14 October 2010

what stories do chairs tell?


what stories do chairs tell?

a rocking chair, handed from generation to generation, brings strong images to mind…

the knowledge of sustaining life through a midnight feeding for a newborn – in the dark shade of a nursery – soothing tears and sharing new beginnings…

the comfort of a sunny afternoon with a favorite book – the chair gently swaying back and forth – as the autumn leaves sift from the trees…

the security in knowing the remembrances of your ancestors – who traced and retraced the patterns of time in their rockings – calling to a rich past and invoking the promise of a better future…

the wisdom of a beloved grandmother knitting together stories – and perhaps knitting or shelling peas on a front porch – as you learn family lore and share moments of a life lived well…

…you begin life in a rocking chair and you end life there, two perspectives of the world from this seated and ever-in-motion position.

In the history and theory of design course, students study MODERN FURNITURE CLASSICS to build design vocabulary of seminal seats from the mid-twentieth century to present.

In undertaking this documentation and memorization process, students learn (through their own sketches) the attitudes and postures of designers and designed objects – a form of storytelling through material and representational expression.

Consider the stories of the chairs in this post, drawn and illustrated by KARA KOOY, DAJANA NEDIC, and BLAKENI WALLS...

...what do their postures suggest?
...what kinds of comfort do they bring?
...what do they say in their forms + details?


Kubus Chair : Hoffmann
Mae West Lips (Marilyn) : Dali
Zigzag Chair : Rietveld
Selene Stacking Chair : Magistretti
Superleggera Chair 699 : Ponti
Barcelona Chair : Mies van der Rohe
GF 40/4 Chair : Rowland
Highback Lounge Chair : Bertoia
Butterfly Chair : Ferrari-Horday
MR Chair : Mies van der Rohe

Learn more about the CHAIR CARDS project on a blog moderated by curator BRIAN PECK...


11 October 2010

compass : which way did it go?

to react to the material in the FOUNDATIONS unit for the history/theory course, students manufactured a compass at one scale of analysis (artifact : space : building : place). look at the variety of instruments manifest....each with a slightly different twist about the meaning of COMPASS as a direction finding device. their products had to be in the form of a two-dimensional image, a three-dimensional form, a word, or a paragraph.

08 October 2010

chair card throw down

students in historyclass were subjected to the first ever chair card THROW DOWN...one student from each of seven discussion groups ventured to the front of the ferguson auditorium and were asked to draw jacobsen's EGG CHAIR....justin mcnair won for the red sea group.

check out the class contributions to the chair blog: http://chaircards.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/jacobsen-egg-chair/

01 October 2010

a salute to DAVID NILAND...

students in my history/theory classes for many years have heard about the WU-WU as a vertical form of architectural expression (size does matter, y'all!) and no greater example resides in the single columns erected by emperors of rome, among them marcus ulpius nerva traianus (or simply, trajan). in this VERY CLEVER composition created by kayla mcdonough we see trajan bearing his WU-WU much to the delight of the female site seers looking on...

many know that the WU-WU is a riff from my undergraduate senior thesis advisor, david niland, a professor of great delight, who insisted that students would only pass sixth year studio with design schemes containing an appropriately scaled and detailed vertical element...

mr. niland died last week (shortly after i invoked his name in class and explained WU-WU to the next generation of design students). his memorial service was today and this news has caused much flurry of activity across the web as many reflect on the greatness of this terrific teacher. i am particularly struck by the lessons i carry with myself from architecture school that i use everyday, and many of them came from the actions and words of a gifted teacher.

according to jonathan pool, "most teachers teach facts, good teachers teach ideas, great teachers teach how to think." thanks for helping me learn how to think...and for shaping who i am as a teacher, mr. niland!

30 September 2010

it's CHAIR CARD time...

we're on our second batch of CHAIR CARDS, a deck of 50 modern furniture classics that students must draw as one rite of passage from their design history + theory course. this year, undergraduate teaching assistant brian peck has been named the CHAIR CARD CZAR and has documented some of the work of students on a separate blog: http://chaircards.wordpress.com/

in the image...check out the beautiful coffee-rendered cards of jasmine collins, the lovely colored pencil efforts of kara kooy, and the workmanlike pencil renditions of nathan howell (a biology major taking my class as an honor's student). cool!

the RANCH project begins

on wednesday, the students in my studio class gathered to measure the home of randy mcmanus. randy purchased the house a couple of years ago and has given a new lease on life to the 1959 commencement house, designed by woman's college students and greensboro architect edward loewenstein. this student project will focus on the public and private zones within the house. stay tuned for further developments.

18 September 2010

reading comprehension

in iar222, natalie and i have been perfecting the art of reading comprehension questions of different formats and approaches. check out the following blogs for some great examples of demonstration of reading and communicating prowess. congratulations to cassandra bradfield, kathryn frye, kayla mcdonagh, and justin mcnair as examples for raising the standards of reading comprehension blog work for the class.



you'll notice that a common theme among these writers is that they explicitly deal with evidence, use quotes and citations from the readings, and strive to move beyond the boundaries of the prompt to articulate their own opinions. well done!

09 September 2010

reading comprehension one

in iar222, natalie and i are exploring a new system for reading comprehension. in years past, i have assigned in class quizzes and that eats up class time...although my former teaching assistant, gwen mckinney, derived some excellent quizzes on the required reading. one goal for those quizzes was to work from both a visual and textual standpoint. so, natalie and i amended gwen's initial efforts (plus a change in textbooks) to try an out-of-class system. here's the prompts the students received.

and here are selected answers from four students, one for each of the prompts.

james mcnair : response to prompt 4...this has a nice reflection on design voice embedded within...


daniel salgado : response to prompt 3...with great observations about looking at things from the perspective of two cultures...


samantha smith : response to prompt 2...the textile analysis query (a beautiful analysis)


willard weston : response to prompt 1...commodity, firmness, and delight....well done!


08 September 2010

measuring up the BUNGALOW

willing homeowner cecelia thompson graciously opened the doors to her home for our BUNGALOW project. an avid cook and blogger, cecelia's dining room seemed an appropriate foray for our studio on residential design. check out cecelia's very cool cooking + food blog, modmealsonmendenhall.com

06 September 2010

the map project

imagine you receive a prompt from your instructor to manifest a MAP to describe four explicit design sites in history in four related 8.5" square compositions with four forms...that's what students tackled last week in iar222. we gathered in the crit room for a pin up and a discussion...

natalie and i then selected eight projects, which are now posted outside my office. these include the work of dajana nedic, weston willard, jasmine collins, raul garcia, nathan howell, alyssa hankus, leslie canipe, and kayla mcdonough. congratulations to all selected for display and for posting on the blog.

03 September 2010

and speaking of helpers...

the images in this post show undergraduate teaching assistants as they help with map project grading. top to bottom and left to right...katie o'boyle, maiken schoenleber | kalani gonzalez (well just his nose + profile), kelsey rhode, alli wilson, clairissa anderson | meghan kaufman, greg hickman | charese allen, cassandra gustafson | brian peck, syd gaskins.

in 2003, after one round of teaching iar221 + iar222, i recognized that i would need help...and thus began a tradition of inviting students who had complete the sequence to sit in again as undergraduate teaching assistants...experts to help lead discussion and to get to know students on a more one-to-one level than it's possible for me to do (with class sizes in the 80s and 90s). two heads are better than one....and, this semester, 14 are DEFINITELY better than two.


charese allen
clairissa anderson
syd gaskins
kalani gonzalez
cassandra gustafson
greg hickman
shane jones
meghan kaufman
katie o'boyle
brian peck
kelsey rhode
maiken schoenleber
carlos smith
allison wilson
i feel quite privileged in having these students be part of the teaching team.

introducing natalie lentz wall

a new school year begins with new people. for three years in iar221 + iar222, i was lucky to work with the fantastic gwen mckinney, one of the best teaching assistants with whom i have worked together. natalie wall brings new energy and insights to her position as a teaching assistant for iar222 this semester...and she brings professional experience, a great undergraduate education (with a degree from our program), and brilliant communication skills. i have always said to surround oneself with good people....and i feel like in natalie i've found an important partner for this history and theory of design ii course.

02 March 2010

the design thinking project

today, we began to turn our attention to the design thinking project, a space in our syllabus to show our prowess about design thinking on some issue. students brainstormed a design thinking project with the following QUALITIES...

a project that...
...improves study skills
...benefits the team and society long term
...helps the community
...triggers design thinking in others
...shows both individual + group capabilities
...is fun
...students can put on their resume/in their portfolio
...allows the team to work with diverse people/majors for a different perspective
...incorporates many features/approaches/deliverables
...exposes strengths and bolsters weaknesses of the group + its members
...is doable in the time allotted but allows the team to stretch/innovate/soar

watch this blog space for regular updates on this project. and if you have an idea about a design thinking project that embraces these qualities, pass it along.

27 January 2010

delightful buildings + objects

in the DESIGN CYCLES course, students have sought out spaces + places of delight. here's what they've come up with so far...

design thinking underway

this semester, i have the distinction of working alongside students who undertake an investigation of DESIGN THINKING as an approach for life. you can follow their progress herein, but also on their individual blogs, listed to the right.