10 Examples of Inspiring, Thoughtful, and Visually Stimulating Design Thesis Projects

The story of the ClearRx begins in the frail hands of a grandmother who misunderstood the labeling on a pill bottle and took the wrong dosage of prescription medication. That mistake made her ill and inspired her granddaughter—then a master’s candidate at the School of Visual Arts (SVA)—to ask simple, yet powerful questions about what had been taken for granted as the acceptable way to store and distribute medicine.

Deborah Adler—the granddaughter/grad student—identified several problems with existing pill bottle designs. Why were so many different styles of labels used? Why did information about the drug provider so often trump information about the drug itself? Why was the type so tiny? Why were so many factors unwittingly conspiring to increase the risks associated with taking prescribed drugs?

When Adler completed her SVA thesis in May 2002, she had arrived at a solution that changed a long-neglected form factor and fundamentally overhauled the communication design of the pill bottle. She produced a compelling prototype that offered a safer, more usable means of storing and distributing medicine.

Adler’s original Safe Rx design raised almost as many questions as it sought to answer. Would it satisfy all of the mandates laid out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? How would it change the workflow of the average pharmacist? Could any single company effectively deploy the design as a business solution?

Target, of course, chose to become that company, and it has been rewarded pretty handsomely. Since the ClearRx launched in 2005, Target’s pharmacy business has experienced double-digit sales increases. That return followed an investment in design—and a very thoughtful commitment to the design process.


SFWOI

Willy Chan's SFWOI (Soap From Waste Oil Initiative) is a both a beautifully designed and made wooden cart and a opportunity to teach the public about the improper disposal of waste cooking oil. Used cooking oil is supposed to be collected for use as biodiesel, but a huge quantity of it just gets poured into sewers or dumped directly into our waterways. The cart is a rolling soap factory, where the user makes fine, scented soaps from the oil in public--raising awareness of waste oil's useful alter ego, and the tragedy of its improper disposal and waste.

Read and see more: Green Design Highlights from Parsons’ BFA Product Design Thesis Exhibition 

 

JULES VERNE BOOK JACKET SERIES

Illustration student Jim Tierney developed an inspiring series of book cover designs for his senior thesis project at the University of the Arts.

 

PANDA LANDALanda

Academy of Art MFA Graphic Design candidate Yun Lin’s thesis project enlists a game-centered approach and envisions a nonprofit foundation to help rescue a treasured animal—the giant panda—from extinction in the wild.

 

MONYO+MOJI

This MFA thesis project by Chiharu Tanaka, Academy of Art University in San Francisco, involved designing new decorative typefaces that fused Japanese ornamentation with the Roman alphabet. The process involved researching Eastern and Western design principles, aesthetics and traditions and exploring the various ways that these two realms could interact and balance with each other. The “MONYO+MOJI” book showcases the rich variety of Japanese ornamentation and patterns with a new approach to design.

This MFA thesis project by Chiharu Tanaka, Academy of Art University in San Francisco, involved designing new decorative typefaces that fused Japanese ornamentation with the Roman alphabet. The process involved researching Eastern and Western design principles, aesthetics and traditions and exploring the various ways that these two realms could interact and balance with each other. The “MONYO+MOJI” book showcases the rich variety of Japanese ornamentation and patterns with a new approach to design.

The 2011 RISD Graphic Design MFA Thesis Show is a group exhibition of selected thesis work from the RISD Graphic Design MFA Class of 2011. The show is published in a catalogue which will be displayed and distributed at the annual RISD Graduate Exhibition. The show is the catalogue, which is also the show. This is theurloftheshow.com

 

SANS CURSIVE

Since the adoption of the Common Core State Standard Initiative, cursive handwriting instruction is no longer mandatory in the United States. The initiative leaves cursive handwriting out of school curriculum. In turn, numerous school districts have been replacing cursive with keyboarding. As cursive becomes a vanishing art, Sans Cursive strives to illustrate the significance of cursive as a necessary skill, highlighting its historical importance and its role in self-expression, brain stimulation, and fine motor skill development.

 

DOWN TO BUSINESS

Down to Business aims to bridge the gap between the design world and corporate America. By approaching the job search as an opportunity to develop and market your personal brand, this annual report-style publication provides design graduates with the skills necessary to land a job without losing their personal identity.

 

MONEY SPEAKS

8 typographic motivational mantras were designed and screenprinted onto 120 dollar bills. The bills were distributed around Portland, Oregon. The supporting website features an interactive map to explain the project and gather feedback.View the full project at www.moneyspeaks.org

 

PROJECT DesignED

Project DesignED is an extra-curricular, graphic design education program for high school students planned and implemented by practicing industry professionals. The coursework teaches the basic elements and principles of graphic design focusing on information literacy and solving problems with critical thinking. Lessons are developed as “instruction sets”, increasing usability for busy professionals and, with localization, allowing implementation anywhere in the world. The coursework uses online lectures conveyed through motion graphics to introduce concepts, which field professionals elaborate on and help students practice, in person. The combination of learning modalities and its adaptability optimizes the students’ education and meets the needs of the expert-users.