School of Art, Media, and Technology

Interview with MFA DT Student Marisa Glick, Winner of the Nokia Design Challenge!

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Last Thursday, an exciting announcement was made at the climax of Social Media Week, a worldwide symposium held in New York City exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media. Following a juried selection of 15 finalists out of 130 entries from Parsons, Lahti University of Applied Sciences in Finland, and Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London, the Nokia Lumia 820 Design Challenge opened the competition up to a democratic Facebook voting system, which revealed one of our own, Marisa Glick (MFA DT ’13), as the grand prize winner!

Aside from her vivid design, AMT’s extensive social network of students, faculty, alumni and peers (particularly in the Communication Design and Design and Technology communities) undoubtedly played an important role in Marisa Glick’s win. She will be spending the coming summer as a paid intern at Nokia Design in London–and making long distance calls home via her new Nokia Lumia 820, in a shell of her own design!

AMT caught up with Marisa after the exciting awards ceremony (which was preceded by a three-hour limo ride all over Manhattan with the two runners up from Lahti), to find out more about her experience with this competition, as well as her greater academic experience.


AMT: Parsons was about a week behind the other schools in signing onto the competition, and it was announced while students were still just coming back from the winter break. I have to admit, I was worried about our level of participation. Did you enter the competition right away, or were you a last minute participant, and what motivated you to enter?

Marisa Glick: I heard about the competition and attended a meeting. I actually showed up a day too early for the meeting because the email had the wrong day and date initially. I took my older sister with me a day early, haha. I was motivated because I was interesting in designing a shell and getting more involved with product design. It gave me artistic freedom because there were not any constraints. A design is not done until it’s in the hands of the user. 


AMT: Ha, yeah…there were some funny issues with dates and times with this international competition. I think we were on Greenwich Mean Time for a hot second! Anyhow, you’re no stranger to winning competitions. In 2012 you won the Mobli API prize at the TechCrunch NYC Disrupt Hackathon, and at AngelHack New York, you and your team made it to the finals and were sent to the west coast to present to investors. Did you expect to win this one?

MG: No, but I knew I was happy with my design upon submission. I created about 6 other designs that I was not happy with.  

AMT: What was your design concept?

MG: I used photos that I took in Switzerland  (while studying abroad) for the inspiration. I wanted to make a phone shell that would appeal to guys and girls. Originally the design was grey, red, and white, but I decided the colors should be more vibrant to represent the city and appeal to a larger market segment.

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AMT: Your marketing foresight clearly paid off…I mean, paid internship in London?! Three-hour limo ride?!

MG: The limo was fun, it was a white escalade “party bus”. We celebrated with champagne bottles. I brought friends from Parsons- Jennifer Matsumoto and Mag (Margrethe) Harboe. Alex from Nokia, Aiste  and William (the second and third runner up) and their professor from Lahti in Finland were all in the limo.


AMT: How do you hope to make the most of this amazing opportunity of a paid summer internship at Nokia Design in London?

MG: I hope to work with the design team on projects that are sent to the market. I want to be treated as a member of the design team and not let the fact that it’s called an “internship” get in the way. I will be doing real work and making a significant contribution in my three months there.


AMT: I have no doubts! Now, let’s find out more about you. What is the focus of your work within the Design and Technology MFA program?

MG: My thesis involves augmented reality, textile patterns and craftsmanship. I’m exploring how aesthetic and emotional experiences can be created. How we might connect physical, tangible products  to the digital world through augmented reality. With augmented reality, we can encourage consumers to discover hidden information. Users can explore the potential hidden information in the product’s shape, pattern or colors. 

AMT: How have your perceptions about Parsons, yourself and your work changed since you started here?

MG: Parsons takes students from all over the world. At times I feel like a minority in my own country, which is a great thing because it has open my mind to new cultures, styles and ways of working and looking at the world. I greatly appreciate being surrounded by a diverse student body. My peers push me to try harder and work smarter. They blow me away with their talent and make me pinch myself that I’m part of the MFADT program. 

AMT: What stands out for you as a key strength that you’ve developed during your academic career?

MG: Learning how to present and talk about the concepts behind my projects is a strength I’ve developed. My professors are “pushers.” They try and get me to prototype, prototype, prototype….revise, redo and constantly improve upon my last iteration. 

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AMT: What would you say has been your overall favorite course and/or project since you’ve been here?

MG: I’ve really enjoyed the luxury design class that was co-taught with Columbia University. It gave me real life experience working with the CEO and executive team of Hermes. It shaped my thesis tremendously and sprouted my interests in craftsmanship and quality designs. I also did a project with local public schools on educating teens on nutrition, see (that was a rewarding project because I worked with the community)

AMT: How do you think your education has prepared you to be a designer working out in the field?

MG: I think Parson’s and MFADT prepares you for the design world. I feel confident in my abilities to execute and take projects that are in my head to production. Asking for help and input from professors, friends, users is key to success. You can’t be good at everything so knowing when to ask for help is a strength. Being capable of rapid prototyping will get you ahead in the design field.  

AMT: Last question–what piece of wisdom would you like to pass on to an incoming DT student?

MG:  There are so many community events, hackathons and Meetups to take part in. As my thesis professor, Scott Pobiner tells me, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”


AMT: Well put Marisa! Speaking of which, those afore-mentioned hackathons are coming around again. The next TechCrunch NYC Disrupt Hackathon is happening April 27th – May 1st, and students can sign up now to find out when registration opens for AngelHack New York  (happening in May/June). Oh and…in case you need to pimp out your Nokia Lumia 820 to take along with you (oh so suavely bringing this baby back to the competition!), you can have a look at the three winning shells and grab your favorite here.

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