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design for fostering action-oriented awareness towards sustainable transition

2020 - 2021

In order to meet the need for sustainable transition, it is vital for the general public to be aware of the social and ecological interconnectedness within existential climate crisis, local sustainable development, and urban individuals’ behavioral patterns. As a method to rebuild interconnectedness, this thesis explores design interventions for fostering action-oriented awareness towards sustainable transition. Jumping out from the current paradigm, it tries to connect the audience to alternative conceptual representations. An integrated theoretical model built around a local contextualized issue is proposed in the thesis, followed by a practice-based case project focusing on Rhode Island Squid Fishery as a proof-of-concept. The model consists of three layers of design interventions: Design as narrative, catalyst and engagement. As the designer and first case practitioner, I have been creating: The visual mapping of the RI squid network; Invisible Skin, a garment made from squid fish waste; and Gladius, the kitchen utensil for at-home squid processing. Through this holistic approach, I want to provide an alternative perspective from the field of art and design, reversing negative, disempowered public impression on the environmental crisis.

Inter- is the thesis research project for the Master of Industrial Design degree program at RISD. 

Concise publication: RISD Grad Show 2021

To read the whole thesis: Digital Commons@RISD

Interested in how I get here: Research Reader

microbial cosmologies



Microbial Cosmologies is an immersive project where speculates a Future of Mobility that is entirely built around the most successful type of organism on the planet - the microbe. This project addresses the relationship between humans and microbes, and our need to adapt and respond with agility to the new world around us and heal the deleterious effects of the pandemic's injustices. Employing speculative design, industrial design, AR, VR and maching learning, the research group set out to create a world in which humans redefine our relationship with nature to make space for inclusive human / non-human assemblages and develop methods for designing for, with, and around the microbial world within and around us.

This project is part of the 2020 research collaborative between RISD and Hyundai. Research group consists of: Anastasiia Raina (faculty lead), Elena Danlei Huang, Yimei Hu, Meredith Binnette, Georgina Nolan.

from noise to form




How does form emerge when the boundary between the natural, artificial, and the automated becomes obsolete? In the project From Noise to Form, the research group explored and discovered design methodologies for a cyborg nature. For the final deliverables the research group created an audio-controlled artificial environment where multiple variables are activated to propagate the growth and morphology of the generated structures. Sound plays the role of stimulus — the 3D-coordinate of sound source guides the general direction of growth; amplitude of electronic sound and 4-channel audios convert the shape and size; noise fluctuations interfere with the degree of non-linear distortion.

This project is part of the continuous summer research collaborative between RISD and Hyundai. Research group consists of: Anastasiia Raina (faculty lead), Elena Danlei Huang, Yimei Hu, Meredith Binnette, Zachary Davey and Qihang Li .

post-plastic age: clean couture




The speculative hemodialysis (blood filtering) technology envisions an inevitable future where marine plastic pollution(in the form of microplastics particles - MPP) seeps into human daily life and becomes ubiquitous. A recent study estimates a total mass of floating plastic debris of about 268,000 tons, in which 92.8% are MPP. Despite our expanding knowledge of microplastics, their adverse health effects at the organismal, human and ecosystem levels remain unknown.


By speculating on a future body cleaning technology using a reference of hemodialysis, the design aims to raise up an argument that the interval between present and the inevitable future depends on how soon human start to seriously take action on sustainability.

(Click the image to see details of the project)

post-plastic age: human evolution




As human entered "the age of plastic", we took raw material from nature and creates a huge amount of undegradable waste. Nowadays, more and more evidence show that plastic pollution is coming back in a new form - microplastics. As these potentially harmful particles enter food chain, it seems inevitable that human will soon face the problem of ingesting plastics and have microplastics accumulating in body. Despite our expanding knowledge of microplastics, their adverse health effects at the organismal, human and ecosystem levels remain unknown.

By researching on current study that worms and bacteria founded near landfills have accidently evolved to eat plastic bags, as well as the process of manufacturing synthetic material, this project speculates on the biological evolution of human digestion system that different organs will evolve in a variety of ways to adapt the environment where plastic would be within and become part of daily food source.

(Click the image to see details of the project)

next-sus: design for impact




NEXT-SUS: RISD 2020–2027 Sustainability is a response to the seven year plan in anticipation of our 150th anniversary in 2027. We felt that the strategic planning process currently in place was missing detail and direction for the reduction of our institutions impact on the environment.


Throughout a semester we researched on holistic local(state-wide, city region and around campus) plastic waste issue by mapping, interviewing and field trip; engaged local communities (small business, neighbors, campus services and students and faculties) by embodied practises and modified events. NEXT-SUS is a final deliverble of our research, a practical strategy plan for reducing our impact on the local environment, being presented to faculties and campus admistration service during the faculty &staff meeting.

This project is a semester-long initiatives led by Max Pratt and Elena Danlei Huang.

(Click the image to see details of the project)

future fossil collection 2.0(compressed)
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