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

Become A Member

Leah Waldman

New York, NY, United States

Product Design

Member since September 08, 2008

  • Mission Statement

    Arts & Culture


    To revive the age-old traditional Indian craft of working with animal bone, a material that can be found in abundance in India due to the enormous agricultural industry. In addition to providing jobs with fair wages to the artisans, the product’s life-cycle is 100% environmentally sustainable.

  • Map... REVISITED.



    I had a hard time with this assignment in terms of representing the information clearly.. This is my second attempt. I looked at banana juice packaging from Japan, a rock garden in India by Nek Chand (made from post-industrial waste), a banana leaf plate, food aid packaging, vases by Hella Jongerius. I compared these products in terms of the following criteria: whether or not they are adaptable to different environments, their durability, if they have a negative impact on the environment, whether they are poetic in their form, the price, and lastly whether the use of materials is innovative. From this assignment, I began to realize what design criteria are important to me... Such as the product's impact on the environment, the poetics of the form, the price, and the durability.

  • Observations



    When I went to observe the physical space outside 2 West 13th Street, I thought that I had already seen everything that there was to see because I spend the majority of my time in this neighborhood; I did not think that I would see anything 'new' or surprising or telling. But what I didn't realize was that even though I SEE what is around me everyday, I am not actually observing and noticing all the different types of people and their behavior and how mundane things change subtly from day to day. I also felt that I wouldn't get realistic footage by videotaping my observations as people tend to get uncomfortable when they feel they are being watched. However, what I did find was that I was too caught up trying to find 'unique' situations to videotape, and ended up not really paying attention to the subtleties around me.

    I 'observed'...

    -There was a lot of traffic. -The Parsons building 2 West 13th is in the background. -There is scaffolding on one corner of the street. -The building behind the scaffolding is not being used. -Street vendor in orange t-shirt walking down the street with his products in a trunk. He has a small purse hanging around his neck. He is walking slowly and looking around. He waits for the light and crosses the street. -There is a girl standing on the corner taking notes. -A lady in a burgundy shirt walking down the street and talking on the phone. -A man in a black shirt is standing at the corner waiting for the light and checking his watch. -A...

  • Design Criteria



    -Form: the form is one my top priorities in terms of design criteria as it is what the consumer comes in contact with first. The consumer has to feel attracted to the product before investigating it further, and understanding its intent. I also feel that the final solution for the form should be a poetic translation of the issue being addressed.

    -Price: I believe in fair trade, and not the exploitation of workers to produce products that can be sold very cheaply. I also feel strongly about designing products that do not target a specific social class, but are accessible to the masses.

    -Production method (impact on the environment, impact on the person making it): I feel extremely strongly about creating products that are environmentally sustainable- requiring minimum to no energy to produce, and creating minimum to no waste. Equally important is the working conditions of the workers- they should be paid fair wages as well as have a healthy/hygienic working environment.

    -Product's impact on the environment (life cycle): The product itself should have no negative impact on the environment, both during and after its life span.

    -Materials: The chosen materials will inform all the above mentioned criteria... therefore it is a critical part of the design criteria.

    -Ease of use/connection with user: I feel that in order for the product to have value, the user has to have a connection with it. This is also why the ease of use is important- the user should not feel any frus...

  • Rug_analysis_177_

    I am re-posting the intersection assignment; I added text to the drawings to make the analysis clearer. I studied the manufacturing process of this rug and found that it is extremely time and energy consuming. Due to this, one can question how much of a difference this upcycled product really makes, even though it is removing waste from ending up in a landfill. Also, the rug is not available to the masses. Its high cost, which is due to the cumbersome labor needed to manufacture it, caters to a high-end market. The discarded blankets could be used more efficiently in another application that would be less energy consuming to manufacture. But one has to take into account the fact that these blankets are used... people may hesitate to use them out of fear of using a second-hand product that could possibly be infected...

  • MAP IT.



    I chose 5 objects to map and analyze: food-aid packages a rock garden in north India designed by Nek Chand fruit juice packaging by Naoto Fukasawa banana leaf plates limited edition vases by Hella Jongerius


    Formal: Simple box structure to house the food. Usually made from paper or cardboard. Color varies depending on manufacturer. Size depends on emergency.

    Functional: Manufactured and distributed to victims following of a natural disaster or war.

    Ethical: Does not always reach the victims, often due to political reasons or lack of funds for delivery. The food options may not always be sensitive to the user’s taste. There may not always be enough being distributed.

    Cost: Manufacturing costs are not high, but distribution to the victims can be expensive. However, the victims do not have to pay for the packages.

    ROCK GARDEN (by Nek Chand in North India)

    Formal: Landscape/garden of sculptures of humans and animals. Extremely colorful. Sculptures are made from post-industrial waste. There are numerous sculptures, covering approximately 40 acres.

    Functional: The garden is a tool to make the world aware of the waste that we create, and an alternative to how we dispose of that waste.

    Ethical: Everyone has access to the garden, enabling individuals from every sector of society to experience Nek Chand’s vision of finding an alternative to disposing of our waste, and also to make people aware of the amount of waste we create.

    Cost: It is extre...

  • Rug_analysis_177_

    This rug was designed by the Dutch duo Tejo Remy and Rene VeenHuizen. It is made from old blankets that have been cut into strips, rolled and sewn flat. These flattened rolls have then been compactly glued together to create a rug. The design of this rug is extremely successful in upcycling a product that is being discarded, and that will probably end up in a landfill. It uses the waste material (the blankets) very efficiently; because the rug is fairly large, and the flattened rolls are small, many are needed to create the rug, therefore maximizing the amount of each blanket that is needed. Also, the randomness of the colors and patterns that is created by mixing strips from different blankets, adds to the beauty of this simple product. However, although very attractive, I feel that the making of this rug is extremely labor intensive. The illustration to the left represents the manufacturing process, which requires a number of steps to make the rug. If this rug is a limited edition series, perhaps the cumbersome manufacturing process would make sense, but it would be very expensive and energy consuming to mass produce this product... This brings up the question often asked about how good is the good we are trying to do in order to preserve our planet and resources...? Are we actually making a difference or just slowing down the deteriorating process...?

  • Bibliography


    1. Chaudhury, Shoma. "The Quiet Soldiers of Compassion." Tehelka, 23 August 2008, 30-37.

    2. Weiner, Eric. "Slum Visits: Tourism or Voyeurism?" The New York Times, 9 March 2008.

    3. Timmons, Heather. "India, a Stirring Giant, Is The New Place to See and Be Seen." The New York Times, 13 December 2007.

    4. Kumar, Hari. "Violence in India Is Fueled by Religious and Economic Divide." The New York Times, 3 September 2008.

    5. Russell, John. "Close-Up On The Craftsmen of India." The New York Times, 22 November 1985.

    6. Adiga, Aravind. "My Lost World." Time, 18 June 2006.

    7. Mahurkar, Uday. "The New Terror." India Today, 18 September 2008.

    8. Mumbai Bureau. "Green Signal." India Today, 28 February 2008.

    9. Mulchandani, Anil. "Double Jeopardy." India Today, 13 September 2008.

    10. Khadka, Navin Singh. "Cow Dung for the Climate." BBC News, 22 September 2005.

    11. Elsworth, Catherine. "California Converting Cow Dung Into Biogas." Telegraph, 5 March 2008.

    12. Bornstein, David. How to Change the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

  • Possible NFPs


    I am leaning towards the ideas from my previous post titled 'Oblivious'. I mentioned that people in India are unaware of their personal impact on the environment... However, while researching this topic my interests broadened to three major issues that I would like to concentrate on: women artisans in India, how they impact the environment through their work and living habits, and how their work connects to the rest of the world. When researching NFPs, I found some dealing specifically with one of the issues mentioned above, and some that dealt with all three. Also, the last three do not have a representative in New York, but are based in India. However, I felt that they could help me to connect directly with people in India as it is unlikely that I will be able to travel there in the next few months. I feel that I will have to work with more than just one non-profit group as my interests encompass more than just one 'problem'.

    -Aid to Artisans: Offers practical assistance to artisan groups worldwide, working in partnerships to foster artistic traditions, cultural vitality, improved livelihoods and community well-being. Through collaboration in product development, business skills training and development of new markets, Aid to Artisans provides sustainable economic and social benefits for craftspeople in an environmentally sensitive and culturally respectful manner.

    -World Resources Institute: Our mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth's env...

  • A simple intersection



    This rug, made from used blankets, was designed by a Dutch design duo, Tejo Remy and Rene VeenHuizen. I feel that it is an extremely successful product in addressing the issue of finding alternate ways to deal with the waste that each individual contributes to, and also of making people aware of the fact that there is a huge need to be conscious of how one’s habits and actions impact the environment. Not only is the rug extremely beautiful, but it also recycles the used blankets very efficiently. Although not very large, a lot of pieces of the blanket are needed to make the rug; the blankets have been cut and folded into very thin strips that have then been compactly sewn together.

My Interests

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