Northwestern Events Calendar


Design at the Intersections: Visualizing the Invisible

When: Thursday, May 19, 2022
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM Central

Where: Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, Hive Annex 2.240, 2133 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Graduate Students

Contact: Casey Russell  

Group: Segal Design Institute

Category: Academic


Join us for a talk with Justin Notestein (Chemical Engineering) and Ana Kuzmanic (School of Communication) titled "Visualizing the Invisible."


Costume design and chemical product design do not, at first blush, have much in common. However, professors Ana Kuzmanic and Justin Notestein have learned through discussion and the beginnings of a collaboration that they share a similar design framework. Design for performance and design for chemical products communicate abstract ideas in comprehensible formats. Both seek to make invisible functions visible, whether that’s expressing an emotion, making visible an inner transformation, replicating the taste of a food, or catalyzing a chemical reaction.


In giving tangible form to these invisible functions, designers need to overcome preconceived notions, incompletely articulated or mutually contradictory needs, and a variety of external constraints (e.g., thermodynamics or the needs of the actor being clothed). As in many areas of design, the best work is driven by curiosity, where “what if” questions lead from inspiration to a multitude of ideas for innovation. The right questions allow us to see limitations as possibilities.


In this talk, Kuzmanic and Notestein will compare several case studies highlighting classroom and professional (laboratory research or stage performance) experiences. They will also discuss commonalities in their sources of inspiration and design processes, and advocate for the need for spaces — both physical and metaphorical — where art and engineering can intersect on a deeper level.

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