Look at the larger picture!

Student Spotlight

Michelle Dunn, a current student in the MA in Sustainable Design program, took some time out of her schedule to answer some FAQs about being a student in this program.

Q: Where are you currently living?

Aspen, Colorado

Q: What attracted you to MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design program?

I was attracted to the fact that it is focusing on Sustainability across multiple Design disciplines. Our creative skills can be utilized in various industries, and not limited to one.

Q: Has anything you’ve learned in the program changed your way of thinking?

So far the Systems Thinking course has really expanded my mind. To affect real change, one needs to look at the larger picture. However once you get into it, you realize how interconnected and complicated the system becomes. It takes a really intelligent person to be a great systems thinker.

Q: Has anything you’ve learned in the program changed what you’d like to do with your career?

Yes, I currently work in apparel design, and want to switch my focus to more of the materials and supply chain side of the business. This area of apparel manufacturing will give me greater insight into sustainability improvements.

Q: What has surprised you about the program?

The various backgrounds of my fellow classmates!

Q: Is there a class project or assignment that you are really proud of?

Yes, I designed a ski jacket using biomimetic methods. Rather than using down or petroleum based insulations, I was inspired by the warming & cooling techniques of the Numbat.

Q: What are you currently doing or working on?

Currently, I am looking to enact sustainability efforts within the company I work for. By looking at our entire process and supply chain, considering where we can make a shift to improve our footprint, and enlisting the support of the rest of the Executive Team. Making the business case and inspiring change is the most challenging part right now.

Q: What is the most exciting or inspiring thing you’ve learned in the program so far?

The concepts of biomimicry. How inspiring it is as a designer to look directly to techniques used in nature. Nature has a great deal figured out, and we can learn great process from it.

Q: What has been your proudest moment or project in sustainability or sustainable design?

One of my past design collections was using recycled hardware materials (and very little fabric). Such as wire, cardboard, nuts & bolts, zip ties, and scrap fabrics. It was very exciting to design a collection made from non traditional apparel materials, and really stretch my creative brain. This collection was showcased in Colorado’s “Green is the New Black” fashion show, and my line was awarded “Most Original Collection”.

Q: What sustainability or sustainable design projects are you looking forward to working on?

I’m looking forward to creating collections using zero waste pattern making techniques. In my “free” time, I’ve been reading about and studying up on this technique. I have big plans to make this design technique more of the normal process within the company I work for.

Q: How have you applied what you learned in the program?

So far I have applied the concepts of Systems Thinking and taken a step back from things, to be able to see the perspective of the larger system. Having a bird’s eye view allows us to pinpoint where small shifts can make a big difference.

Q: What have been the most important or useful things that you learned in the program?

The importance of culture. To inspire real change, we need to look at larger cultural shifts. This is difficult, as many are change adverse. Inspiring and leading through change is key.

Dawn Keene / Director

Dawn Keene is the president of Studio Change, a company offering sustainability consulting services. Prior to Studio Change, Dawn has served as president of Keene Design, Inc. an award-winning Atlanta-based firm specializing in graphic design for over a decade.

Her previous affiliations have included High-Performance Healthy Schools Committee for USGBC Atlanta (United States Green Building Council), serving as the membership chair and on the sustainability committee for AIGA Atlanta (American Institute of Graphic Arts AIGA.) Her work has been featured on Sustainable Brands and published in Graphic Design U.S.A. In addition, she has participated in panel discussions on various topics such as environmental design and community outreach.

Her life mission is to empower communities and individuals to take positive action towards building a more sustainable future through education and community outreach. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Georgia State University and graduated from MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design program in 2013.