Carla Diana is a hybrid designer keenly focused on realizing new visions for smart objects and the Internet of Things. In addition to her industry experience at some of the world’s top design firms such as Smart Design and frog design, Carla maintains strategic alliances with a number of academic research groups. She is a member of the Georgia Tech Socially Intelligent Machines Lab, and a faculty member at SVA and in the University of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Product Design Program where she developed the first course on Smart Objects. She is Advisor for the group Tomorrow-Lab, a young design firm that creates electro-mechanical solutions for smart devices and continues work as a Fellow at Smart Design, where she oversees the Smart Interaction Lab. Her recent article, “Talking, Walking Objects”, appeared on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Review in January 2013, and is a good representation of her view of our robotic future. She has just completed a children’s book for Maker Media about the future of 3D printing and design entitled LEO the Maker Prince.
On the show, Carla Diana discussed her role in a new product design course at UPenn, focusing upon the design of new products for play and learning for small children. She also offered significant insight into how designers think about gender and design together. When a designer identifies a small demographic that is underserved, the designer ought to think about how to serve that specific group, and oftentimes, serving that group results in a product that is applicable to a broader population and is successful. She calls this approach “universal design.”