ID Studio 4: Design for Health INDS-3004 Exhibit

Friday, December 7, 2018 - 12:00pm to Friday, December 21, 2018 - 12:00pm

The course is ID Studio 4: Design for Health INDS 3004.

The problem as identified in the project brief was: 

Mental Health supports come in a variety of responses, one of which is Service Animals. Policy and legislation around these animals is vague and confusing in Ontario. Because of this people who rely on Service Animals for PTSD, anxiety, autism and other (often invisible) health conditions are often refused entry with their Service Animals to transit/travel providers, retail locations and restaurants etc. To further the problem, some people see the gap in legislation to 'fake' Service Animals needs by buying vests and cards online, and provide these as their proof of need.

The students were tasked to investigate the ecosystem around Service Animals as related to mental health, and to provide both service and product responses.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul, 5th & 6th Floor Exhibit spaces
Digital Screen: 

Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution

ultra-brief first aid training for overdose call 911
Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 8:30am to 11:30am

The OCAD U community is invited to participate in the SOONER research project. Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND) programs involve training people who may be bystanders at an opioid overdose to recognize and respond to opioid-related emergencies.

The goal of the SOONER project is to bring OEND training into clinical care settings such as emergency departments, family practices, opioid substitution clinics and inpatient settings.

Scientists working with design experts and community members have created a prototype OEND toolkit that trains patients with a new naloxone delivery device which will soon be tested using a randomized trial.

We are inviting passersby to undergo brief training, and then test what they have learned on a mannequin simulating a state of overdose, and ask for their feedback.

The training and testing will take approximately 30 minutes. Anyone choosing to participate may also choose to end their participation at any time.

You can also sign up to secure your spot by completing this doodle.

If you have any questions, please contact Associate Professor Kate Sellen at

Venue & Address: 
room 190 at 100 McCaul
$15 gift card compensation

OCAD U exhibitions selected for TODO’s Festival Features

Friday, January 12, 2018

Two exhibitions created by OCAD University faculty and students have been included in the Toronto Design Offsite Festival Features, a juried selection of the ten shows not to be missed.

Hacking Black Futures

Date: January 17 to February 12, 2018
Location: Band Gallery and Cultural Centre
19 Brock Ave., Toronto, ON

This exhibition presents design speculations on Black-centric societies that are devoid of oppression, discrimination, and systemic racism. What do these societies look like? How do they function? How can these futures be achieved? Participants provide opportunities to explore these questions in an immersive and collaborative environment.

Works of design speculation across a variety of mediums are on display, including prototypes, videos, and interactive experiences. Co-curators, Andre Baynes and Chiedza Pasipanodya showcase the intergenerational talents of twenty OCAD University Black-identified designers/makers and partners.

The Hacking Black Futures exhibition aims to directly address the erasure of Black people in speculative design as well as represent the growing ownership of our own future narratives and practices of making.

Designing for Health, Wellness, Action and Destigmatization

Date: January 16 to 21, 2018
Location: OCAD U Great Hall
100 McCaul St., Toronto, ON

This exhibition by the Faculty of Design’s undergraduate and graduate Design for Health and Wellness students includes a ‘how to’ guide’ for pop-up supervised injection sites (SIS) in response to the urgent need to provide safe spaces for those risking overdose, alongside re-imagined Naloxone (opioid overdose antidote) kits for various public locations.

Another group of Design students created solutions for independent learning and play for students with cognitive and physical impairments. A shortlist of the most successful projects will be on display, several of which have been manufactured and donated to a special needs school. Design students gained empathy through observation and benefitted from feedback of the teachers and occupational therapists working with the children.

This research project is supported by St. Clements School and the OCAD U Research and Innovation office.

Festival Features is a shortlist of 10 events, exhibitions, and/or window installations selected by a jury. The criteria for selection is entirely up to each juror, while considering the calibre of the work or event program, and appeal to a general public and specialist audience. This year’s jurors are Anahita Azrahimi (Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition), Nina Boccia (Design Exchange), and Brendan Cormier (Victoria and Albert Museum).

Visit the exhibition listing in the Festival Schedule to learn more about the exhibition.


Graduate Programs Info Nights and Online Webinars

Join a Graduate Program Info Night and/or online webinar this November. They are your opportunity to meet instructors, students and alumni from the program to help you learn more about courses, the learning environment and degree outcomes.

Congratulations to our Masters Graduands!

Graduate students at convocation 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 10:30am

The Office of Graduate Studies congratulates our 2017 Graduands!

We are delighted to celebrate your incredible achievements and the culmination of years of hard work, determination, creation and discoveries. As well, we’d like to thank the friends and family of our students/alumni for their support.

Now that you are representing OCAD U, we hope you keep in touch by joining the Alumni Association. We invite you to visit and participate in future OCAD U events!


The Office of Graduate Studies

OCAD University


This year, the Graduate Studies community at OCAD University is once again fortunate to be able to acknowledge & recognize particular individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievement in their studies through their research and creative practice.

Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories

Cydney Langill Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories Award for Outstanding Writing

Criticism & Curatorial Practice

Justine Hartlieb-Power Criticism and Curatorial Practice Award for Outstanding Thesis ExhibitionValentynaOniskoCriticism and Curatorial Practice Award for Outstanding Exhibition

Digital Futures

Egill Vidarsson Digital Futures Award for Best Thesis Defence Presentation

Fusun Uzun Digital Futures Futures Award for Best Thesis Document and Award for Best Social Innovation

Jordan Shaw Digital Futures Award for Best Exhibited Thesis Work

Ling Ding Digital Futures Award for Best Thesis Defence Presentation

Marcelo Muller Luft Digital Futures Award for Best Social Innovation

Inclusive Design

Chad Lesch Inclusive Design Award of Excellence

Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design

Eli Schwanz Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Media Experimentation and Excellent Execution

Iveta Karpathyova Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Interdisciplinary Excellence

Mariam Magsi Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Achievement in Local and International Artistic Recognition

Thomas Haskell Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design Award for Rigor in Material Investigation

Strategic Foresight and Innovation

AdriennePacini Strategic Foresight and Innovation Award for Best Major Research Paper

Design: The secret sauce

Well recognized are the challenges to our healthcare system. Not so well recognized is the role of design in finding solutions.

Design sits at the intersection of expertise informed by the evidence base, clinician expertise, and the lived experience of patients, family and caregivers. Design uses techniques to uncover unmet needs, workarounds and adaptations that can be refined and scaled. Design also uses techniques to bring stakeholders’ perspectives as well as particular product and clinical requirements together.

Taking a design approach from project inception to adoption while involving all stakeholders in the process has been successful both in Canada and elsewhere.  The experience of the UK National Health Service, for instance, has shown a design approach to developing a best practice care pathway for breast surgery can reduce the length of stay from four days to one day/one night. The pathway has saved the NHS an estimated $15 million (10 million GBP) to date.

Katie Sellen and Lorna Ross
Katie Sellen and Lorna Ross

Design meets health system challenges wherever there is an element of a designed experience, environment, service, product, communication or tool. These include the need to leverage technology to connect health information and enable digital delivery across organizations and individuals, through design of interfaces and interactive experiences that fit the needs of clinicians as well as support patient experience. They include the need to provide tools for clinicians to support what happens at discharge, which can comprise design of communications, visual tools, checklists, and services.  In addition, the management of chronic diseases requires design of supportive tools and devices, and solutions that address access and inclusiveness for an increasingly diverse population. This is where design using the latest techniques for accessibility can include everything from architecture and interior design to graphics and illustration.

Canada has a growing number of design success stories to share, including, among others:

  • Developing a mobile system of breast screening in Manitoba using interior design, product design and service design methods, by CancerCare Manitoba.
  • Designing materials to support cardiovascular event recovery — a collaboration between Toronto’s Pivot Design and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada.
  • Using design methods and industrial design to develop a personal home-based cervical smear test kit and service by Eve Medical that replaces physician office visits.
  • Collaborating to create a first aid kit for overdose response — a combination of design expertise from OCAD University, community partner knowledge and expertise at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

The design process can be validated through engagement with stakeholders, field testing and evidence-based techniques to ensure the final design has undergone multiple iterations and refinement. Designing with end users, including patients, service delivery organizations and frontline healthcare providers, helps ensure that solutions are designed for feasible implementation and effective practice. In this way, design methods and expertise are the secret sauce — combining key ingredients of stakeholder focus, inclusive processes, evidence, and implementation.

OCAD U is the largest art and design university in Canada with focused design engagement in the health sector. Through its recently launched Design for Health Master’s degree program, students develop the design competencies required to tackle the complex issues faced by the Canadian healthcare system and the communication skills needed to work on multidisciplinary teams.

Design provides a different way to view a problem, propose and explore alternatives, and prototype solutions. Meeting the needs of a changing and emerging societal, structural and technological context of health requires design and design expertise.  

Design methods and approaches are poised to make a positive impact on challenges and opportunities in the health sector.

This article is abstracted from a larger manuscript by Dr. Kate Sellen, who is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Design at OCAD U. She leads the Healthcare and Resilient Experience Research Group and is director of the Design for Health Master’s Program. Her PhD is in Human Factors in Industrial Engineering (University of Toronto).


First published in Hospital News in February 2017

By Dr. Kate Sellen, Health Design Studio, OCAD U
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Sonia Tagari, Design for Health Manchee Foundation scholarship recipient

Sonia Tagari is an artist, designer and MDes candidate in OCAD University's new graduate program in Design for Health. She's sparky and articulate, and in 2016 began her career at OCAD University armed with a Manchee Foundation scholarship and duel degrees from the research-heavy University of Michigan in Art & Design and Neuroscience.

In late 2015, the Manchee Foundation donated more than $500,000 in support of Tagari's program, the university's newest graduate offering.The generous gift marks a growing, cross-sector acknowledgement that designers can affect the quality of life and well-being of entire populations through the designs they create, and it comes as the OCAD U embraces game-changing education and research to dramatically improve design practices related to healthcare environments, medical technologies and public health policy and communication. Significantly, it will endow two yearly scholarships in perpetuity.

“In my undergrad,” explains Tagari, “the two degrees I undertook were kept at a distance. But I saw themes emerge in my art practice that were mirrored in my science degree. Design for Health not only exposes me to different ways of thinking and more practical skills, it also allows me to see if a strong link can be forged — connecting art, design and healthcare. I want to act on that link."

In inviting designed solutions to health challenges, the MDes program explores four primary themes — each of which is investigated in studio and via partnered projects: the health context, which develops domain knowledge specific to health, healthcare delivery, communications and technology; research and application, which applies qualitative, co-designed and evidence-based techniques to health challenges; design and innovation, which creates ethical and sustainable solutions; and proficiency and leadership within interdisciplinary collaborations.

"Design for Health provides me with the opportunity to apply art thinking and practice in a way that transcends the personal," says Tagari. "That has benefits beyond myself. It also helps me see differently by expanding the singular approach of the clinician.” The relative simplicity of what she wants — “to be useful” — belies a fierce list of interests that includes lithography, printmaking, illustration, typography, publication design and the human body. Unsurprisingly, she sees huge opportunities in her field for collaboration, and is particularly interested in addressing patient-communication issues in healthcare. “Designers understand the typographical relationship between reader comprehension and negative space," she says, “whereas a scientist might regard as ‘incomplete’ a research poster that incorporates negative space in order to make information more accessible. This actually happened to me during the presentation of a poster I'd created.”

Tagari is the youngest student in her MDes cohort. While she sometimes finds that daunting, she also believes it will further her learning. It’s a very multi-disciplinary group — one that includes architects, web designers, product designers and healthcare practitioners. And as for Manchee scholarship? “I’m completely honoured,” Tagari says. “It really does help.”



'Am I more than a system of cells? Is my body so different than yours?'

Sonia Tagari’s Corporeal (2016) is a multi-media installation that addresses the relationship between a physical and psychosocial identity. It serves as an archive of limited medical data that investigates the level of access one has to personal information and the limitations in knowledge of something so immediate as one’s body. The installation encourages the viewer to investigate the data stored in the cabinet and desk drawers, allowing the audience to search for files, prints and videos in the same way the artist searched for medical information. All records and diagnostic images are sourced from the artist, creating a biological self-portrait. Together, the images explore the intimate and impersonal, familiar and foreign understanding of human physiology. 

Installation components: medical records, diagnostic images, lithographic prints, woodblock prints, CNC cut woodblocks, 3D printed skull + spine, video, lab equipment, found furniture, light boxes.



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Designing for health

Alison Mulvale

OCAD U has launched a brand new grad program – Design for Health. We spoke with one of the first students in the program, Alison Mulvale.


You did your undergrad at OCAD University in Environmental Design and are currently a research coordinator at McMaster University. What’s the focus of your work there?

At McMaster, I use a service-improvement methodology called experience-based co-design to improve the transitions from child and youth mental-health services to adult ones. In collaboration with the developer WeUsThem, we designed and are piloting a cellphone and corresponding web applications called MyExperience that are being used to capture youth, family member and service providers’ experiences with service transitions. We are currently gearing up to hold feedback groups and a co-design event to have these stakeholder  groups collaboratively decide on design rules for enhancing transitions and care coordination.


What attracted you to OCAD U’s MDes in Design for Health program?

I saw the program as both the perfect opportunity to continue to merge my interests in design and health professionally, and because core classes for each term allow students to work in an interdisciplinary fashion. The program’s first term focuses on health and the individual, the second on health and the built environment and the third on health systems design. Having already touched on a few of these design scales both academically and professionally, I was excited by the prospect of not being confined to a specific scale, as well as the opportunity to work with health designers whose backgrounds cross all three.

Why do you think health design is such a growing and important field today?

Health design is becoming increasingly valued because the innovative potential of design has been gaining recognition within business and service sectors. Health care and promotion are such an integral part of people’s day-to-day lives, and we are constantly looking to do better in areas of weakness. While health design initially gained traction in business-oriented private health-care facilities, I think it’s also particularly attractive to public health-care systems that are looking to improve health outcomes, patient safety and overall experience, while maximizing the value for public dollars designated for health care and health promotion.



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Admissions Segment: 

Gift from Manchee Foundation establishes Design for Health Graduate Scholarships

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 2:30pm

The Manchee Foundation has donated more than $500,000 to support OCAD University’s new Design for Health graduate program. The generous gift comes as the university prepares to deliver game-changing education and research to dramatically improve design practices related to health care environments, medical technologies and public health policy and communications.

The donation of $550,000 will allow the new scholarship to be endowed in perpetuity. Each year, starting in the 2016/17 academic year, the two top applicants will receive Manchee scholarships.

“Our family is pleased to support this innovative program with scholarships that will permit the most promising students to further their studies in the field of health care design,” said Jane Manchee. “The Manchee Foundation was created by our parents, Charles P. and D. Jeanne Manchee, to further education in the arts, design and health care fields. We are very proud to support this program with a lasting legacy of their generosity.”

The program will be offered as a full-time, two-year course of study leading to a Master’s of Design (MDes) in Design for Health. It will be structured to appeal to working professionals through a combination of online and integrated seminar and studio formats.

The two-year Master of Design (MDes) program will enroll up to 10 students in the inaugural 2016/2017 academic year, with another 10 students in 2017/2018.

“We are grateful to the Manchee Foundation for this generous gift to graduate students entering the ground-breaking new Design for Health program,” said Dr. Sara Diamond, president and vice-chancellor, OCAD University. “Designers are creative thinkers and problem-solvers who can address the multiple challenges in the health care system from a unique perspective.”

Graduates of the MDes in Design for Health will be well-positioned to play leadership roles in research, health environment design, health product/device development, health media, and communication and technologies — in the private, government and non-profit sectors. Graduates will also be prepared to pursue further study at the PhD level.

The interdisciplinary Design for Health program has four main themes delivered primarily through studio-based learning:

Health context: Develop domain knowledge to public health, health sciences, communication and technology.

Research and application: Identify, design, conduct and apply research methodologies in health-care environments.

Design and innovation: Create new, ethical and sustainable solutions to solve health-sector problems.

Proficiency and leadership within interdisciplinary collaborations: Be embedded in interdisciplinary teams of researchers, health-service providers and designers to develop design solutions and communicate outcomes.