Melanie Wells


Melanie is a multidisciplinary designer passionate about creating services, experiences, and interactions. She previously studied at Chapman University in Southern California, where she earned degrees in Graphic Design and Business Administration (Marketing). Prior to graduate school she worked at a sustainable architecture firm, where she helped rebrand the company and spearheaded the firm’s environmental graphic design practice. 

While an MDes Interaction Design graduate student, Melanie deepened her practice and developed key skills needed to translate human, organizational, and societal needs into more desirable systems, services, and interactions. 

As a designer and researcher, Melanie has an optimistic vision for the future. She believes that, at the intersection of design, technology, and people, there is a unique opportunity to make meaningful progress tackling the most challenging human problems that face our world. She is excited and inspired by these challenges, and through her own contribution, hopes to make a lasting positive impact through critical research, responsible practice, and inspired activism. Melanie’s thesis project explores the opportunity to enhance the practice of Design for Social Innovation by creating meaningful connections between grassroots projects focused on positive social change.


Reimagining Social Innovation Platforms

Design for Social Innovation (DSI) aims to make positive social change more probable, effective, long-lasting, and scalable. Social innovation platforms are a promising approach to address collaboration challenges that arise in DSI practice, but host a variety of their own challenges and barriers. This project takes a critical look at these problems and opportunities, and will propose a conceptual model and functionality of a digital platform that addresses them.

Jason Germany, Chair
Karen Cheng
Jacob Wobbrock

Welcome Note

For this particular graduate class, the years at the UW have been marked by oh so many unforeseen challenges. So much of the all-encompassing and precious experience that graduate school affords was disrupted by forces brought upon all of us during these particular times. I am especially grateful and proud to have watched this cohort rise to meet these extraordinary challenges with creativity, grace and pro-active determination. The successful completion of their degrees has been fulfilled with passion and the thoughtful consideration of the issues, ideas, and experiences that permeate the world we live in.

A sense of completion, achievement, and reflection is palpable in the works brought together in this Graduate Showcase. More so than ever, this journey has not been a solitary endeavor, but rather is made possible by an essential and supportive community that includes fellow students, family, friends, distinguished visitors, staff, and faculty. I especially want to acknowledge the support and mentorship offered by our faculty and staff who are so committed to creating an educational environment where our graduate students are able to thrive.

I want to recognize and thank Shin Yu Pai, Rock Hushka, Stefan Gonzales, Sadaf Sadri, and Heidi Biggs, for their efforts and insights gleaned during their interviews with the Art and Design grads.

Thanks so much for the collective and enthusiastic support of the entire Henry Art Gallery team, with special thanks to Sylvia Wolf, director, along with exhibition designers and preparators Rachel Ann Kessler and Eric Zimmerman. The opportunity for our graduate students to exhibit their thesis work in such a special space is a fitting capstone to their graduate careers.

I hope you enjoy exploring this online showcase where you will discover how each graduate student transformed their ideas, passions, and skills into a body of research that reflects and addresses the opportunities, challenges, wonder, confusion, and joy of the world we all inhabit.

On behalf of the School of Art + Art History + Design, congratulations to the Graduate Class of 2023!

Jamie Walker
Director, School of Art + Art History + Design
Wyckoff Milliman Endowed Chair in Art