Passionate about how good design improves lives, motivated by how people interact with objects and spaces.
AJ KASSENAAR grew up on the Canadian prairie watching fields of sunflowers move against the wide open sky.
She paddled canoes examining how colored lichens grow on the rocks by the lake. Tracing compulsory figures on the skating rink and taking wood shop in junior high school set her on course for a career in design.
After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a degree in interior design, AJ worked designing commercial spaces in Montreal for clients including Canadian Pacific, Bank of Boston and Credit Suisse. She moved to Brooklyn for a master's degree in industrial design at Pratt Institute, where studying 3D form with Rowena Reed Kostellow continued her interest in physics in the natural world and reinforced her desire to combine function and beauty in simple products.
In Boston, AJ worked for several design consultancies before founding snapdesignllc. She has designed home office furniture systems for Crate&Barrel, several appliances for Cuisinart including the best selling popcorn popper, and color programs for cameras, toothbrushes and cosmetics. Teaching at Wentworth Institute of Technology for 15 years, AJ continues to engage with students about 3D form study in design studio classes.
Her latest project, the Ray Flower Sun Screen, is a refined, simple answer to an age old conundrum: How do we soak up the landscape without soaking up the sun? AJ’s solution returns to her love of nature and solving problems — a tensegrity structure consisting of a parabolic arc, two poles and a geometric pattern of curves cut precisely to create an agile, elegant shelter.
AJ is a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America and the Designers Accord and a mentor for masschallenge.