allison.kissell@ac4d.com

Student

Allison Kissell

Allison abruptly switched majors in undergrad from business to poetry after reading a Pablo Neruda poem, Modestamente, in the aisles of Louise Erdrich’s bookstore in Minneapolis. “The juice of a lemon with the arrival of the peaceful fish.” Several years later she would study massage therapy after a section in Douglas Coupland’s book, Microserfs. The female character relates the language and memory storage of computers to the stored language and memory within our bodies and how the character uses shiatsu to explore and understand that. Massage therapy became a way, then, for Allison to locate (and dislocate) trauma and language and memory within her own body.

The challenge to find meaning and create positive change led to a break from a long career in the service industry. A need arose for unstructured time to think about investment and identity, balance and self valuation, but ultimately where to align her values with her work ethic and interests. The Austin Center for Design program is an exciting opportunity to merge the creative, analytical and problem-solving aspects that were most enjoyable in her various leadership roles. Allison is eager for the new landscape of interaction design and the opportunity the program will afford to formalize her interests in consumer behavior, building culture within companies, and crafting long-game solutions in addressing social needs.

Recent blog posts

Bringing Design Ideas to Life: Vouch and the Good Folks Club

This is the fourth installment of our team’s (Allison, Laura, Michelle) project for our Studio and Ideation class. This project builds on the research we did with gig economy workers last Fall, which you can read about here and here. This week we put our entrepreneur hats on to create pitch decks and landing pages.…

Lending, Goal-achieving, and Volunteering: Feedback from 3 Early Design Ideas

This is the third installment of our team’s (Allison, Laura, Michelle) project for our Studio and Ideation class. This project builds on the research we did with gig economy workers last Fall. While only one of the ideas listed below directly affects gig economy workers, all ideas were developed directly from our research, which you…

The Laziness of Hubris

It’s pretty arrogant to use the word hubris in the first place, no? Has a sort of smug feeling about it. Which is what I want to talk about. Last week I fell in love with the idea of developing features to support a fail forward mentality – normalizing failure while also embracing failure as…

At first blush – exploring a new design challenge with Under Armour

Fitness apparel company, Under Armour, has been making headway into diversifying its portfolio to include software connected apparel, like the bluetooth connected HOVR Phantom and Sonic series. The running shoes connect to MapMyRun helping users track and analyze their metrics while making it easier to run out the door sans phone, watch or wallet. UA began a shift…

An Ethical Framework: Explained

I wanted to create a framework that would do three things: Respect my process as a person who needs time to internalize, think, evaluate, step back, process. Balance my predisposition for navel gazing by creating toggles between zoom in and zoom out – so I can better evaluate and understand the contexts and conditions for…

What we talk about when we talk about ethics

Look no further from the morning briefing roll calls under the header TECH, and you’ll find articles on how oil data is the new tech gold rush; how China is using facial recognition technology to monitor and persecute it’s Uighur citizens, a religious minority; how automation threatens to widen the poverty gap. Ethics feels like a big…

An Ethical Framework – For the Deconstructionist in You.

Q2 has quickly put into relief that make faster can be at the expense of think deeply. Or it can certainly feel that way. It’s pushing me to make and think and make and think faster than I feel capable of. In the last two weeks, our conversation and readings in Design Ethics have revolved…

Part Three: Themes Among Gig Economy Workers

This is part three in a series about our research in partnership with JUST, an Austin-based nonprofit that seeks to build resilient communities through financial inclusion. For Part Two:  Researching The New American Dream with the Gig Economy go here. Our Focus We’ve continued to refine our focus to understand how the resiliency and values…

Designing for Value Systems – Part II

In Part I, I spoke about the conversation and activities I facilitated around making value assumptions of our partner organization, JUST, and the clients they serve. Wanting to plumb this a little further, I’m speaking tonight about trust. JUST lends, not on credit score or collateral, but on trust. Tonight, however, I’m doing a 5…

Designing for Value Systems: Part I

Last week I led a 30 minute, focused conversation connecting the readings on dark patterns in UI with the mission statement and value promise of JUST – our partnered client in this years Capstone projects. The goal was to make assumptive leaps around what other values we could tease out of the organizations message – values…

Resonance in Storytelling.

I was deeply moved, some years back, when I saw this video. I think of it quite frequently and the central question the artist asks – who does sound belong to? As I’ve been reflecting on what makes for effective storytelling the word that immediately comes to mind is resonance. When we want to develop connections…

The Problem with Problem Solving.

I once went to a writers conference where Salman Rushdie talked about “the danger of the metaphor” and it’s the only thing I took from that experience. The danger, he was saying, is that a metaphor creates permanence in the association of things to ideas.  I was vaguely thinking about this when I was trying to…

Beyond the Horse

A cup of coffee (content which is both functional and social) doesn’t exist without the activity of a global system of persons (context as activity continually reproduced through interpretation and reinterpretation, individually or collectively). In the case of coffee that global system involves people planting, growing, harvesting, processing, auctioning, exporting, shipping, importing, transporting, roasting and…

Losing the Battle for Brevity.

For the last several weeks we have been reading the work of designers and theorists – Maurizio Vitta, Neil Postman, Victor Papanek, John Dewey and Edward Bernays. The goal of which is to think critically about the merits and role of design in society, and to consider the ethics & responsibility we have to the…

Work in Progress or Progress through Work.

I kept hearing the word ‘intense’ as I met with former alum and looked into the program. Trying to wrap my head around what to expect I asked, what does intense mean?? How does it look? How will it manifest? How can I prepare to manage intensity? There are certain knowable factors that I could…

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