I had a really interesting day today as a guest critic at Art Center’s graduate Media Design Program 2011 thesis review. It was a collection of projects divided into three categories: mediated experiences, exploratory futures, and critical accounts. I’m always fascinated by graduate design projects and the idea of design research. It can be a challenge sometimes, to see the application of the work, but the questions that are raised, and the discussions that happen, are a great way to re-think what we sometimes do in the “real world.”

All the projects were fantastic explorations — and if I had the energy I’d comment on them all. But one of my favorites was Yuin Chien’s “Hijackers.” The project was a collection of pieces… “a radical response to patterns of interface design that predict user behavior. These mash-ups of hacked web technology and quirky human expressions illuminate our complicity in the digital status quo.”

“The Search Operators” is the sloppy twin of Google search. “Pixel Monster” lets us rid web pages of image spam. And the “Anti-Like Magnet” rids your Facebook page of Like buttons.

Each piece was a nice mix of interesting concept, html trickery and humor. Plus, even better, she made the work public as she was developing it — so she was able to get real usage data, feedback, and insights for future work. (As an example, her site gives statistics on who used the Facebook Anti-Like magnet.)

Check out Yuin’s portfolio website and blog.