Sponsored Classes

Grand Crossing


The Shapiro Center connects external organizations to SAIC and integrates them into the classroom. Through sponsored classes, these partners provide SAIC students with valuable resources, real-world experiences, project-based professional development, and platforms to showcase their work. In turn, SAIC's talented artists, designers, and scholars work with these organizations to create cutting-edge work and bold visions for the future.

Venture Studio

In SAIC's yearlong creative enterprise class, Venture Studio, students develop business models or services, inventing and marketing products, or pursuing large-scale creative projects. The class culminates at the University of Chicago's Chicago Innovation Exchange, where student projects are reviewed for business incubation toward launch. The class uses Kickstarter as an initial crowd-funding source, and students learn how to succeed as professional makers and marketers. Faculty member Pablo Garcia says, "By the end of the year, everyone in the class will have had professional experience, having made something, proposed something, got funded, figured out how to produce it, and got paid for it." The 12 students in Venture Studio are from varying departments: Designed Objects, Ceramics, Architecture, Painting and Drawing, and Sound, to name a few. The variety of skill sets and interests are evident in the breadth of projects, and overall, the class embodies SAIC's emphasis on an interdisciplinary, student-driven education.

Data Viz Collaborative

In this class, taught by an interdisciplinary team of faculty from SAIC and Northwestern University, students engage in critical dialogue and hands-on collaborative research about information visualization across multiple disciplines. Students work in research teams to translate data sets into various forms of visual representation, and engage in lectures from science and studio faculty addressing the role of images in picturing complex data sets, and how these images might enhance/problematize/critique/promote new knowledge acquisition in science, art, and/or design. The course meets each fall semester and culminates in a group exhibition. Admission is open by application to undergraduate and graduate students from both SAIC and Northwestern.

Short videos of the Data Viz Collaborative process: Fall 2013 class and Fall 2014 class

As SAIC President Walter E. Massey has said, "In today's increasingly data-driven world, artists and designers have much to contribute to innovation alongside scientists and engineers. The complexity and scale of the issues presented by visualizing information in the age of big data require a creativity of approach and mindset in both research and problem-solving. Only by combining the interpretive powers of artists and scientists can we continue to achieve the kinds of breakthroughs necessary to sustain an innovative society and economy."

SAIC and CB2

For two years in a row, SAIC students have collaborated with CB2 to design a collection for the national home décor and furniture retailer. Working in the yearlong Industry Projects class, led by Designed Objects faculty, graduate and undergraduate students investigated the idea of "microliving" and "living well" to inform their work. The class collaborated closely with the company's business- and design-oriented staff to move their designs through the stages of development from concept to CB2's stores. The collaborators collectively identified specific design problems and examined manufacturing methods and materials, commercial trends, consumer profiles, price points, intellectual property issues, and brand identity. The SAIC-designed collection has hit CB2's stores and includes furniture, lighting, textiles, and accessories and is available across the country and online.

GFRY Studio

The GFRY Studio, established by SAIC's corporate partner Motorola, is a design and fabrication studio that collaborates with external partners to explore how new technologies, social forms, and materials can produce innovative objects, media, environments, and experiences. In a recent GFRY Studio collaboration, Designed Objects faculty member and his students worked with a public elementary school in Chicago to experiment with new cafeteria designs that could encourage young children to make better nutritional choices. This collaboration has led to new initiatives, including opening conversations with Google's corporate food service representatives about creating a prototype cafeteria that would be geared toward adults in order to promote healthy eating among Google's employees.