Michele Y. Washington is a New York City-based designer she has a user-centered mindset and a passion for design research. She applies Design Thinking and User-Centered Interaction Design solutions to address complex issues, which deliver meaningful solutions and solve problems that are culturally relevant. Some of her recent projects include mobile publishing platforms and web-based integration, Content Strategy and curating popups. She has worked with, A Long Walk Home/Picturing Black Girlhood, Museum of Impact on Activist Love Letters, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Cox Matthews and Associates, WELEET, the Romare Bearden Foundation, West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc., desigNYC and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Great pleasure comes from collaborating with colleagues or producing my own projects. Some have included: collaborating with theCreativeSide, to curate pop-up Shops for Calabar Imports in Bed-Stuy and Harlem. Another project was “Food Wealth,” a mobile app that teaches residents, living in Central and West Harlem how to identify healthy food choices. Michele is also the founder of “CuriousStories,” a website where she curates content for design documentaries and film shorts featuring designers, architects, urbanism, fashion and product designers and food designers. Over the past few years, Michele has traveled extensively throughout Brazil this has fueled my love for everything Brazilian—led me to research designers, makers, and visual artist, on the intersection of design and Afro-Brazilian culture. While in Brazil, she participated on a panel for São Paulo Design Week. All of these projects fuel my passion and curiosity. My dream project would be “The Future of Cities.” With this in mind, Michele could apply User Experience and Human-Centered Interaction Design and tackle areas of interest such as civic engagement, public art, placemaking, housing, food, technology and architecture, and urban planning.
She holds two master degrees Michele’s most recent on Design Criticism from the School of Visual Arts and another in Communications Design from Pratt Institute. Teaching is a crucial part of my consultancy that continually enhances my knowledge base and growth. Michele is on the faculty of the MA Faculty Exhibition Design program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she teaches Branding and Design, her aim is to integrate how Human-Centered Research and Design Thinking help to deliver successful solutions for branded experiences, retail and interpretive museum exhibitions. Michele frequently speaks about Design and the History of African American Designers.
My work has been exhibited in Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference, held at the Bard Graduate Center, Design Journey: You Are Here at the AIGA headquarters, and Google Black History and Culture. Keeping a stake hold in my creative community is critical. Michele is a part of the adhoc team of the newly formed architecture and design archival at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History & Culture, she also serves on the Cooper Hewitt Design Center in Harlem, advisory committee, past board member of AIGA NY Chapter, the Design Journey Advisory Board and Global Interaction in Design (GLIDE).
Michele’s writing and visual essays has appeared in AIGA Design Journey website, American Passin It Down Cookbook, Print Magazine, IRAAA Webzine and the Design Crit Chapbook. She is the editor of culturalboundaries.com a design and pop culture blog.
email: Michele Washington
Work Samples: Michele Washington
SEEDS magazine whose central focus is to feature experiential and branded experience exhibition design projects,” is a multi-platform publication that highlights the work produced by the Graduate Exhibition Design students of the Fashion Institute of Technology. The first issue theme focuses on “Food Opera,” is a site-specific project located in Madison Square Park. This issue contains a statement from the Chair Brenda Cowan on the Future of Museums, in which she explains, “Ten years from now exhibitions will, if we’re smart, seamless incorporate state of the art technology, that communicate, inspire, excite, inform and evoke users experience better than in the past.”
Initially, SEEDS featured only our student’s first major project—since then we have opted to broaden our scope to include final capstone thesis project this provides richer content that’s timely. Since the graduate program has undergone extensive curriculum changes, we needed the magazine to be far-reaching to engage a broader audience of alumnae, industry leaders and functions as a mechanism to market the program.
The magazine is meant to function across multiple platforms offers easy access to readers. Some of these platforms include: ISSUU an online publishing platform; PDF’s for easy uploading from the department’s website. After reviewing recent student’s projects, we also noticed more and more students are producing projects that embraced interactivity, web-based or mobile technology. This meant the creators of SEEDS had to focus more on the delivering content across multiple platforms, by creating layouts that exploit the immersive experiences integrating slide shows, and buttons, videos all make for a more dynamic reading. We opted to shift our direction to produce future issues for viewing on the iPad tablet. Our intention needs to suit the students demand to deliver an immersive experience that included video interviews, short animations, and sound effects produced by our students.
At the same time, we wanted to address each issue’s theme. Taking into consideration; use of thematic icons, decision for fonts, margins, navigation, and interaction, all affect the users sense of pleasure, and control over the content. Finally for each issue, we crafted a different logo inspired by the overall theme, and new content of work produced by our students.
WGHA wanted to a more efficient way of sharing content with stakeholders, funders and governmental agencies. Therefore the Annual Report needed to showcase information in an engage manner yet, still represent their brand messaging.
Other Island Storyboards:
New York City is a thriving metropolis, brimming with activities, 24/7. It’s one of the reasons I love roaming the streets, as a tourist in my own city. I get to experience the unique rhythm of various neighborhoods and look at each environment from the perspective of an Architecture or Design Critic.
Either way, it’s a joyous experience.
If you look at any New York City map, you notice that Manhattan and Staten Island are islands unto themselves. A quick glance to the east are Brooklyn and Queens, really one large island, but the two largest boroughs. What tends to escape many New Yorkers and visitors are the other islands that surround the city, six in all, each accessible by bus, ferry or tram. These Islands include Ellis Island,
Liberty Island, Governors Island, Roosevelt Island, Randall’s and Ward’s Island.
My goal for the “The Other Islands” app, is to offer NYC residents and tourists an easy way to plan a day-trip to these “Other Islands.” This storyboard is a visual narrative that depicts a group of three friends who are visiting NYC for two weeks. After the first day, they decide to explore the city’s great communities. After searching online, the friends discover, “The Other Islands” app. They easily upload the app, then decide to visit the Ellis Island National Monument.
When the group starts out, the storyboards captures them huddling together to map out their travel route, taking the subway to Battery Park in lower Manhattan; then catching the ferry across the New York Harbor to Ellis Island. The friends disembark, then walk along the pathway that leads to the Museum. They soon realize that the Other Island app can also be used to navigate the interior space of the Ellis Island Museum. In addition, the app allows visitors to save their route information for future trips.
This same scenario can be used for all the Other Islands.
NYC: Mobility Storyboards:
If you’ve ever had an injury that required that you use crutches, to get around, then you know how frustrating navigating the NYC’s public transportation system can be. I came up with the idea for this app a few years ago after spending a summer recouping from a foot injury. I chose to use a knee scooter rather than crutches as I navigated the MTA transit system.
At times my experiences were daunting and arduous–to say the least–but I soon wondered how many other people have had similar experiences. This app will help riders identify MTA stations with elevators and it also can be used to alert bus drivers that a disabled rider is waiting at a bus stop.
It’s not easy locating the MTA website section that lists subway stations with elevators. The site also informs riders if the station elevators are operational. Other issues include wayfinding signage in subway stations that directs riders to those elevators. (Current signage are often hard to locate and poorly marked.) I learned that the MTA does not offer elevator service in every station, and that elevators in the outer boroughs are almost non-existent.
Buses: Buses are either equipped with ramps or lifts to assist disabled people.
At certain times during the day, some bus routes have more senior riders, many of whom use wheelchairs and walkers, and mothers with strollers, or include people (like myself) with knee scooters. Oftentimes, people standing at the bus stop do not allow people in wheelchairs to easily access the bus. Currently, buses can only accommodate two people with wheelchairs, and about 4-6 people with walkers if the buses are not crowded.
Solution: My goal in creating this app would be to provide a more efficient notification system for disabled people, or those with special needs who currently must stand at the bus stop to alert bus drivers that they will need assistance getting on the bus. An alert would encourage the driver to pull closer to the curb and to request that riders move from the front seats reserved for seniors and disabled passengers.
Another function of this app would be to assist people on the street in identifying particular subway stations in their immediate area that have elevators; they can get text or email alerts about elevators that are out of service.
Bike Navi Storyboard
I love riding my sky-blue Cannondale bike all over the city and certainly prefer it to taking public transportation. In the past few years, New York City has made a major effort to become more bike– friendly, including adding bike lanes and incorporating the Citibike system. In addition to attendant safety issues, locating bike lanes and bike paths that run along the perimeters of NYC can present problems. One needs a bike map to locate bike lanes as well as the best routes for safe, easy riding. There are maps that are oversized, or foldout brochures these are not easy to use while riding.
This storyboard would convey the ease of downloading the Bike Navi app on rider’s phones, as well as mounting the phone to a sturdy bracket device on a bike for mapping-out the best route. (The bracket needs to be sturdy, so as to avoid the vibrations that can disrupt the consistent data-flow).
The app lists the following information:
The Bike Navi website offers bike paths in all five boroughs; city street and park bike lanes; and in City Parks, bike lock-up stands. Also, riders can locate bike shops for repairs; as well as bike-friendly events; museums with bike stands; city bridges with bike paths and more.
New York City is considered bike-friendly. The current and former Mayors have blocked off midtown streets for pedestrian and bike travel, and created bike lanes in specific areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
This app links to the Bike Navi website and allows riders to store route information so they easily start out plotting from home, then link to the app that will offer the best routes for navigating city streets, bike paths and over bridges to their destination. (Sometimes I like to ride without any planned destination. But with these storyboard sketches, I choose to map out my riding, from Upper Manhattan into Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, using the Hudson River bike path. I must say this is a rather scenic route with the New Jersey coastline on one side, offering swiping views of parts of Jersey City, Hoboken, and a few other Hudson Waterfront cities}.
I ride my bike everywhere and have easily identified paths for quickly getting to certain locations. It can make for a more fun-filled day.
UX Research/Service Design: Working with emerging technology we create content that will engage users on various platforms. We build user-friendly websites and develop social media marketing campaigns that target your stakeholders and curated content.
Storytelling + System Thinking Design Research: Thorough research is the benchmark of any successful project, we dig deep— much like an archeologist culling pertinent information in order to create case studies, paper prototypes or white papers.
Branding: We work with organizations, non-profits and cultural institutions to help them build a more holistic approach to brand development and strategy. We design strong brand identity campaigns that are sure to reach your target audience.
Editorial Design: We take your visual ideas and transform them into innovative catalogs, magazines, newsletters, and annual reports.
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