One of my PennDesign courses this semester is Building Product Design (BPD), a class that brings together a small but diverse group of students from the landscape, architecture, environmental building and product design disciplines to develop architecturally-relevant consumer products. The course is led by Jordan Goldstein, a managing director and principal of Gensler‘s Washington D.C. office, and is real-world oriented in the sense that it takes into account market forces, consumer needs, design and public relations partners, and manufacturing capabilities. The course partners with Alessi, an Italian design firm known for producing timeless, materially-beautiful consumer products. I have found the practical nature and shift in scale compared to most other Penn landscape courses a welcomed change, and would say that BPD has proven to be one of my favorite courses thus far at Penn.
In addition to the liberation enjoyed in designing a consumer product over a complex regional plan or city, the BPD course has offered many opportunities to move beyond the walls of Penn’s studios and collaborate with outside professionals. Our class has been hosted at Gensler’s offices in Philadelphia and D.C., as well as at Alessi’s showroom in New York City. Alessi representatives and major marketing firm personnel have been continually engaged with the course, helping to drive the design process by offering expertise and providing critiques on evolving concepts. As an added bonus, the culmination of the semester will see the six student teams judged by a panel of Alessi and Gensler professionals, with the winners selected to present their project at the Alessi facility – in Italy.
Photos by Thomas Grant MacDonald | 2014 | All rights reserved