Lighten up: behind the redesign of Mohawk Flooring’s HQ

March
28
2014

Gadflies like Google have tipped us off that our work places needn’t be drab utilitarian environments lacking inspiration and intentional design. Mohawk Flooring is one of the latest employers to create a place that’s as imaginative as it is functional; that speaks to its history as one of the world’s most successful manufacturers of floor coverings. This fall, Mohawk enlisted interior design students from Savannah College of Art and Design to reimagine its Dalton, Ga. headquarters. The result of the 10-week sponsored project of SCAD’s Collaborative Learning Center was a plan that Mohawk accepted wholesale, with no changes.


The design board the SCAD team submitted during their final presentation to Mohawk reps.
As Mohawk begins construction on that plan, here’s a look back at the project with SCAD senior Bradley Odom, who also works full-time as West Elm’s director of design education. Mohawk selected Bradley’s “Light Lab” as the guiding design force for the renovation.

Project manager Bradley Odom and his fellow students delivered the final concept to Mohawk at SCAD Atlanta.

Thread: The first step was to visit the Mohawk site. What were the takeaways?

Bradley Odom: The field trip enabled us to immerse ourselves in the actual space. We were able to see the beauty of the building and the natural mountainous area it’s surrounded by. We also worked one-on-one with the client - users of the space - to understand their needs. This relationship was very important to our overall design.

T: What inspired Light Lab and how does it fit Mohawk’s objectives?

B: The client desired a more open work environment. They were looking for a paradigm shift in their culture and to create a place that fostered collaboration.


The site plan for the redesign of Mohawk's headquarters.

B: The existing skylight in the center of the space served as inspiration, as it allowed natural light into an area where people could converge to collaborate. The primary motivating goal was to create a place where design is first and foremost. Mohawk designs beautiful product, yet it was not the primary focus when entering, and I thought it should be. In the final design, the Light Lab is a place where visitors and employees can engage in the design process by seeing the resources, products and the people who are designing the products.

A model installation that the team proposed to reference the importance of weaving and threads to Mohawk's legacy.
T: Describe some of the unique features that the SCAD team included in the plan?

B: One of the most unique features is the water bottle wall. This was inspired by the client’s reputation in the industry as one of the world’s largest recyclers of plastic water bottles. Mohawk uses the recycled bottles to create carpet tiles. I believe visitors should learn this upon entering the building. Another great feature is the lighting. In the Light Lab plan we included a lighting element that would project natural and artificial light through cut out metal onto the floor in the form of keywords that described the overall concept and Mohawk as a company--INSPIRE, EXPLORE, DESIGN.

A sketch of how a lighting element filters natural light from the skylight and a prototype of a light fixture that also plays on the theme of weaving.
B: The dining area was a new feature for this space. We included stadium type seating for a more casual area, counter height dining and typical table and booth seating. The multiple seating heights provides flexibility for the employees and the space. We also included a communal dining table.

Stadium seating was proposed for the dining area.

T: The client had no changes to the concept you presented. What was the key to your success?

B: Seeing the space, listening to the client and one of the elements that was key to articulating the concept: imagery. Finding the right inspiration images to articulate what I was trying to convey was very important.

Paint chips and swatches for floor coverings.

B: In conveying the concept, I wanted to make a statement that was brief, but powerful. I believe the concept statement and imagery together met all of the clients needs. But the number one reason for the overall success was the collaboration of my peers and the expertise of Professor Liset Robinson. The concept was my idea, but my peers and my professor helped to bring all of my ideas to fruition, and expanded on them. The project couldn't have happened in the given time span without the contribution of everyone on the team.
 

 

 

 

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6 mobile game apps to install now

March
25
2014

Ok, so we’re a little biased in that all of these games bear the imprint of students, faculty or alumni from Savannah College of Art and Design animation or interactive design and game development, one of Princeton Review's top programs for Video Game Design. Just a nip of some Georgia-grown fruit, and a nosh while we wait to learn whether another SCAD game is chosen for the second E3 College Game Competition this summer.

NerdHerder by Georgia Tech

‘Herd nerds through a distracting office space!’
Art Director: Paul Tillery (B.F.A, Animation; M.F.A., Animation)
Project Director: ITGM Professor Tony Tseng

République by Camouflaj LLC

‘Intense, thrilling, and topical, RÉPUBLIQUE is a stealth-action game that explores the perils of government surveillance in the Internet Age.’
Game Designer: Paul Alexander (B.F.A., ITGM)
Character Artist: Travis Overstreet (M.F.A., Animation)

Ride ‘Em Rigby by Cartoon Network

‘Help Rigby hang on for dear life as Muscle Man rampages through the park. Jump, duck and grab power-ups to keep your ride going as long as you can.’
Producer: Lee Ann Kinnison (B.F.A., ITGM)

Bunny Reaper by Daily App Dream

‘Fun, cute, and a tiny bit cruel! Grab your trusty scythe and jump into the role of the Grim Reaper on his quest to collect the souls of bunnies!’
Game Artist and Level Designer: Molly Proffitt (B.F.A., ITGM)

Hot Mess by Nicholas Ralabate

‘HOT MESS is the story of a firefighting robot and its adventures helping everybody out.’
Art Director: Michael Stanley (B.F.A., ITGM)

Darkdawn Encounters by Leo Ceballos

‘A game of 3D, tactical starship combat.’
Producer, Artist, Designer and Programmer: Leonardo Ceballos (M.A., ITGM)

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Making room in a micro-house

March
20
2014

Suffice it to say that counter and storage space will be scant in Savannah College of Art and Design’s SCADpad micro-house, measuring 8 feet wide by 16 feet long. So where will the inhabitants put all their, well, stuff? This is the challenge that industrial design students working on SCADpad received.

School of Design dean Victor Ermoli gives feedback on students' early concepts.

The metalic rail above the sink in SCADpad's kitchen is the backbone for wall panels that will provide storage and organization.

The SCADpad brief for industrial design required the team to create a modular wall system to organize residents’ what nots. On top of that challenge was the call for something sustainable and customizable, according to the residents’ unique lifestyles. Oh, and one more thing: the wall system had to be a host for art, not an eyesore of metal and plywood that you’d find in an average garage.

Early sketches of the modular wall system.

SCADpad isn’t just about living small, it’s about living artfully in a dramatically reduced footprint; about minimizing accessories in order to maximize art. Here are some of those accessories – including utensil holders, soap dishes, hangers and towel rods that can be housed in the wall system - and a sliver of the art that the students’ designs make room for.

A sampling of the components and accessories that the wall systems in SCADpad will house. All will be made with 3D printing technology to eliminate the need for shipping and packaging.


Decorative shelves in walnut and acrylic add artful elements to the SCADpad modular wall system.

Woodworkers made walnut shelves and storage boxes directly from student drawings. Later, nature-inspired textures were applied by a 5 axis CNC router. So in addition to learning about time and client management, the students mastered the process of readying their designs for both collaboration with technology and craftspeople.

The 5 axis CNC router is available for student projects at SCAD.

Other experts that the industrial design students collaborated with were their peers in fibers, whose patterned felt wall panels and storage boxes soften and beautify their functional wall system and components. Similarly, the team consulted with students from furniture design for their technical expertise. The results are a far cry from the tree houses, FEMA trailers and huts the students have experienced during their travels; experiences they referenced along the way to inspire designs for SCADpad.

Next, the industrial design team will tackle the touch points residents will use to control SCADpad's home systems, like heating and air. Service design students are heading up that aspect of the micro-house prototypes.

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The art of sound

March
16
2014

Sound. It’s the silent hero of so much of what we consume. But often, because of its brilliant subtlety - owing to the skill of a professional or nature’s omnipotence - we don’t even notice it’s there. Were you conscious of the sounds around you when you just read that sentence? Exactly. But if they stopped, you’d notice. Same goes with those surreal game enhancing noises in Madden NFL 25 or explosions in Call of Duty. The experience wouldn't be the same without them.

The Sound Art Showcase at Savannah College of Art and Design got me thinking about all of this. This is where graduate students from Dr. Andre Ruschkowski's sound art class, which covers a range of concepts like Italian Futurism and those by John Cage, demo their end of quarter projects. Before I went, I asked Professor Ruschkowski for a crash course in sound art.

Inspired by the colorful wind chimes in her home country, a student turns a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables into percussive instruments, assigning each one its own sound.

Thread: What is sound art?

Andre Ruschkowski: Sound art includes a lot of things that are usually excluded in music. Sound art can be anything that includes sound in some way and that’s meant to be presented in an art environment. It can be an installation, performance or mixed media component. It includes all of these things. Sound art is everything that goes beyond music and commercial applications of sound.

Jonathan Sewell uses Max/MSP software to create a patch where he gave brain waves a range and a pitch. He wears a monitor that measures the brain waves he releases, which his program then translates into sound.

T: What’s the difference between sound design and sound art?

AR: When you talk about sound design from an American understanding it means sound for motion pictures. Sound design in the rest of the world is about designing sound for different purposes: for a theatrical environment, for radio. Sound design is even part of product design. Sound design can be a lot of things and sound art is once special application of sound design.

Jai Berger’s “Synth Arcade” turns a retro video game control into a sound machine where the buttons and joystick play individual tones.

 

 

 

What does music look like? A graduate student demonstrates an interactive representation of a song in shape and color.

 

 

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Making room in a micro-house
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Designing furniture for a micro-house on a micro-timeline

March
12
2014

Though their names have yet to be announced, the students who will have the good fortune to live in the micro-housing prototypes being constructed at Savannah College of Art and Design weigh heavily on the minds of the designers and builders who are quickly making SCADpad a reality.

Plans for the SCADpad prototypes.

Teams are constructing the SCADpad units in Savannah for transport to Atlanta.

SCADpad's kitchen taking shape.

It was late January when I visited one of the first SCADpad reviews, where students from industrial design, interactive design, design for sustainability and furniture design presented their initial ideas for tricking out the three SCADpad prototypes. Fast forward six weeks, when I caught up with the furniture design students again, and I was floored by their progress. At the beginning of winter quarter, the group was just beginning to grapple with how to design furniture for the extended living areas that will surround the SCADpad micro-community: a shared gaming area, rapid prototyping area and lounge area.

Furniture design students present early concepts for modular pieces with the goal of maximizing adaptability.

A panel of faculty provide their feedback on the students' initial ideas and pose challenging questions.

One of the biggest questions they faced was how to simplify the furniture enough to make it adaptable for SCADpad residents. Senior Rachel Biancofiore (B.F.A., furniture) gave Thread a peek at how they tackled it:

Also during their initial review, school of design dean Victor Ermoli challenged the students to incorporate illumination into their designs. Here’s senior Ben Engel (B.FA., furniture) on what they came up with for lighting and workspace solutions. Keep your seats, "Star Wars" fans.

 

 

 

On top of the puzzles one would expect to encounter while exploring new frontiers of design, the furniture design students are operating according to an expedited schedule to allow time for Kentucky-based outdoor furniture company Brown Jordan to manufacture their collection and deliver it to Atlanta for an April move-in. Typically, the students have as long as ten weeks to move through ideation and revisions in order to deliver production drawings. For SCADpad they did all of this in six. Those six weeks also included time they spent consulting with the other student teams on their own challenges, like helping industrial design develop planters for the SCADpad units.

We’ll have more on the solutions those students created soon.

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ADDY Awards bound: what makes a winning ad pop?

March
7
2014

Every year, advertising faculty from Savannah College of Art and Design review work done by our students from fall quarter to fall quarter. The best work competes in the annual SCADDY Awards. This year, the awards were held entirely online. By featuring student work in a digital format, agencies, recruiters, and prospective students can now review the outstanding creative being produced at each of our different locations. Students competed for Gold, Silver, and Honorable Mention in nine different categories:

  1. Magazine Ad Single
  2. Magazine Ad Campaign
  3. Digital/Online Advertising
  4. Out-of-Home
  5. Non-traditional Advertising
  6. Advertising Copywriting
  7. Advertising Art Direction
  8. Advertising Typography
  9. Integrated Campaign (mixed media)

At the end of the judging, Best of Show was picked from one of the nine Gold medalists. Here are three winners that we'll submit to the professional ADDY Awards.

Ad: The Great Invisible
Category: Typography
Student: Luis Fabrega (M.F.A., advertising) from Panama City, Panama


The assignment was to do the entire marketing campaign for an indie movie about the BP oil spill. Luis did a great job on the entire campaign, but this poster was singled out for its excellent blend of typography and subject matter.

Ad: Advil Migraine
Category: Magazine Single Ad
Student: Sinping Ku (B.F.A., advertising) from Taipei, Taiwan


The draconian simplicity of this ad for Advil is extraordinary. No copy. No tag line. No nothing, just pure idea. Love how it requires the consumer to put two and two together to understand the ad.

Ad: Fitbit Force
Category: Digital/Interactive
Student: Pablo Isaza (B.F.A., advertising) from Baton Rouge, LA and Rushil Nadkarni (M.F.A. advertising) from Mumbai, India



It’s always a little hard to describe a fully integrated campaign in a small space such as this. But this campaign brought to life the benefits of the FitBit bracelet in a fluid and fully connected multi-media campaign. The faculty chose this entry for Best of Show because it was a good idea to start with. And then it was well-executed, well-written, made interactive and shareable, and it worked in all media.

After 30 years in the advertising business, Luke Sullivan is now chair of the advertising department at Savannah College of Art and Design. He’s also the author of the popular advertising book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Advertising and the blog heywhipple.com. His new book, Thirty Rooms To Hide In: Insanity, Addiction, and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic, comes to bookstores in September 2014. Follow him on Twitter @heywhipple.

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Slam dunk for a college application: making art with Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

February
20
2014

Hanging amidst the exhibitions of celebrated contemporary artists at SCAD Museum of Art is the work of 14-year-old Winter Jones.

I never would have suspected that I would have the chance to put one of my pieces inside of a museum as good as this.

Who better than Tim Rollins and K.O.S. to introduce Winter and his 7th and 8th grade classmates from Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts to the art world. The collaboration between Winter’s class and the New York-based artists was a condition of sorts that Tim set for bringing the exhibition “Rivers” (Feb. 1 - June 8, 2014) to SCAD Museum of Art. Because, quite naturally, he wanted to interact with the community.

And so, among staples of the Tim Rollins and K.O.S. collection inspired by literature like Harriet Jacbos’ “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” and Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” is the piece that bears the untested marks of middle school students like Winter, “Darkwater III (after W.E.B. Du Bois).”

The students saw their work - first edition pages of the text "Darkwater" dipped in watercolor and gold acrylic - displayed on museum walls for the first time this week during deFINE ART.





Judging from their reactions, the students' encounter with Tim and K.O.S. was one opportunity that made their possibilities seem endless.

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A walk through deFINE ART with critic Paul Laster
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Olympic urbanism: the Games’ legacy to our cities

February
11
2014
Tags: Academic

With the Winter Olympics in full swing, you’ll forgive me if I have more on my mind than figure skating, ski slopes, and curling. After months of studying the impact Olympic Games have on our cities for my graduate thesis, "Olympic Theatrics on the Global Stage: Evaluating the effects of temporary and permanent event structures on historic urban landscapes," it’s nearly impossible to acknowledge the Games at face value. As Sochi has already been marred by viral images of unfinished facilities and technical malfunctions at the opening ceremony, here are five things to think about while rooting on the talented athletes in Sochi.

1. The Olympics are no longer about sport
Instead, hosting the Games is an unsurprising justification for urban renewal efforts. Driven by financial and political motives, the Games provide opportunity for infrastructure improvements, economic gains through tourism, redevelopment schemes, and the city’s self-promotion to the global audience. This approach is referred to as 'Olympic urbanism,' defined by identity, regeneration, and the intended legacy of the Games. While the participants demonstrate extraordinary feats of athleticism, the sporting events are a mere façade to the administrative agenda.

2012 London Olympic Games. Credit: Rex Features, Canadian Press.

2. Planning decisions have significant long-term effects
In designing for the Olympic Games, host cities have several options: reuse existing buildings, construct new permanent facilities, or create temporary structures for the short-term use. Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008) created a building stock of megastructures that have mostly been abandoned due to high maintenance costs and limited post-Game function. Olympic construction should include a feasible long-term use plan before a city is selected to play host.

Olympic Abandonment: 1984 Sarajevo, 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing. Credit: Huffington Post/Business Insider.

3. Hosting the Games comes at the expense of local residents
The Olympics are intended to be financed by fundraising efforts of the host city’s local planning organization, but it is not uncommon for the tab to be unwillingly picked up by local taxpayers. As the Olympics have reached a mind-blowing height of cost, the expense paid by locals is not only financial but also includes environmental and social consequences. Planning should engage local community members and organizations with focus on the long-term benefit. Sochi’s struggle with social equality and environmental conservation have been no secret while generating construction costs greater than any other Olympic Games in history: $51 billion compared to Beijing’s $40 billion in 2008 (the most expensive Winter Games prior to Sochi were Vancouver’s for $7 billion in 2010).

Credit: Mother Jones

4. The Olympics are detrimental to historic urban landscapes
Recent trends over the past 30 years favor mass demolition within the existing built environment to create a blank canvas for the Games. This tendency obliterates all historic integrity and sense of place specific to that region. With the need for large buildable area and little availability of open space, the Olympics are an undeniable catalyst for resident displacement. The dislocation of 6,000 people in London (2012) is seemingly minor compared to Beijing’s (2008) 1.5 million people. Sochi has reportedly displaced 2,000 families in preparation for this year’s event. The ideal solution would require host cities to implement a layering strategy to integrate new construction with existing heritage.

2008 Beijing statistics by David Trayte.

Historic hutong demolition by Jose Antonio Soria/CCCB.

5. The Olympics are not stopping anytime soon
The Modern Games have been held for almost 120 years without any signs of slowing. The Games are more often harmful to our cities than not, but it is important to acknowledge the lengthy Olympiad timeline that continues to grow. A sense of permanent Olympic identity should be evident in every host city, allowing the event to succeed while being sensitively integrated in the existing landscape. Only with the incitement of a preservation voice can the Olympic adage of “faster, higher, stronger” rise above displacement, destruction, and disregard.

Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park by Andrew Gunners, Getty Images.

David Trayte (B.F.A., Architecture, 2011; M.F.A. Historic Preservation, 2013) is a preservation specialist for an architecture firm in Cleveland, Ohio, where he also volunteers with cultural landscape initiatives. His preservation interests include modern heritage of the recent past, cultural landscapes, and the integration of contemporary design with historic resources.

 

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Is that real? Uses for virtual and augmented reality in nonfiction TV

February
9
2014

The Virtual and Augmented Reality panel at aTVfest, with Janet Arlotta and John Howell from North Carolina-based (n+1) designstudio, opened my eyes to how 3D and motion media are giving producers on live TV sets unlimited possibilities.

For a producer, a physical set is like home base. You block segments around the set. You visualize how the host will engage the audience and cameras. You know exactly where to perch to make eye contact with your talent while the make-up artist touches up their foundation.

A few of the sets I became cozy with over the years:

From that reference point, I assumed that a virtual set would be totally disorienting and cold. (Could an audience really relate to augmented reality over the cushiness of Oprah’s coach?) But the case studies Janet and John presented demonstrate that these increasingly used and essential methods for engaging an audience create storytelling opportunities that vastly outweigh the temporary discomfort of operating outside of a traditional set.

With clients like "Inside Edition," Food Network and Tennis Channel, some of the best work with virtual and augmented reality isn’t happening in sci-fi, as I erroneously believed, but in nonfiction television, especially sports. And it’s all done in real-time, not post-production.

Virtual sets like, UFC’s for example, have smaller space requirements but posses more specialized features, like ‘baked-in’ lighting and shadows, which mean less man hours needed for live broadcasts. For Tennis Channel, a virtual set offered a two-in-one for US Open coverage: one set for "US Open Tonight" and one for "Breakfast at the Open." That’s two shows built around one desk, sitting on one green screen.

Probably the best known use of augmented reality in TV is the neon first down line, now ubiquitous in NFL games, along with the line of scrimmage and the world record marker that you’ve seen hovering above Olympic swimmers.

John Howell shows how ESPN diagrams a soccer play using augmented reality.

But AR also means ESPN can diagram plays using animated 3D players, and that CNBC’s hosts can walk in and around the financial data they’re reporting using corresponding infrared dots on their hands and Steadicam.

Then there’s social media. No, not the kind that sits in a screen beside the talent on a set. That’s so 2010. Sean “Diddy” Combs approached (n+1) designstudio for help with the set for his new music network REVOLT.  With social media interaction being a major player in REVOLT’s mission, (n+1) took that traffic out of the screen and literally made live Tweets float in the air around the talent. Instead of a Twitter wall built into the set, AR enables those screens to move and fly around the hosts.

And you thought Oprah’s coach was immersive.

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Promotions: strategies for attracting a television audience

February
8
2014

Whether scripted or unscripted, television content doesn’t have an audience without promotion. The Promoting the Product panelists at aTVfest shared their approaches for attracting and building an audience, as well as proven methods for mutual promotion in today’s integrated media environment.

Here, Frank Radice, former president of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and a consultant on the soon to launch El Rey Network, describes his approach to building a promotional strategy around Machete filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, who inspired the channel's brand. Sound designers, take note, you're a major player in this process.

 

For an established network, like those in the Turner Entertainment family, integrated marketing as become a staple. In this clip panelist Rick Dascher, executive director of Turner Entertainment's creative agency The Sponsor Shop, breaks down the meaning of integrated marketing and shows how his team partners with corporate sponsors to achieve mutually beneficial promotions.

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