design

hand-drawn, digital, data-driven

I have several shelves in my childhood room packed with old sketchbooks and journals. I've always loved taking notes, sketching out ideas, and iterating on them, but it was only after coming to college that I began to see how design can be used as a tool with which to understand and model the world. I've explored contextual design, speculative design, and communication design. I've also had a lot of fun staying in touch with my background in traditional art and media along the way!

Here, you'll find selections of my experiments with design, art, and media, ranging from hand-drawn creations to speculative organisms.

pneumatozoa

a speculative organism

Initially inspired by the bobtail squid, Pneumatozoa grew to become a tangible representation of a speculative future in which ocean temperature and acidity change so much that jellies are among the only organisms that are able to survive. 

This five-foot tall sculpture is powered by two Arduinos, seven inflatable tentacles, several feet of fiber-optic cable, and many Friday evenings at the maker space's soldering station. Imagining, designing, and building it alongside my group was definitely one of the most challenging and enjoyable projects I have worked on during my time as an undergraduate.

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ksdt radio

hosting a live show & building community through design

When I arrived at UC San Diego, college radio was the last thing on my mind. But every other day in Fall quarter of my freshman year, I passed the KSDT station on my way to chemistry class. I'd catch glimpses of people lounging on the blue couches, discussing music, art, and more. Snippets of songs broadcasting from the booth would float past the already-playing music in my headphones. Eventually, I stopped by for a general body meeting and was quickly drawn into this creative community. I began hosting my own radio show (called Splatter Paint), creating art for event posters and on the station lobby's chalk wall, and regularly playing violin at open mics with new friends I made. 

For the 2019-2020 academic year, I served as KSDT's Design Director, where I directed the production and distribution of marketing materials and creative publications such as the station's quarterly zine. I also had the pleasure of working with a team of interns throughout the year. I developed a design curriculum, created regular design prompts, and connected design interns with other KSDT community members through hosting art workshops. Throughout my time in college, KSDT has been an anchor for my love for art, and the people involved in college radio have pushed me to infuse everything I do with passion and creativity.

 

traditional art

drawings & paintings

When I'm not working in Photoshop, Illustrator, or Figma, I'm often sketching or painting. Some of my favorite mediums to work in are ink, acrylic, and oil pastel!

I love the freedom of working on big surfaces; if there's ever a canvas sale at a local art store, you can usually find me there on the first day trying to figure out how to fit the biggest ones into my tiny car. I'm also thankful to have walls in my hometown to paint on– I've been progressively working on a couple ocean-inspired murals as I visit between college quarters.

 

The illustrations you see here are mostly done with traditional media, but a few have also been taken into digital programs like Procreate to add more details or writing.

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data-driven design

human-centered & community-focused

Redesigning Virtual Classroom Spaces

Investigating and designing for increased collaboration and sense of community for online learners. 

Discussion to Education

Modeling systems, networks, and infrastructure of a classroom space as impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What defines science?

Mapping networks and systems that define and change the meaning of science.

 

© 2023 by Arya Natarajan

Website design powered by cold brew, chocolate-covered cherries, & Anderson .Paak's Malibu

KSDT 50th Anniversary banner | Spring 20

This hangs on a wall of the KSDT lobby to this day!