fbpx MDES 09 Part 1 – The World’s a Stage — PCA

MDES 09 Part 1 - The World's a Stage

group shot

Exhale, wind-it-down. We did the midterms sprint and now we can relax, yeah?
Eh, not so much.


Week 9 – Part 1!

This week was continuing the sprint, but in reaallllllllyyyyyy super cool and exciting ways. You might say we’re in a tired-yet-exhilarated space right now. A lot to handle, but we wouldn’t trade it.

As the program progresses and MDES students meet new people (here’s to forging beyond the walls of PCA!), we are presented with ever-more-exciting opportunities to engage with the Paris community and beyond – in ways that stretch our imaginations of what we can do beyond the academic context of a masters program.

In our normative academic space, Monday saw our last session of the semester with Professor Yasmine Abbas. Because of this, it was also the conclusion to our Research and Methodology class’ foray into design thinking. Today’s session focused on “Emotional Design”: a concept from IDEO’s Donald Norman that applies three lenses for considering user-experience: the visceral, the behavioral, and the reflective factors at play. We moved from theoretical to actionable by splitting into groups and developing product briefs using magazine images to depict the three factors.

Tuesday took us into a radical improv workshop at PCA (with the happy addition of professor Drew Eisenhauer.)


I mean radical in a few ways;
Very different than anything we’ve experienced yet this year.
Very different than anything I’ve experience in a school context ever.
Very different exploration of our bodies in space in relation to each other, and how they can be used to convey scenarios, emotions, and mentalities.

What did this look like? Hilarious, calm, pensive, spontaneous, forced, natural. We laughed as we bumped about the room with our eyes closed; we released tension by moving how our bodies wanted; we thought critically on-the-spot about scenarios presented to us that we needed to act out with and for one-another. This experience was not only a beautiful tool in bringing us closer, but also a powerful tool for considering how our bodies and actions can be applied to design methodologies.

Wednesday was a public holiday and held different activities for each of us. For me, it was a much-needed time for prayer and meditation during a run in a new park, editing and elaborating on a midterm presentation for the next day’s Social Entrepreneurship midterm assessment, and for preparing for an event on Saturday (more on that shortly).

Thursday = final midterm! Because of time and scheduling factors, our Social Entrepreneurship midterm was pushed to this week. After a session with Sabine that took a deep dive into the prototyping step of design thinking (with a practical application to the design of our end-of-semester PCA event), the five of us took turns presenting the Social Entrepreneur projects we’re working on. It was cool to see the unique approaches everyone took to showcasing who we’re working with and what we’re working on (as these projects progress, we’ll share more on the details!)

Because of the Wednesday holiday, our Design Lab class at Draft Atelier was rescheduled for this morning. Draft Atelier is situated next to Port de La Chapelle – one of the most heavily-populated refugee spaces in Paris. Each morning, Quartiers Solidaires serves a free breakfast to approximately 200 migrants there. When we have classes scheduled at Draft, I go a bit early to contribute to the distribution.

During class, Alessandro and Quentin walked us through Makerbot and we each worked on our own. For me, this was also a time to work with Hanna and Smarti on a run-through of the event on Saturday, which I briefly mentioned above (not an accurate reflection of how much of my time/energy/ mental space was devoted to said event this week!) I was hit again with a wave of immense gratitude for my team during this time – you people are an amazing blessing to me!


Every week, we bring you Masters in Design for Social Impact (MDES) happenings. This is MDES 09 Part 1 by Amy Dahman.