Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Industrial Design


Industrial Design

First Advisor

Paolo Cardini

Second Advisor

Adela Goldbard

Third Advisor

Sergio Martinez Cantu


Industrial Tenderness surveys the relationship between visual language, cultural expression, and diasporic practices through the design of functional sculptures. These designed objects seek to communicate cultural legibility, or intuitive cultural belonging, to Mexican-American peoples by challenging legacy notions of design language. Through a proposed design language framework and designed objects, Industrial Tenderness seeks to affirm a pluriversal practice of industrial design.

Legacy industrial design confines design language to a heavily prescriptive canon, resulting in a stark monocultural language that is unrepresentative of perspectives outside of a legacy dominant white eurocentricity founded in thinking from the Bauhaus and Ulm schools. Through ethnographic research, studio talks, introspection, and making, the pluriversal design practice of ornamentation has been identified as a way of cultural signaling and challenging design homogeneity. These learnings have informed functional sculptures that blend American industrial materials and form languages with Mexican ornamentation practices. This blending of visual languages seeks to affirm the liminal hybridity of Mexican-American material culture as notably distinct.

This research uses terms and thinking from the field of linguistics to construct a more apt framework for a cultural design lexicon. This framework considers how semiotics, semantics, syntax, and localization can offer a richer approach to considering design language and cultural contexts. This body of research is laid out into sections titled Expression, Abstraction, Canvases, Ornamentation, and Unspecific Memories, which explores the design theory and processes that informed the design of the functional sculptures. It is through this publication and set of designed objects that Industrial Tenderness affirms the strength of Mexican-American pluriversal design language in opposition to assimilation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.