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Jonathan Louis x Otis College of Art & Design Class

Developing the next generation of talent is a big part of our ethos (see here, and here for our talent development series). We’ve extended our efforts outside of our four walls to Otis College of Art & Design. From installations to trends, Otis students have been active participants in our market-focused endeavors. 


This fall, we’ve expanded our collaboration with Otis College to sponsoring a Product Development Studio I class. Open to third-year students, the class is a hands-on, “project-based course bringing consumer products from concept to market.” The goal of class is to better understand how to incorporate practicalities like manufacturing into the design, and “to gain a greater understanding of how to translate a concept into a product for sale in the market.”


Projects include individual home decor and the Jonathan Louis sectional group project. At the end of the semester, we will select one team’s concept, and work with them to build a final piece to display at Spring 2023’s High Point Furniture Market. Follow this blog to see the progress of these students as they deconstruct, explore, play, ideate, and create.

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Trash Project
Theme: "Potential"

Using “trash” objects brought in by fellow students, the students were tasked with creating something that would be considered “decor.” “Trash” can include anything: a mirror, no longer functioning electronics, cardboard box, old shoe, etc. In class, they discussed tapping into the potentiality of materials, regardless of provenance. When the projects were discussed, the group considered the materials, the thought process and actual execution, as well as ways to elevate or potentially sell the objects.


Do you agree with the interpretations? What would you have done with the same materials?



Was: Game controller

+ wire + screws

Is: "Unknown" 

In-class observations: 

We’re not sure how to hold this–how do we interact with it? It varies by how it looks to us when we approach it; it’s playful, surprising, interactive, you feel compelled to rotate it. 


There’s an opportunity to leverage the screws differently, or the wire differently–is there a way to create a pattern that seems more intentional? You’ll need to be able to communicate to a client why you're making these decisions and be able to convince the client that the concept or decision is intentional (even if it’s not).

'Extra Credit": 

The experience with interacting with the object is like that of E.T. in E.T. the Extraterrestrial first exploring Elliott’s room. (Editor’s note: a whole class of students and not single person understood the reference.)


Was: Plastic bag+ pencil sharpener + book (which was mostly used as inspiration)

Is: "Jellyfish"

In-class observations: 

The plastic bag (which was hot gunned over the pencil sharpener to create the unusual shape) has been completely disguised–there’s no sense as to the origin of the plastic.  Even though the string here is spray painted to match the plastic bits, would monofilament be a future choice so that the objects look like they’re floating?


Idea for presentation: Hang it next to the pencil sharpener and book to complete the story.


“Extra credit”:

The object is reminiscent of the creations of the artist, Louise Bourgeois, in that it is a beautiful-yet-uneasy exploration of materials.


Was: Sneaker
+toy car
+plastic wrap

Is: "Face" or "Mask"

In-class observations: 

This could be developed into a great collector’s item for sneakerheads (editor’s note: not the limited editions, they would have a heart attack if you cut it up).


As part of a series, each one could be unique–the next iteration would use every part of the shoe to make a flamboyant mask. It’s an expressive face—even if you made 100 faces, you'd have different personalities for each shoe. This could be great for advertising, like a campaign built around “which face is your personality?”

"Extra Credit": 

The Colossal website, which celebrates the exploration of material, was referenced.