CADC Welcomes the futures studio

CADC Welcomes the futures studio

The College of Architecture, Design and Construction will soon welcome a new academic initiative—an innovation studio—in Mobile, Alabama. Beginning as a field studies program, The School of Industrial + Graphic Design’s futures studio will assist local businesses and industry with development of new products, packaging, branding, identity, and marketing strategies. Studios will begin this fall.

Over the past few years, the Auburn industrial design program has had several projects in Mobile, working with the Hangout Music Festival, the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum gift shop, and the Mayor’s Innovation Team on a project that connected bus riders with job opportunities. Conversations about creating a greater Auburn industrial design presence in Mobile have been ongoing for the last three years among CADC Dean Vini Nathan, Auburn Board of Trustee member, B.T. Roberts, who is from Mobile, and Mike Rogers, President of Rogers & Willard Inc. in Mobile and CADC Executive Board member.

On August 8, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced the partnership with School of Industrial + Graphic Design that will bring its highly regarded experience of industry collaborations to Mobile. Third-year industrial design students will make four field trips to Mobile this fall semester to work with local companies in innovative studios that replicate a real client/product design team relationship. Carnival Cruise Ships is interested in the students finding ways to save time during the complicated logistics of loading people, baggage and supplies at the Mobile port, and the city officials of Mobile are interested in signage and way-finding for some of the downtown area neighborhoods.

The goal is to eventually make the futures studio a full-time, off-campus program similar to CADC’s Urban Studio, in Birmingham, Alabama, with a permanent location that includes design studios and shop facilities, which serves the City of Mobile and provides students with the opportunity to study in an urban setting. Initially, the futures studio will be based in at the Fuse Factory, a nonprofit think tank and business incubator across Government Street from Government Plaza.

“A lot of our students may not be able to participate in study abroad so being exposed to a progressive city such as Mobile can provide a unique educational experience,” says Randall Bartlett, industrial design professor and post baccalaureate program chair. “The students will also be able to give back and meet needs in the community in the land grant tradition, and they’ll get great portfolio pieces and work with potential employers. There’s a lot of interest already and genuine excitement about the futures studio.”

Over the past twenty years, Auburn industrial design students have worked with more than 200 industries, governmental agencies, and many programs on the Auburn University campus to initiate or modify the development of a new product or marketing strategy. These collaborations are one of the hallmarks of Auburn’s highly regarded Industrial Design Program, which is consistently ranked in the top ten by DesignIntelligence in its annual survey, “America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools.” The undergraduate and graduate industrial design programs are ranked nationally as sixth and third respectively.

Photo by Lawrence Specker,