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Design Management Senior Year Thesis: A Seed for Change?

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Every year, senior year Design Management students write a thesis. This project often helps shape their career enabling them to seed real change in their respective fields. Design Management is all about finding innovative, impactful solutions. To excel in this field, students must be able to identify and solve complex situations using human-centered methods. Writing a thesis allows students to investigate a topic they are passionate about, giving them the opportunity to suggest solutions that could potentially be revolutionary. Below, you can find abstracts from three theses submitted this year on fresh contemporary artists, blogging and sustainable fashion. Have a read. We hope you will be inspired!

Sophia Gorsun – Inside the World of Fresh Contemporary Artists

My thesis focuses on the breakthrough of young, emerging, recently graduated artists into the art world. These artists are defined as “fresh artists,” because they are beginners and have a candid eye on the art world.
Often time, artists with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree can’t find galleries to exhibit their work in, nor can they find reasonable employment. Many of them therefore go back to school to study a masters in order to gain more “maturity.” This creates a situation with many unemployed, unrepresented and overqualified artists.
There is a complex and difficult relationship between young artists coming from design/art schools and the market. Many talented emerging artists are left in limbo with no real market because of entry barriers. The process of exhibiting work to a large audience is complex and difficult as there is no established route to success.
In light of this, I began to look at the positive and negative aspects of the art world. I discovered that many institutions and organizations do support young creation. However, despite this important variety of help, the gap between young talent and the art world is considerable.
Using a number of explorative and generative research processes, including qualitative and quantitative surveys, I analyzed different actors who affect the destiny of young talent, including gallerists, curators, art buyers and collectors.
My thesis research has resulted in a project designed for promising artists seeking a network, visibility and recognition after graduation. Looking to their potential markets, I hope to sensibilize gallerists, curators, art buyers, collectors and visitors to be more actively engaged with young contemporary artists.

Vibeke Hain – Business Blogging

The subject of my senior thesis is lifestyle blogs. In this thesis, I aim to uncover people’s needs and motivations to read blogs and the reason why some choose to start writing blogs.
My research covers blogging history and facts; how a blog can be monetized, how content can be created, the importance of marketing and storytelling, the notion of branding both blog and author, the legal aspects that need to be understood and how one can set up a blog. Ultimately, what are the key factors for a successful blog? How can it become a legitimate business in terms of generating revenue?
I interviewed four experts in order to obtain my results. Sebastien Girard, founder of the website icon-icon.fr; Karim Bouhajeb, a Paris based digital marketing and luxury industry expert; Louise Estwall, a new up and coming Swedish lifestyle blogger; and Veronique Vienne, expert in graphic design and art direction and blogger. I conducted a survey to identify key elements of preferences in blog reading. In addition, I carried out benchmark analyses on lifestyle and fashion blogs and identified their fundamentals.
Alongside this dissertation, my project also consists of the creation of my own blog. By applying my key findings from research, data collection and benchmarking analysis, I will examine whether there is in fact a recipe to success when launching one’s own blog.
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Lovisa Molund – Fashion Sustainability

Current fashion design systems lead to unsustainable outcomes. This is a complex problem that needs creative problem solving and design thinking methodologies, and whose current practices need to be questioned. This report aims to provide a source of inspiration for designers and stakeholders whose interest lies in changing a broken, unsustainable system.
I will explore the current fashion supply chain, and more specifically the current design processes in order to understand how we can transform them and clarify which tools are needed to realise this transformation. As it stands, I have discovered that:
1. there is a lack of knowledge around the area of fashion and sustainability both from people within the industry and consumers
2. the challenges of creating sustainable designs today seem to be both material and monetary
3. designers currently give more importance to price and aesthetics as opposed to environmental values.
Replacing dominant or high impact textile fibre with sustainable alternatives would help us pursue innovative strategies in tackling environmental and ethical issues in the supply chain. However, fashion sustainability is not only a material issue; there is a need for designers to develop a more critical mindset and to start integrating lifecycle thinking into their practices. We need to encourage and support designers in considering their responsibilities as fashion influencers. To respond to these results, we developed “Hoop,” an online B2B tool for sustainable material sourcing and a visual step-by-step guide to sustainable design techniques.
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