ASLI DEMIR //
PHYSICAL DESIGN FOR INTERACTION
I craft physical artifacts that question how our lived environments can flow with who we are, what we want and what makes us feel fulfilled.
Every physical object calls for an interaction, a story that plays out in relation to it. This is my starting point in design. My work examines interactions with everyday products and their impact on wellbeing, future and culture, focusing on technology as a toolkit to design tactile, evocative, and rich experiences our senses crave to offer us.
Engineering to Design// Previously worked at Apple, Tesla and NASA JPL embodying future products. More recently, I graduated from TU Delft with a Master's in Integrated Product Design. Here we learned through constant hands-on practice, closely working with real clients, end users and bringing in experts and knowledge from ergonomics, sustainability, psychology and technology. For me, studying design has been a process of learning to put my background in the manufactured and efficient world in conversation with my human side. I found that my instincts lie in engineering, they want to simplify, box and slice, but now they are constantly challenged by the qualitative, reflective and human needs to build truly transdisciplinary concepts.
Builder, maker// I'm a diligent maker, growing more curious about the context and experience around the things I build by the minute. Experience in all things fabrication, from programmed and manual machining, to Arduino sensor integration, casting, injection molding, composites manufacturing, 3D printing, lasercutting, screenprinting, knitting, embroidery, crochet...
ABOUT ME //
As a child I was often quiet because to say something I assumed one should be confident in what they have to say. Some years later I am outspoken because I have a lot of questions to ask. I can attest some of this to having studied with exceptionally brilliant people, where my biggest learning was that there is too much to learn, discover, and invent to stay reticent. To gain perspective, the most productive act I can do is to make bold claims, to build something and let it be put to the rigorous test of the real world.
In my mechanical engineering studies at MIT, I honed my skills for understanding, predicting, and intentionally designing for the physical world. Here, we focused on learning to design efficiently for mass manufacturing, but I grew curious of the lives people lead in connection to these products. Design became my compass in navigating how products shape and positively impact individuals' daily experiences. This transition from engineering to studying industrial design across the world allowed me to contextualize my engineering knowledge within the broader landscape of human needs and experiences.
MY BELIEFS //
I place great importance on recognizing emotions as a source of latent and tacit knowledge, acknowledging the profound role of emotional qualities in unearthing knowledge we can't verbalize. Psychology holds a big part in this research.
For me, "human-centered" design should be deeply rooted in the intrinsic and inherent qualities that define what it means to be human. This essence is not subject to fleeting trends or external wishes, but rather draws from the core values and fundamental needs of people. To sculpt technological applications in step with us, we must systematically explore the affordances distinct to different technologies and root interactions in these core human motives.
In the explosion of capabilities of technology, our touchpoints largely consist of managing eye strain and the unease of endless feeds. We are detached from thoughtful, emotional, and rich experiences our senses crave to offer us. We must study, question and create the future of how people connect with the world.
FUTURE VISION // MOTIVATION
In design, emotions emerge as a transformative force in enriching our increasingly digital lives with their capability to inspire tangible products rooted in the concerns of their stakeholders. This is exceptionally important in today's environment, where technology and the digital landscape is evolving more rapidly than ever. The proliferation in sensors, scanners, materials and digital fabrication presents a unique opportunity to reshape how people connect with technology. Psychology driven design research can unearth latent knowledge and present an ethnographic perspective that helps us make sense of the emerging technologies through their affordances.
My motivation in seeking a PhD is to bridge the gap between technology and human experience through using the tools of psychology and prototyping to craft exceptional experiences with meaningful narratives. I aspire to make digiphysical spaces more evocative, intuitive, and seamless by drawing from the right sensory metaphors. I believe my vision and values align with the work you do at Tangible Media. I find the topic of Teleabsence extremely compelling because of its emphasis on technology as a tool to bring memory and history into mediums people know how to connect with. In my work, I constantly translate between abstract and concrete, interaction and product, emotion and action, which resonates with projects like the typewriter as a means to interact with identity and digital information, and textile or flora as tools for communicating ambient information.
TMG has set a high bar for fully functioning & aesthethically pleasing research, in both practical and speculative fields. I aspire to leverage my experience in interaction design, engineering, technology and psychology to conceptualize, build and share such work. The Media Lab, especially TMG is the place for me to contribute to the expanding, deepening, and enriching of physical touchpoints by making use of the impact and values of design and routinely presenting my work to ultimately make people feel at ease and empowered in digital spaces.
MY WORK // RELEVANT PROJECTS
Current: 3D Modeling braces based on 3D scans each patient at Manometric, at the advice of orthopedic technicians.
CAD // 3D Scanning // Grashopper
Solar Dev Kit: Conceptualizing a micro solar panel accepted to Dutch Design Week // Creative Director @ Biosphere
Conceptual design // Rendering // Pitching, presenting // Co-creation
Master's Thesis: Creating a novel product development framework for children wearing prosthetics // Thesis @ TU Delft with client Ossur
Positive psychology // Framework development // Product Design
Theria: Soft, flexible, high performance game controller for people with muscular dystrophy. // Group Project @ TU Delft
Experience-driven concept development // Rapid prototyping // Ergonomics // Electronics (Arduino & sensor intergration)
Lighting Design: Translating the experiential qualities of light into a tangible medium // Group Project @ TU Delft
Visual Storytelling (video) // Unreal Engine // Conceptualization
Radio Play: Evocative sound play on family, nostalgia and places we go when we are on the phone// Pair Project @MIT
Storytelling // abstract-tangible translations
and making various other things here and there.
RECOGNITION FOR MY WORK //
2023 Dutch Design Week
2023 Circular Product Design Workshop in Politecnico Milan for IDEA League & Maker Faire Delft
2019 MIT DeFlorez Award for Outstanding Ingenuity and Creative Judgment
2017 2nd Place in Formula SAE Electric Competition as part of MIT Formula SAE
Qi, J., Demir, A. and Paradiso, J. A. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1970-1977. 2017