June 5, 2023

Santa Monica College Interaction Design Students Collaborate with MaCher Inc., USA

Santa Monica College Interaction Design Students Collaborate with MaCher Inc., USA
Industry experts provided feedback to SMC Bachelor of Science in Interaction Design students at a June 1 presentation that marked the culmination of an eight-week-long design challenge in which the students reimagined specific flagship products for MaCher, Inc., a Certified B Corporation and an EcoVadis Platinum-rated company, among the top 1% of sustainable businesses worldwide.

Santa Monica College Interaction Design Students Collaborate with MaCher Inc., USA

As Part of Eight-Week Capstone Project, SMC Baccalaureate Program Juniors Reimagine Flagship Products for Certified B Corporation and EcoVadis Platinum-rated Sustainable Company

SANTA MONICA, CA—Santa Monica College (SMC) Interaction Design (IxD) juniors enrolled in the baccalaureate program celebrated the culmination of an eight-week-long design challenge in which they took a fresh look at reimagining specific MaCher, Inc. flagship products. MaCher, Inc. is a Certified B Corporation and an EcoVadis Platinum-rated company, among the top 1% of sustainable businesses worldwide.

The five teams—17 students in total—made their final presentations at MaCher’s Venice, Calif. offices on Thursday, June 1. A jury of industry experts selected the winning team/project: Nicolas Palomino, Kalynn Porter, Hawa Camara, and Yelizaveta Skibinskaya who redesigned a travel carry bag for consumer electronics and added a proposed digital companion—a chatbot with a Welsh corgi mascot named Wren.

The four students won premium MaCher marketing products, the opportunity to work with MaCher to further develop their idea, and a surprise award from MaCher client Rudi Schreiner, owner of Calabasas-based AMAWaterways: a seven-night European river cruise for each winner, plus one guest.

“This collaboration is an excellent opportunity for the students to gain real-world experience and professional feedback on their work, and for MaCher to be inspired by innovative and fresh perspectives from the next generation of designers,” said Patrick Marsden, MaCher Partner. Marsden explained that while MaCher is in the top 1% of sustainable businesses worldwide, the company is “paradoxically part of one of the dirtiest and most inefficient industries in the world: the promotional products industry.” The company’s mission, therefore, is to “shrink the massive, dirty and inefficient promotional products industry into something smaller, more effective, and far more sustainable.”

Kalynn Porter stated that the eight-week project was “the first time we have worked with a real brand and company, so we were trying to be really mindful and put our best foot forward.” Ben Denzinger, MaCher strategic innovation and design lead mentored the team throughout the process, but “never forced his opinion on us.” Among things they learned, Porter named “iterating and designing and getting feedback and not being afraid to show [our work] to a bunch of different people . . . being brave in that way, I think, helped us be a success.”

Porter is passionate about service design—a process where designers create sustainable solutions and optimal experiences for customers in unique contexts and service providers—because her mother is disabled. “Ways to make the world easier for her to navigate, that’s what I’m interested in,” she said.

Yelizaveta Skibinskaya said the group’s goal in reimagining MaCher’s product was to “make something that was modular, that could have many more lives.” “We wanted something that was easy to use, that could go from [containing] your gadgets to going around your trip in a matter of seconds,” Skibinskaya said. This was for the physical product. As for the digital component, “we wanted something that was really simple and that a person wouldn’t have to download . . . something that anybody with just a cellphone and Wi-Fi connection could access.” Hence, the idea of a proprietary chatbot with a Welsh corgi mascot named Wren, who could provide helpful tips to a traveler exploring a new destination.

The collaboration with MaCher is the final capstone project in the Major Studio 2 class taught by Maxim Safioulline in the junior year of the Interaction Design program. The project spans two other classes taught in the Spring 2023 semester: Product Design taught by Richard Schuler and the Project Management class taught by Luke Johnson. The design brief is shared among the three classes and the student groupings remain consistent while focusing on a separate component relevant to the skills learned in each class: Project Management deals with organizing and running a medium-scale design project; Product Design, the material exploration and the design of a physical object; Major Studio 2, the design of a high-quality user interface for “a useful and delightful digital experience.”

In collaboration with industry partners like MaCher, SMC faculty create a challenge to satisfy the requirements of all three classes. Last spring, IxD students completed a design challenge for MaCher and Meow Wolf.

Safioulline stated that this semester’s project focused on design for sustainability through the exploration of eco-friendly material options and manufacturing practices, and through extending the useful life of physical products with the help of companion digital experiences. “This firmly orients our students towards both imagining the exciting possibilities in cross-disciplinary design and being able to concretely organize their implementation. These skills are invaluable on the job market for the innovative and solution-oriented design industries,” Safioulline said.

All students who participated in the MaCher collaboration received gift packages of MaCher marketing products, and will also be featured in a project collaboration highlight on MaCher’s newsletter and LinkedIn page.

To learn more about SMC’s Bachelor of Science in Interaction Design program—whose alum have gone on to work for JPMorgan Chase & CoGoogleSnap Inc.Sony PlayStationLyft, Amazon Prime Video, and more—visit ixd.smc.edu.

Santa Monica College is a California Community College accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

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