Class of 2021

Veronica Peitong Chen MArch ’21, MDes ’21 Leads Design for New Adobe Firefly Launch

Veronica Peitong Chen MArch ’21, MDes ’21 has taken her innovative design skills to new heights with her work with Adobe. As a trailblazer in the field, she led the design of Adobe Firefly, the most successful beta launch in Adobe’s history. Through her expertise in defining generative AI design patterns and advocating for an equitable approach, Chen bridged the intersection between design and emerging technologies. With Firefly, users generated 3 billion images in 6 months and leveraged generative AI easily across their creative process in other Creative Cloud Suite products. Her work also impacted Harvard’s Generative AI guidance and policy, and Chen’s design approach and commitment to reimagining the creative process continue to make an impact in the industry.

For more about Peitong’s work, visit her Adobe Profile.

Follow Peitong on LinkedIn.

posted January, 2024

David Rosenwasser MDes ’21, Rarify Co-Founder, Featured in Forbes

David Rosenwasser MDes ’21 and Jeremy Bilotti, co-founders of Rarify, have been featured in a Forbes interview examining the story of their company and what is on the horizon.

“Rarify uses the history of design to tell a story, educate our audience about the importance of notable designers, and push toward the future, bringing to light noteworthy manufacturers and designers that aren’t known or recognized to the degree that that they deserve…Furthermore, we’re working to make furniture and design more interesting for a Millennial and Get Z audience too, as we’ve been bored with dull e-commerce sites and unimpressed with resources for design education in a digital way.”- Rosenwasser

Based in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, their business has 40,000 square feet of warehouse and showroom space in a former Bethlehem Steel railroad spike plant, packed floor to ceiling full of classic furniture design icons.

Follow Rarify on Instagram.

posted April, 2023

Inventing Greenland – Designing an Arctic Nation by Bert De Jonghe MDes ’21, DDes ’24 published with Actar Publishers

Bert De Jonghe MDes ’21, DDes ’24 has recently published his master’s thesis as a book, called Inventing Greenland – Designing an Arctic Nation (Actar Publishers, March 2022). Through the lens of urbanization, Inventing Greenland provides a broad understanding of a unique island undergoing intense transformation while drawing attention to its historical and current challenges and emerging opportunities. Geared towards architects, landscape architects, and urban planners, this book examines the local cultural, social, and environmental realities with a distinct spatial sensitivity, recognizing the diverse array of relationships that the built environment both supports and produces. By exploring Greenland as a complex and interconnected cultural and geographical space, Inventing Greenland reveals and anticipates transitional moments in the region’s highly intertwined urbanized, militarized, and touristic landscapes.


Follow Bert De Jonghe on Instagram: @bertdejonghe

posted March, 2022

Vardhan Mehta’s MAUD ’21 Start-up Acelab Raises $3.5M in Seed Funding

Acelab, an information marketplace of building products for architects, manufacturers, contractors, and clients founded in 2019 by Vardhan Mehta MAUD ’21 and MIT alumnus Dries Carmeliet, recently announced it had raised $3.5 million in investment from institutional investors and industry angels. Among participating investors in its first round of funding were Pillar VC, Alpaca, Draper Associates, MIT MET fund, Emily Fairbairn, and Erik Jarnryd.

As architectural designers, Mehta and Carmeliet recognized the vast numbers of hours architects spend gathering information on building products—“from sifting through manufacturing brochures and spec sheets to contacting salespeople with questions about product specs, pricing, and availability,” says Mehta. He notes that Acelab allows architects to “spend more time designing, and less time on the busy work involved in product sourcing and specifying” and manufacturers to “increase visibility and get in the spec.”

acelab logo.

Acelab is currently running pilot partnerships with a select group of architecture and manufacturing firms in the US to prepare for its general availability launch.

Daniel Fetner, principal at investing firm Alpaca VC, explained the need for a tool like Acelab, describing it as a way to automate the “manual and time-consuming process of sourcing building materials and drafting spec sheets.” Pillar VC’s Russ Wilcox elaborated, saying, “It’s challenging for architects and building products manufacturers to coordinate, especially in this time of supply chain interruptions. Acelab’s platform makes it easy for everyone to stay on the same page. Architects can select and specify exactly the right products, manufacturers can sell more efficiently, and builders waste less time returning wrong orders.”

Last year, Acelab won the Harvard Real Estate Venture competition, received grants from MIT DesignX and MIT Sandbox, and was a finalist in Harvard Innovation Lab’s President’s Innovation Challenge. Currently, Acelab is running pilot partnerships with a select group of architecture and manufacturing firms in the US to prepare for its general availability launch.

posted August, 2021

Kofi Akakpo MArch ’21, Cynthia Deng MArch/MUP ’21, and De Qian Huang MArch ’22 awarded 2021 KPF Fellowships

Each year, the Kohn Pedersen Fox Foundation sponsors a series of fellowships to support emerging designers and advance international research. Two recent Harvard Graduate School of Design graduates and one current student are recipients of 2021 fellowships. Cynthia Deng MArch/MUP ’21 and Kofi Akakpo MArch ’21 were awarded the Paul Katz Fellowship, an internationally recognized award that honors the life and work of former KPF principal Paul Katz, while De Qian Huang MArch ’22 received the Kohn Pedersen Fox Traveling Fellowship, established to broaden the education of a design student in their last year of school through a summer of travel and exploration.

The Paul Katz Fellowship is awarded to international students studying issues of global urbanism and is open to students enrolled in a masters of architecture program at five East Coast universities at which Katz studied or taught: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania. KPF focuses each annual iteration of the Paul Katz Fellowship on a different global city. This year’s fellowship is tied to Cape Town; previous cities include Mexico City, Tel Aviv, Sydney, London, and Tokyo. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, KPF has announced that they will pause any travel requirements, and will distribute $15,000 of the $25,000 travel stipend as a financial award to each of the winners.

The Traveling Fellowship is given to students from one of the 27 design schools with which KPF has partnered to fund summer research on “far-reaching topics that push the boundaries of critical thinking and architectural design.” KPF has paused travel for the Traveling Fellowship also, and has awarded a scholarship to each winner to fund a “Journey of the Mind.” Huang is one of five winners of the 2021 cycle. Tiange Wang MArch I ’22 received an Honorable Mention.

For the Paul Katz Fellowship, Deng submitted a research proposal—“Joints, Junctions, Patches, and Sutures: Spatial Repair of Past and Future”—that connects spatial reparations and adaptive reuse in the context of Cape Town’s legacies of apartheid. “The proposal was influenced by some of the research that went into by my joint thesis, ‘Care Agency: a 10-Year Choreography of Architectural Repair,’ completed with Elif Erez MArch I/MDes HPDM ’22 and advised by Lisa Haber-Thomson and Lily Song,” says Deng. “I also spent time thinking about what Mabel Wilson has said and written about the idea of radical repair and found inspiration from the work of Euneika Rogers-Sipp Loeb ’16, including her Digging Du Bois project journey and her thinking on reparations ecologies.”

In her proposal Deng asks, “Can the physical repair joints paired with oral histories speak to larger and more transformative repairing forward—such as repairing a Eurocentric architectural discourse in which African ingenuity is largely missing; repairing persistent segregation and lingering trauma bourne of apartheid; repairing ecological relationships ‘where clouds gather’ (the indigenous Khoe translation for the area known as Cape Town)?”

Akakpo’s research proposal, “Reclaiming Beauty in African Architecture,” addresses the need to recover and properly define an African architecture that is independent of Eurocentric standards and colonialism. “Born in Ghana, West Africa, I am intrigued by the way in which people imagine and dream beyond their means,” Akakpo writes in his project brief. “I will focus my documentation and analysis on how public and private spaces are created, how spatial territories are navigated, and how difficult spaces are humanized, personalized and made livable through design.”

This year’s recipients follow a legacy of GSD students who have been honored with KPF fellowships, including Paul Katz Fellowship winners Yotam Ben Hur MArch ’20 in 2020, Miriam Alexandroff MArch ’19 and Peteris Lazovskis MArch ’20 in 2019, and Sonny Xu MArch/MLA ’18 in 2018, and KPF Traveling Fellowship winner Eduardo Martínez-Mediero Rubio MArch ’19 in 2018.

Learn more about the fellowships, lectureships, and education-focused programs the KPF Foundation organizes each year.

Below: Image from Kofi Akakpo’s thesis “‘Functional Follies’ for an Urban Slum,” which proposes the erection of a series of “functional follies” in Agbogbloshie, an urban slum in Accra, Ghana.

posted July, 2021