For the past two years, students from the Yale School of Management, Yale School of Art, and Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Tel Aviv have collaborated to create visual responses to papers written by senior faculty at Yale SOM. This year’s collaboration, titled “An Empirical Basis for Style,” included three-dimensional handcrafts, print pieces, and a social media “Buzzwall” that illustrated trending topics on Twitter in real time.
Henk van Assen, a graphic designer and senior critic at the Yale University School of Art, noted that “the goal was never to just illustrate these texts but to truly familiarize oneself with its content and, then, respond with a design intervention—which have run the gamut from books, videos, and infographics to full-scale installation pieces.”
Tamar Many, Shenkar’s director of international collaborations, praised the “curiosity and openness” the design students brought to the project. “Within the global landscape, the visual has the ability to transcend borders, language and cultures,” she said. “Working with the Yale design students and brainstorming ideas into the night, we created another layer of depth. The ultimate goal of design is to deliver something that sparks imagination, stirs emotions, challenges perceptions, provokes a reaction. This can contribute to any field—be it technology, industry, business or finance.”
Bringing business concepts to visible forms created fascinating challenges for the designers, van Assen said. “I have been intrigued and inspired by the wide variety of projects the students have created, but the true reward was to see them ‘master’ the academic and, often, complex nature of the data and narrative and ‘claim authorship’ while turning it into something else.”
At the end of the collaboration, the students presented their work to Yale SOM faculty and students. “I was most moved when the researchers saw the design projects and were inspired to develop new angles for their research,” Many said. The rewards transcend the value for the students alone, said Van Assen; he also saw Yale SOM faculty “be inspired by the projects design students generated and consider it a potential next phase for their own research.” Helping to build relationships between students at Yale and Shenkar is a highly rewarding experience, particularly in today’s increasingly global world.”