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Hall of Design: Academics Edition

At Winthrop University, where I currently teach, a clear divide exists between the Department of Design and Fine Arts offices. It’s literally a dividing wall. But even as a freshman at the University of Arizona, I recall how technology, exhibitions, and even furniture signaled an entry to the design area.

Different colored walls. Locked doors. Expensive Herman Miller furniture. This post is a call to students, faculty, staff, and designers, who have also observed these divides. For this first Hall of Design edition, document academic design spaces, that separate themselves from other disciplines. On the other hand, they might completely blend into the fine arts, architectural, interior design, illustration, or interactive areas of study. In either case, use a camera, take a picture and follow our submission directives. Universities, trade & technical schools, art schools, domestic, overseas, grammar schools, and high schools are all eligible.

Submission Guidelines

Size: 5 x 8 inches (landscape or portrait)
Resolution: 300 dpi
File Type: JPG only
Color Mode: RGB
We will credit you as a hyperlink, e-mail or URL in the byline. In the e-mail with attachment, please specify URL (if applicable) for us to link the image to you for credit; otherwise we will link your e-mail.
A maximum of five photos can be submitted by each person.

Files that do not adhere to the above specifications will be discarded.

Submit File

To: jason@underconsideration.com
Please include your name in the file’s name for easy identification. You may include any narrative about the images in the e-mail’s body, especially if there’s a rich story behind your hall of design.

Copyright Information

By submitting, you grant Speak Up the right to reproduce your artwork on the web site and for other promotional uses including books or magazines. Full credit to each participant will be given.
Also, and very important, please submit original photographs (no stripping photos from a Google image search), don’t use anything that is copyrighted in its own way. We will come back to you if this the case.
Use common sense. Be good.

Thank You for Participating
Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Nov.03.2008 BY Jason A. Tselentis
Peter Whitley’s comment is:

To clarify, you're looking for photos of design-learning environments that, by intent or circumstance, separate themselves from the fine arts discipline?

And specifically you're looking for evidence of that quality of separation and distinction? As if to answer the question, "what is the difference between a design space and an arts space?" (Am I off track?)

On Nov.03.2008 at 09:53 AM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Peter, you have given a succinct and on-track definition. And, it can be separate (or together) from any discipline, such as art, architecture, illustration, interactive, industrial, political science. As an example, the UNC Charlotte Graphic Design offices and labs are housed near the religious studies and political science offices; you know you're near the design program when you see work hanging on walls that is NOT poli sci or religious studies.

On Nov.03.2008 at 12:07 PM
Tan’s comment is:

When I went to school, our design department was a dump. No Eames furniture, no prints on walls. Just random student flyers and gig posters layered on top of dingy white walls. Bare concrete floors, big studio tables, mismatched metal stools, and a dumpy leather couch anonymously donated in the 70s. The dark stat room (for those of you old enough to know what that is) had a patio lounge chair where students could take short naps after an all-nighter, right before the morning class begins.

Our fine arts department was even worse. Their building was an open warehouse that had weird shit hanging, lying, blocking every wall and hallway throughout. You often couldn't tell what was trash and what was abstract student art. Sometimes it was both. And there was always a funky smell throughout the building.

The building that had the best design aesthetics in our school was the architecture department. They had all sorts of design furniture, from Eames to Gehry, even in their lunch room. And eventhough their students lived in their studio too, they built small closets next to their desks, and sleeping berths underneath.

But looking back, the dump that was our design department was shitty, but endearing and fostered a lot of creativity. It was home for an entire generation of designers. Years later, they remodeled the whole department, and turned it into clean, sterile design studios. Students didn't know what they'd lost.

On Nov.03.2008 at 01:04 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Tan, I hope you have some old black & white photos from the good old days. (Or did you have color prints back then?)

On Nov.03.2008 at 02:16 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I'll look, but sadly, I have few photos of the studio from those days. I never thought I'd remember that place so fondly later.

And haha...we did have color photography back in those ancient days of my youth. They're washed out and faded, but still color.

I'll do some digging...

On Nov.03.2008 at 02:32 PM
darrel’s comment is:

"Expensive Herman Miller furniture"

So THAT'S where tuition goes to these days...

On Nov.03.2008 at 02:51 PM
Hex’s comment is:

Bare concrete floors, big studio tables, mismatched metal stools, and a dumpy leather couch anonymously donated in the 70s.

Tan - we no doubted attended the same school, however, I don't recall my school having a fancy-schmancy architecture department, only being surrounded by the rest of the "fine" art (and I use the term loosely) programs that looked upon us "sell-outs" with distain and mistrust.

On Nov.03.2008 at 03:32 PM
Pesky’s comment is:

I went to Pratt Institute ages ago. The design folks had more or less the architectural charm of a Soviet waiting room at the politburo. Nothing special. The Fine Arts department - where I spent most of my time - just had huge empty rooms with florescent lights overhead and giant wooden tables. Well, until the LSD kicked in.....

On Nov.03.2008 at 05:01 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Oh, and I almost forgot -- everything out in our open hallway/balcony was sticky from spray mount/Super77. The walls, the floor, the stairways, etc. If you weren't careful, you'd breathe too much overspray and your nosehair would get sticky. Ah, good times.

>surrounded by the rest of the "fine" art (and I use the term loosely) programs.

The fine art department in our school was where women didn't shave their armpits and men didn't wear shoes and/or socks. And yes, they thought that designers were all corporate slave wannabes.

On Nov.03.2008 at 05:14 PM
Cindy’s comment is:

I believe Tan and I went to the same school as well. That couch was SCARY. We also had a mannequin for awhile (left over from an earlier year), but I think someone took it home for another project and never brought it back. Ah, the good ol' days.

On Nov.03.2008 at 05:57 PM
Steven’s comment is:

When I was going to CCA(C) back in the very early 80's, the graphic design "studios" were made by cheaply converting a second-story retail storage space, i.e. marginally white-washed walls, industrial Linoleum floors, the cheapest florescent lights available, and exactly the same kind of tables and chairs that Tan mentions. The art studios were across the street on the main campus and had actual buildings dedicated to the various disciplines.

Nowadays, thanks to the influence of "The Michaels" and the huge increase of interest in graphic design and the Web of the late 90's, the undergraduate design and architecture studios are in their own building in SF, which was nicely converted from an old bus garage. There's still small elements of funkiness in the new digs, but overall the design studios are significantly nicer than before. And the undergraduate art studios? They're still on the other side of the bay in Oakland, and looking even nicer than before.

However, the graduate art students also use the same building in SF as the design students. And I would hope that some of their work might directly or indirectly influence a design student or two every once in a while.

And in the interest of full-disclosure, while the majority of my studies were focused on graphic design, I was in fact an Interdisciplinary Design major and was able to take non-design classes like photography, wood working, figure drawing, architecture, etc. So I was able to be a part of both camps, while simultaneously not being wholly a part of either. Frankly, I think this was the best way to get an education and has made me a more well-rounded, open-minded designer.

On Nov.03.2008 at 06:27 PM
Joe’s comment is:

I think furniture is a poor representation for the quality or lack of quality for any art or design program. I went to a top fine art school for undergraduate study. It had furniture which, at the time, was considered really old and funky. In reality, it was classic and now valuable Eames and other greats from the mid to late 20th C. Little did all of us know. Some great and now valuable stuff was trashed (mostly by MFA fine art painters in their studio spaces). Then I did my MFA at a top design school. The design building had those grey metal stools with the round brown masonite (sp?) seats so popular at art schools. This was in a newly renovated building at a private university too!
The long and short of it is that the furniture does not matter. It is the curriculum, resources (library collection, print center, etc.), and the faculty.
BTW: Herman Miller furniture is probably bought under a contract with a local dealer for the whole university or state university system. So the price paid is lower than what you might pay retail. Also, the stuff is very well made, lasts a long time, and HM is also one of the better eco friendly manufacturers and improving. In contradiction to my comment above, if you see HM furniture, it probably means the program is getting good support from the Dean and is making good long term equipment purchases. Two good things but, again, not necessarily all of what one should be looking at in a design program.

On Nov.16.2008 at 07:32 AM