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Global Innovation Design (MA/MSc)

Ilayda Kal

Formally trained as an architect, Ilayda is an interdisciplinary designer from Istanbul, Turkey. She has worked with various scales across disciplines from landscape design to furniture, and her projects span across the US, Italy, Thailand, Japan, and Turkey. She aims to improve human interactions, behaviors and emotions through design of environments, products and interactions. She works in-between digital and hands-on physical world, merging her spatial and experiential knowledge with strategic design thinking learned at RCA.


Ilayda has worked in multi-disciplinary design and architecture studios, where she engaged in different parts of the research and design development process as well as execution. In her spare time, she co-founded Flux House, a series of music experiences to connect artists and give space for experimentation. Recently, she worked at Togg as design strategist, reimagining the future of mobility around sustainability concerns. 


Exchange Terms at Keio University, Japan and Pratt Institute, New York (2021)

Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch), University of Southern California (2014-2019, Merit Scholar)

Exchange Term in Italy, based at Università degli Studi di Roma Tre (2018)

Features and Awards

2022 upcoming, Pop Up Exhibition, National Science Museum of Thailand, Bangkok

2021, ‘Doğadaki Değişimin İzini Süren Proje: C-Earth’, Artfulliving Magazine, Interview

2021, New Contracts Exhibition with C-Earth, London Design Festival (Brompton District)

2021, Designing the New Extraordinary with C-Earth, OPPO X RCA 2021 Winner

2021, 'The Future Happened: Designing the Future of Music', LADdesign x CCA Design Futures Lab x Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

2021, Design for Safety with MOWO, RCA Grand Challenge Winner

Show Location: Kensington campus: Darwin Building, Lower ground floor

Ilayda Kal-statement

Design for me is like nature: adaptable, unexpected and impactful. 

The past two years at the RCA gave me an opportunity to reimagine the norms of our everyday life, tackle urgent global issues and navigate my practice towards working on critical questions with larger positive impact.

At the heart of my work lies an eagerness to understand my surroundings: the people, the interactions and the environments, and sometimes altogether at once. My process involves in-depth research to understand not only the possible problem, but all the surrounding factors. I believe nothing can exist without a context, especially not design. Similarly, nothing is permanent, rather in constant flux. I embrace this change, and design with the possible unexpected factors and interactions as well as natural growth and decay in mind.

In the following, I will be sharing four of my projects in depth.

Frevo reimagines the music listening experience. Heliodoros brings the sense of outdoors to indoors to enhance the wellbeing of residents. C-Earth optimizes tree planting practices by giving a second purpose to our phone images. Dusric turns the leftover wood waste into a new sustainable garment.

Moving forward, I am excited to ask questions to better the environments we live in, the interactions we have and the everyday essential elements around us.

Frevo, media item 2

Music can be felt as much as heard. Yet, it loses its essence of touch when listened to on personal audio devices. This not only alters the immersive experience that sound may create but also causes a higher volume setting preference over extensive listening periods. Today, over a billion young people aged 12 to 35 years are at the risk of hearing loss due to these recreational exposure to high volumes.

What if we can lower the volume and ensure the safety of our hearing health, while still having an immersive and enjoyable experience of music?

Frevo is a wearable music-synchronised vibro-tactile device with an integrated digital system to provide an immersive listening experience while preventing the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. It introduces haptics technology to create a new sensory way to feel and listen to music.

Frevo: Sound x Touch, media item 1
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Frevo: Sound x Touch, media item 3
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Frevo was developed through workshops and discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, from musical haptics experts to music industry professionals, to understand the experience of music, the reasons behind dangerous volume exposure and hearing health awareness, such as preventative measures people may take to reduce the risk of hearing loss. 

The workshops and discussions showed that people are not concerned about their hearing health until they face a hearing problem and the volume preference is very subjective, dependent on the conducted task, mood, and the environment. These findings helped me to further develop the haptics experience to stimulate the sensation of loud music. The iterative design process refined the product, the user flow and the most applicable use cases.

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Without diminishing the experience of loud music, Frevo creates an immersive music listening experience through haptics. It has two design components: the wearable device with vibro-tactile sensors and a digital interface integrated into the music streaming platform. People who often love the sensation of loud music and want to feel the music can adapt to the lower volumes with Frevo’s audio haptic combination. This personalization depends on the user’s listening patterns, as well as volume of the environment, and the genre choice. 

Frevo aims to alter the behaviour of loud music preference in time through introduction of the haptics. 

With this project, I aim to highlight the urgency of hearing health and inspire other designers and audio manufacturers to look at the music experience from another lens. Feel free to contact me to chat further about the project and collaborate on further music, haptics, and health related projects.

Heliodoros: Blinds Following The Sun, media item 1
Heliodoros: Blinds Following The Sun, media item 2
Finding the Form
Finding the FormIn order to achieve the most sunlight arriving from the windows, I have designed the form through experimentation, modeling and discovery with light and shadow.
Heliodoros: Blinds Following The Sun, media item 4

How might we leverage blinds to bridge the disconnect between nature and humanity in urban environments?

We spend most of our time indoors, limiting our experience and physical contact with nature, the outside world. The only direct contact we have with nature is then only accessible through windows.We can see what time of day it is, observe changes in weather, as well as simply enjoy the views. However, today as we’re building upwards and living in densely populated cities, we may have only one window, facing directly to another building or simply to a blank wall. What if blinds are not a separation between outside and inside, rather a light enhancer bringing the outdoors to indoors?

Heliodoros is sensitive blinds following the sunlight to enhance the indoors experience and the wellbeing of habitants. It reimagines functionality and design of blinds to give a further purpose than solely controlling the sunlight and privacy. 

C-Earth: Collective Environment Monitoring, media item 2
C-Earth: Collective Environment Monitoring, media item 3

C-Earth is a citizen-led system to optimize tree-planting projects, predicting the carbon sequestration of trees, and monitoring tree growth over time.

In 2020 humanity produced 1.4 trillion images. ‘C-Earth’ allows us to give a second purpose to these images we take every day with our phones.

The system selects the pictures with visible trees and analyses their features - such as the diameter at breast height (DBH), the species, and its environmental conditions, including soil condition and light exposure. With this ground-based data, C-Earth builds a database able to monitor individual tree growth curves over the span of years, and to therefore predict its CO2 capture - keeping stakeholders accountable with accurate and visible data. By doing so, the efficiency of tree planting projects can be increased, thus optimising their carbon capture.

With C-Earth, we move from planting trees to growing trees. 

We believe that citizens, all of us, can play a vital role.

Dusric, media item 1
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Can wood waste create a more sustainable solution for the excessive garment waste in the fashion industry?

Dusric is a new type of bio-garment, giving use to the leftover wood waste.

While wood waste is the second-largest component of construction and demolition debris, the fashion industry is manufacturing more waste everyday. Dusric aims to push our perspectives of what we can use wood for, by demonstrating its potential as the main ingredient of a garment.

Respecting the wood’s natural features, Dusric gained its final shape, colour and material characteristics after constant experimentation with various recipe proportions and methods of mixing and drying.

With Dusric, I question the lifecycle of different industries with large negative impact on environments, and hope to highlight the possible sustainable and positive impact we can make through an interdisciplinary approach to waste management.  

Developed in New York, Pratt Institute, with supervision of John-Michael Ekeblad