Emily Zirkle is a product designer who aims to create simple pleasures and emotional impact in everyday objects and experiences.
While growing up in a small town in Ohio, Emily spent the first eighteen years of her life in a microcosm of Midwestern culture where things move slowly and personal interactions with others are common. This environment formed her values and also fostered a strong craving within her to see and learn more about the rest of the world, which led her to the field of design. Emily always had many interests in school and in her personal life which she found could be combined through studying design. After making her first visit to DAAP, she identified with the kind of work she saw within the industrial design program and realized that DAAP's co-op program could also give her the opportunity to experience a variety of places and people and she became determined to attend the program.
During Emily's five years at DAAP, her dreams of gaining perspective beyond her small town came true. She completed her first co-op at Mauk Design in San Francisco, where she learned about furniture and exhibit design. Emily also co-oped with Chute Gerdeman in Columbus, Ohio, Kallista in Kohler, Wisconsin, and Rookwood Pottery where she discovered her interest in ceramics and handmade goods. Her final co-op working on the women's jewelry design team for Fossil in Dallas inspired her to create a brand and collection of unisex jewelry for her capstone. During her fourth year, Emily had the opportunity to participate in an international exchange program through UC where she studied for a semester at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The industrial design program at KAIST gave Emily a technology-focused perspective on design and helped her think about projects more globally as she worked with students from Korea and around the world. She considers this time she spent studying abroad, immersing herself into a different culture and traveling around Korea and Japan, as one of the most important experiences of her education.
As Emily is finishing her capstone in preparation to graduate this spring, she is looking forward to her future career in design. While she is not set on one specific product category, she is inspired by design problems of many kinds, and finds herself most motivated by the design process, research, and idea creation. She hopes to pursue an MBA in strategic foresight after a few years of experience in order to expand these skills. She plans to spend her career identifying unsolved problems and thinking about them in new ways by examining them from a socio-cultural perspective and anticipating how design will evolve over time.