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Shedding light on industrial design basics

March 28, 2005

Photo of a School of the Arts student standing next to the lamp she createdMartin Linder and his crew of college and high school students are lighting up the future of industrial design in San Francisco.

Linder, assistant professor and graduate coordinator for the Design and Industry Department, is teaching San Francisco high school students how to create the look and feel of products, with a program called Industrial Design Outreach (iDo).

Through iDo, Linder and about 10 design and industry students -- graduate and undergraduate -- mentor San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) students in different stages of the product design process.

The group's task this semester: to make lamps.

Students' designs range from larger, exotic lamps to smaller, more intricate designs. They are using the simple ingredients of cardboard, white typing paper, small knives, tape and glue to create their product prototypes.

Rosie Ruel, a 16-year-old sophomore, created a caterpillar-shaped lamp that aims light against a nearby wall to provide reading light or subtle backlight for a room.

"This is fun because you can make something like a lamp into an art project," Ruel says. "You'd be surprised what you can do with light."

"They have taken this [project] seriously, but we've also had a tremendous amount of fun," Linder says. "Industrial design is creating the look and feel of a product. In this case, we're creating lamps, which are tangible products. Each student has to ask themselves, how do you want the light to feel, what materials are we using, what will the light help you do in a particular space, how do you turn the light on and off, and what emotions does your light evoke?"

The iDo group has been mentoring about 30 students in SOTA teacher Robert Underwood's commercial art class for about eight weeks.

They will continue for another two, before moving on to conduct a similar program at San Francisco's Lincoln High School. Linder is also on a school planning committee that is creating a new Academy of Arts and Sciences at the SOTA campus, and hopes to incorporate industrial design and elements of science and math into the new school's curriculum.

Linder and his iDo mentors are creating high school curriculum designed to teach the many stages of the design process, including product user identification, problem definition, idea creation, product prototyping and product assessment. Linder will make the curriculum available to other teachers on his Web site, which will be finished later this year.

The iDo program also gives SFSU design and industry students the opportunity to teach younger students what they are learning at the University, and to develop skills in leadership, project management and curriculum development.

Michelle Steed, a second-year graduate student in design and industry and iDo project coordinator, hopes the high school students will realize that they can pursue actual careers in the arts.

"I didn't even know about the field of industrial design until I got to college," Steed says. "The idea of thinking about people's needs and solving problems for many people through design is appealing to me. And for me, I hope we can help [high school students] to see possible career paths, and know that art, like painting and drawing, can be applied to careers."

-- Student Writer Gary Moskowitz with Matt Itelson


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Last modified March 28, 2005 by University Communications