Architecture graduate aims to work across fields

December 3, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

Olufela Joda graduates this month with a master’s degree in architecture, but he has no plans to limit his design aspirations to architecture alone.  Photo of graduate architecture student Olufela Joda Olufela Joda Download Full Image

“I don’t think the role of a designer has to be static or streamlined to one particular field,” said Joda, who is from Nigeria and moved to Arizona in 2018. “For example, I’m an architect, but I’m currently working on creating a streetwear brand that tries to bring the conversation about nature conservation into popular spaces. That’s how I see my career going – designing many different things from buildings to clothes to album covers, like a Virgil Abloh or Olafur Eliasson.”

A school project to design a bird studio for Ramsey Canyon preserve inspired the streetwear brand. 

“Initially the objective was to take the ‘conservation’ conversation into the public realm because urban streetwear is a fundamental part of our modern lifestyle,” Joda said. “Over the past few months the idea has evolved into something slightly different.”

Jọda is a niche clothing and lifestyle brand rooted in youth culture, offering streetwear fashion and accessories made with sustainable materials and processes.

He is still developing the brand, which he said is a lifestyle idea expressed through clothing and aims to create a community of everyday people personally invested in today’s conversations while elevating their personal style.

During his time at ASU, Joda made sure to work on a wide range of projects, including interning at Corgan, where he was part of the aviation team working on the Phoenix Skyharbor Terminal 4 south concourse project. 

“I don’t think I have a favorite project to be honest,” he said. “That would be like having a favorite child.”

“The most important thing I learned at ASU is that my interests as a designer can be beyond the borders of conventional architecture,” he said. “I still love architecture, but now I want to be a designer who works across many different media and fields.”

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I don’t think there was ever really an “aha moment.” I’ve loved designing things since I was little, so when I finished secondary school the only real option that made sense at the time was architecture. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: There were many factors, I think, but most importantly ASU was the most welcoming of the colleges I had dialogues with and that influenced my decision.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Max Underwood taught me a lot of things. I was his TA for two classes and his student in the spring 2020 semester. In that time he taught me about work-life balance and how to stay organized across multiple projects at the same time. He also taught me about how important it is to network. Ultimately, I think the most important thing Max taught me is how to think about problems and challenges, and that is something I will always take with me. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Enjoy all the little moments, they go by quickly.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: The SDFC soccer pitch.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’m working on a few personal projects right now, so my immediate plans for after graduation are finding a balance between working at a design firm and working on my own projects simultaneously. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would use the money to tackle poverty in my home country from a political perspective and through activism as well. I believe you can’t create sustainable  solutions to societal problems without creating an institutional framework that addresses the problem. I want to discuss this in more detail with anyone who is interested. #ENDSARS.

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


Dean’s Medalist is planting seeds for change in the Arizona community

December 3, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

Born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, Jonah Ivy spent his first six semesters intentionally exploring different courses that Arizona State University had to offer. It wasn’t until he participated in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s Global Intensive Experience in India that he declared a major in civic and economic thought and leadership. Jonah Ivy in the Social Science building garden. Download Full Image

“I had already traveled quite a bit, and I hadn’t seen any other study abroad opportunities that were like (the school's) India trip,” Ivy said. ”They immersed you in a new culture.” 

As for the “aha moment” that helped Ivy realize what he wanted to major in, it came down to one thing: “(The faculty) believed in me. When I said I wanted to create change in this world they didn’t say ‘Well, how are you going to do that?’ they said ‘Alright. If you’re going to do it, let’s figure it out.'” 

During his time at ASU, Ivy did create positive change, both on campus and in the community. 

Ivy can be credited with the thriving garden on the perimeter of the Social Sciences building on the Tempe campus. He instituted a student garden club called Food For Change with a mission to educate and empower students to engage in all aspects of the local food system. Food For Change supports and promotes food initiatives on and off campus with the goal to bring awareness to the local and national food movement. 

“I’m really using this food system change as a multidimensional approach to the complex solutions of the world like climate change, food insecurity and population growth,” said Ivy. 

But Ivy’s passion doesn’t stop there — he also worked an internship and continues to volunteer with the TigerMountain Foundation in south Phoenix.

Ivy was drawn to the TigerMountain Foundation because of its mission to empower communities to better themselves from within by beautifying vacant lots, planting community gardens and selling and marketing what they grow at farmers markets. According to TigerMountain Foundation’s website, south Phoenix has one of the highest recidivism (return to jail) rates in the nation. They are working to reverse this problem through their community gardens and landscaping initiatives.

“It’s so much more than just planting gardens but physically that’s what it looks like,” Ivy said. “Building community gardens on a small scale … but what it’s really doing, what I think I’m really doing, is building a community — that’s what it’s about.”

As for his plans after graduation, Ivy wants to continue working to make positive changes in communities with other changemakers. 

Ivy will be graduating with his bachelor's degree in civic and economic thought and leadership and is The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medalist for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. The school caught up with him to ask about his time at Arizona State University.

Question: What is your favorite spot on campus?

Answer: (The Social Science garden) is the first place I realized the true power of community. I realized that when we pursue things we should use them as a means to create community rather than using the community to accomplish something. That’s what this space taught me.

Q: What professor taught you the most important lesson at ASU?

A: Susan Carrese is one of the most influential professors, not because she taught me something, but she taught me how to teach myself something. Not because she had a lesson, but because she made my life a lesson.

Q: What is a piece of advice you would give to those still in school?

A: The advice I’d give to students still pursuing a degree is to have faith in community, have faith in love, have faith in truth and knowledge because those are the things that you’ll need to succeed in life.

Jacey West

Communications program coordinator, School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership