A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

Minifacture: Designer-Driven Production and Distribution


DES OB 3062 001

Faculty: Casey Lurie

Recent developments including digital fabrication and online platforms have enabled independent designers to viably enter the marketplace with their own product offerings. Unsettling the traditional relationship of designer and manufacturer, this seminar explores strategies by which the independent designer opts to engage and/or disrupt mass-market frameworks. We will explore emerging models such as small-scale production, crowd-funding, and direct-to-consumer sales. Case studies, guest speakers, and field trips to local factories and fabrication workshops will inform design and manufacturing planning exercises based on direct observation of real world manufacturing methods.

This course is designed for students who are interested in exploring the possibilities of a career as an independent designer who produces and distributes their own work. A major component of the course revolves around a series of field trips to local factories and fabrication workshops to observe first hand the manufacturing methods of various materials. Visiting designers and trips to local design studios will provide a designers perspective on working with industry, and the ins and outs of funding, marketing, and distribution. An introduction to technical drawing and specification packages, as well as examining potential sources for funding and marketing will round out our investigation of small-scale manufacturing. Following each factory visit students will develop original designs based on the specific materials and processes we have observed, and students will present their ideas as detailed hand sketches during the following class.