Last fall, Interface had a rare and welcome opportunity to participate in a product design course offered by the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Architecture in Philadelphia. Jordan Goldstein, a managing director in the Washington, D.C., office of Gensler (www.gensler.com), invited Interface to be the sponsoring manufacturer and partner for “Arch 733-401: Building Product Design,” a class he has taught at Penn each fall semester for the past six years.
The interdisciplinary workshop guides 15 students through the product design process—from design brief to scaled prototyping—in one semester, working firsthand with a manufacturer to focus on a specific product need. Early in the semester, students are presented with the design brief, which introduces them to the main design problem, macro-level design constraints, schedule, goals, and project objectives. Based on this product brief, students working in teams begin to conceptualize their design ideas by generating sketch concepts that are evaluated through a series of group and individual design critiques and then presented to the manufacturer and a review panel at milestone points during the semester. The goal is to provide a realistic view of how commercial design products evolve and come to market.
Throughout the semester, various Interface associates attended classes to share their expertise on topics ranging from recycling/closing the loop and materials health to bio-inspired design and styling and performance. The ultimate goal for three teams of students was to design a product that addressed the semester’s design challenge: What is the sustainable floorcovering of the future?
Katie Weeks, Chief Editor, Sustainability for Hanley Wood Business Media, participated in the final critique and followed up with a story on Ecobuildingpulse.com:
Other jurors included Jim Camp, managing director of Gensler Baltimore; Chip DeGrace, executive creative director, Interface; Thabo Lenneiye, Gensler; Jennifer Busch, vice president A&D market development, Interface; and Jordan Goldstein.