Design Blogging

A few good design blogs to get you through the week.

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.

In an effort to spread the good design blogging of the world, I thought I would share a few of my favorite reads. Perhaps they will be a new favorite for you or provide a little inspiration for the New Year. Plus, if you have a great design project and some good photos - many of them accept student submissions to be considered for posting! 

Here are my top picks (Click to view blog and thanks to Matt Kenyon for the idea!)

Freshome is an excellent site for quick browsing of furniture and interior design projects. 

Core77 is the MUST read design blog and resource for all designers. Great articles and my personal favorite for reviews of new design books.


Design Milk is source for short articles on interior design as well as sections of fashion and fine arts. Also a side blog Dog Milk entirely on design for dogs. 

Aesthetics of Joy is and soon-to-be book written by Ingrid Fetell, researcher for IDEO. It showcases projects focused on design and positivity. 

Swissmiss is a design blog (and studio) run by Tina Roth Eisenberg who also runs a lecture series called creative mornings (think Penny Stamps Lecture Series or TEDTalks but with more coffee) and a temporary tattoo shop!


Hope this carries you into January and a fresh semester with some inspiration,

And please share your favorites with me!

HAPPY 2012!


Observe. Study. Respond

the culture of A&D, what is it?

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

I've been noticing some strange things popping up around the school lately – little huts in corners, odd signs on doorways, large bulletin boards with markers and duct tape attached.

Students in Rebekah Modrak's CFC: Culture class are the culprits. They have been studying us – ie. the culture of A&D – all semester and now they have made their move to affect this culture in some way.

During her weeks of studying the school, its building and its people, Marla Jones noticed that, despite this being a school of "art and design," the actual architecture of the building was very traditional, devoid of color, with hard edges and bland surfaces. She decided to alter the environment for us by adding splashes of surprise and warmth, wrapping surfaces in wools and other materials which she knit herself.

Allison Knoll, on the other hand, noticed all the inner beauty of the building: the anonymous doodles of former students inscribed permanently on desks and walls, the soft wear of the stairs from so many shoes passing through...

She decided to make a tour map of the building's hidden treasures, which she then left at the coffee stand and other places for people to discover. She has no idea whether anyone actually took the tour.

While studying the school with this new intense focus,  Ji-Woo Won began to notice all the signs – the constant instruction, the voice of authority that prescribed a way of behaving. She decided to gently poke at this cultural norm by offering playful alternatives to the signs.

Ji-Woo told me that part of the fun for her was playing with logos and fonts and figuring out a way to mimic the typographic feel of the sign. The signs are done so skillfully that, for a moment, we can imagine what it would be like to live in Ji-Woo's version of A&D.

Ji-Woo was thrilled to find that her sign had indeed affected at least one person in the school. One day she came across a student pulling out papers from one of her altered recycle bins for his project.

Other students noticed the relationships among people as they moved through the school. Melissa Weisberg noticed that her fellow students often tuned each other out as the listened to their separate songs on their ipods. She decided to organize a silent rave where students were invited to send in their favorite songs and all listen to the same songs simultaneously after a Penny Stamps talk one day.


While at this same Michigan Theater, listening to a Penny Stamps speaker, Anya Klapischak had a longing to see the work of her fellow students on that very same stage.  "I came out of the research phase [of the class] completely struck by the level of work being done by the students of the school, " she says. "It’s amazing and inspiring and provocative- and somehow under-celebrated."

Anya decided to organize a 'coming-out party', asking students to donate $2 each to help rent that same Michigan Theater stage to show their work, one slide at a time. Anya wore a uniform every day for the whole semester as a commitment to her project and so students who wanted to donate would recognize her in the hallway.

[And, by the way, if you'd like to attend: the event will be held on Thursday, December 15th at 5pm at the Michigan Theater.   You can read a great interview with Anya here.]

Mary Clare Harrington observed that critiques were sometimes stressful events for most students here at A&D. She devised a friendly persona, "The Booth Lady", to offer a sympathetic ear. She noticed though, that the chair ultimately became a place to express secret desires, fears and philosophical musings – "anything really."  Mary Clare told me that one student sat down and told her that he had always had a desire to run and slide on the tables lined up along the hallway. The booth lady encouraged him to live his dream and he survived with only a minor injury.

Dean Rogers sat down at the booth lady's chair too. "I didn't actually know he was the Dean when he sat down," she admits. "The first thing he asked me was "do you believe in life after death?",  which kind of surprised me, but I went with it. We had a good conversation after that."

Sang Hyun Lee noticed that students around him don't always have a forum to articulate their goals and wishes for the future. He wanted to invite the students to think about their aspirations and create a collective place to share them with one another. So he built the "Wishing Tree" out of aluminum vent hose. The tree comes out of the wall, as if growing out of the school itself, holding the individual wishes of the students.

The students wrote out their wishes on ribbons and attached them to the tree. Sang wasn't sure what to do with the wishes once the tree had to come down. "I'm storing them in my room for now," he says. "I need to respect the thoughts that went into them."


On the quieter side, Isabel Cohen created this cocoon, a small dark cushiony place where students could find a moment of quietude or just darkness, to help them refuel during their day.

All in all, the kind of public engagement that this assignment incited was new to many of the students but seemed to expand their thinking about what art-making can be -- not necessarily tied to a specific media or material -- but a way of studying the world and responding to it.

And, by the way, if you're tired of picking out what to wear each day, the students also designed a uniform for the school as part of another assignment. Take a look at the photos below and see if any of them tickle your fancy.


A Little Light Hacking.

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.

        So, we all love IKEA. Everyone wants a Varmluft or Lack or Poäng for the living room, and even if you don’t it's still fun to try and pronounce Swedish. 

        The IKEA Canton location is a must for my roommates and I at the beginning of each school year, stocking up on flat pack furniture to fill dorm rooms / apartments / student housing of all sorts. So what is this about the meatball-eating masses repurposing their very own slice of Swedish greatness? Well that my friends, brings us to the new buzzphrase “IKEA Hacking” - The process of modifying or repurposing an IKEA product or component into a new object. 

        Here is a nifty hack/project from friend and fellow A&D senior Ryan Thurmer. Check it out here and on IKEA Hackers.

        "These plywood lamps, held together by the tension of their electric cables (the IKEA HEMMA Cord), attempt to add a functional purpose to the necessity of being bound to a cord, other than our requirement of objects to be constantly 'plugged in'. This combination of form, and cord as a material, allow these lamps to be used in a variety of positions as seen in the installation." - Ryan Thurmer 2011

Awesome job Ryan – Thanks for sharing! 


Half an I.P.

One semester down. One to go.

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.

        As 2011 comes to a close and the famed Michigan winter sets in, Integrative Progress (IP) is heading towards its first major progress milestone. The IP students now find themselves in the final leg of the semester and will be presenting what we’ve done to a group of professors in a one-hour individual consultation.

        With that on the horizon, I thought it might just be time to (briefly) articulate what I’ve been doing to the blogging world, as I will be asked to do it in a far more intimate (and for many, intimidating) situation in a few days. IP is often the first time that as young artists and designers we can really dive in and develop our skills and concepts on a project of this scale. It requires that we attempt to bring them together in a way that shows the complexity of both the thinking and the making we have done in the past 3.5 years.


        Since I’ve gone on and on about the nifty skills I’ve been working on, here is an abbreviated peek of all the good thinking I’ve been trying to do as well: 


        My IP project grew from an interest in Scandinavian furniture (you didn’t see that one coming – I know…) and a view that furniture can convey much more than a place to sit or set your cup of coffee.  I had known that I would be designing seating for a while, however the specifics of why and how stayed foggy since this year. 

        The entire project started by trying to do something that I was neither prepared to do, nor particularly interested in (but I won't bore you with that sort of thing). But luckily in IP, we have some guiding forces in the form of professors who help us navigate the terrain of art and design making. Sometimes it just comes down to plugging away at the bad ideas until you have a good one and can scrap everything else you've been trying to do. 

And the shift happened in the form of a word.



        To Full-Body Gesture


                       To Dance

        I had been on this track to try and create a piece of furniture that did something, that affected in a certain way, that designed for a particular result post-production. That type of design, while perhaps being a great project, was starting a marathon at mile 23. I realized that it would not allow me to explore my own process in the way I wanted in IP (Major Lesson #1).

        So instead I pulled back in my thinking (Major Lesson #2) and had some conversations with my peers and professors about my personal process and how to even design a chair (something that takes years to learn how to do effectively) and how I was going to try.

        Thusly I began with a different starting point. Instead of beginning with how the seating should be used, I began with how the body can be used and I’m going to let the seating follow.

        I had the pleasure of Anya Klapischak (of the UM Artists & Designers Coming Out Project) loaning me her considerable knowledge of dance to begin studying the human form and translate it into the structure that would be used to support it. This was a major turning point as it opened up a whole new conceptual realm around body, movement, furniture and dance and their intuitive connection that I found fascinating. Likewise it allowed me to pick the brain of people who know a lot more about these topics than I do (Major Lesson #3)



        These drawings are in their early iterations but will eventually result in a series of chairs that design for the human body from the human body.



Stay tuned! 


42 Hours of Re-Cardboard

Which would you rather get in the mail?

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.


        Two weeks ago my friend Courtney Duffey (Architecture) forwarded me an e-mail about this competition that was going to be happening on North Campus called 42-hours of Re_Creativity. We gathered our engineering pals Dan Connors (Material Science and Chemical Engineering) and Ben Mason (Computer Engineering) to form a team. We called ourselves the “Desperate Designers” and operated under the guidance of Art and Design Professor Jan-Henrik Andersen. The competition is a collaborative effort by ArtsEngine and Group Idea ( to bring together and tap the creative power of the North Campus schools and colleges.

        The premise of the competition is you have 42 hours (43 because of daylight savings) to buy/gather only reused materials that collectively cost less than $50 per team. Each team must be made up of three or more students two of which are currently enrolled in a school on North Campus.

        Ten teams competed and created entries that were judged on the basis of creativity, unconventionality, innovation, concept, completion and aesthetics.

        After 42 hours of fighting, giggling and cardboard cutting, here is a look at our process and Courtney, Ben, Dan and my third place winner:

Dan and Courtney gathering cardboard at the beginning of the 42 hours. 

Outlining a game plan for the design on the scuplture studio chalkboard. 

A little market research on the tail end of a coffee run. 

Eating too much pizza and lamenting the direction of our project. 

Ben inspecting the finished product and discussing a closing mechanism for our boxes. 

(Click Here for Larger Size)


Finalized designs. 

Thanks to 42 Hours for a pretty fun competition and some North Campus collaboration! 


Upholstery Dreamin’

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.

        So, after going to Denmark for the summer I absolutely worship at the alter of Verner Panton (possibly more than any other Danish designer - which is saying something). His chairs are amazing; you might recognize the famous S-chair (which can been seen in the atrium at the UM Ross School of Business). 

        That being said, I had the ultimate find at the Ann Arbor Reuse Center a month or so ago when I found an original Panton Cone Chair for the amazingly low price of $3 (paid entirely in change from my pocket). Quite the find considering a new Panton cone chair will set you back well over a thousand dollars. 



        Since the first day of IP when we were running through initial concepts for projects, I had wanted to try out some upholstery. It was suggested to me by the very smart (and I later found out, very patient), graduate student John Gutoskey that I find a chair to rip apart to the bare bones to start to learn about the techniques necessary.

        Like any good art & design student with skill envy, I asked John to help me with the process of taking apart and recovering the Panton chair. With many, many years of costume and hat design to his name (and that’s putting his depth of skill lightly) – he was the right man to ask. The cone chair ended up being a perfect practice piece due to the fact that it required several complex curves and complete replacement of the foam and batting elements (the originals where nearly petrified).

        The process was a little daunting but the end product was great. The fabric is a QR code jacquard woven stiched double cloth that I chose to contrast the 1958 circular construction. I also felt that the QR pattern played to Mod feel with a very modern technological reference, exactly the type of cheeky contrast that I like to make.

Naked cone chair with original foam still intact. 

Process of scraping out the deteriorated foam and cleaning the metal cone structure. 

The QR code fabric (no it doesnt actually scan... I asked.... and tried.... but that would have been cool) 

The flat peices after being taken from the chair, ready to be transfered to a paper pattern to cut out of the new fabric. 

John helping to line up and center the fabric before cutting out the pattern. 

Paper patterns being laid out on the new fabric. Pieces were arranged so that each piece after being sewed would have a continuous pattern. 

Learning to sew and use a fell stitch (sort of like on the seaming of jeans) to give the seam a directionality by pressing it with an iron and restitching along the original seam to create a faux-piping look and better structure. 

What a fell stich lookes like. 

Taping off all parts of the chair that would not be getting upholstery glue. 

Replacing deteriorated foam with a new piece of 1'' high-density foam for the back of the seat. 

Lining up the new foam and cursing a lot at the evils of upholstery glue. 

Doing an inital fit with the new foam replacements.

Old foam on the seat. 

Sewing a circle and long strip to cover the seat cushion of the cone chair (all seams were also felled) 

Stapling the new cover over a new piece of 2" high density foam and original wooden circle of the seat. 

Nearly done with the back of the chair over the structure and the seat in place. 

More awkward modelling of furniture....


Huge thanks to John (and many others for remedying a little bit of my sewing ignorance.)


Blogs, Blogs, Blogs

A closer look at the Blogs behind the Integrative Projects

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.

This week in IP has been insanity. With the deadline for the student show and IP grant proposals (Money! Money?) both falling within a 48 hour period, there has been little time to work on much else.

That being said, the increased intensity level has leant itself to a shift from thinking to making. 


Here are a few of the Integrative Project Blogs / Personal Websites from fellow Seniors: 


Carlo Lorenzetti - Object Design 

Jill Brandwein -  Printmaking and Painting

James Blonairz - Woodcuts and Music Videos

Dylan Box - Furniture Design and Social Entrepeneurship 

Andrew Hainen - Digital Design and Interactive Media

Jenny Forrest - Graphic Design

Erica Wagner - Oil Painting





Come Out. Show Work.

"My name is Teshia, I am a blogger and this is my art:"

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.

So, if you haven’t heard about this project and youre in the UM Art & Design community, you really have to start talking to your friends (or make some new ones). 


A few weeks ago, Art & Design/Interarts Performance Student Anya Klapischak unveiled her project to the captive Penny Stamps Lecture Series audience. I have to admit I wasn't sold at first. As a first class cynic I didn’t understand the need, are we not creating a supportive enough creative community of students? Do we need presentation practice? What's going on here? 

Well as it were, I got sold.

It just took a little bit of doing and an extremely charismatic peer of mine, Anya herself to bring to light what her project is capturing about our community about young artists. 

I had a mini-interview with her to get a bit more of a scoop. If you guys would like the whole back story be sure to read about the project as a whole on but here are a few thoughts from the women herself who's bringing the current A&D student work together in a way I haven't seen in my long relationship with University of Michigan on December 15th at the Michigan Theater (Not too shabby, huh?) - plus, her fundraising efforts put some long running student groups to shame. 



How did the project start? Where did it originate?

My CFC II: Culture class has a very specific aim this semester: to examine, analyze, and understand the “Art School Culture” of the Art & Design School. After spending the first month of the semester conducting observational field research (ie: watching the Art & Design students when they didn’t know anyone was watching) we were given the assignment to now go ahead and affect the Art & Design culture.

I came out of the research phase completely struck by the level of work being done by the students of the school. It’s amazing and inspiring and provocative- and somehow under celebrated. I devised the UM Artists & Designers Coming Out Project as a vehicle to highlight not only the work we do individually, but the work being done by the little creative geniuses that sit next to us, that nap on the couches, that we see in the hallways everyday, that we proudly call our peers.

When did the project begin, how long will it be running? Do you have plans for continuation after December 15th?

The official launch was October 6th, and the project doesn’t end until after the exhibit on Thursday, December 15th. Or perhaps the project won’t end there- I am working on reformatting the project to become a continuing series, of at least one exhibit per month. Stay tuned.

What has been the most difficult part of the project?

This project is humbling because it’s something that is so much larger than I am. And while it’s a lot of work for myself alone to be a part of, it’s more work to get others to be a part of it. The project is meant to be a collective- but a collective is only functioning when several hands are working and a sea of minds are contributing. Getting those hands and minds is a 24 hour a day active effort.

How does this fit into your other work? Is this a new experiment?

While the UM Artists & Designers Coming Out Project is an entirely new project, it’s true to form of my past and current work. I’m a performance artist; I create happenings of heightened experience.

What is your background that makes you interested in this type of project?

I spent the first 17 years of my life in the world of professional ballet in Europe and New York. In America, I slowly segued into the world of professional theater. A brief stint in the Ivy League not only forced me back into art, but forced my two worlds to combine to form the one in which I currently and happily reside, performance art.

I get off on working with people. Making work that signs contracts of existing between several people, groups of people, millions of people, anything as long as it’s not just one person. I create work that exposes, highlights, and celebrates the experience of being in a room with another person.

Tell me the history of the jumpsuit. 

The long story is that it’s inspired by Tehching Hsieh’s one year performance, “Time Clock Piece,” in which the artists punched a time clock every hour on the hour for an entire year, taking a single photograph of himself with each time punch. I like the idea of a “worker’s uniform” and that putting on your “worker’s uniform” means that you’re going to or are working. But what I like more is the idea of always wearing your “worker’s uniform.” If I’m always wearing my “worker’s uniform” then am I always working? Am I therefore living in my work?

The short story is that wearing the uniform makes me the recognizable figurehead to whom donations can be made.

Show work, support work - I will be there with my handful of slides - will you be? 


The Bewitching Hour

Veggie Burgers and Unicorns at the A&D Halloween Party

Teshia Treuhaft is currently chained to her desk documenting the process of surviving senior year at A&D and her obsession with wood veneer.

          The Society of Art Students threw the Second Annual Art and Design Halloween Party this Friday in the Courtyard to a well attended crowd including special guests, Mother Nature, Carrie, Bob Ross, Lara Croft, Pikachu (actually three Pikachus…) and the Morton Salt Girl, among others.

          Many a hotdog and veggie burger was consumed and students left with a good solid sugar high that will hopefully last until real Halloween.

          Special thanks to John Leyland, (of ceramics studio fame) for both culinary and emotional support. Additional thanks for the last minute fabrication of a much-needed powder blue Sheppard’s hook. 


          Special Mention of Laura Gillmore – 2nd Annual Costume Party Winner as Carrie, prizes included a year's worth of bragging rights and a skillfully crafted trophy from the Legendary Zack Weaver. 


Stay Scary. 


How sometimes art class is like going to the dentist

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

Now lie back in your chair, please. Sorry, we don't have the full body bibs they give you at the dentist's office, so here, use this cardboard box to protect your clothing....

Now, sit still, we're going to fill your mouth with a pleasant-tasting neon-pink goo, otherwise known as alginate, a mold-making material used to make dental crowns...

...or, in this case, personalized cup holders.

Very personalized. 

Let me explain.

These are students in TMP: Construction (Tools, Materials, and Processes) who have been traveling from studio to studio, getting a whirlwind tour of various media. They've arrived at the ceramics studios where Roland Graf and Jeremy Brooks will introduce them to the art of mold-making, a construction technique that's used in clay but also in bronze, plastics, product design and more. As Roland points out to the class, almost everything around you, if it's manufactured, has been created out of a mold. Making a mold is a tricky process since it requires you to think in the negative.

The students will be making two molds: a plaster mold for a clay object (the cup) and a clay/alginate mold for a plaster object (the sculptural stand or cup holder.) The end result will be two sets of sculptural stands for two cups. Each stand must incorporate a life-casting of the student's own mouth and a slip-cast clay cup, one that is faithful to the original mold and the second one varied in a way that conceptually connects the vessel with the sculptural stand.

First the students will create a plaster mold for the clay cup.

Jeremy, below, is a master at slipcasting and in his own creative practice loves the tension that can occur when you use mass-production techniques like slipcasting to create one-of-a-kind objects. Here he shows the students a few techniques for altering the cup form once it has been removed from the mold.


Creating the mold for the mouth is a multi-step process which, as you saw above, starts with a spectacular pink beard formed out of alginate.

After the alginate is poured in the desired formation, students must sit still for 15 minutes as the alginate sets.

After it sets, the alginate is ready to be removed and a perfect negative formation of the chin and lips is left in the rubbery mold.  This will be eventually be filled with plaster to re-create the student's mouth gesture.

But first, the students will need to add clay to the alginate mold and begin to the shape the mold for the sculptural stand. They have three hours before the alginate will begin to shrink and harden, so they will need to work quickly to complete their mold.

It's important to even out and work the clay until your mold is exactly what you want -- the plaster will pick up any imperfections that are left on the clay or the alginate.


Below Roland show the students how to create a perfect rectangular shape by adding boards around the mold. All the cracks must be well sealed so the plaster won't leak through.

This mold is almost ready to go but it still needs a recess where the cup will fit.  Jeremy demontrates how to create a positive mold by pressing a piece of clay inside the edges of the cup.

Next, this mold for the cup holder must be positioned on the base mold.

After the clay mold is sealed and ready, it's time to mix the plaster.

Students will have to estimate the amount of water that will create a good size plaster base and then add plaster using what's called "the floating island" technique. They will add just enough plaster to form a volcano-like shape just below the surface of the water.

Once the ratio is set, you need to mix it with your hand for three minutes, getting rid of all clumps. Then after you have removed any bubbles in the mix, you have two minutes to pour the plaster into the mold before it begins to set.

The plaster will take 20 minutes to fully harden in the mold.

Next comes the best part of the process: removing the mold to see the final sculpture.

Then you'll need to wash off any excess clay.

Finally, the sculpture will be fine-tuned and any imperfections corrected using an array of tools for scraping, shaping and sanding. 

And, voila, the perfect coffee cup holder. No more rings on the table, no more wondering-- "uh, is that my mug?" 

Not bad, for a crash course. I especially like these below which unfortunately, are completely useless for drinking coffee...