The Summer 2016 installation of studio news is below:

Volume 4: Summer 2016: Robots, smart objects, and the studio’s newest addition Is this email not displaying correctly?
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Notes from a creative studio and near future laboratory

Welcome to the fourth installment of Studio Notes from Carla Diana. I post updates on our projects, writing and speaking events a couple of times a year, but if you’d rather not receive emails, there’s a handy unsubscribe link at the bottom of this message.

Since the last update, the studio has enjoyed its newest addition: Massimo! Here he is enjoying the view at the Maritime hotel. He’ll be ready to build robots in no time.

Smart Objects and the Internet of Things

Our studio’s obsession with smart objects and the Internet of Things has continued this year. The Contemporary Product Design: Smart Objects course at the University of Pennsylvania is going strong, and enjoying the wisdom of the UX team at Comcast. This year’s projects included an AR display for autonomous vehicles, a wearable for music concert crowds, internet connected plants to nurture long distance relationships, a memory geocaching device, and more. Pictured above is a brain wave reader by Erin Yi Yang and Jieming Jing that can be used to decode dream patterns through visualizations.

I’m also continuing to collaborate with the brilliant minds at UPenn’s xLab to explore content-coupled devices such as a connected yoga mat, and a children’s construction toy platform.

In the meantime, Internet of Things Guru Stacey Higgenbotham invited me to be a guest host for Episode 45 of the Iot Podcast: “A Playground for IoT and How to Buy a Data Pan for Your Device“, February 11, 2016.

And I’m quoted in Stacey’s piece for Fortune, “Robots and Voice Interfaces Making the Smart Home Chaotic”, February 26, 2016

Here’s my interview about our robotic future by Lars Baek for the Norwegian consulting firm BEKK.


Once again I have the honor of working with Andrea Thomaz’s Socially Intelligent Machines Lab, which I worked with on the Simon project. I’m developing the shell and overall aesthetics for a social robot that can learn new tasks in her lab the the University of Texas, Austin.

Robopsych, the fascinating podcast hosted by Tom Guarriello features my interview in episode 4 as well as many others, raising interesting questions about robots and the human psyche.

The Guardian’s invited us to be part of Designing the Future: Tech Weekly Podcast on September 10, 2015

The Guardianalso  featured our visions of autonomous robot vehicles as part of  their series entitled, “Industrial Designers Predict the Future of Transportation”, December 8, 2015


“Double Vision: The challenge of creating a world for both humans and robots” : Hot off the presses is my latest essay for Qualcomm Spark which discusses the cultural effects of AI in our everyday lives when we have to accommodate a robot-readable world.

“How Today’s Prototyping Tools Enable a Holistic Design Approach” is part of the latest edition of The Education of a Graphic Designer by Steven Heller, published by Allworth Press, October 20, 2015.

I was honored to contribute to the Object Lessons series in the The Philadelphia Museum of Art COLLAB Journal 2015-16 with my memories of the Bouloum Lounge chair. from Cooper Union’s student lounge.

I lent my two cents to a fun piece for Dezeen Magazine entitled, “Back to the Future ‘brought the future closer’ ”, October 21, 2015.


I also had the honor of contributing cover blurbs to two new fascinating books on emerging technologies:

Designing for Touch, Josh Clark’s excellent guide for helping interaction designers understand the physical context of interactions.

Designing for Emerging Technologies: UX for Genomics, Robotics and the Internet of Things, Jonathan Follett’s wide-ranging exploration of recent groundbreaking technologies.

Speaking gigs

This year’s speaking gigs have taken us all over the US, and across the pond to Brighton and London. Here is a sampling:
TEDYouth 2015 Made In The Future

Reasons to Be Creative 2015, Brighton, U.K.
“Exploring the Near Future Through Hacking and Making”, September 7, 2015

dConstruct 2015, Brighton, U.K.
“Designing the Future Through Tangible Storytelling”, September 11, 2015

Berkeley University Jacobs Design Conversations
“Robotics In Our Everyday Lives: A Product Designer’s Perspective”, January 29, 2016

California State University Long Beach Duncan Anderson Lecture Series
Duncan Anderson Design Lecture Series, “Robotics in Our Everyday Lives: A Product Designer’s Perspective”, May 5, 2016

RISD and Brown Human Centered Robotics Initiative
“Design Futuring”, March 9, 2016

University of Delaware Margaret P. Allen Endowed Lectureship Fund
“Designing for the Future”, April 26, 2016


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The Spring 2015 installation of studio news is below:


Volume 3: Spring 2015: Workshops, essays, kids’ events, and wearables! Is this email not displaying correctly?
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In the Studio: Wearables, Cooper Hewitt museum events, and robot talks

Welcome to the third installment of Studio News from Carla Diana Design. The last few months have been a fun adventure of robot talks, design and technology essays, and some great collaborative projects with clients and labs. The studio had the honor of being part of inaugural events at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum through our involvement with Smart Design and the Beautiful Users Show. We also worked with the folks at ZINC on a groundbreaking wearable device to help track pregnancy.

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Bloom Wearable Pregnancy Tracker

Image credit: ZINC

The Bloom wearable system gives expecting mothers a view into fetal and maternal activity in the womb.

I was part the design team at ZINC that created the overall vision and initial prototypes for the wearable device and interface. The resulting design was a comfortable and elegant physical wearable along with a understandable app for exposing data in a straightforward, meaningful and approachable way.

Neato Cooper Hewitt Exhibit

At Smart Design I was the interaction lead for the design of a floor cleaning robot for Neato robotics, a client that understood the importance of building an emotional connection between people and products. With many groundbreaking features that would be new to consumers, we focused on how it could best communicate what the product was doing in human terms through an expressive language of sound, light and movement.

We built several prototypes of the interface to fine tune the light behaviors and interaction and our design process was featured in the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s 2014 Beautiful Users Exhibition, curated by Ellen Lupton.

The Bar Beacon at PLAY Den

The Bar Beacon is an original creation that’s part notification service and part spectacle. Installed as a jewel atop the main bar fixture at the Den at PLAY (part of the Museum of Sex in NYC) it sends servers a hidden message when plates and drinks are ready, while customers see a playful display of animated naughty icons. For more information about creative direction for the larger space visit

Workshops and Teaching: Robots, Smart Objects & IoT

Design Kids Workshops at the Cooper Hewitt Museum

We were honored to work with the Cooper Hewitt to develop an original robot building workshop for kids aged 5-12, which ran 4 times in April.  After a brief presentation about sensors and actuators like those found the Neato Robovac, we helped kids construct thier own crawling mechanical creatures using a battery, motor and simple DIY sensor.

Smart Objects at UPenn

This was the third consecutive year of running the immersive Contemporary Product Design: Smart Objects (IPD528) course at the University of Pennsylvania, as part of the Integrated Product Design Program and the projects keep getting better and better. This year teams created a range of prototypes from music controllers to household message systems and SCUBA communication devices. Pictured above is the Pyluglö Smart Pillow by student team Adriana Vazquez, Chaoran Yu, Tong Zhang, and Kai Evenson.

In addition, we launched and created a new course called Smart Objects for Play and Learning (IPD521), which focused on design methods for robotic and electronic toys.

Smart Objects at Veritas

This year was an extra special one and we were invited to Universidad Veritas in Costa Rica to run an intensive version of the Smart Objects course as part of the International Masters Degree in Interaction Design. In a product design version of Project Runway, the students stayed up late and pulled out all the stops to create some remarkable experience prototypes and presentations in a very short time frame. Pictured above is the FRED robotic Friendly Response Educational Device by student team Andrés Villalobos and Manfred Bucher.

Travel and presentations

2015 continued to be an amazing year for meeting wonderful designers, makers, and technologists through talks at great events. Here are a few highlights:

Cooper Hewitt Robot Invasion

I gave a talk and the took part in the panel “Robot Invasion: Are Smart Products Running Your Life” alongside Georgia Tech’s Ayanna Howard and Johns Hopkins’ Matthew Johannes. The panel was part of programming associated with the Beautiful Users exhibition.

Creative Mornings

In May we were honored to be featured in the popular Creative Mornings lecture series with a talk about “Embracing a Robotic Future”.

MICA Graduate Design Program

In April we traveled to Baltimore, MD to give a presentation at the Maryland Institute College of Art on “Exploring the Future through Making, Technology and Creativity”. We enjoyed the stunning campus buildings and a glimpse at this year’s Graduate Show.

IWD 2015 Techmakers at Google

We always love a chance to visit the groovy Google campus in Chelsea, and this time got to be part of the Google Developer Group’s International Women’s Day celebratory lecture series.

Drexel Digital Media

We gave an image-packed presentation on “Designing Friendly Robots” for the Digital Media program at Drexel University.

NY Times Art Department

This spring we also visited old friends at the New York Times to share our latest glimpse at the near future with a focus on how 3D printing will change design, business and communities.

Happy 10th Birthday, Maker Faire!

While we couldn’t make it out to the Bay Area this May to celebrate Maker Faire’s big anniversary, we loved being able to participate in this extra special Maker’s celebration video.

Thanks and a summer hiatus!
Thanks for letting me share my studio news with you. For more frequent news, follow me on Twitter as @carladiana_

The studio will be on hiatus for part of the summer as we add a new baby to the mix. And we’ll be back before you know it with more toys, robots and projects to share!

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Writing: Robot evolution from the lab to the living room

What’s the future of robots in our everyday lives? Why do scientists, artists and engineers feel the drive to make machines that look and act like us? How does humanoid robot research trickle down to product design that we can use and embrace?

These are some of the questions explored in this essay entitled, “Robot evolution from the lab to the living room”.

Read the full article on the Qualcomm Spark site.

Writing: Embracing the Wild World of Wearables

A look at what’s ahead for design when the worlds of technology, fashion and wellness collide.

How can we as designers look beyond the wrist to explore unconventional materials and new contexts while still respecting the importance of history and cultural expectations?

Read the full article at Core77.


The Fall 2014 installation of studio news is below:



Volume 2: Fall 2014: LEO makes a splash, Curi is PopSci’s robot cover girl, and travel galore (Hello, India!).



In the Studio: LEO makes a splash, Curi is PopSci’s robot cover girl, and travel galore (Hello, India!)


Welcome to the second installment of Studio News from Carla Diana Design. It’s been an amazing year of travel, design work, robots, and 3D printing! This update comes just in time to showcase the November issue of Popular Science, which features none other than Curi the Robot, our latest collaboration with the Georgia Tech Socially Intelligent Machines Lab. The studio handled aesthetics and shell design. According to Dr. Andrea Thomas, the project’s lead and head of the SIM lab, robot Simon might be “just a little jealous” of his cousin’s glittering moment in the limelight.

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LEO makes a 3D printed splash!

Since LEO the Maker Prince: Journeys in 3D Printing came out last winter, our favorite robot friend has made his way all over the world. We’re having so much fun seeing all the prints people have made from the book and hearing stories from readers about how much they love learning about 3D printing with LEO!Here’s what the press has to say:

Wired, Fast Company, Core77, The Telegraph’s 12 best gadgets of CES2014

And a litte bit of behind the scenes fun:

MAKE blog post: Sheep Shape: Designing a Divine Ovine

MAKE blog post: Building a Better Robot

O’Reilly Webcast: Behind the Scenes with LEO the Maker Prince

And since the holidays are around the corner you can order LEO the Maker Prince on

Exploring Smart Objects & IoT

It’s been a big year for smart objects and the Internet of Things. In these short online films you can see me speaking about the poetry of interaction design in the era of connected devices:

Connecting: Makers

The Verge & Intel The Future is Now Series

I have also taken on a larger role in UPenn’s IPD program, having created both the Smart Objects and the newly launched Smart Objects for Play and Learning courses. And stay tuned for more news from the xLAB, UPenn’s multi-disciplinary, IoT-focused Experience Design and Technology Lab!


March was a good month for writing with contributions to the Atlantic‘s “Object Lessons” series with a piece called “The Dream of Intelligent Robot Friends” as well as a short piece in the 100th Issue of Design for All, edited by Val Casey.

Travel and conferences!

2014 was a whirlwind of traveling around the world and meeting wonderful designers, makers, and just generally nice people. Here are a few highlights:

TEDxBangaloreINDIA! The theme was “Challenge_____” and I gave a talk to challenge education through Technology, Making and Storytelling. It was amazing to learn so much about Indian culture through the other speakers and meet so many incredible inspired young entrepreneurs, technologists and designers.

It’s not India, but it’s still a long way from NYC. Through my keynote at Create West Virginia 2014 in gorgeous Glenville, WV I was part of the fascinating dialog around how the creative application of new economies can change communities both locally and globally. I spoke about “Exploring Emergent Technologies to Inspire New Futures”.

Forth Worth Museum of Science and History Celebrity Lecture Series
Science museums are awesome, and this one is no exception. In March I gave a talk about “How Our Robots Will Charm Us (And Why We Want Them To)” and was super flattered to join the ranks of other speakers who included David Pogue and Mark Frauenfelder.

UC Berkeley Robots and New Media
An entire day of nothing but robot talk. Artists, philosophers, legal experts, neuroscientists and others joined forces to explore what’s in store for our robotic future.

2014 Core77 Conference: Object Culture
Designer heaven! I was honored to be on the roster for Core77’s inaugural conference which took place in Brooklyn this past summer. We connected with the Core77 community through our talk on “Bringing Meaning to Objects Through Storytelling”.

MakerCon and Maker Faire 2014 (NYC and Bay Area)
The studio was part of not one, but TWO Maker Faires. Woohoo! Talks in New York and San Francisco gave people a glimpse behind the scenes of LEO the Maker Prince. At MakerCon we talked about smart objects and the Internet of Things.

UX London 2014
In addition to our talk on Making Meaningful Design in the Internet of Things we had a blast representing Smart Design and running a hands on workshop on sketching physical interactions with electronic prototyping.

Design Philadelphia: the xLAB on “Designing the Internet of Things”

“Digital Life: WIM Meet the Innovators” at the Apple Store

G.E. Design Conference 2014

3D Printing Meetup

That’s all for now. Thanks for letting me share my studio news with you. For more frequent news, follow me on Twitter as @carladiana_

If you’d like to tweet, post, or otherwise pass this message on yourself, you can use one of the links below:

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Who says ice cream isn’t an interface?

What’s a LICKESTRA? An installation created in collaboration with Emilie Baltz as part of a residency at the SVA Visible Futures Lab. As a mashup of both our passions, it’s ice cream that triggers sensors to make music when it’s licked. Fun! And delicious! During performance volunteers had the pleasure of doing the licking. Music was composed by Arone Dyer of Buke&Gase. Deliciousness was provided by Big Gay Ice Cream.

The LICKESTRA has appeared at:SVA Visible Futures Lab, Specials at C, Discovery Channel Canada Daily Planet show

And the press loves it!

WiredPSFKFast Company Co. DesignCore77Edible GeographyMOLD, and more!

Check out the

video from MOLD

The Bar Beacon at MoSex

The Bar Beacon is live! Part notification service and part spectacle, the beacon sends servers a hidden message when plates and drinks are ready. Customers see a playful display of animated naughty icons. See it at Play, the cafe/den/bar at the Museum of Sex developed under the creative direction of Emilie Baltz.




Carla is a featured interviewee in the online documentary, “Connecting: Makers”

Carla is featured as one of 10 profiles in “The Future is Now” Series on the Verge


The Summer 2013 installation of studio news is below:

Volume 1: Summer 2013: Robot relatives, naughty icons and cheesy teasers.


Notes from a creative studio and near future laboratory


Welcome to the first installment of Studio Notes from Carla Diana. I plan to post updates on my projects, writing and speaking events about once a quarter. You’re a part of this list because you’re a friend, colleague or client, or opted in to the list, but if you’d rather not receive emails, please feel free to unsubscribe.

Two big pieces of news: The studio has moved into the 136 W. 21 Street building and are housed within the new sprawling Products of Design space. And we have been joined by Alexa Forney, our first design apprentice. She is in the midst of her co-op with Drexel University and is actively working on research, product design and, of course, robots!

Smart Objects and the Internet of Things

It’s been an exciting few months to be diving in to Smart Objects with a focus on the Internet of Things. In my work with the Smart Interaction Lab, we’ve been tinkering with lots of new prototyping tools such as Wifi Arduino shields, the Electric Imp, NinjaBlocks, and Twine to explore how objects can talk with each other via the cloud. We’re also playing with all kinds of sensors. The image above shows a lab prototype in progress that will become the “stressbot” a device that reads your heart activity and offers exercises to reduce stress.

In the meantime, I created two new courses on the topic of Smart Objects that were launched this year at SVA and UPenn, along with day-long workshops held at Georgia Tech’s Industrial Design Program and at SVA for the Korean Design Membership.


I’ve been thrilled to continue ongoing research with Georgia Tech’s Socially Intelligent Machines Lab, whom I worked with on the Simon project. I’m developing the shell and overall aesthetics for a new robot, who has been temporarily named “Simon’s Cousin” until the competition to crowdsource his new name is complete. The image above is from a rapid prototyping workshop held with Dr. Thomaz and her PhD students this past spring to brainstorm ways that the torso can be free to move up and down yet still feel connected to the base.


My piece “Our Talking, Walking Objects” appeared on the cover of the Sunday Review this January. It discusses inspiration from the Simon robot design project and how our future will be filled with subtle but enchanting moments from everyday objects that communicate through sound, light and motion. The cover photo by Daniel Borris for the New York Times was one of Simon’s best poses ever. You can read it online here.

Along with the written article, the Times featured a slideshow with my voiceover accompaniment and illustrations by Katie Turner. Warning: contains ridiculous robot voices.

Speaking gigs and schmoozing

The last few months have been quite the schmoozefest! Thank you to all the folks who attended my talks at various cities and events.

Brilliant Brunch

The schmooziest moment was having waffles and bloody marys at SXSW with Makerbot founder Bre Pettis, Tumblr founder David Karp, OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash, and Vimeo Founder Jake Lodwick. The event called “Brilliant Brunch” framed a conversation around technology and creativity and was put together by G.E.’s GMO Beth Comstock and moderated by the geeky and charming Baratunde Thurston. You can check out the videos on G.E.’s Vimeo channel.

Making Meaning in an Internet of Things

I’ve also enjoyed representing Smart Design at the IxD13 conference, Webvisions Portland 2013 and local IxD13 Big Apple Redux event with my talk on “Making Meaning in an Internet of Things”.

Future Interfaces

At other events over the past few months, I was a panelist on the topic of Future Interfaces at NYC Media Lab and AIGA/NY@Parsons, and on Design and DIY at Maker Faire, New York. I also had the pleasure of being a respondent for the Parsons Design & Technology thesis review.

Last fall, my travels took me to the University of Barcelona and the fabulous Fabrica Research Center in Treviso, Italy, where I spoke on “Bringing Objects to Life Through Form, Code and Electronics”.


That’s all for now. Thanks for letting me share my studio news with you. For more frequent news, follow me on Twitter as @carladiana_

New book project

The studio’s main focus over the next few months is a technology focused book aimed at kids. We can’t mention too much about it just yet, (That would spoil the surprise, right?) but stay tuned for news and details soon.

Let’s just say that it involves a collaboration with Cornell University’s Creative Machines Lab and robotic cheese sculptures.

New client: MoSex

One of the more fun clients the studio has had was the Museum of Sex. This summer we completed an installation for the museum’s new bar, which has been developed under the creative direction of Emilie Baltz. Our piece is the intersection of LED matrix and naughty icons, and that’s as much as we’ll tease you with for the moment. If you want to know more, you’ll be able to view it over a cocktail and small plate  when it has its grand opening this fall.