Of all the deep thought and exercises conducted in my MA program at Carnegie Mellon, this was certainly the most personal.

After reading deeply into the philosophical roots of character and action, I was asked to tidily present how my own roots developed, and in what direction they pointed the trajectory of my life.

Personal Reflection

From a young age, I was fortunate to be surrounded by a caring and considerate nuclear family — my mother, father, and brother. That’s not to mention my 24 aunts and uncles, as well more cousins than I can usually accurately count.

But at the age…


A reflection on our approach to designing an ecology of interventions to address the wicked problem of a lack of affordable housing, in Pittsburgh, PA.

By Team Emergence: Tomar Pierson-Brown, Joe Nangle, Janice Lyu, Bingjie Sheng

Strategies that respond to change as a systemic process of evolution from an undesirable to a desirable state are essential to truly address complex wicked problems. During the Spring of 2021, Team Emergence engaged in a semester-long effort to apply Transition Design as a strategy for addressing the wicked problem of a lack of affordable housing in Pittsburgh, PA. Transition Design is a practice…


This week introduced two challenging but impactful readings: “Character and the arts and disciplines” by Richard McKeon and Craig R. Smith’s “Ethos dwells pervasively.” Written in 1968 and 2004, respectively, each reached back some 2,000 years to make sense of how we understand the world and each other.

I’ll admit, my first reading of each paper felt inadequate. Navigating a host of somewhat-familiar terms and references, it seemed more was going over my head than into it.

But I also appreciated that these pieces were selected carefully and with their own ethos in mind. So I gave them a few…


While I appreciated this week’s content from Cornel West (via Astra Taylor), Elle Luna, and BJ Fogg, it was reading “The Design Way” by Nelson & Stolterman that left the biggest impression on me.

Their framework that describes “the real, the true, and the ideal” brought clarity to a longstanding challenge in my design practice.

I am an idealist.

There, I said it!

For years, I have concerned myself with the ideal — what should be. I am rarely satisfied with what can be (the true), much less what is (the real).

Stolterman and Nelson say, “design will always be about creating something that…


What did you discover/learn in the project? What were you challenged by? What did you question? What did you learn from your colleagues? What would you do differently?

I’ll address these three questions together because they’re so closely intertwined.

Although I did learn quite a bit about CMU’s institutional footprint, its mitigation efforts to date, and opportunity areas, I was more struck by what I saw as the success of a corporate greenwashing campaign.

In the course of this project, I came across a stunning article by Mark Kaufman that laid bare the origins of the term “carbon footprint” so…


A reflection on our approach to envisioning a future in which the wicked problem of a lack of affordable housing, in Pittsburgh, PA, and beyond, has been resolved.

By Team Emergence: Tomar Pierson-Brown, Joe Nangle, Janice Lyu, Bingjie Sheng

Let us begin by saying that this pillar of the Transition Design approach, Visions for Transition, was the hardest to carry out. Since we were not co-creating these visions with actual stakeholders, we were co-creating future visions as a team of diverse thinkers. As a result, we experienced a range of synergies and setbacks. Some of us tended toward utopias, while…


Post by Sebastian Carpenter, CeCe Liu, Joe Nangle & Ji Young Ohn for Prof. Jonathan Chapman’s “Design That Lasts”, CMU School of Design, Spring 2021

This post is part of a 2-part series. Please take a look at Part 1 before diving in here.

Is something missing from this airline salad?

If you answered “precisely one olive — for good reason”, you may be either a) crazy or b) aware of Robert L. Crandall.

An icon in the aviation industry and former CEO of American Airlines, he was responsible for the first frequent flyer program, modernization of airline reservations, and…


Over the last few years, I’ve become quite interested in the Stoic philosophers. Especially under quarantine, I’ve found their guidance for approaching the daily challenges of life as a human being to be both grounding and invaluable.

So I was excited to dig a little further back into the philosophical timeline when presented with readings about Aristotle’s thoughts on akrasia.

Aristotle wrote several hundred years before my Stoic heroes.

One of the things I love most about philosophy is reading a concept that rings true several millennia past its writing. …


Not to diminish the rest of this this week’s engaging reading, but the Design Activism excerpt particularly stuck with me.

As my second semester flies by, I find myself thinking more and more about how I want to show up in the world as a designer.

Fuad-Luke’s diagrams presented as the topographical map for a journey that has usually felt more like bushwhacking than following a trail.


Post by Sebastian Carpenter, CeCe Liu, Joe Nangle & Ji Young Ohn for Prof. Jonathan Chapman’s “Design That Lasts”, CMU School of Design, Spring 2021

Although the plastic toothbrush may seem a ubiquitous element of daily life, the earliest mass-market plastic toothbrushes have not yet reached their centennial. First introduced in the 1930s, these simple brushes have maintained impressive continuity in both form and function. But after just a few months of brushing, many billions of toothbrushes now reside in landfills around the world.

The Koh-I-Noor toothbrush, unchanged since 1930.

In this post, we’ll explore the full lifecycle of the bestselling toothbrush on Amazon.com, the Colgate…

Joe Nangle

CMU Design MA candidate, BU grad, environmentalist, adventurer, photographer. Using business & design to build a more enjoyable, sustainable & equitable world.

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