Gaia Hwang has been appointed chair of graduate communications design in Pratt Institute’s School of Design. She assumed the role in January 2022.
Hwang’s accomplished work in design and education is complemented by a focus on interdisciplinary practices. Her current research concentrates on advancing higher education in design through critical pedagogies, inclusive strategies, and strategic approaches. She joined the Institute in 2014 as an assistant professor in graduate communications design and in 2019 became an associate professor. From January to June 2021 she was acting chair of the department and most recently served as acting assistant dean.
“In both positions, Gaia has approached the work with facility, energy, and creativity, demonstrating her leadership capacity and her consistent support of faculty and students,” said School of Design Dean Anita Cooney. “I am delighted to be able to continue working with Gaia as chair of graduate communications design.”
As chair, Hwang will oversee the MFA in Communications Design and the MS in Packaging, Identities, and Systems Design. The Graduate Communications Design department includes approximately 160 students and 50 faculty.
“In my eight years at Pratt, I’ve collaborated with outstanding individuals across the Institute, and as a faculty member I’ve witnessed our students become courageous designers and leaders. It is a profound honor to serve now as a chairperson,” Hwang said. “At this historic moment, the role of higher education is changing, and there are numerous opportunities to help redesign its purposes, processes, and dynamics. Communications design is also under the spotlight; it has the power to shape information, access, and meanings. We will leverage these opportunities with students, faculty, and administrators, and I am excited to begin this journey.”
Hwang is a leader in data visualization with expertise in visual epistemology as well as information visualization and mapping. Her rich academic experience includes postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and serving as a senior lecturer and coordinator at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Her extensive involvement at Pratt ranges from program assessment for the MFA in Communications Design to co-coordinating the Crit the Crit Faculty Learning Community, along with numerous committees and roles representing the Institute and sharing research through conferences, symposia, and lectures.
Hwang is an active communication and packaging designer, and her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows around the world. She has contributed chapters to The Graphic Design Reader (2019), The State of Responsible IoT (2018), and The 3D Additivist Cookbook (2017). In 2011, she was honored with the ADI Compasso d’Oro Award.
She received a PhD in Industrial Design and Multimedia Communication and an MS in Communication Design from Politecnico di Milano in Italy.