Where to look for the next big idea in design? The university.

December
17
2014

Given, there’s a universal quality to “good design.” But how far does universal go? When it comes to solving for design dilemmas and implementing these solutions in city-specific ways, does good design really mean the same thing in New York, London, Paris? Across all continents? In the case of SCADpad, World Architecture News answered “yes” when it handed Savannah College of Art and Design its first international award for the SCADpad micro-house community.

Attracting more than 1,300 entries from 72 countries, the WAN Awards are among the largest of their kind, and a barometer for what’s trending in architecture and urban design on a global scale. SCADpad emerged a winner from a long list of submissions from countries as far flung as Singapore and Sydney, Florence and Monterrey.

Why does SCADpad resonate internationally? It goes beyond the three prototypes, inspired by and named for Asia, Europe and North America.

SCAD is a global institution with a presence on three continents and a diverse student body that hails from more than 100 countries worldwide. A natural and regular outgrowth of its composition are projects that transcend international borders and push the limits of what’s being done in design.

That’s a good idea! We have been talking about this for years and here they did it. -WAN Award judge Mark Mimram, Marc Mimram Architects, Paris

Even when SCAD acts locally, as it did when it built SCADpad in its back yard (well, parking deck), its agenda is global. Underpinning that agenda is a belief that design can change the world, and the world view of aspiring designers who are informed by experiences in their home countries, like industrial design student Chung-Hsiang Wang (Taichung City, Taiwan) who created 3-D objects for SCADpad.

I've lived in Bombay and seen the space constraints, especially in the slum area. Micro-housing units could be a solution. - Sharika Menon, interior design student and SCADpad resident

Secondly, when design efficiently addresses a pressing social concern, especially one that is widely held, it sparks conversation. Globally, the urban population is expected to increase to 5 billion people over the next two decades. With half the world’s population already living in urban areas, this increase will squeeze the global housing inventory even more. Simultaneously, the parking garage has reentered the dialogue and presented new opportunities for architectural ingenuity. Think 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami.

SCAD aligned these trends, added a dose of expertise in adaptive reuse, and created a laboratory where 75 graduate and undergraduate students from 12 academic programs - including furniture and interactive design, architecture and design for sustainability - could apply their solutions for the urban housing shortage.

The resulting SCADpads may not have been created outside of the university setting. If urban design by its nature is transdisciplinary, then very seldom do the resources exist outside of a collaborative setting like the academic one to solve for the kind of pressing global issues that rarely see breakthrough solutions.

So, it appears, SCADpad was recognized by an international body as much for the final result as it was for the process behind its creation.

Though it was the only university-sponsored project among WAN’s 2014 urban design contenders, SCADpad is evidence that, just as the world depends on research universities for scientific breakthroughs, we can look to art and design universities to inspire and deliver viable concepts for our most pressing social challenges. We should follow WAN's lead and take a closer look inside these classrooms for the next big ideas.

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What is branded entertainment? Ask Stafford Green.

November
18
2014

Branded entertainment is pervasive. You’ve probably shared, “Liked” or been the target of such campaigns without even knowing how this content gets made. Stafford Green, honorary chairman of branded entertainment at Savannah College of Art and Design, is hoping to change that. An award-winning marketer for major brands like Coca-Cola, Stafford partnered with SCAD to start the country’s first academic degree program in branded entertainment, a $44 billion dollar industry. He didn’t arrive at being a brand marketing leader through a formulaic path, but he’s hoping that SCAD’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program will provide a map for those who want to enjoy a career similar to his.

Thread: Welcome to SCAD. For starters, what is branded entertainment?

Stafford Green: Branded entertainment means creating entertaining content that can capture and maintain consumer attention. It allows brands to make deeper connections with their audiences by engaging them wherever they happen to be – at a concert, on a mobile phone, watching TV, sitting with a PC, eating popcorn at a cinema, or experiencing an art installation.

Branded entertainment captivates audiences using great storytelling.

It’s no longer sufficient to simply push messages, especially to Millennials. Consumers increasingly demand brand messages that inform and entertain. Companies need to attract consumers with desirable messages and stories; to give their audience reasons to listen, engage and buy. I was a branded entertainment creative and producer at Coca-Cola. I loved working with a big global brand where I was allowed to combine and cross different artistic mediums in order to connect with consumers. It was fun, lucrative, creative and big. It was a great ride and one that I hope to help others achieve, too.

T: Tell us more about your work for Coca-Cola?

SG: Until last summer, I worked at Coca-Cola for many years helping the company transform how we advertised big brands like Coke, Sprite and Vitamin Water. My team held 'how to' workshops all over the world to teach trends in digital marketing and emerging media. We created The Coca-Cola Content Factory to prove that fans, crowds and small producers can create amazing films, games and websites more quickly and more cheaply by using new methods and technologies. We helped the company achieve great success by changing how it communicates to consumers who are powered up with new devices.

While my team was making an impact in this regard, I found myself wanting to make a personal contribution outside of Coke. So I retired early because I wanted to give back to a younger generation. I know you hear people say that, and it sounds like such spin, but I honestly wanted to do something good for the world. What I had learned in over two decades at Coke was a better, more authentic way of advertising – the kind of cool marketing that is evolving into new forms of communication. SCAD was a perfect fit to help me achieve my mission.

T: What makes SCAD the ideal place to launch an undergraduate degree in branded entertainment?

SG: SCAD is a special place and an ideal launching pad for this creative-business endeavor. Because the university has the faculty and degree programs it takes to make the branded entertainment degree possible, from advertising, to game development and foundations classes, we didn’t have to build the major from scratch. Second, where it was missing classes, like a branded entertainment portfolio development class, SCAD invested the time and energy to create these classes and to do it well. Third, SCAD’s approach to liberal arts, inclusive of subjects like color theory and Western art, gives students a critical and often overlooked foundation for telling authentic stories. It isn’t just about the mechanics.   

Home to more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, Atlanta is laboratory where students can immerse themselves directly into advertising's revolution, and SCAD Atlanta has some of the most amazing equipment. For one, the Digital Media Center, complete with a TV studio, green screen lab, game studies lab and more, allows students to experiment with what they’re learning in order to build an industry-valued portfolio. Simply put, this is a great place to be.

T: How do you go about building a program that is so interdisciplinary in scope?

SG: I worked hard to build a program that will give advertising and art production students a competitive edge for the careers. The idea is that when they graduate with a degree in branded entertainment and are sitting in front of an interviewer, they will be able to answer questions and show a portfolio like no other candidate. They’ll understand how to apply a brand voice to the art of storytelling and possess the brand-inspired production talent to make a film, game or interactive asset. I want grads to rock. The process was driven by the excellent leadership of SCAD’s ‎chief academic officer, Gokhan Ozaysin. He connected me to dozens of smart professors and administrators in many disciplines at SCAD so we could choose the right program requirements. What makes the build particularly terrific is that I leveraged my industry friends, too; people I have met during the course of working in 12 countries over the last 25 years.

Marketing professionals from Microsoft, 20th Century Fox, Apple and Google all had a part in building the curriculum.

Award-winning agencies like Work Club in London gave advice. At conferences I would quiz everyone on program specifics, from L'Oreal, to Buzzfeed and InBev. One thing is certain: the industry, comprised of movie studios, consumer goods companies, agencies and media companies, loves this idea. Their positive response confirmed to me that what we're building at SCAD is unique and valuable. We’re setting the stage to make a difference by giving students the power to create better advertising and to excite and entertain audiences for generations to come.

T: Which academic subjects comprise the degree requirements?

SG: Branded entertainment is a multidisciplinary approach that combines art and science, business and creativity.

The job of this major is to release the grand storyteller in all of us.

Foundational subjects in marketing theory, design, English, writing, drawing and storytelling provide a liberal arts basis. Business and entrepreneurial classes will give students the tools to run their own companies. For those wishing to work for large companies, the program will provide instruction on how to pitch an idea internally and negotiate corporate politics in order to see that idea through to fruition. Concentrations in gaming, film and television, or interactive will give students corresponding production skills and a portfolio for job interviews.

I must emphasize that the overall theme is storytelling. There isn’t a simple formula to what makes good branded entertainment. It’s about creating a uniquely personal and emotional experience every time.

Consumers want quality, branded entertainment anywhere at any time - they will reward companies with their loyalty who get this right. I really look forward to SCAD's branded entertainment graduates creating share-worthy film, game and interactive content that rises above the noise with brilliant branded storytelling. This is exciting! - Joe Tripodi, Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer, The Coca-Cola Company

T: Are graduates with this type of degree and expertise in demand?

SG: Yes and these jobs can be really fun. A quick search for “branded content” or “branded entertainment” on a job site like indeed.com delivers substantial opportunities. That’s because agencies and companies everywhere are starved for content. New media companies, such as Netflix, Amazon and Buzzfeed, need producers for games and films. Movie studios need help authentically placing brands in stories because generic product placement is awful! Gaming companies need new sources of revenue. Creating ways of connecting with brands through smart storytelling is a brilliant way to achieve all of this.

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SCADpad micro-house is a solution for TODAY

July
7
2014

Savannah College of Art and Design's futuristic micro-house experiment, SCADpad, is on the minds of media giants lately. TIME Magazine covered SCADpad in its "Smart Home" feature and NBC flew TODAY Show correspondent Jenna Wolfe to Atlanta for her own personal tour. In case the summer finds you behind on either, catch up by reading and watching now.

 

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AD's Margaret Russell's 'simple truths' for graduates

June
2
2014

A good commencement address is irresistible. Whether graduating or firmly planted in career or school, the distilled life experience and wisdom are too convenient and enlightening to pass up. And so, in case you missed Savannah College and Art and Design's 2014 commencement ceremonies, here's speaker Margaret Russell's 'simple truths', which she delivered to SCAD's 1,560 graduates in Atlanta and Savannah after tracing her rise to the helm of Elle Decor and now Architectural Digest.

I’m going to end with some simple truths, some things to keep in mind as you enter the workforce. These are more pragmatic than they are profound. Actually, they’re tips to help you do well at work and to keep you from annoying your future bosses.

Be early.
I remain challenged by this, but I’m usually still the first person at the AD offices each morning. It’s better to consistently arrive early at work than to have to consistently stay late.

Be a trouble shooter and problem solver.
These are key qualities that everyone in every industry looks for when hiring. Think ahead and always anticipate the unexpected.

Expect good and don’t gossip.
Don’t ever write emails that might land you in trouble if read in public. Email should communicate facts, not emotion.

Be aware of the power of social media and never post a photo when it’s clear that you’ve had far too much fun.
Your bosses are also on Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and they will find you. Try imagining that your social accounts have a pause button and take a breath before you hit send.

Embrace change as it’s the most constant aspect of your future.
The happiest people around you are those who are flexible and adapt well.

Don’t be afraid to ask; ask for everything. Just never have a sense of entitlement when you do.
Some of the best stories published in the magazines I’ve edited are there because I had the nerve to go after them.

Don’t be afraid, period.
Life’s too short. Conquer your fears today.

Pay attention.
Listen, stay focused, be ambitious, have common sense, show good judgment.

Do the right thing.
You’ll never go wrong by doing what you truly believe is right.

Give back.
I love AD, but the most rewarding work I do is philanthropic or political. Volunteer, develop your personal sense of social responsibility and integrate it into your daily life.

Think green.
Please think green because your forebears did not. Use your genius to save our planet.

Find your passion and your joy.
I hire people who are passionate about their work. I’ve always been told that there’s no place for emotion at work, and indeed that’s true. But I know for sure that being passionate about what you do will drive you to far greater success.

Feed your creativity. Get off your iPhone. Look up.
Don’t passively email someone sitting a few feet from you in the office. Talk to each other, write thank you notes, read books.

Don’t settle. Expect the best. Want to be the best.

You are so well prepared to make your way and to change the world and we can’t wait to see what you’ll do. Congratulations, class of 2014. We honor and admire you. Here’s to your brilliant future. Here’s to tomorrow.

Share your favorite or most memorable piece of commencement advice by posting it in the comments below.

 

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A taste of tiny living in SCADpad

May
7
2014

I volunteered to live in Savannah College of Art and Design's experimental micro-house SCADpad because I wanted to test whether a 135 square-foot dwelling is truly liveable. I figured cooking was going to be my biggest challenge when I moved into SCADpad Europe this week: even when you have full-sized equipment (i.e. stove, oven), cooking in a small space is difficult. Where do you prep? Chop? Plate? Clean up? My mother is a fantastic cook. As a child, I was attached to her hip, which meant a lot of time with her in the kitchen. I learned to cook from her, absorbed it rather, over years of watching, mimicking and helping her prepare meal after meal.

But in a kitchen with only a sink, microwave, and a one-burner stovetop? Now that’s a challenge, especially if you’re going for something slightly healthier than mac ‘n cheese from a cardboard box.

My SCADpad kitchen is a single plane of countertop, 7 Women’s Size 7 Keds long by 2 Women’s Size 7 Keds deep. Half is taken up by the sink and single-burner stovetop. A large cutting board can squeeze in on the other half, next to the Keurig coffee maker and in front of the kitchen utensils. In other words, there’s not a lot of space. So how do you cook?

Three words: Keep. It. Simple.

I’m talking one pot simple: stir-fries, one pot pasta, lots of sautéing and steaming. For my first meal, I made stir-fry with lots of vegetables, some leftover roasted chicken I brought to SCADpad from home, and steamed rice. I call it SCADpad Stirfry.

While the space is tight, I can say that the SCADpad kitchen was designed for the user. Of course, everything is in reach. How could it not be? But in such a tight squeeze, burning yourself could be an issue. The SCADpad designers factored that in. The burner is “magnetic induction,” meaning the flat plane will only heat magnetized pots and pans. The “burner” will not burn you if you happen to graze your hand over it. You could place a stick of butter on the “hot burner” but it would not melt. The burner will only heat magnetized metal. All of the pots and pans in SCADpad have been specially made with magnetic coating to respond to the burner.

But if for some reason the cooking doesn’t work out, there is always the SCADpad iPad: use it to order delivery. Just be sure to give detailed directions to the parking deck.

Glennis Lofland is a writer, reader and occasional runner pursuing her M.F.A. in writing at SCAD Atlanta. A native Virginian from a country town called Crozier, she traveled across the globe before coming to Atlanta. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in linguistics from the College of William and Mary. Follow her on Twitter @GlennisLofland.

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Turning the career fair on its head

May
1
2014

Savannah College of Art and Design created a reverse career fair called Out to Launch (O2L) about seven years ago to empower students to amplify their bodies of work in their own voice. It’s a reversal in that the employers come to the students, instead of the students going to the employers at their headquarters or a conference hall. We invite industry representatives to view the portfolios of students at our Atlanta location right before they graduate, a preview of the new talent entering the marketplace.

By requiring students to host potential employers ‘on their own turf,’ they come to understand the value of their education and active participation in it. They see the portfolios of their fellow students and begin to make professional connections that pay off earlier in their careers. The ownership they take in O2L enables them to better market their whole educational experience - facilities, pedagogy, faculty – and harness those elements for their benefit.

By way of example, one hundred percent of the animation students who participated last year reported earning a job opportunity at O2L.

Initially, we didn't realize just how successful the format would become, growing from 11 employers participating in 2008 to more than 120 in 2013. It turns out that industry relishes the idea of taking time to absorb an array of prospective interns and employees, asking questions at their own pace and truly understanding the educational environment that has contributed to their talents.

As O2L grows, so does the buzz. We went from inviting only local agencies in the beginning to hosting a variety of national companies, and the success stories grow every year.

Through O2L, our students have landed internships and full-time positions at companies like Marvel Comics, The Home Depot, Wieden+Kennedy, Sony Pictures, MTV and more.  This year, employers like the Centers for Disease Control, IBM Interactive and MailChimp have signed on.

Our faculty members are proud to see our passion for preparing students for creative careers come to fruition. The broad range of students who participate in O2L proves that the format is beneficial to all students, regardless of discipline. Each year, more academic majors are represented at O2L, with students from 13 different programs participating last year.

In addition to drawing a pool of top-notch employers with opportunities to offer, we invite keynote speakers and a panel of professionals, handpicked from industries that are relevant to the students’ career paths. O2L may have turned the career fair upside down, but the students who participate and the employers who hire them are coming out on top.

This year, our keynote is motivational speaker and creativity advocate Kevin Carroll, founder of Carroll Katalyst, LLC. The panel, moderated by The Weather Channel's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Scot Safon, includes:

Judy Salzinger is the advertising program coordinator at SCAD Atlanta. Previously, she was vice president and creative director at Cross Media/Golin-Harris International and led initiatives such as creative direction for top sponsors of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and Fortune 500 companies.

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What's in your bag for SCADpad?

April
16
2014

The first SCADpad residents are settling in to their micro-houses in the parking deck of Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. Even before crossing the threshold, they ran smack into one of the first dilemmas that micro-living poses: how to pack? Here’s what they brought with them.

Lynda Spratley
Hometown: Kennesaw, Georgia
Major: Graphic Design, Senior

What did you pack?
I tried to pack as few outfits as possible so that my clothes would fit in the space. I packed my pancake mix because I love breakfast food, anytime. Popcorn is my favorite snack so I had to bring my kernels along. My laptop is coming along because no graphic designer can leave home without it.

What perspective do you bring to micro-living?
I'm not sure my major of graphic design will affect my perspective as much as my background. I have always lived in large spaces. So I have the mentality that there is room for everything. I think SCADpad will be more about having room for what I need.

What habits do you bring that you think you’ll have to ditch?
I think my habit of wanting a lot of clothes to choose from will have to change. I usually dress based on how I feel on a given day. This time I had to pack a small suitcase.

Sharika Menon
Hometown: Kerala, India
Major: Interior Design, Graduate Student

What did you pack?
Everything that fits into ONE bag! It was quite the challenge to pack for 10 anything-can-happen days. Optimism was the one thing that kept me company as I added each item to the pile. Now that I’ve checked into SCADpad, I will see for myself whether SCADpad's design will accommodate anything (relatively small and light), beautifully.

Carlos Maldonado
Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina
Major: Photography, Junior

What did photographer Carlos bring with him? Bet you can guess. Check your answer here.
 

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Snapshots of SCAD alumni in the South
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Prabal Gurung chats with Steven Kolb live

April
14
2014

Prabal Gurung, world renowned fashion designer born in Singapore, will discuss his career and views on modern glamour with CFDA CEO, Steven Kolb. The livestream of their conversation from Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, part of SCADstyle 2014, starts tonight at 6:00 p.m. EDT here on Thread.

Parabal Gurung was the recipient of the 2010 Ecco Domani Fashion Fund Award, has served as Goodwill Ambassador for Maiti Nepal, and his designs have been worn by fashion icons such as First Lady Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge.

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Watch: SCADpad micro-house unveiled

April
10
2014

In a conventional Atlanta parking deck, Savannah College of Art and Design has launched an unconventional solution to explosive urban population growth and the accompanying demand for flexible housing. If you missed the live unveiling of SCADpad here on Thread, watch it now and take a virtual tour below.

SCAD’s experimental and experiential contribution to the micro-house movement, SCADpad pushes the boundaries of urban living and the parking deck that hosts three models of the 135 square-foot semi-permanent dwelling, SCADpad Asia, SCADpad Europe and SCADpad North America.

The SCADpad project also pushed emerging artists and designers, representing 12 academic programs, to the limits of innovation in areas like adaptive reuse, sustainable living, furniture design, intelligent home systems and more.

So, is it liveable? We’ll answer that question when the first round of SCADpad’s student-residents moves in next week. Follow their experiences on Twitter using #SCADpad.

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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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