Janaki Ranpura

MA work


The thesis work presented here is Touchies, the product of 6 months of research in  “charismatic design” for the blind — instead of thinking about accessibility as necessity, how can we create things to help grow pleasure and pride? To this end, Touchies is a blueprint for a Polaroid system that outputs tactile photographs of faces, so people with vision loss can participate in family events with a camera designed for their use and an output they can both read and share like any sighted person would.

Further work presented is from the months in the joint MA / MSc of the IDE program: a tangible object that helps transition to digital voting; research into home-farming protein, from crickets to bacteria; and, inspired by the efficiencies of urban living as well as the Shaker lifestyle, a functional plywood chair that disassembles into a wall sculpture when not in use.


  • MA Degree


    School of Design


    MA Innovation Design Engineering, 2019

  • Janaki / Nik makes systems and things to support creative citizenship, which she defines as new ways for us to make a shared future that belongs to us and in which we belong.
  • Degrees

  • BA Architectural History, Yale University; Diploma in Digital Fabrication, MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms
  • Experience

  • FabKids constructionist curriculum development, Fab Lab Barcelona, 2016-17; Mettle hackathons, 2018-9
  • Exhibitions

  • It's Not That Hard To Write a Book, Nobel Laureate Lounge of American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis, 2015; Karagiozis Project, TAF Metamatic, Athens, 2015; Smallest Portable Workstation, Fira de Barcelona, 2016; Rueda de la Fortuna, Maker Fair, Barcelona, 2017; Superform, Gulbenkian Gallery RCA, London, 2017; Distributed Design Market Platform, Tala Lighting Headquarters, London, 2018
  • Awards

  • Burberry Trench re-design distinction, 2019; Playwrights' Center fellowship for object dramas, 2013-2015; Jerome Foundation Research Fellowship into mechanics of democracy, 2015; Most Valuable Distributed Design for Frag Lamp, 2018
  • Publications

  • "If You're Thinking About Writing a Puppet Play," Playwrights' Center, 2014; "Does Social Practice Belong in Museums?" Walker Art Center News, 2014; "Art, Science, Participation, and Passion: a presentation from the Wild Margins," Public Art St Paul, 2016