Michael Kelly, talks to RIT ID blog’s editor about Socioemotional Design.
RIT ID-Design editor: We would like to know a little more about you.Why did you decide to come to RIT for graduate studies?
Michael Kelly: I grew up in New Jersey and, after spending most of my time in music and theater, studied Human Factors at Cornell. I found my way into Industrial Design via the furniture industry, working for Herman Miller in Michigan in research and development. While working on Metaproject there I met Dan Rucker, a graduate from our program, and Josh Owen. RIT felt right from the start- experimental, practical, industry-focused, and fun.
RIT ID-Design editor: Where did socioemotional design come from? How did you start? what is it?
Michael Kelly: Growing up, I was always fascinated with the way people interacted. Theater was a huge part of that. Socioemotional Design comes from the social side of Human Factors and the undergraduate work I did in Human Bonding and Organizational Behavior. It also comes from those questions I had as a kid. In college, I started to explore the hard science of Human Factors- the physiology and psychology-but also the interplay between that side of us and our social side.
RIT ID-Design editor: What did people ask about this new topic at thought@work? How did people react to this?
Michael Kelly: Thought@Work was fantastic. The conference was exciting, the speakers were great, and it was really well-run. The undergraduates’ hard work really showed. The students were really engaged and they had great questions.
RIT ID-Design editor: What is your plan for the future?
Michael Kelly: In the short term, I’ll be working furiously to finish the semester before heading to China in January to work on porcelain and iron mold-making. I plan on exploring Sociemotional design in my thesis, developing it and testing it. My work mainly focuses on bringing people together- I’ll keep working on that.
RIT ID-Design editor: Who are you inspired by? Where do you see yourself in the design frame?
Michael Kelly: I’m inspired by good music- I always have been- and the few books I have time to read outside of class! The music discussion is a long one. Interaction Ritual Chains by Randall Collins is the book that stands out at the moment. Mostly, I look at the work-both art and design- my friends make. I’m very lucky to have both great classmates here and great friends around the world making cool things.
Congratulations again Michael Kelly, we look forward to seeing more great work from him in the future!

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