Interaction Design Final Project Journey

I want my Final Project to …                                    

For me the final project is form of self expression. Working in teams has been great, but I feel it’s an organic time for me to spend some time with myself, and have a better understanding of what my abilities and interests are. I’m also ready to take accountability for driving a project and also making the strategic decisions with the help of externals.

It’s also a mini entrepreneurial effort. I want to see what it’s like to start a “company” from beginning to launch. I’ve always had an interest in starting my own company, but always had excuses (time, lack of experience, etc) for why I wasn’t doing that. I love that this project is forcing me to explore my own interests, and bring something to market potentially.

Additionally, it’s a gift of time, coming from working before CIID, having two months to explore a personal interest feels like a luxury. Since leaving university seven years ago, most of my efforts have been on behalf of other people’s visions. While it’s inspiring to work with talented people, it’s also a rare opportunity in life to explore your own interests with the amazing resources at CIID.

I’m interested in/inspired by…                                                                       

I’m interested in exploring food inequality and food deserts in the US. Some facts: 29 million Americans live in urban and rural food deserts, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Americans in low-income rural areas have to travel at least 17km to get to their nearest supermarket. In a dense city like Washington D.C., that means taking two hour-long bus rides in each direction to get to a supermarket, with shopping bags in tow. (

Several years ago, my sister gave my mom the book Farm City by Novella Carpenter. Novella is a really inspiring woman, and I finally read the book this past summer. She’s started an urban farm in a rundown part of Oakland nicknamed Ghost Town. She even had chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys and pigs! My Dad started a vegetable garden above his building in downtown San Francisco, and my mom recently started a farm in Lake Country, two hours from San Francisco. I’ve always loved cooking, and eating. Not necessarily fancy things, but down home, honest food. I love cooking Chinese food especially. I like gardening, getting my hands dirty, and having a connection to what I consume. For the past three years, I’ve had a vermiculture on my balcony, where I fed red wriggler worms my food scraps. Also, my sister had six chickens while attending UC Berkeley and studying agriculture. So, those are some of my interests when it comes to food.

In university, I studied American Studies and Ethnicity with a focus on Ethnicity and Gender. As a child, growing up in a multicultural environment in San Francisco, where my parents had different accents than each other and also from my siblings and me, I’ve always been deeply interested in topics of race and the intersections between communities in urban environments.

This project is relevant because…

I attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. It’s an incredibly conservative, wealthy school in the middle of South Central LA, a black, and now predominantly Latino neighborhood. I spent a lot of my studies analyzing the race riots or uprisings in LA, and things like African American psychology and Ethnic politics. Now, having lived abroad for the past six years, and living in Taipei, Paris, Zurich and now Copenhagen, it’s been insane reading about the US in the news. At the same time, living in more socialist-oriented countries, where people have access to health care, food, rehabilitation, education and transportation (among other things), has really deepened my discomfort with the US.

I don’t want to attempt to fix the entire country, but this is a small exploration that I think can expose some of the deeply imbedded inequalities affecting millions of Americans. It’s crazy to imagine that in one of the wealthiest, most powerful countries in the world, but meanwhile about 85% of Americans do not consume the US Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily intakes of the most important vitamins and minerals necessary for proper physical and mental development. (

During my Final Project I would like to challenge myself in…               

SKILLS I can rely on:

User Research
Uncovering Insights & Behaviors
Birds Eye Perspective
Project Management, Prioritization


Skills I want to challenge myself in:

Physical Prototyping
Physical Computing
App Design, GUI

Visual Communication

Related projects

Novella Carpenter Farm City
Wholesome Wave
Buying Local Food — On Your Phone
Making a Place at the Table: Race and Equality in the Good Food Movement
One Meal
Fleet Farming

My starting point

For me, the starting point is desk research. The problem is quite complex and I need to understand a bit of the factors and trends driving food inequality. I like to have a solid understanding of the problem before I start thinking about solutions. I’m in contact with Roberto Flore from Nordic Food Labs, who has a contact working in food deserts in the US, Guillaume Charny Brunet from Space10, Ikeas innovation lab where they have a hydroponic farm in the basement. I’m interested in speaking to them about how to address issues of scale when dealing with large masses of people. Marquise Stillwater from Openbox, who I’d consider an expert in the complexities of designing solutions in inner city North American conditions, and the sensitive issues of race, ethnicity and ownership. Additionally, Kenneth Aleksander Robertsen from IDEO is connecting me to someone from the food department who’s working on something related to food inequality in the us.

I plan on doing desk research, and then exploratory interviews. Then industry projects, and then more focussed interviews in addition to expert interviews.

My explorations so far

So far, I’ve just been collecting inspirations and done a bit of desk research for my mid way presentation.