gender binaries, it empowers self-expression beyond limits, fostering liberation in digital fashion.

Xiaomeng Wang (She/Her/Hers)

Mixed Signals

“Mixed signals” proposes a dynamic, interactive filter into an ambient, media ecology. With simple gestures, viewers can alter the populations – the casts – of streaming media. Inspired by the Bechdel-Wallace test, which evaluates gender representation in media, “Mixed Signals” exposes these inequities through the dynamic erasure, transformation, or emergence of a movie, series, or news broadcast. The objective is to encourage viewers to reconsider their prior content-viewing habits and the ingrained gender inequality the project aims to spotlight.

Yanyi Wang(She/Her)

Alien Touch

The design of user experience – at both the digital and the tactile levels – has evolved to promote endless engagement. Alien Touch critiques our technology obsession by exploring ways to interrupt digital cycles of attraction through the use of physical augmentations to device screens.

What if, instead of flat and slippery, our screens were soft, sticky, strange, or blurry? This project defamiliarizes the digital interface, modulating our attention with other tactile senses.

Zeyu Wang (She/Her)

Robot Roomates

This project imagines a complex form of kinship with our objects that may emerge as AI transforms many domestic devices from “smart” to “intelligent.” Five scenarios explore the behaviors of specific task-oriented intelligent robots as they interact with their humans. The unique personalities of these devices, emergent from their respective functions and their learning from their environments, implicates not only the emotions of their users, but of other smart devices in the household.

Yue Xi (She/Her)


Hapticscape imagines environments where people customize spaces and objects with rhythmic vibrations and temperatures. An AR interface uses graphic patterns to enable the placement and modification of haptic sensations. These areas then trigger haptic actuators embedded in wearables, furniture, and objects to augment specific interactions or to transform the ambient qualities of a space.

Jiaming Jaime Yao

Somewhere Neverwhere

“Neverwhere” is a place that remains elusive and unseen, and is not part of most people’s conscious reality. However, I aim to make it present in my audience’s subconscious, even if they are not interacting with my prototype while staying in our reality. I have created a mixed-reality experience that allows users to immerse themselves in a digital world beyond their own.

Qianyue Yuwen (She/Her)

Shooting the Shit

This project is about the most intimate, difficult topics and emotions. It’s about a collective empowerment process through workshops, interaction installation, and community events. It’s about playing with oral and visual languages to create an opportunity for people to foreground their embodiment and the needs that come from being embodied.

Mary Zhang

The scent in the machine

How can we make known what is thought of as immaterial labour in the digital and internet space? How can scent carry traces of the digital worker linger, waft, circulate, be embodied in the digital web, where labor is thought of as immaterial and vanishing?

Flora Zhou (She/Her)

Carbon Coastlines

This project imagines the application of carbon capture technology to address a symptom of climate change: rising sea levels. By transforming CO₂ from polluted air into concrete to construct higher ground, the scenario speculates the limit of adaptability as a human virtue: should all measures be considered to address the impending global crisis?

Guest Respondents


Mashinka Firunts Hakopian is a writer, artist, researcher, and Associate Professor of Technology and Social Justice at ArtCenter College of Design. She is a 2024 Eyebeam Democracy Machine Fellow. Her book, The Institute for Other Intelligences, was released by X Artists’ Books in 2022. She holds a PhD in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania. With Meldia Yesayan, she is the co-curator of “Encoding Futures” at OXY ARTS (2021) and “What Models Make Worlds: Critical Imaginaries of AI” at the Ford Foundation Gallery (2023). She is a Contributing Editor to ART PAPERS, and her writing and commentary have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, AI & Society, Performance Research Journal, Archetypes with Meghan Markle, and elsewhere. Her work has received coverage in the LA Times, Brooklyn Rail, Forbes, Hyperallergic, ArtNet, Public Radio of Armenia, and elsewhere.

Robert Kett PhD

Robert Kett is an anthropologist and curator of design and Assistant Professor of Humanities & Sciences at ArtCenter. He has previously taught at UC Berkeley and the California College of the Arts and held positions at SFMOMA, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and the Getty Research Institute. He earned his doctorate in Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine and his bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University. Working across California and Latin America, Kett’s projects have examined design/technology intersections; countercultural and vernacular design; and the place of indigeneity in modern aesthetic and knowledge practices. His writing has been published in Representations, Design Observer Quarterly, Getty Research Journal, Curator: The Museum Journal, Los Angeles Magazine, and other publications and he is coauthor of Learning by Doing at the Farm: Craft, Science, and Counterculture in Modern California (Soberscove Press, 2014). Recent exhibition projects include Fabien Cappello: Sillas Callejeras/Street Chairs (UC Berkeley), Designed in California (SFMOMA, 2018) and MEXICO 68: Design and Dissent (SFMOMA, 2018). Kett’s work has been supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, UC MEXUS, the UC Institute for Research in the Arts, and other institutions.

Thesis is a two-term culminating project for every graduating student in MDP. This personal project is where students take interdisciplinary methods and actively define new design opportunities / territories through research and engagement with diverse social, cultural and technological contexts. Students synthesize their work through a series of classes, committee advisement meetings (one-on-one and group), lectures, presentations and reviews.

Thesis Core Faculty
Elizabeth Chin
Elise Co (Studio Lead)
Sam Creely
Sean Donahue (Studio Lead)
Tim Durfee (Studio Lead)
Ben Hooker

​​Adjunct Advisors
Benjamin Borden
John Brumley
Mashinka Firunts Hakopian
Umi Hsu
Zane Mecham
Jenny Rodenhouse
Mimi Zeiger

Graphic Design
Jennifer Rider Studio

Exhibition Design
Tim Durfee Studio

MDP at ArtCenter: an MFA in emerging technologies, critical frameworks, and experimental studio practices.