Melika Alipour leili is a creative strategist, a designer, a performer, and a trouble maker who uses design insight in different capacities to impact society. Her main focus is on social innovation in relation to technology and its implications. She inherited storytelling as she grew up in the post-revolution Tehran, a city of conflicting narratives, and uses it in her process to study and reframe problems. Later in life, she moved to the US to attend leading design schools and thrive as a designer. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a BA in product and industrial design, and from Parsons School of Design with an MFA in transdisciplinary design. Her professional experience spans from working with pioneering technology companies such as Samsung Research America to collaborating with social/governmental innovation initiatives.
In the face of environmental crisis, the fields of sustainable and human-centered design have lacked a holistic perception of the planet and its actors, and have thus failed to reimagine their scope at the scale demanded by the challenges at hand. If this is the result of a cognitive failure, how might we design new thinking? Particularly in the face of rising climate chaos, design can play a role in shaping new perceptions of the nonhuman in order to promote other ways of being. We seek to explore new perspectives to reframe knowledge and transform understanding. Considering our sense of separation from nature, we are exploring how common languages can bridge our distances. Design has the potential to serve the different communicative utility for translating nonhuman perspectives. In changing our perception, how might we redesign our relation with the world to address the roots of our misbehavior?
What's the role of design to challenge the human-nature dichotomy, toward an ecocentric future?
MiddleTable is a transdisciplinary rethink-tank that stages actions to challenge the human-nature dichotomy, toward an ecocentric future. For us that means de-centering of the human and a deeper consideration for the nonhuman Through Tactical Media, Critical Frameworks, and Collaborative Workshops, we aim to articulate ways designers might intervene to rethink our relationship with Nonhumans.
Recognition: 12th International Design and Design History Symposium (Presented),
The River Speaks: nonhuman in the classroom
How might ecocentric design intervene education? What if we could communicate with river?
Developed by Middle Table, The River Speaks is a speculative curriculum for high schoolers, focused on a speculative future where rivers have recognized agency.
Recognition: William Randolph Hearst Scholarship for Parsons’ socially responsible art/design projects of the year, 2017 (Winner), Core77 design award 2018,
Iron A Design Award 2019
What if governance becomes driverless?
Driverless Governance is an ongoing project with the aim of stimulating discussions about the social, cultural, behavioral consequences of emerging possible data-driven governance for absolute equality.
Recognitions: Design for Next conference(presented),
Creative Application Magazine (Featured)
What if every New Yorker becomes a lifesaving hero?
Dear Neighbor aims to prepare New York residents for psychological impacts of disasters and motivates them to learn about a possible future by creating a series of speculative roles.
Role: Product Designer, Design Researcher
How might anthropomorphized objects change our relationship with non-humans?
In this project, we studied how might human relationship with anthropomorphized object shape. A cultural probe methodology was used to prototype three hypotheses about behavioral changes that might happen
What if the transition to a new citizenship make people more financially powerful?
New American is a collaboration with NYCitizenship program for empowering new American citizens financially. The goal of the services is to help individuals who are eligible to apply for citizenship to get more information about services available by NYCitizenship program and get the chance to collect more information about banking systems in the US.
Role: Design strategist, Illustrator