Design Week 2023: Future of Connections


Join us for our 5th annual Design Week, a week of workshops, panels, and interactive installations, focused on a critical aspect of design. Design Week 2023 is focused on the Future of Connections. Today, our world is overloaded with ever-increasing digital interactions that have the potential to inhibit physical connections; we’re hoping to critically examine the ability of these emerging technologies to connect us together in new and exciting ways. We believe that engineers, artists, urban planners, social workers, and designers alike must come together to create holistic, real-life solutions across all scales and design with the future in mind. Throughout Design Week 2023, we will work to answer the following question: how can we leverage emerging technologies to help us build and strengthen human connections?

Design Week Events

The Third Place: A Multi-Disciplinary Workshop
with Samar Younes, Founder & CCO of Samaritual

Monday, February 13  |  11:00AM-12:30PM  |  NYU MakerSpace EventSpace  |  NYU Affiliates Only

Join our guest, Samar Younes, Founder & CCO of Samaritual and previously at Showfields, for a multi-disciplinary workshop to explore the concept of Third Places and their importance in community building through design concept development and AI’s role in co-creating connections. Participants will intertwine Midjourney, an AI program that creates images from text prompts, and physical prototyping materials, ranging from paper to clay, to stimulate imagination and creativity, with an emphasis on wellbeing, neuroaesthetics, and community.


Samar Younes, Founder & CCO of Samaritual

As a visionary artist, Samar seamlessly blends art, culture, innovation, and wellbeing through her multidisciplinary approach to design and storytelling. With over two decades of experience at the forefront of her field, she has established herself as a leader in the realm of creativity and innovation. As the founder of Samaritual, a research and design consultancy that seamlessly integrates art, culture, and wellbeing, she is dedicated to fostering a more interconnected future through the celebration of diversity and inclusivity.

With a diverse array of clients and collaborators, including Coach, Loro Piano, Anthropologie, Colette, Reed Krakoff, Barneys, Disney, American Express, Samsung, and Mastercard, Samar advises and guides luxury and start-up brands in defining their identity and building social and cultural campaigns and environments. A graduate of Central Saint Martins with a background in architecture, visual communication, and scenography, Samar has received numerous design awards and serves on the editorial advisory board of VMSD. She is a frequent speaker, educator, and juror in the design, innovation, and creative circles, recently serving as a juror for the Frame Awards 2023 and a speaker at NYU's Technology, Culture and Society department and Future Forward Chicago.

WebsiteInstagram  |  LinkedIn

The Connection Capsule: Interactive Installation

Tuesday, February 14  |  1:00PM-3:00PM  | NYU MakerSpace EventSpace  |  NYU Affiliates Only

Build your own laser cut Connection Capsule with motivational quotes and doodles from new friends to take home and use as a box to hold meaningful momentos. Once you're done creating your capsule, contribute to our Connection Constellation alongside your NYU community, to discover a galaxy of links. There will be food and an opportunity to expand your network.

The Future: Problems & Possibilities Panel
with panelists of industry experience: Lauren Race former Staff Accessibility Designer at Twitter, Ben Swire from IDEO, Deana Yu from NYC Mayor’s Office, Angela Hawken from Marron Institute, and moderator Amy Hurst from NYU Ability Project

Wednesday, February 15  |  6:30PM-8:00PM  | NYU MakerSpace EventSpace  |  Open to the Public

How can we leverage emerging technologies to strengthen human connections? To answer this question, our industry guests will explore different approaches to connection-building from a variety of lenses, including digital spaces, emerging media, human-computer interaction, and human-human interaction. Our panelists of industry experience include with Lauren Race from Twitter, Ben Swire from IDEO, Angela Hawken from Marron Institute, Deana Yu from NYC Mayor's Office, and moderator Amy Hurst from NYU Ability Lab.

Lauren Race

Lauren Race, Former Staff Accessibility Designer at Twitter
Lauren Race, formerly a Staff Accessibility Designer at Twitter, is a designer with a mission for innovation, removing access barriers through her love of design, research, and teaching. Her process combines human-centered, multisensory, and co-design methods to craft and evaluate accessible experiences. Lauren’s design journey began focusing on the visual, attending Pratt Institute and working as an art director for over a decade. To shift from the brand to the user, she earned her Master’s at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). It was there that she fell in love with accessibility design, expanding visual design to include other sensory modalities. When Lauren is not at work, she is usually at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library developing tactile art and design techniques, teaching Multisensory Design at ITP, and researching the design of accessible exhibit interactives at the Intrepid Museum.

Website |  LinkedIn  |  Twitter

Ben Swire

Ben Swire, Senior Design Lead at IDEO & Co-Founder of Make Believe Works
Ben Swire is an award-winning designer and writer, and former Design Lead at the legendary innovation firm, IDEO. The thread that runs through his varied background in design thinking, philosophy, quantum theory, cinema, psychoanalytic theory, and literature is an exceptional curiosity about the hidden factors that influence our lives when we’re not looking. While at IDEO Ben created Make Believe Time as a bi-weekly creative play date for the IDEO community. People from all levels in the studio came to the sessions to learn, create, play, laugh, and, most importantly, meaningfully connect with their colleagues and themselves. Participants walked away refreshed, energized, and ready to tackle challenges in new and creative ways. When interest spread beyond the walls of IDEO, Make Believe Works was born and now helps organizations ranging from Fortune 500 stalwarts to first-year start-ups to build the creative and emotional muscle memory that leads to a healthy, innovative, collaborative work culture.

Website  |  LinkedIn

Deana K. Yu

Deana Yu, Design Lead at the NYC Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity
Deana Yu is the Design Lead at the Service Design Studio, under the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. Half graphic designer and half policy analyst, Deana works artistically and analytically to bridge the information gap in public service. It is her mission to increase the equity and accessibility of government systems through intuitive graphic design. She believes that design is a catalyst for communication, education, & social change. In Spring 2021, Deana graduated with honors from CUNY Baruch College with a Bachelor's in Public Affairs and a double minor in Sociology and Graphic Arts, magna cum laude. In the fall of 2021, she began with the NYC Department of Transportations’ Urban Design Unit under the prestigious NYC Urban Fellows program.

Website  |  LinkedIn

Angela Hawken

Angela Hawken, Director of the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management
Angela Hawken, Ph.D., is a Professor of Public Policy and Director of the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management. She is the founding director of NYU’s BetaGov, which supports innovation-and-testing for social good. Her team of research and practice scholars, along with a growing cadre of NYU graduate students, works closely with state and local agencies, schools, and nonprofits across 32 states and six countries in developing and testing practices, policies, and new technologies. She is dedicated to partnering with “pracademics” on rapid-cycle innovation and experimentation, empowering practitioners and the people they serve with a central role so that research is performed with them. She directs a community-supervision resource center for the US Department of Justice and the NYU Opioid Collaborative, which works with justice agencies in six states on designing, implementing, and testing responses to the opioid crisis. Most recently, her team is helping prosecutors to harness their own data for equitable decision making, through analysis and decision-support tools.



Amy Hurst, Director of the NYU Ability Project
Amy Hurst is an Associate Professor at New York University with a joint appointment in the Occupational Therapy Department in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and the Technology, Culture and Society Department in the Tandon School of Engineering. As of 2019, she serves as the Director of the Ability Project, an interdisciplinary research space dedicated to the intersection between disability and technology. Amy’s work primarily focuses on working closely with end users to understand accessibility challenges and the potential for novel assistive technologies to address them. She have been working in accessibility research since 2001, and is currently interested in how we can empower others to “DIY” and build their own assistive technologies through designing accessible tools or training materials for digital fabrication tools.

Website  |  LinkedIn

The Connection Prototype: Wearables Design Jam
with guest judges across NYU Tandon and Industry

Thursday, February 16  | 10:00AM-4:30PM  |  NYU MakerSpace EventSpace  |  Open to the Public

How can we facilitate community building and social interaction in public gathering spaces through wearable technology? Throughout this Design Jam, participants will research, ideate, and prototype in interdisciplinary groups to create working prototypes, both physical and digital. Judges include specialists across NYU Tandon and Industry. Lunch will be provided and winning teams of categories will be awarded prizes.

The Kinetic Balloon: Soft Robotics Workshop
with Kari Love, Soft Roboticist, Space Suit Designer, Costumer, & Puppet Builder

Friday, February 17  |  12:00PM-1:30PM  | NYU MakerSpace EventSpace  |  NYU Affiliates Only

Enjoy a hands-on experience making kinetic balloons out of heat-sealed mylar, while learning how materiality, motion, and play, centered a journey across many fields, artistic and technical. Join us to explore not only the technical side of soft robotics, but also ways to approach it through human-centered design methods and accessibility standpoint.


Kari Love, Soft Roboticist, Space Suit Designer, Costumer, & Puppet Builder

Kari Setsuko Love co-wrote the book "Soft Robotics: A DIY Introduction to Squishy, Stretchy, and Flexible Robots" for Make Media/O’Reilly. Ms. Love teaches "Exploring Concepts From Soft Robotics" and "Considering Religious Robots" at NYU ITP. She worked at a commercial space suit company as a technical expert on 3 NASA SBIR contracts, a Space Act Agreement, and a contract on Mechanical Counter-Pressure gloves. She is perhaps most known around NYC for costuming humans, puppets, and robots. Her Spider-man costume for the Broadway production of "Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark" was inducted into the Smithsonian collection. As a puppet costumer she has worked on productions such as Sesame Street and Helpsters. Her personal work dances around “women’s work,” play, and the unexpected, including building robots out of candy.


NYU MakerSpace & Design Lab

NYU MakerSpace

The NYU Tandon MakerSpace is a cutting edge lab that aims to foster collaborative design projects. It features rapid prototyping and PCB production equipment, as well as advanced machining and testing capabilities. The MakerSpace hosts the Design Lab which provides NYU students with opportunities to ideate, experiment, prototype, and build their ideas. It nurtures their creative confidence, encourages collaboration, and connects them with other parts of the NYU Innovation and Entrepreneurship ecosystem, thus fostering a community of creative technologists, critical thinkers, and social innovators. It highlights new kinds of iterative, interdisciplinary teamwork using cutting-edge tools of rapid prototyping and digitally driven production.