Graduate thesis

The Design of Discomfort

Graduate thesis study

AIGA Fresh Grad 2018 nomination
SCAD Secession finalist 2018

Thesis statement
The design of discomfort: how unpredictability plays a vital role in the creation of innovation



To prove that discomfort caused by unpredictability can make people more creative.


Design students who are used to the steady schedule of classes should break out of their comfort zones to realise how it affects their ability to be innovative.


Primary research
Written thesis
Workshops + presentations
Participant interviews
Visual thesis spatial design


Secondary research

Art and design movements have used discomfort as a catalyst in visual communication. Patterns were found in famous artwork from the 20th century to understand how and why discomfort was used.


The Uncomfortable workshop

Findings from my primary research led me to conduct the uncomfortable workshop, where I divided 20 students of design and put them through uncomfortable scenarios to measure levels of creativity. 


Primary research

Physical surveys and digital questionnaires were conducted, affinitized and analyzed to see what graphic designers thought about their own design process and what made them uncomfortable.


Thesis Grad Salon

As one of four graduate students selected from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to present their thesis in front of faculty and students from different departments, I created an interactive presentation, where I used the audience's responses as primary research for the next part of my thesis.



Social media invitations were sent out a week before the 3 day visual thesis to prime participants. The halls of the department, leading up to Room 111 (where my thesis would take eventually take place) displayed instructions to attend, using only neon green Post-it notes.

Instagram invite.gif

Visual thesis space


Room 111 was redesigned and filled with brown paper, bubble wrap, neon green Post-its and cardboard boxes with 'tools for innovation'. The entire room was filled with different smells and uncomfortable sounds for 3 days. It was divided into 3 activity spaces:


Activity 1: Take a blank Post-it and represent your name on it using the tools for innovation
These tools were random everyday objects that you wouldn't usually use as a mark-making instrument.


Activity 2: Take a photo of your Post-it in front of the laptop screen.
A webpage was coded so that images automatically loaded into the word creates.


Activity 3: Stick your post-it on the brown wall with other people's creations
Images of each Post-it were added to an instagram database.


Based on observations and participant interviews, the takeaway from the visual thesis was: