Design for a shift

This is done as a MFA Transdisciplinary thesis which explores how design can take a part in planning a system from the very first step rather than coming up with a solution after it has been made. It proposes a new territory for design which to jump into politics and economics.

In this new territory, designers can provide a vision for alternative futures by rethinking the system and changing the system in a progressive way.

To do so, designers are asked to think critically about social issues and deeply understand multiple complex systems. The Transdisciplinary Design approach allows designers to learn from different disciplines and enables designers to craft strategies to identify the leverage point to bring about a high level of synthesis in order to imagine something better than what exists today.

Case Study

The Public Kitchen program is a case study of a design strategy for a public service that enables citizens to practice co-ownership and the government to take an active role in a socially relevant issue such as the sharing economy.

This case study sits in the context of the first micro housing of My micro NY, in Kipsbay, Manhattan, which will consist of 40% lower income housing units and 60% market rate units. These two groups of residents are expected to have five times of a difference in income level.

The shared kitchen program is suggested to be a part of My micro NY among other amenities. This provides a place for residents to come together through community run cooking classes, co-organized food consumption and community meal events. It proposes that government agencies inform architects, developers and managers that are involved in the affordable housing to consider the social element of the housing system.

It also creates a new lifestyle in ways such as sharing and owning “part of your house” together. This brings about changes in thinking about food consumption and housing systems in the near future. If we can co-own the kitchen with neighbors, we might able to provide more homes for people by reducing and eliminating the kitchen functions of each house while also creating a stronger community.


Lara Pennin - Assistant Professor of Transdiciplinary Design, School of Design Strategies and Co-founder Parsons DESIS

Fabio Parasecoli - Associate Professor and Coordinator, Food Studies Program