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Jonathan Louis x Otis College of Art & Design Class

Read our last installation? Go ahead and skip the intro


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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Midterm Sectional Check-in & Scale Models

We’ve reached the midpoint in the semester, and it's time for midterms! Let's see how the class is coming along on their final project, which is a sectional design that represents the future of seating. 


The goal of this final project is to bring Jonathan Louis into the future of sectional seating with a design that appeals to Gen Z customers (in about 10 years’ time) and fits with their expectations and lifestyle. The students, in teams, are tasked with developing for the future customer, while keeping in mind the Jonathan Louis brand. 


The students need to pitch their concept and explain the evolution from research & ideation, to sketches & renderings, to scale models made of insulation foam or clay.


For midterms, the teams were asked to research our brand, our competitors, and Gen Z consumer behavior & motivations, and to create concepts based on their findings. They were also to physically shop in-store to gauge the current market, and to get a better feel for product dimensions, behavior, and expectations. 


Then they were asked to create scale models based on one of their concepts, as execution often leads to hiccups that sketches alone would not reveal. 


Final presentation is in December! We will select one team’s design to build and showcase at April 2023 High Point Market.


Check back in on this page for the results of the students’ ingenuity.

Check In

"A" Team: Anushka + Audrey + Augusto
"Sectionals of the Future" 

Research Results: This team focused on the need for versatility and compactness based on the idea that Gen Zers are more likely to be living in smaller environments. Having identified that Gen Z is the most anxious of generations, the ideation centered on a multipurpose solution that was anxiety-free. 


Concept(s): Nature was the inspiration for their design, with many curved lines, and a focus on the various sections “hugging” or nearly fitting like puzzle pieces. How the various pieces interlocked was a big design focus and feature.


Model: Taking feedback from the midterm into consideration about the movability of the sectional segments, A Team presented an asymmetrical, curved sectional, reminiscent of Roche Bobois, with adjustable arms, no visible foot, and sections that slotted together.  

JL Feedback: Could all these pieces be truly standalone? Would removable arms be a better option than adjustable arms? What is a good solution for how the back cushion will support the weight of a person or persons?

MOHO: Abigail + Alex + Emily
"Marshmallow" & "Tofu"

Research Results: MOHO leaned into Gen Z’s embrace of ambiguity and (current) refusal to adapt to social expectations, which was translated in the component parts that allowed for sheer versatility, limited only by each individual’s creativity and needs.


Concepts: “Marshmallow” was an exploration of defying expectations–or rather, not having expectations, as to how the sectional segments could be arranged, or even what was the proper way each piece should sit on the ground (the sections could be laid on their sides or sat upright). “Tofu” relied on a grid + frame structure, allowing the customer to determine what fabric and use they would have for each segment. For example, half of the frame could be filled with cushions and the other half could be used as a planter (assuming outdoor usage). 


Model: Team MOHO moved forward with the “Tofu” concept and created a ⅕ scale model of the grid frame + attendant cushions. Design had been updated from concept by replacing rods to hold cushions in place with shaped cushions that had a bottom portion that fit into each cube. The upper part of the cushion mushroomed out to get rid of the uncomfortable edge.

JL Feedback: Consider the comfort and practicality of sitting on these many segmented cushions as no one wants to sit on the crack usually. Plus, there’s the issue of crumbs getting down the cracks between cushions. Is this a cost-effective product if every cushion segment may have a different fabric covering it and what are the implications of this in production? There’s a playfulness to this furniture, which is not often seen in adult furniture, but the grids may defy versatility rather than embrace it.

Tennocc: Jason + Artie + Dillon + Cristiana

Research Results: Team Tennocc noted that Gen Z is particularly socially disconnected, given that public spaces have been harder to come by, and that there’s an increase in social gatherings in someone’s home. The team also observed that Gen Zers are drawn to vintage items as a point of conversation; this generation likes having a story behind the items they own. 


Concepts: With an interest in addressing the lack of connectivity felt by this generation, Tennocc wanted to create a central gathering place where people are able to come together and interact with each other, face-to-face. Comprising three segments, the sectional could be added to over time, piece-by-piece, as each section could standalone. Version 2.0 was a shifting block; version 3.0 explored forming a “bowl,” with all the pieces facing into each other.

Model: Continuing to focus on having the pieces facing each other and be standalone, Tennocc moved away from geometric shapes to fulfill the idea, as they found that their models were not coming out to match their sketches. The clay model included a nested ottoman that could slide out from under one of the sectional pieces.

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