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The Center for Design launch event celebrating CAMD's new institution for collaboration of students and faculty alike. Photo by Brandon Farrell.

Last week, designers and creative-thinkers from across Northeastern University and throughout Boston gathered for the Center for Design (CfD) launch event, Human by Design, which served as an overview of the CfD’s nature and structure, a celebration of the initiatives being incubated within the center, and the first in a series of lectures hosted by the CfD. The event brought together members of the Northeastern community – faculty, staff, and students – and working professionals – from design-focused firms and labs such as IDEO, Hacin + Associates, and metaLab (at) Harvard – as well as representatives from other universities, the Boston Mayor’s Office, and the Italian Consulate General. Together, these guests spearheaded meaningful discussions surrounding technology, data, design, artificial intelligence (AI), visualization, and more – with the celebration of design at the center.

“As a colleague wrote me after the event, there was this palpable positive energy in the room,” said Paolo Ciuccarelli, Founding Director of the Center for Design and Professor of Design at Northeastern University. “The spontaneous emotional response of the audience at the end of the talks, during the reception, is a limpid manifestation of how design can create a deeper bond…

I feel this event marks an important step forward in positioning design as a key component of Humanics.

Professor Ciuccarelli began the evening’s program with a gracious welcome and thoughts on the amplified power of design when it is bridged with other disciplines, from policy to engineering. The mission of the Center for Design is to foster the initiatives that serve as these bridges by opening up space for interdisciplinary exchanges to take place.

A perfect example is the Co-Lab for Data Impact, which officially launched in conjunction with the CfD. Dedicated to research and scholarship in data storytelling and visualization, information design, new media technology, and media innovation, the Co-Lab for Data Impact has created a bridge between Design and Journalism.

Center for Design faculty members then had an opportunity to introduce themselves and share a bit about their current research and projects. Professors Dietmar Offenhuber (Art + Design and Public Policy), Kristian Kloeckl (Architecture and Art + Design), Ang Li (Architecture), Mark Sivak (Art + Design and Engineering), Miso Kim (Art + Design), and Pedro Cruz (Art + Design) all brought forth real-world applications of design as an interdisciplinary and integrative discipline. Additionally, representing a bridge between Design as practice and Design as research; CfD faculty member and advisor to Scout, Margarita Barrios Ponce (Art + Design) accompanied students displaying recent work from the student-led design studio, representing a bridge between Design as practice and Design as research.

James C. Bean, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs transitioned the program over to keynote speaker Giorgia Lupi, with thoughts on the importance of design to Northeastern’s vision of “humanics.”

Giorgia Lupi is an information designer and partner at Pentagram who advocates for Data Humanism through her work. In her practice, she takes a humanistic approach to data by challenging its impersonality and designing engaging visual narratives that reconnect numbers to what they stand for: stories, people, ideas.

After Lupi’s keynote presentation, panelists Ari Adler (IDEO), Gigi Gromley Kalaher (Fidelity labs), and Jeffrey Schnapp (Piaggio Fast Forward and Harvard University) were introduced to the stage by CAMD Dean Elizabeth Hudson. The four joined Lupi in a panel discussion about the challenges that design faces when it comes to new technology, such as Artificial Intelligence, and whether or not design is robot-proof.

Human by Design fostered valuable conversations, connections, and ideas. The evening represents the beginning of a lively future for CAMD’s Center for Design. To re-watch the event or see it for the first time, visit

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