AMT: Parsons The New School for Design

Currents Spring 2016: [PSAM 5600]

Course Dates: Jan 26, 2016 – May 10, 2016

Meeting Times: Tuesdays 7:00 pm – 9:40 pm

Location: 6 East 16th Street,  Rm. 1202

Instructor: Annelie Koller


Office Hours: By appointment.


We are entering a new material age. Much like machines and steel brought about the the industrial age; biology, technology and science is changing our methods of fabrication and materials. This will soon radically change the way we live in, and with, the world. This course will take students on a journey to the furthest edges of our new material spectrum and challenge them think about how they might hack this new material future. The first half of the semester will give them an overview of new fabrication methods (Synbio, Genetic engineering, 4D printing) and the palette of new materials (biomaterials, nanomaterials, programmable, DNA). This will be set against traditional, cultural and historical values inherent to traditional materials and how they might be opposed, or transferred, to new applications. Students will be asked to propose their own material concepts using these learnings by midterm. In the second half of the semester we will investigate how these concepts could be applied to real world situations. They will be give an overview of branding, design, IP, ethics and how current industries and startups are developing radical products and processes. Student will take their projects to the next level and propose how they might take their “controversial” concept and turn it into a marketable product (using their means of choice: physical, bio, web, code, pcomp). They will be given the opportunity to discuss the feasibility of their projects with industry leaders, brand specialists, startups and designers that are pioneering this new material age.





1.     Introduction to Syllabus

2.     Overview of Methods and Materials class structure

3.     AMA with Annelie Koller


Eight Design Tenets for Emerging Technology PDF



Following the reading and our first class, publish a post on the class blog, on who you are, what your goals are hoping to achieve within this course, what inspires and intrigues you.




1.     Biofabrication: Designing with life

2.     Programmable Living Matter

LAB: Grow your own materials



Attend Chrisophe’s Lecture on the 02/11/16 or research the work of the MIT self-assembly lab



Methods Weekly Assignment*.





Christophe Guberan from MIT Self-Assembly lab will be speaking to students in the donut hole about his work and self-assembling structures




1.     Material Behaviors

2.     Bits+Atoms

3.     Responsive Materials

4.     Gestures and Sensors

5.     Programmable Physical Matter

LAB: Cooking Material 


Catarina Mota: Smart Materials


Materials Weekly Assignment**




1.     Synthetic Biology

2.     Crispr & genetic engineering

3.     Biohacking and Citizen Science

LAB: Mycelium

GUEST LECTURER: Ellen Jorgenson (Genspace)



Life is what you make it




Methods Weekly Assignment*





1.     Embeddables, Ingestables, Implantables

2.     Fashion with function

3.     IoM

4.     Body Modification



How textiles revolutionize technology



Materials Weekly Assignment**






1.     4D printing

2.     Bioprinting

3.     Biofabrication

1.     Self-Assembly



Skyler Tibbits: 4D printing



Methods Weekly Assignment*






1.     Nanomaterials

2.     Hybrid Materials

3.     Materials Properties



Breakthrough Technologies of 2015




Materials Weekly Assignment**





MIDTERM PRESENTATIONS – See Midterm Requirements






1.     Neuroscience

2.     Cosmology

3.     Materials for the brain

4.     Visualization models + Big data

5.     Evolving tools, processes and interactions



Rethinking the brain machine interface



Methods Weekly Assignment*




Hybrid Technologies: Material Engineering & Design Thinking for Emerging TechnologY

LAB: Acetobacter








Conceptualize your final product



Marketing for emerging technologies

Ethics and Policy

Guest Speaker: TBA




Saul Kaplan

Ethics and Emerging technology





Create a marketing/advertis-ing strategy

Formulate an ethics policy for your product



Keeping it Human  






Critically asses your product’s useability



Guest Critics, Lecturer TBA  




Work on final product





The class will function as a conceptual research & development lab. Students will have the opportunity to learn and research new materials and methodologies and will have the opportunity to conceptually develop new and improved products from their research.

The first half of the semester will focus on research of new materials and methods of making, the second half of the semester student will be expected to take this research and develop feasible and usable products or systems ie. not speculative products, but products that could have either social, commercial or cultural value.

Students are free to work in groups or as individuals in any medium that they think best suited to represent their idea or innovation. They will not be expected to deliver final products, but rather prototypes or conceptual representations of their research as it develops over the course of semester with sound reasoning on why they chose to develop it.

Each class will start with a short lecture on that week’s topic and will then be followed by either group discussion or presentations of the previous week’s assignments.

Intermittently there will be guest critics or lecturers, to support the research topic of the week.

A couple of hands-on workshop will also be given, depending on the needs and availability of students to experiment with the physical making of new materials.



There will be a class blog which will serve as the class repository of ideas, readings and assignments. All assignments have to be up on the class blog by the start of the following class, unless otherwise agreed with the class instructor.

First half of semester (before midterms):

Classes will be divided into two categories: Materials and Methods.

Material classes will focus on new material types and Method’s classes will focus on technologies and methods of fabrication to make these new materials.


You will receive one reading per week to prepare you for the following week’s class.

You can choose to work on a new outcome each week, or iterate the same product/material/method each week to include that week’s learnings.

**Material Assignments:

Your assignment will be to design and represent your own new material of the material classification discussed in that week’s lecture. You should present it using any medium that you see fit – handdrawn, coded, physical prototype, 3D modeled etc. I am not expecting a real material, but a representation of what you would have designed given the information that you received and you had the skills or expertise to make it. Please also write one short paragraph on why you chose to develop this material and potential application of the material.

* Methods Assignments:

Your assignment will be to design and represent your own new method of fabrication or propose a new use of existing method of fabrication using the technology discussed in that week’s lecture. You can present it using any medium that you see fit – handdrawn, CAD, coded, physical prototype, 3D modeled etc. Once again, I am not expecting a real method, but a representation of what you would have designed given the information that you received. Please also write one short paragraph on the method you are proposing, what the material outcome will be and the potential application.

Midterm Assignment

For the midterm assessment you will be expected to amalgamate your research of the first half of semester and come up with a product or system that you would like to develop in the second half of semester. You can take one of the assignments from semester and develop that or if you have been iterating on one project you can choose to take this to the next level. You will propose how you hope to make that product a useable or consumer product or idea. You will not have to have a complete product, but a clear plan on how you want to develop it from conceptual material or method to a usable entity in the following semester. This can be represented any means you see fit as long as there is a clear plan of intent for the product. We will discuss this in class.

Second half of semester (after midterms):

The second half of semester will focus on developing the conceptual work of the first half to create useable products and applications. As with the first half, conceptual work will be expected and no final or finished products, but the intent and the feasibility needs to be well thought out and feasible.


Assignments will be discussed after each lecture, but will follow the structure of the lectures in the outline. The solution or product you selected to work on during your midterm assessment will be used and be reiterated following each week’s lecture to fine tune our final product.


The final assignment will be a presentation of the work of the entire semester, showing the thinking of your developmental path of the project and how you came to the final iteration of your work.


To be discussed following the need for workshops.



Students will be graded upon the quality of work based on concept development and execution. Blog should be updated weekly, all projects must be documented, homework, midterms, and finals.

Participation: 20%

Blog: 25%

Execution and understanding of concepts: 15%

Midterm: 15%

Final: 25%

TOTAL 100%

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Student will be introduced to new methods of manufacture incl. biodesign, tissue culture, 3d,4d and 5d printing, biofabrication, genetic engineering and traditional, but with new applications, such as fermentation, culturing and tanning.
  2. Students will be introduced to a new material palette that includes biomaterials such as yeasts, algae and fungus, nanomaterial, new synthetics, programmable matter and biosensors.
  3. Student will be able to hack together their own new materials, product or process using this new knowledge on a conceptual level.
  4. Student will be expected not only to understand how to design with new materials and methods, but how it might be applied to a need in the environment or in a commercial market.
  5. Student will be dealing with real world and not only speculative applications of materials.
  6. Student will be expected to think about how the application might be perceived by the end user and how it might impact on an ethical, aesthetic or functional level.
  7. Students will be introduced to current industry leaders and their products and get first hand knowledge of their pitfalls and successes of their process.
  8. Students will have the opportunity to speak to branding, startups and product design specialists on how you bring controversial and radical new products to fruition.


  1. See Class Outline.
  2. Turabian, Kate. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations. 6th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.)


  1. Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke UP, 2010. Print.
  2. Brayer, Marie-Ange. Biothing, Alisa Andrasek. Orléans: HYX, 2009. Print.
  3. Brayer, Marie-Ange, and Frédéric Migayrou. Naturaliser L’architecture = Naturalizing
  4. Print.
  5. Costa, Beatriz Da, and Kavita Philip. Tactical Biopolitics: Art, Activism, and Technoscience.
  6. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2008. Print.
  7. Ginsberg, Alexandra Daisy. Synthetic Aesthetics: Investigating Synthetic Biology’s Designs on
  8. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2014. Print.
  9. Duc, Stephane Le, and William Deane Butcher. The Mechanism of Life. New York: Rebman, 1914.
  10. Miodownik, Mark. Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-made
  11. Print.
  12. Myers, William. Bio Design: Nature, Science, Creativity. London: Thames & Hudson, 2012. Print.
  13. Silver, Mike. Programming Cultures: Art and Architecture in the Age of Software. London:
  14. Wiley-Academy, 2006. Print.
  15. Peters, Sascha. Material Revolution: Sustainable and Multi-purpose Materials for Design and
  16. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2011. Print.
  17. Steadman, Philip. The Evolution of Designs: Biological Analogy in Architecture and the Applied Arts. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1979. Print.


A         Work of exceptional quality

A-        Work of high quality

B+       Very good work

B         Good work; satisfies course requirements

Satisfactory completion of a course is considered to be a grade of B or higher.

B-        Below-average work

C+       Less than adequate work

C         Well below average work

C-        Poor work; lowest possible passing grade

F          Failure

GM     Grade missing for an individual


Grades of D are not used in graduate level courses.
Grade of W

The grade of W may be issued by the Office of the Registrar to a student who officially withdraws from a course within the applicable deadline. There is no academic penalty, but the grade will appear on the student transcript. A grade of W may also be issued by an instructor to a graduate student (except at Parsons and Mannes) who has not completed course requirements nor arranged for an Incomplete.

Grade of Z

The grade of Z is issued by an instructor to a student who has not attended or not completed all required work in a course but did not officially withdraw before the withdrawal deadline. It differs from an “F,” which would indicate that the student technically completed requirements but that the level of work did not qualify for a passing grade.


Grades of Incomplete

The grade of I, or temporary incomplete, may be granted to a student under unusual and extenuating circumstances, such as when the student’s academic life is interrupted by a medical or personal emergency. This mark is not given automatically but only upon the student’s request and at the discretion of the instructor. A Request for Incomplete form must be completed and signed by student and instructor. The time allowed for completion of the work and removal of the “I” mark will be set by the instructor with the following limitations:

Graduate students: Work must be completed no later than one year following the end of the class. Grades of “I” not revised in the prescribed time will be recorded as a final grade of “N” by the Registrar’s Office.

Divisional, Program and Class Policies

  • Responsibility

Students are responsible for all assignments, even if they are absent.  Late assignments, failure to complete the assignments for class discussion and/or critique, and lack of preparedness for in-class discussions, presentations and/or critiques will jeopardize your successful completion of this course.

  • Participation

Class participation is an essential part of class and includes: keeping up with reading, assignments, projects, contributing meaningfully to class discussions, active participation in group work, and coming to class regularly and on time.

  • Attendance


  • Classes meeting 2 time per week: 4 absences are grounds for failure.


  • Two (2) tardies will be counted as one absence.
  • 5 minutes is considered tardy.

The following may be counted as tardy:

  • Coming to class without the required materials
  • Sleeping in class
  • Being asked to leave class because of disruptive behavior.
  • Doing other course work in class.


Parsons’ attendance guidelines were developed to encourage students’ success in all aspects of their academic programs. Full participation is essential to the successful completion of coursework and enhances the quality of the educational experience for all, particularly in courses where group work is integral; thus, Parsons promotes high levels of attendance. Students are expected to attend classes regularly and promptly and in compliance with the standards stated in the course syllabus.


While attendance is just one aspect of active participation, absence from a significant portion of class time may prevent the successful attainment of course objectives. A significant portion of class time is generally defined as the equivalent of three weeks, or 20%, of class time. Lateness or early departure from class may be recorded by the instructor as one full absence. Students may be asked to withdraw from a course if habitual absenteeism or tardiness has a negative impact on the class environment.

Members of the faculty are expected to provide syllabi in which course objectives and assessment criteria are described, in writing, at the beginning of the term. The syllabus should also articulate how attendance is assessed with respect to active participation.


At Parsons, attendance and lateness are assessed as of the first day of classes. Students who register after a class has begun are responsible for any missed assignments and coursework. Students who must miss a class session should notify the instructor and arrange to make up any missed work as soon as possible. A student who anticipates an extended absence should immediately inform the faculty and his or her program advisor. Advance approval for an extended absence is required to ensure successful completion of the course. Withdrawal from the course may be recommended if the proposed absence would compromise a student’s ability to meet course objectives.

Finally, faculty are asked to notify the student’s advisor for any student who misses two consecutive class sessions without explanation or who otherwise miss a significant portion of class time. Following two absences, students may be asked to speak with their advisor to review any impediments to their successful performance in class and, if so, to provide confirmation to the faculty member that such a conversation took place.

Religious Absences and Equivalent Opportunity

Pursuant to Section 224-a of the New York State Education Laws, any student who is absent from school because of his or her religious beliefs will be given an equivalent opportunity to register for classes or make up any examination, study, or work requirements which he or she may have missed because of such absence on any particular day or days. The student must inform the instructor at the beginning of the course of any anticipated absences due to religious observance.

  • Canvas

Use of Canvas may be an important resource for this class. Students should check it for announcements before coming to class each week.


  • Delays

In rare instances, I may be delayed arriving to class.  If I have not arrived by the time class is scheduled to start, you must wait a minimum of thirty minutes for my arrival.  In the event that I will miss class entirely, a sign will be posted at the classroom indicating your assignment for the next class meeting.

  • Electronic Devices

The use of electronic devices (phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, etc.) is permitted when the device is being used in relation to the course’s work. All other uses are prohibited in the classroom and devices should be turned off before class starts.

Academic Honesty and Integrity

The New School views “academic honesty and integrity” as the duty of every member of an academic community to claim authorship for his or her own work and only for that work, and to recognize the contributions of others accurately and completely. This obligation is fundamental to the integrity of intellectual debate, and creative and academic pursuits. Academic honesty and integrity includes accurate use of quotations, as well as appropriate and explicit citation of sources in instances of paraphrasing and describing ideas, or reporting on research findings or any aspect of the work of others (including that of faculty members and other students). Academic dishonesty results from infractions of this “accurate use”. The standards of academic honesty and integrity, and citation of sources, apply to all forms of academic work, including submissions of drafts of final papers or projects. All members of the University community are expected to conduct themselves in accord with the standards of academic honesty and integrity. Please see the complete policy in the Parsons Catalog.


It is the responsibility of students to learn the procedures specific to their discipline for correctly and appropriately differentiating their own work from that of others.  Compromising your academic integrity may lead to serious consequences, including (but not limited to) one or more of the following: failure of the assignment, failure of the course, academic warning, disciplinary probation, suspension from the university, or dismissal from the university.

  • Student Disability Services (SDS)

In keeping with the University’s policy of providing equal access for students with disabilities, any student with a disability who needs academic accommodations is welcome to meet with me privately.  All conversations will be kept confidential.  Students requesting any accommodations will also need to meet with Jason Luchs in the Office of Student Disability Services, who will conduct an intake, and if appropriate, provide an academic accommodation notification letter to you to bring to me.  SDS assists students with disabilities in need of academic and programmatic accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.