The Design-Build project in the second year originated with the architect, furniture designer, and VT architecture alum, Tom Shiner. He was a guest instructor in spring 1997, when the first project, called Seat-Surface-Storage (SSS), launched. The brief called for a multi-functional solution integrating a seat, a surface, and storage (full-scale unit). We have run this project more than ten different years in addition to other versions of Design-Build, including Blank-to-Surface in 2000, Work Stand in 2002 (introduced by alum, Robert Reuter), and Container in 2010.
SSS Brief: Your unit’s design must be novel, stable, efficient, and comfortable. The unit may be used indoors, outdoors, or appropriate for both settings. Attention should be given to size and weight of the unit, possible combinations or manipulations of multiple units used together, and possible nesting or stacking of units to conserve space. Select one of the contexts below:
Container Brief: The milk crate and apple box are obvious examples of ad hocism, or adapting a thing, intended for one purpose, to another. They are also examples of nomadic furniture, or furniture ready to pick up and go. Slatted weathered wood is perhaps preferable to molded plastic. Either way, the two examples may function well as containers, shelves and surfaces, but they are sorely lacking when it comes to appeal. The assignment’s problem is to conceive an object that successfully competes with the milk crate and apple box and wins as a piece of furniture. One attribute of good furniture is a long and useful life. The functional and beautiful furniture item that will endure always commands care and appreciation.
Material: A successful solution expresses the qualities of the material chosen. Combinations of materials add complexity (and is this appropriate?). Often a material will require a treatment or a coating (e.g., chrome plating, powder coating, bees wax). Material choice often imparts a recognizable “regional” quality, if the material itself is something local. In an ecological sense, local is a good thing.
As part of the Virginia Tech Library Digital Archives, view many of the Design-Build student projects since 1997.