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A Look Back at the Summer Intensive

Take design-minded professionals with backgrounds ranging from graphic design, business, computer science, illustration, industrial design, theatre, and visual communication from cities all over the world and ask them to work together for four intensive weeks on four courses over the month of July in New York City. That is the Interaction Design Summer Intensive program that wrapped up last week.

This year, more than 30 students attended, and at we were able to catch up with three of them—Ferdinand Salis, Jeff Giesea, and Luisa Pereira Hors—to get their thoughts on how the immersion went.

MFA Interaction Design: All three of you have disparate backgrounds, outside the field of interaction design. Given that, what attracted you to a summer program like this?Luisa Pereira Hors: I studied systems engineering, but I have always been interested in design. At some point I realized that the result would have been much more useful (and enjoyable) if we had spent more time researching our potential market, understanding user needs, and conducting early testing with them. So I decided to learn more about interaction design.

Jeff Giesea: As an entrepreneur interested in media and technology, I took the courses to reboot before launching a new venture. My goals were to gain skills to develop mobile and iPad-type products and business models, meet talented designers, and broaden my horizon to some new areas of interest and opportunity.

Summer Intensive students Mariel Reiter, Stacey Sarris, and Allison Zell brainstorm on the whiteboard. Photo courtesy of Ferdinand Salis.

Summer Intensive students Mariel Reiter, Stacey Sarris, and Allison Zell brainstorm on the whiteboard. Photo courtesy of Ferdinand Salis.

MFAIXD: How did the courses help clarify your understanding of interaction design?JG: When you think about it, it’s a field that very much defines our era. By humanizing and structuring our interactions with technology, interaction designers are dramatically shaping the world.

LPH: I have read a lot about the subject, and applied some of what I’ve learned in projects I’ve worked on, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to design something from scratch, following IxD methodologies.

MFAIXD: If you could only pass along one thing you learned, what would it be?JG: Draw it, show it, build it, put it on paper or posterboard… now! In business I was trained to think from the top down—to start with a market opportunity and develop a plan. The product came at the end. Interaction design has taught me to think more inductively—to start with a user need and iteratively build a solution. To understand and empathize with the user.

Ferdinand Salis: Passion.

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