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

Thing Lab (2013-2014)

Chris Buchakjian, MDDO 15, Phantom Landscape

Thing Lab was a year-long, hybrid, art and design studio class conceived and taught by SAIC full-time faculty Dan Price (Sculpture) and Tim Parsons (Designed Objects). The course utilized The School of the Art Institute’s position as a cross-disciplinary institution with strong art and design resources to tackle the convergence of art and design head-on. The disciplinary boundaries of art and design have shifted, been eroded and become increasingly irrelevant through the emergence of trans-disciplinary practices. While SAIC students have the freedom to create their own inter-disciplinary program of study, Thing Lab is one of the few courses that explicitly tackled the comingling of disciplines.

Described broadly, Thing Lab was co-taught as an assignment-based investigative lab in the Fall, and as a tutorial-based independent workshop and production hub in the Spring. Students produced four structured projects in the Fall. These project assignments gave the students an introduction to the integration of research with their extant working methods and primed the group to develop a set of concerns and material interests that could guide them in proposing an ambitious, semester-long project for the Spring. In the fall, the class worked from their unique positions and produced visual responses to the project prompts. Using this momentum, a majority of the students continued to develop their individual ideas in the spring tutorial-based course.

SAIC’s Bill and Stephanie Sick Visiting Professor for 2014, Andrea Zittel was appointed to join the class. Andrea gave a lecture about her work in September, attended the final Fall critique and generously invited the class to travel to her studio compound in Joshua Tree, California to present their work in the Spring. In the months leading up to the trip, students created site-responsive works that were shipped to Joshua Tree, to be installed, built and critiqued during their visit. As part of this trip Andrea guided the students on a series of excursions to sites of interest around Joshua Tree.


Faculty:  Associate Professor Tim Parsons and Associate Professor Dan Price and Bill and Stephanie Sick Visiting Professor Andrea Zittel 


  • Selva Aparicio (BFA 2015)
  • Eli Bensusan (MDes 2015)
  • Tanner Bowman (BFA 2015)
  • Christopher Buchakjian (MDes 2015)
  • Meredith Donnelly (MFA 2015)
  • Eugene Maltez (BFA 2014)
  • Vincent Martin (BFA 2015)
  • Jack Schneider (BFA 2015)