Tanvi Kareer, ’17, studied textile design in India. Now, she works as a designer and researcher at Doblin, a global innovation firm based in Chicago.
While studying for her undergraduate degree in India, Tanvi said she was able to work with the textile-class communities in the country, researching and documenting their work. That encouraged her to use her design skills — and, she noted, her time — to prioritize people over products.
It’s that work that Tanvi said brought her to DSI.
“What I really enjoyed was interacting with people and learning about how they do things, and what is their perspective on things, which I wanted to bring out more in my work,” she said.
In India, Tanvi focused on finding ways to improve the ecosystem in which people lived; she wanted them to have better experiences. And because a broad skillset is needed to be able to work through solutions that help people, Tanvi decided to move to New York and pursue a degree in social design.
“I was definitely looking for a program which was more general and more design-process oriented, rather than a specific skill,” she said. She had spent her undergrad focusing on product design, and in graduate school, she decided to diversify her experience.
At DSI, Tanvi was greeted with an international cohort. Her classmates were from different countries and studied different subjects at university.
“The thing I enjoyed the most was learning from my peers,” she said, “and the strong community that DSI gave me. And the fact that everybody was from all over the world made it seem less scary and less far away from home. It just made the whole experience more comfortable and relatable.”
And the curriculum felt current, Tanvi said, because it was taught by faculty members who were professionally practicing it. The work was practical, too, she explained, citing her interest in an ethnographic research class that helps her in her work at Doblin.
As for the DSI thesis, Tanvi said it was challenging, but rewarding. She designed a project based on financial security for people working in farming villages in western India; the workers earn very little money and have a hard time saving it, and Tanvi wanted to change that. She reimagined the experience of putting money aside by creating a wallet that made physically moving it to another compartment easy to do, and combined that effort with a strong community-support program.
For those considering DSI, Tanvi recommends people be open to developing empathy. By learning about their peers’ journeys, students become more confident in their own story.
“As much as you are able to give to the program, you’ll be able to get out of it,” she said.