Hooray again for Rob Walker's "Consumed" column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. This week's article concerned Savannah College of Art and Design's "Working Class Studio". The studio, which was founded two years ago by SCAD alums Andrea Messina and Sari Gunderson, takes a handful of students from different disciplines every quarter and transforms them into "interns". The classes take a pragmatic approach to designing desirable design goods that can be mass-produced.
The success of the studio has been stunning. I know that I recognize their melamine plates, shown above, from online stores like Elsewares. They also get their work into retailers like Anthropologie. Working Class gives students in media besides design a chance to learn that there are a great many ways to succeed as an artist. This pragmatic exposure to the marketplace has created work that wouldn't normally emerge from an art school.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the position of craft in America--the energy, creativity, and social power, and I've decided that although craft is ascendant in Europe, design is their equivalent. For every punk rock knitter in the United States, there's a rogue product designer who has learned how to mass-produce their work and take it to the streets. As manufacturing processes evolve, so does design. I'm curious to see craft bleed into design, and vice-versa. Working Class products can be found at SCAD's online shop, as well as a "stuff store" near you.