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In this course students develop an independent project. Development of a long-term assignment and extending the skills learned in previous studio classes are emphasized.

Observing and documenting their own design process, students focus on the projects of their Senior Project Studio.

Senior Project Lab and Senior Project Design Studio are two classes graphic design students take in their final quarters before graduating. While the independent projects created in the classes are selected by the students, I felt it was important for there to be a framework to constrain their ideas. Sustainability has become a timely and hot button issue in both architecture and industrial design in the last five years and it is starting to trickle down to graphic design. I chose sustainability as the theme for this studio because awareness of the consequences of products and packaging is overlooked in other areas of the students’ curriculum.

After initial class research on the topic of sustainability in design, conversations with students made me realize that they did not clearly understand the difference between a concept and an outcome. While they embraced the idea of green design, they had trouble getting past sustainability as the subject of their projects. This lead to a brainstorming session in which they had to start with an abstract concept and expand until they reached something that could turn into a tangible product.

The rigor of the two classes is reinforced by the inclusion of a process book, submitted with the final project, that outlines the research, reading and conceptual analysis of each student’s project. Responses to readings and discussion are also emphasized as a way for students to work through their ideas while also gaining knowledge about the subject of sustainability in other design fields. To reinforce the topic of waste, most of the readings were available online as .pdfs and an ongoing web site compiled links to local green businesses, blogs and resources.

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