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Real-life Design.

Rhiannon Zivin
BFA Communication Design | 2003
UX Research Manager, Lyft
San Francisco, CA

Rhiannon Zivin

Rhiannon (Sterling) Zivin

“MIAD laid the foundation for my design career. I learned design fundamentals through the guidance of the school’s exceptional and respected design faculty.”

Q. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A. As a child I dreamed of becoming an astronaut like Sally Ride. While I didn’t actually end up becoming an astronaut, I certainly make it to outer space every once in a while.

Q. What was your first memorable experience with art and design?

A. When I was very young, I made a Father’s Day card titled, “Top Ten Reasons I’m Glad You’re My Dad.” It was a multi-paged array of magazine cutouts and bubble letters. I consider it one of my best works, based entirely on the impact it had on the targeted audience.

Q. How did your MIAD education affect where you are today?

A. MIAD laid the foundation for my design career. I learned design fundamentals through the guidance of the school’s exceptional and respected design faculty. The intimacy of the MIAD community serves as a catalyst to my career development. I received the hands-on attention that large schools can’t provide and I was exposed to international perspectives through the exchange programs MIAD maintains with schools worldwide. I spent a semester in Milan, which was invaluable in my development as a design practitioner.


Frut, an MP3 player for mothers.

Frut, an MP3 player for mothers.


Q. What was the most valuable thing you learned at MIAD?

A. I learned to use the resources that you have around you. Ask questions, experiment, test and challenge anything.

Q. If you had to sum up your job in a single sentence, what would it be?

A. I am currently working towards a Master’s degree in Interaction Design at Carnegie Mellon University, and after I graduate I will be designing mobile device interfaces at Motorola in Chicago.


goPlay, activity-based social networking concept

goPlay, activity-based social networking concept



goPlay concept team, Sterling [center]

goPlay concept team, Sterling [center]


Q. What are your goals for the future, in art/design and in life?

A. Over the past semester, my thesis work has focused on how mobile phones are used to support religious and spiritual practices. Although this particular union may seem strange, mobile devices are taking on new roles in people’s lives. I’m one of a small group of designers trying to define this nascent space in the market.

Q. Please define how you saw your major while in school, and how that definition has changed over the years.

A. My background is in Communication Design, but I’ve learned that my knowledge and experience are applicable to solving more than just publication or artifact problems. Now more than ever, design governs how we live and interact with one another. It can be used to mold organizations or provide better customer experiences. Top-tier companies have only recently discovered the cusp of what is possible with good design. I think now is an exciting time for design practitioners because our contributions are becoming more and more relevant.