Design Strategy + Innovation

Design for Education


Başak Altan teaches design research at at the Industrial Design Department at California College of Arts in San Francisco. She mentors senior thesis students on their investigative research journey that leads to their final thesis presentation. Her thesis studios explore four core principals of successful innovation: Building Innovations Around Experiences, Thinking of Innovations as Systems, Cultivating an Innovation Culture, and Adopting Disciplined Innovation Process. In the Spring of 2018, she lead a re-imagining mobility studio with Ford Innovation Studio in Palo Alto where her students researched, designed and delivered concepts for a more connected world for the future. In the Fall of 2018 Basak lead a sustainability and social impact studio 2 teams out of the 4, won awards at the prestigious International Design Awards:  The international Design Awards exists to recognize, celebrate and promote legendary design visionaries and to uncover emerging talent in Architecture, Interior, Product, Graphic and Fashion Design. Team AXO brought home the GOLD award for Social Impact and Designing for society.Team O'KO brought home the BRONZE award for Sustainability.

For Başak the most meaningful aspects of teaching are influencing the next generation of designers to design experiences that make a positive impact in the world.

Below are recent examples of Başak's CCA Industrial Design students' research work as a part of the Thesis Research Studio as well as some of her former students’s reviews who are now practicing industrial design professionally.




A trainer style shoe design for the mixed martial artist utilizing the proprioception muscles. CCA Industrial Design Thesis Project for Spring 2017

“Before becoming a student of Basak’s, I wasn’t too keen to the research aspect of design. I’ve found it at the time as less interesting to the conceptual process. However, I wasn’t aware to how important it was to design. As a junior student, it was time to step out of my comfort zone and improve on areas of my process where I was lacking interest and will. I was aware of Basak’s credentials and decided it was the best section for me. Eventually I took Basak’s senior research course the following year, which became the backbone to my design career. Through my courses under Basak, I’ve transformed from disliking the research process to becoming fond of it. I was introduced to a plethora of processes that provided methods of collecting qualitative information. This data led the class to a copious amount of solutions which were all unique yet informative ideas. In addition to learning how to achieve such data, I learned to work alongside others in a professional manner, which was a vital experience to us aspiring designers at the time. I’ve became collaborative and learned to efficiently managed project time between my team. Being a student under Basak was a valuable experience. Not only did I grow keen to design research, but I acknowledged how important data is to achieving great solutions and efficient workflows. Her credentials and values were apparent in the research methods she provided and in the in classroom environment she held. For students who are looking to sharpen their research abilities and streamline their workflows, I’d recommend taking a course through Basak. Knowing how to achieve the right data is the catalyst to creating great designs. “ -Adrian Karaan, Industrial Designer at Western Digital.



by Nimela daripineni

A concept of wearable that engages women in monitoring their health in an enjoyable way. CCA Industrial Design Thesis Research Project for Spring 2017.




A collection of products that focus on a higher quality beer for the homebrewing market. CCA Industrial Design Thesis Research Project for Spring 2017.




A playful product concept that helps bring mediation into the modern lifestyle. CCA Industrial Design Thesis Research Project for Spring 2017.

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An exploration of an open platform to personalize motorcycles in an affordable way. CCA Industrial Design Thesis Research Project for Spring 2017.


“I have been fortunate enough to attend multiple classes taught by Başak. She teaches her students many invaluable and engaging lessons on how to approach design research and real world problem solving. Her approach to teaching gets her students out of their comfort zone and pushes them to think critically about the problem at hand. Although her schedule is jam packed, she always finds a way to make time to meet with students outside of class for additional guidance and help. Başak was by far one of the most influential professors I had at California College of the Arts.”

- Cameron Putnam, Industrial Designer at ACTON

“I had the wonderful opportunity to take Basak’s Industrial Design Studio class during my junior year. In it we worked with the Berkeley Turkish School to design educational games. It was a wonderful experience to actually go to the school, conduct research and test the prototypes of games we made with the students all in a semester. She does a fantastic job at pushing her students to improve their weaknesses and polish their strengths. Basak has always been a joy to talk to in and out of the classroom, she really helped me see the empathetic side of design.”

- Sajan Saini- Industrial Designer

“I had the pleasure of taking a Sponsored Studio course with Basak in Spring 2018. Not only did she do an excellent job of maintaining a strong relationship with our sponsors, but she also showed a great amount of empathy towards each student and helped to bring out each’s strengths. Throughout the class, her knowledge in research and design thinking helped us to refine our approach and deliver excellent projects. The course was so successful that our sponsor flew us out to their headquarters to present to executives in person.”

- Jon Simmons, Industrial Designer

“I attended Basak's Industrial Design studio during the Spring 2017 at California College of the Arts . The studio focused on sustainable product design, practiced by myself and fellow classmates while working to create a series of toys for the Berkeley Turkish School. Basak challenged each of her students to expand unique designs while focusing on product outcomes. She made sure the studio worked with teachers at BTS, conducting interviews and testing mockups to perfect our designs and achieve a desired outcome that Incorporated aspects of sustainable design learned in the studio, Referenced ties to Turkish culture and Worked seamlessly into the curriculum and real life limitations at BTS. I would recommend the studio to industrial design students serious about pushing their projects through a subjective lens of honest feedback and criticism. The course teaches students to not only listen and work with clients, but to also be unafraid and brave while testing a variety of designs with a target market. Basak's ID4: Sustainability class represents a rare opportunity for students to deliver a unique product concept shaped by research and real time critical feedback. “

-Hugo Waldern, Industrial Designer

“I had the pleasure of having Basak as my thesis instructor during my senior year at California College of the Arts. I have always been impressed with Basask’s enthusiasm and passion for the craft of teaching. What I found to be Basak’s best asset is her ability to connect with her students and care for them on a personal and academic level. “

-Suki Leung, Industrial Designer

“Basak provides an invaluable and unique resource to designers looking to solve real problems. She helps her students re-frame their thinking and test their assumptions through the validation of their ideas with real people. As an educator, she is generous not only in sharing ideas and techniques, but also in making herself available when students most need her council. Basak makes design research an engaging and worthwhile endeavor for her students and helps them realize the incredible value that it delivers to the design process. “

-Nicholas Steigman, Product Designer EPAM Continuum