Join our network of non-profits, companies and individuals who believe social change can happen through design.

Become A Member

Mark Silver

New York, United States

Designer (Product Design)

Member since March 10, 2008

  • Reflections

    Well-being, Industrial Design

    Having just completed the Parsons Product Design thesis program, I can't help but reflect:

    Called "A Good Life," the program is conceived - ostensibly - as a partnership between regional not-for-profits and thesis students. Pedagogically, the emphasis is less on finding an NFP as it is on finding oneself.

    The process begins with the thesis coordinator's asking students to identify their passion and a problem. "Who is your user?"

    It occurs to me that this very natural, seldom questioned methodology is a bit problematic. The very nature of our discipline seems to be pessimistic. Without denying the power of design to make lives better, I still feel compelled to ask if we might rather design a glass for the water that's there, if you catch my meaning. Why are we inclined to see people's lives as half empty?

    The method of instruction propagated by the Product Design department at Parsons encourages (intimates?) the following line of thought...

    1] You are not like me, therefore something is wrong with you;

    2] You cannot be happy the way you are, and you don't know how to redress this fact;

    3] I do (because I read a magazine article).

    Granted, my model is a little cynical, but I'm trying to be polemic here. As designers, it's easy to feel good about ourselves when we've shaped the very problem our products answer.

    The question I leave open is this: can we design for the half-full?

    (I think so.)

  • _mds_podditties_design21_177_

    PODDITTIES symphony

    This project would not be possible without the generosity and expertise of Carolyn Strauss of slowLab, Greg Trefry of Come Out & Play, and Steve Lambert of Eyebeam.

    At the nexus of the Information Age and consumerism we find that music and technology have been repackaged to suit our "me" culture, isolating us and stifling spontaneous interaction.

    PODDITTIES symphony is a design intervention marketed to independent cafés, allowing laptop- and internet phone-users to influence the original, ambient music played on the café's sound system. Exploring notions of placemaking and conviviality, Mark Silver has created a simple, non-invasive interface that replaces conventional log-in "splashes."

    Café-goers appreciate subtle fluctuations in the music, understand their place in the whole, and take away an alternate perspective of music and technology. Café owners will find symphony attractive, as it can be tailored to enhance the café's identity, it consolidates music and internet services into one package, subscribing cafés are joined to a worldwide network, and so forth.

    And because PODDITTIES symphony delimits place with a wireless router, symphony spots can pop up wherever a router is found: in dorms, in parks, and so on. The PODDITTIES umbrella might grow to include other products and services concerned with music, technology, and conviviality.


My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design