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Bachelor of Design - Environments

Environments is one of three tracks within the School of Design BDes program. From real-world to speculative, from right now to 10 years into the future, our work explores design and user interaction in the world. 

The Environments track was launched in 2014 with the School of Design's new curriculum. We recognized that increasingly, we live in hybrid times and designing for our experiences involves larger designed and natural contexts. We simultaneously engage with physical and digital environments in ways that are not covered by Communications and Products. For example, a visit to an urban center may require shifting your attention between the physical environment and mobile devices (e.g., map applications, photos, social media), and is also now involving hybrid augmented reality experiences. The physical and digital are likely to blend even further with smart spaces, internet of things, mixed reality, sensor networks, big data, artificial intelligence, smart cities, and mixed reality interfaces. 

Designer Eliel Saarinen said, "Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan." In the Environments track, we seek to design places that result in meaningful human experiences, and increasingly, delightful experiences that involve the seamless integration of digital and physical systems. 

There are six core classes within the Environments track:

Studio + Prototyping Lab 1: Form and Context (Fall sophomore year)
We learn the fundamentals of designing hybrid physical and digital environments, and the prototyping and storytelling skills needed to develop our ideas and convey them to others.  

Studio + Prototyping Lab 2: Design for Interaction (Spring sophomore year)
We experiment with the effects of time, space, and scale as fundamentals of an environment through storytelling and simulation. We further develop digital and analog prototyping and modeling making skills.

Studio 3: Complex Systems (Fall junior year)
We develop multi-sensory design proposals and explore how form, interaction, and storytelling are integral to interactions and experiences in environments. We develop client-facing presentations and test our assumptions about branded experiences.

Studio 4: Social Systems (Spring junior year)
We explore design, human behavior, and people's understanding, in physical, digital, and hybrid environments. We use technology to develop speculative proposals that are tied to current advances in intelligent environments.

Studio 5: Design Research Studio (Fall senior year)
We use the design research, analytical, conceptual, prototyping, and storytelling skills that have been developed over the past three years to design systems, artifacts, user experiences, and/or hybrid environments that impact the lives of people in the Pittsburgh community.

Studio 6: Capstone (Spring senior year)
Everyone, across all three tracks, come together to work in a collaborative, multidisciplinary setting.

Environments students are encouraged to take electives across campus in IDeATE, Architecture, Music, Drama, Art, Computer Science, HCII, and others that may expand their personal interests in design.

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