MFA Industrial Design Students Win NYCxDesign Awards for Innovative, Sustainable Projects

The MFA in Industrial Design at Parsons School of Design gives students the opportunity to explore making in a variety of contexts, develop critical thinking skills, and integrate ideas about sustainability, consumerism, production, and more into their practice.
Recently, three students from the program were awarded NYCxDesign Student Awards for projects they designed and created during their time at Parsons. Blanca Codina won for “BigSteps,” a pouf that draws inspiration from espadrilles, which highlights the rich tradition and craftsmanship associated with esparto grass.

“Winning the NYCxDesign Award in the Student category is an incredible honor,” she shares. “It’s a validation of my hard work, creativity, and passion for product design from industry professionals and the design community. It is also a motivation to continue pushing the boundaries of my design practice.”

Jessica Thies won for her project “Replenish,” which is meant to reduce food waste by teaching and encouraging composting. Her design features a vermicompost system that is connected to a planter, which emphasizes existing plant care rituals, and fits well into urban living situations.

“It is an exciting honor to win this award for the second year.” she shares. “I am grateful to be a part of the NYCxDesign community. The recognition has validated my passion to shift from traditional human-centered design to more life-centered practices and to design in tandem with natural systems.”

Sadaf Farahanifar won for her project “MII,” which was inspired by the dual nature of technology, with its abilities to solve numerous problems while at the same time contributing to immense amounts of waste. Her chair utilizes scrap wood that remains as the byproduct of the CNC process, while also employing the same CNC technology to construct the chair.

“It was quite unexpected when I found out I had been awarded the prestigious honor for the second consecutive year,” she shares. “I am deeply humbled by this recognition, and grateful for the continued encouragement from the community. This award serves as motivation to keep pursuing excellence in my work and to contribute meaningfully through my designs. I am truly thankful to be part of a supportive and inspiring environment that fosters growth and pushes us to excel, both academically and beyond.”

All three designers, who graduated in 2023, have been influenced by their time at Parsons, especially around ideas and methods of practice related to sustainability, social change, and interdisciplinarity in design.

“My education at Parsons has played a pivotal role in shaping me as a designer,” explains Codina. “The interdisciplinary curriculum, experienced faculty, and diverse community at Parsons have fostered an environment of exploration, critical thinking, and collaboration.”

“My education at Parsons has significantly influenced me as a designer, particularly in the way it has instilled the importance of sustainability in my design approach,” explains Farahanifar. “At Parsons, I was exposed to progressive design concepts and was taught to consider the long-term environmental and social impact of my creations, shaping my perspective on responsible design practices. The emphasis on sustainability in Parsons’ curriculum has encouraged me to think beyond aesthetics and functionality, inspiring me to create designs that not only achieve their purpose but also address pressing global concerns like environmental degradation and resource depletion. The education I received at Parsons has truly played a pivotal role in shaping my values and mindset as a conscientious designer.”

Now that they’ve graduated, Codina, Thies, and Farahanifar are each pursuing unique paths. Codina plans to explore new design projects that take existing objects as the raw material for ideation, Thies is now doing a fellowship at the Healthy Materials Lab as a Postgraduate Material Health Researcher while also continuing to work on her own algae based material innovation, and Farahanifar is currently creating and designing lamps made from repurposed metal tube that she found in The Home Depot.