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


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.

SCADpad micro-house is a solution for TODAY


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.


Studio Logic: inside the studio of Marcus Kenney


For the next post in our Studio Logic series, exploring the studios of professional artists and designers, we interviewed Marcus Kenney (M.F.A., photography, 1998). In a two-story Victorian in the heart of Savannah, Georgia, Marcus works across mediums - sculpture, paint, photography and collage - to mastermind reflections on wildlife and Americana. In addition to being among a collection of artists responsible for the aesthetic of Savannah College of Art and Design’s micro-house experiment, SCADpad® North America, Marcus recently completed a residency at Lux Art Institute and is currently showing his paintings at Georgia College Museum.

Thread: What is your ideal work environment?
Marcus Kenney: I am pretty flexible when it comes to working space. I have worked in a variety of studio of spaces, from 5000 square feet warehouses, to a 100 square feet garage. My current studio has a bit of a domestic appeal as opposed to an industrial one. I enjoy the neighborhood and interaction with the neighbors. I have a large vinyl collection and during the workday I am constantly flipping over records and listening to random recording artist.

SCAD: Do you work best surrounded by objects that inspire you?
MK: Studios tend to reflect their owners and I admit that my studio is a mess and full of lots of contradicting objects. There are thousands of books, hundreds of small sculptures and boxes full of interesting objects like ladies dresses, wigs, fur coats and hats from around the world and rolls of wall paper. There are some cobwebs in the corners and surprises to be found; things I have forgotten I had and things that I haven't used in years. There are lots of reasons to create art and my art is about our culture. Historically, the way to study a culture is by the objects it produces. I find it responsible to study our ephemera and detritus and edit and shape them into valid cultural conversations.

I enjoy turning the world into my art supply store and making a game of searching for the right elements to create a work of art.

SCAD: Did your studio change when you evolved from 2D TO 3D work?
: I currently have four horses living in my studio! Honestly, it has not changed much. I have always created sculpture and so there are large amounts of materials lying around. I still paint occasionally, so all of my painting materials are there, as well. I like to keep lots of things on hand because I never know how the day is going to unfold and where inspiration may strike. Some days I may start a painting and other days I may work on sculpture. Often, I won’t go to the studio at all, but spend the day photographing or searching for materials to work with. The pleasure of being a contemporary artist is that there are no set rules.

“My studio is a super buffet with all kinds of options to feed my creative hunger.”

SCAD: What’s one thing you can’t work without?
: Recently it has been a thimble on my finger. I have worked with one so much the last several years that my forefinger feels a little naked without it. For many years I carried a camera with me 24 hours a day, and before that it was an X-Acto knife with a box of new blades. It changes as my work changes. 

SCAD: What's another unique aspect of your studio?
: I only work on the first floor. Upstairs has been reserved for other artists to work in. I have had some really special and unique artists work upstairs. Monica Cook (B.F.A., painting, 1996), Scott Griffin, Lorie Corbus (B.F.A., fibers, 2002), Paige Russell, Cedric Smith, Jameid Ferrin, Tobia Makover (M.F.A., photography, 2001) and others have all created inspired work upstairs.

Here's to creating inspired work and the places where we make it.

Studio Logic: the workspaces of professional artists and designers


Space. Invariably, it’s the object of focus for artists and designers, and often times the basis for their inspiration. This is definitely true for the spaces we’ll feature in our series Studio Logic, exploring the studios of professional artists and designers. For the first installment we travel to Brooklyn, where powerhouse duo Trish Andersen (B.F.A., fibers, 2005) and Maureen Walsh (B.F.A., fibers, 2004) set up the multi-disciplinary design studio Domestic Construction. Below they ‘show and tell’ how their space reflects their philosophy and fuels their work for clients like Google, Target, Bravo and Hewlett-Packard. Clearly recent projects, like the striking blue exterior and interactive fiber walls of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s micro-house SCADpad® Europe and the pair’s grounded mat line, bear the mark of a special muse. We couldn’t resist taking a closer look.

Thread: How did designing for SCADpad challenge your initial way of working and how has it challenged how you engage space?

Domestic Construction: We wouldn't necessarily say it challenged our way of working, but rather supported it. We are all about the belief that any space, whether living or working, should be one that inspires you. SCADpad is a prime example of how you can push the limits of space through the creative use of materials to be one that is constantly engaging and ever-changing.

T: Being fibers artists, how does space inspire you? How does your personal work environment influence your products?

DC: Space is everything. As fibers artists, we like to challenge the preconceived notions of what a typical interior should be. Why should we live/work in white boxes? Have normal walls/floors? Isn't that getting boring? Our studio is an ever-changing exploration of what is inspiring us at the moment. A giant inspiration board of sorts. It is a playground that allows us to create without fear.

T: Your studio seems to be full of color and décor. What is the significance of these things to you? Describe your ideal surroundings for work (i.e., time of day, temperature, noise level, music, company, setting). 

DC: We love color and texture, so naturally we crammed our space with it. We find that color promotes an upbeat and fun working environment. Most people who enter our space smile and that's just the best. Some of the best days at the studio are when we are working on a big project and we have a ton of crew jamming to tunes and making things happen.

T: What's one thing you must have around or close by in order to do your best work? 

DC: Our friends/crew that always jump in to help execute projects. We usually work on a large scale, so it takes an army. We feel fortunate to work with so many other creatives and we truly have a blast doing it.

A taste of tiny living in SCADpad


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.

What's in your bag for SCADpad?


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.

Watch: SCADpad micro-house unveiled


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.

Making room in a micro-house


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.

Designing furniture for a micro-house on a micro-timeline


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.

Parking garage as host for micro housing model


There was a time during my freelance television production days when I would have gone anywhere for work. In fact, being able to uproot from Atlanta and moonlight in a new city for six to ten weeks of production sounded like the ultimate adventure. Where to live? No matter. I would apply to the job first and answer this question second, knowing there had to be some college friend or distant relative in said city who would welcome a carpetbagger.

Thanks to Savannah College of Art and Design, however, college friends and distant relatives alike may never have to receive another call from a roaming creative professional looking for an available couch.

SCAD's answer to temporary urban digs, or permanent urban digs sans the extra square footage, lies in the micro-housing experiment opening at SCAD Atlanta this spring called SCADPad®. Yes, parking included, but that's not the only thing that distigushes this project from its brothers and sisters in the micro housing movement, like San Francisco's SmartSpace or the "Making Room" exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.

If you're a SCAD student in Savannah or Atlanta, go to SCADPad.com for a chance to live in this one-of-a-kind space. Artists and designers, to take a gander at leaving your imprint on SCADPad's interiors and exteriors, email SCADPad@scad.edu for information on the RFP, submission deadline Jan. 20.


Three prototype dwellings are currently underconstruction. In April, these three versions of SCADPad will host three rotations of students who will live in the units for two-week cycles. As an extension of the work that School of Building Arts students began this summer and fall, this quarter students from additional programs have been assigned the task of making the SCADPad prototypes functional and even fun.


Industrial Design students will create modular wall systems for the bathroom, kitchen, and exteriors, as well as ceilings and floors. Interactive Design students will work on the dwelling systems, like water management, while Sustainable Design students will address solid waste, energy waste, and water collection.


Last but not least, Interactive Design and Game Development students will create video games to promote social interaction between SCADPad residents, while also exploring how technology can contribute to a sense of community in this experimental neighborhood. Furniture Design students will outfit the common areas with tables and chairs where residents can lounge.

Stay tuned for details on how the prototypes are progressing.