Industrial Design Students Create Unique Seating for Outdoor Entertaining

student scale models around fire pit

In the fall of 2021, Professor Randy Bartlett’s students at futures studio completed a collaborative project with Old Majestic Brewing Company, a craft brewery and tasting room in Mobile, Alabama. Futures studio is an off-campus instructional site in Mobile where industrial design students can complete a semester of undergraduate or graduate studies while working on projects with local businesses. Old Majestic has a great outdoor space for tasting, and as the brewery grows in popularity so does the demand for seating. To address this need, the futures studio students designed and crafted a fire pit and converted reclaimed cable spools into standing and seating furnishings. Old Majestic owner and Auburn alum Chad Marchand was so happy with the students’ work on the first project that he went back to Bartlett’s students with a new challenge to create outdoor seating designs inspired by Adirondack chairs.

The students began by researching Adirondack-style chairs to learn about the dimensions and ratios that make a chair comfortable. Each student then developed an individual design concept and a scale model. They presented Marchand with all of the options and he chose his four favorites, which were designed by Morgan Slone, Henry Meehan, Carolyn Marshall and Joel Schneider. Students then worked together in small teams to construct the four full-scale designs from steel and wood. They personally delivered their chairs to the brewery, and Marchand was so happy with the results that he gifted the class with custom made futures studio t-shirts.

Slone said this project was highly educational. “I learned a lot during this process, both in an ergonomic sense and a manufacturing sense,” she said. “We learned a lot about welding, weight distribution and different methods of attaching wood to metal.” She used rough dimensions from outdoor chairs she found online and then traveled to retail stores to study specific designs and take measurements. Once her design was chosen for production, Slone and her fellow group members spent hours in the shop welding metal and perfecting the wooden pieces. “I think the best part of this project is that our work is now a permanent fixture at Old Majestic Brewery,” she said. “My friends and family can go visit when they are in Mobile to see for themselves the work my classmates and I completed.”