UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Stephanie Szemetylo is a design researcher and industrial designer passionate about investigating humanity-centered dilemmas and working at the intersection of design and sustainability. After design internships in jewelry, watches, and surgical devices, she struck a balance between aesthetic sensitivity and meaningful problem solving at Kohler Co. There, she designed the initial prototypes for Real Rain, an overhead shower panel that delivers a luxurious yet water efficient natural rainfall experience. This new-to-world, brand-building product was issued numerous patents and earned three international design awards. Continuing as a full time designer at Kohler, Stephanie worked on a range of kitchen and bathroom projects, design research inquiries, and sustainability efforts. Her most rewarding contributions were designing prototypes for safe sanitation for the Indian market with funding from the Gates Foundation and facilitating workshops with the company’s Design for Environment team to identify opportunities to reduce the impact of products in development using a lifecycle framework. As a Stamps MDes student, Stephanie’s thesis research explores how design can encourage plant-based dining in restaurant settings as a climate change mitigation measure. After graduation, she hopes to continue this work and find new opportunities to develop environmentally responsible products, services, and systems.
IF THERE WERE NO BARRIERS AND CONSTRAINTS, WHAT PROJECT WOULD YOU WANT TO WORK ON?
I believe it is Charles and Ray Eames who said “Design depends largely on constraints.” But, if I remove my personal constraints, I would extend my thesis research and collaborate with area restaurants to develop more sustainable practices, whether that’s around food choices, sourcing local ingredients, or packaging waste.
WHO IS SOMEONE YOU LOOK UP TO IN YOUR FIELD?
I appreciate Liz Sanders, the design research scholar. She has contributed so many tools and methods that integrate the voices of non-designers to the design field and has inspired my approach to research and design.