2020 Visions SASD Senior Thesis Exhibition

Giving Thanks…

Thank you for your extra ordinary efforts to design and organize the 2020 Visions senior show! As all of us know well now, sometimes extraordinary things happen that change our lives completely. Some how we recover and adapt making the extraordinary the new normal. That is what the 2020 Visions student committee has done. What an amazing group of young designers they are! Their faculty members deserve a lot of credit for evolving their approaches to online design teaching, at the drop of a hat, and never giving up.
Professor White’s class, Business Practices and Ethics for the Graphic Designer, has been working on the 2020 Visions senior show all semester. That changed in March 2020 from a physical show to an online overnight. Professor Munch, SASD’s Web Master and the Chair of Graphic Design stepped in to help make an online show a reality. The senior thesis professors Matto, Santarsiero and Munch have done an impressive job bringing their senior classes to a brilliant conclusion.
Finally, I would like to thank all of SASD’s faculty and staff, and all design students for their faith in our ability to carry on our high level of creative work and innovation.

— Professor Yelle, Director SASD, Chair Industrial Design

Design is about choices.

Not just picking color, shape, or word; it’s that, but deeper: what problems or situations can designers address? What can designers do about all that?

What choices, decisions, directions can they take to produce work that can induce other people to make choices that are positive, productive, sustainable? What questions need to be asked, what surprises need to be dealt with, what limits do we find on our responses to all the other choices we make? Is it too big, or too small? Too blue, or too brown? Too square or too round? Maybe it’s just right!

Much of what the senior class in graphic design and new media has accomplished in their thesis projects is a consequence of the process of choosing.
• Each phase of the projects were calls to question choices made, even of the basic thesis proposal.
• We all have or see problems, but what ways can we choose to address just one, effectively, in a way that brings our concerns to a larger public?
• What is it we know about the problem, and have we chosen the best sources?
• Can you bite off a piece of a problem that people can chew and swallow, effortlessly, without surrendering to despair?
• What design would have an immediate, if minuscule, effect, but contribute to solving a larger problem?
• What is it we want to say — what do we want our viewers to feel, think, or intuit about the project?

The results of this process of considering, comparing, and choosing are on view in the pages within. The students in the senior graphic design studio have done an admirable job, working tirelessly in a time of crisis, to address something they care and that they can, in whatever small way, control by choice.

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My thanks to the senior class itself, whom you will meet, and to my assistants Kathie Atkinson, Amanda Nettle (juniors in GD), and Emily Norris, who all worked to build the infrastructure that is the virtual gallery for the 2020 Visions. They are all, as well as are the students in interior and industrial design, good people who made the choice to study at UB’s SASD, the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design. They will all make a positive force for positive choices.

— Gary Munch, Chair, Graphic Design and New Media


Almost immediately following the March 3rd normalcy experienced by our class during our Senior IDSA Student Merit Awards presentation, both our personal and academic lives were collectively thrust into a new way of operating. Now “remote” conversing, assembling, and instruction are the new norm. Lately I have a curiosity to research just exactly how designers continued to create during the pandemic of 1918? I wish I could reach out to my grandparents for these answers. Our 2020 VISIONS, senior Thesis Project Gallery, which you are about to be introduced to, has culminated during the peak of this Covid-19 pandemic. In a preferred environment, our students’ design efforts coalesce through a collaborative process, fostered through classroom instruction along their ability to have access to the University’s Studio, Prototyping and Print Lab facilities. With hardly a warning, the seniors where forced to shift gears, and complete their projects in isolated and semi isolated living quarters, supported by an unfamiliar, remote teaching format. A vast majority of these students have completed their Thesis Project within close proximity, and under the shadow of the epicenter for this contagion’s spread, N.Y.C.. I hope you will find, as I do, that this work represents a visual testament to the University of Bridgeport’s Senior Industrial Designers creativity, will, and resilience.

The Senior Thesis Project’s goal

The Thesis Project begins for each senior at the onset of the 2019 Fall Semester, with its main emphasis being for our students to choose a Thesis Project with significant depth and breadth within the first two weeks of this semester. Our project’s focus is for student work to embody both thoughtful design and skillful execution and thereby highlights a full Product Development Process. The process also mandates that they concurrently consider marketing and production sensibilities as they have evolved their designs. Their individually executed design process should become evident as you review these projects. It is expected that each student exhibit a level of design proficiency, which is commensurate to an entry-level professional design position. Our in-person class discussions, and remote teaching, have focused on defining human- centered innovation, coupled with a focus to have students follow a systematic design methodology. Please pay special attention to the concept sketches for each project, here you will find insight into the student’s inspiration, offering a clue to their final product solution(s).

The Senior Thesis Project outcome through our remote instruction

Through remote classroom instruction, Professor Benedetto and I have focused on utilizing video conferencing and email as our student connectivity means. This has allowed us to remain focused on important areas of the Industrial Design curriculum. One positive result has been an increased ease and desire for our students to be simultaneously engaged, focusing all attention to a single screen. In effect, we all have “front row access” to classroom material. A profound drawback has been the underlining feeling of an emotional void in regards to human connectivity. With the Senior Thesis With the Senior Thesis Project completion, all seniors are being recognized as Designers and to be congratulated for their achievements. Now it is your time to take the “front row seat.”

— Paul Santarsiero, Professor, Industrial Design Senior Studio VI

To the class of 2020,

I am eternally grateful for your diversity, creativity, and hard work. Each and every one of you have touched my heart. Your views on the world and your strife to make it better gives me hope and joy. I have watched you absorb both your class lessons, and all important life lessons outside the classroom. You have grown here at UB into fine people and you now have the tools on board to be excellent designers. It is now up to each of you to go and prosper! I wish you luck and love on your journey into a field that will test you at times, as well as bring you immense joy.

— Marsha Matto, Chair of Interior Design