Julia Lindpaintner

MFA Thesis

A blog documenting my journey creating a Master's thesis towards an MFA from the School of Visual Arts' Products of Design program.

Mind Map

I started where I left off last week—which is a ways away from where I was at my last post.

[The summary: I finished with Common Cents and returned to New York and came back to school at Products of Design. More on that separately.]

I am interested in exploring two broad areas: 

How can designers take advantage of what we know about human behavior & physiology to create solutions to societal problems that reduce the cognitive burden of prosocial behavior?

As described in Nudge by Cass Sunstein, the Chicago transit authority was able to reduce accidents around a dangerous curve in Lake Shore Drive by painting horizontal lines across the road that got closer together as they approached the curve. This gave the illusion of increased speed and induced drivers to slow down without even thinking about it

Famously, when looking at rates of organ donors in European countries, there was a wide gap—either almost everyone was signed up, or almost no one. What was the difference? Whether the organ donation programs were presented as "opt-in" or "opt-out." The individual cognitive burden of switching from a default has the power to influence things on a national and even global scale.

How can we redefine negotiation so that we don't understand compromise as a subtractive process, by which people "give in" or "back off," but one that allows for new opportunities and solutions that are win-win?

This summer, living at the Embassy, I was struck by this notion of "getting more by sharing." While initially counterintuitive, it was really true: by living together, the residents could save money, save time (on household chores, for instance), and all enjoyed access to far more space than they could have individually. While it may not be possible with finite resources, when it comes to resources like time and space, resources that aren't diminished by each individual's use, it is truly possible to have access to more by sharing. 

New models for complementary businesses partnerships are able to achieve more for less by coordinating their operations—such as small restaurants and grocery stores partnering to manage inventory and reduce food waste. As Zeynep Ton describes in The Good Jobs Strategy, companies have created good jobs in the low-cost retail and service industries by prioritizing employee well-being. They have remained profitable by innovating in their operations through cross-training, narrowing product selection, and being strategic about where to standardize vs. empower employees to make decisions. This leads me to believe that committing to prosocial practices can lead economic and even political gains.

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