Mina Kasirifar, IDSA
San Francisco State University
2021 West District Graduate Student Merit Award Winner
Like many industrial designers, Mina Kasirifar, IDSA, enjoyed math and physics in school as much as art. It was finding industrial design that introduced her to the exciting process of creating for other people using empathy and problem-solving. “Design,” she says, “brought a sense of satisfaction that neither art nor mathematics alone gave me.”
Kasirifar received her bachelor's degree in Industrial Design from the University of Tehran before moving from Iran to the United States to further pursue her passion for design. She received her master’s degree from San Francisco State University, and is currently working as an industrial design intern at Bould Design in San Mateo, CA.
“When the excitement of using the new tools I learned as a fresh student washed away,” she says, “I became more conscious about the effects of my every decision on the outcome. For me, there was this urge to get to a conclusion quickly to escape the pressure of being in unknown territory. Gradually I realized design is the constant balancing of these natural feelings; to be in the process, trust it, and be patient.”
Her award-winning work ranges from Uplift, a furniture piece that is wheelchair accessible and easy to open, to Hicel II, an interactive toy that helps kids with autism learn primary emotions to communicate better.
“When the world is disappointing, good designers remain optimistic and see difficulties as opportunities to make progress,” she says. “I hope to expand my view as a designer to contribute to the world around me with solutions that promote optimism and fun while trying to leave a smaller footprint.”
Looking into the future, Kasirifar sees the design field as continuously evolving, and thus requiring consistent learning. “Being inspired by fellow designers is as important as learning about the new technologies and methodologies,” she says. “IDSA is doing a great job of helping designers see the people and processes behind the products.
Kasirifar believes products should connect with the user in an honest, emotional way that sparks joy and wonder. Personally, she is exploring “ways through which we can bring a feminine experience into the aesthetics and functionality of our designs.”
She tries not to fall in love with her designs early in the process, as this can be challenging when the artistic side of designers is considered. In school, “practicing design in an environment where monetary profit isn’t the main focus exposed me to dialogues regarding the ethics and consequences of our approach,” she says. “Such conversations widen our perspective and show us aspects that cannot be unseen later on when we become professional designers.”
To current design student, she says, “Try not to get overwhelmed by the competitive nature of this field. Design is about connecting with people, respecting nature, and solving problems that matter, so try to find your voice and the values that matter to you rather than live by the common rules that might be outdated. And, of course, help your fellow designers through collaborative learning.”