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RE: industrial design, projects for kids (long)


From: Puhl, Kristen K (puhlk_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Apr 28 2003 - 08:07:52 PDT

I just returned from the regional (midwest) Industrial Design Society of America conference. Although I'm an ArtEd major at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, I'm a member of IDSA and attend their meetings and functions. I think that teaching design is just as important (and as fun) as teaching fine art. The plus side is that kids can really relate to talking about clothing design, furniture design, transportation design, product's stuff they interact with everyday! I'm trying to absorb all the design info I can on my own, as we can't easily get into design courses here if we're not a design major. Even if kids don't want to be designers, the design process teaches them about the importance of planning, amongst many other things.

Some of the schools that attended the regional conference were UW-Stout, Kansas University, University of Southern Illinois (I'm going to get this wrong, I know) Urbana-Champagne and Carbondale, wherever they fit into Illinois, Purdue, Notre Dame, MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design) and in Ohio, I don't remember which one. All schools seemed to have good things going for them. I talked to a placement guy from MIAD (who, incidentally, hosts the Milwaukee art educators at MIAD during events and exhibitions--there seems to be a good connection between MIAD and the art ed community) and he said that the industry comes straight to MIAD to recruit grads for jobs. It's true. I went in the ID lab, and there were job postings on the wall.

At the conference, I was able to get some great ideas for projects for high school kids. The University of Minnesota and Target hosted a design camp for kids last year in the Twin Cities (they will again this year) with professional (or in some cases-famous) designers heading up week-long projects for kids. Todd Oldham (fashion designer) was one of the seven or eight designers there. Todd had the kids (mostly girls) make new clothes out of recyled clothes (from goodwill I think) and encouraged them to not make them look like normal clothes. They had a fashion show at the end of the week, complete with make-up and hair styling. Tom Oliphant, a furniture designer from Minneapolis, had the campers design and build a chair that would seat two people and be 15" off the ground. One of the projects involved little car-type bases that actually worked, and the campers had to design a "skin" or a shell and turn it into a driving piece of furniture, or ...something. Another project involved making books based on how methodologies develop content. They were shown Ed Rusche's (sp?) accordian books. Janet Abrams was the presenter, she showed a video of the camp from last year, so the information was coming at me pretty fast. She's also british, and talks quite quickly.

Anyone interested in knowing more can look at their website ( I haven't looked at it yet; I don't know if it's www or not. But try either way, you'll have 7 or 8 new exciting projects to try!

I second most of what Jan said, the core77 website and idsa website (which is being updated soon) are good sources of info. The core77 website is much flashier and trendy. Kids would love looking at it. It's a good place to see what's currently hot in design.

Also (and lastly), she was right about Art Center in CA. A design group called Super Happy Bunny (I'm not lying!) presented at the conference, and they pretty much all met while attending Art Center. One of the guys said that he has over $100,000 in debt from going there, but I'm sure he's making enough money now to hack away at that pretty quickly.