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January 23, 2004

Professor says design is about art and making money

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Design students at Purdue University are learning they can use art to make a living.

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"You're creative, but what can you do with drawing to make a good living? Consider industrial design," says Steve Visser, professor of industrial design. "When people think about art, they think about painting, drawing or sculpting. They often forget about opportunities in the applied arts."

Visser and three of his students have assisted the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette with the organization of Indiana's first exhibit, INDesign, that showcases industrial art design such as machines, furniture and toys. In industrial design, artists not only create aesthetic-focused products, but they also design appliances, tools and equipment to be more ergonomically correct and user friendly, while at the same time improving the function of the product.

"We want high school teachers, and even parents, who are skeptical about careers in art to see how students' artistic talents can lead to a good job," Visser says. "People also can see how art and industrial design can contribute to the economy, such as the manufacturing industry."

For example, in Indiana, manufacturing makes up 20 percent of the economy, the highest percentage of any state in the nation.

The products featured in the INDesign show represent the transportation, furniture, scientific and communication industries in Indiana.

INDesign opens Saturday (1/24) at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, 102 S. 10th St. and runs through April 10. More than 20 companies with ties to Indiana are represented in the exhibit. INDesign was curated by the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, and the exhibit is sponsored by Aircom Manufacturing Inc.; ATLINKS, a division of Thomson Co.; Ackeret Engineering; Klipsch Audio Technologies; Indiana Chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America; Commercial Finishing Corp.; Cosco Inc.; Indiana Design Consortium; Kathy Mayer Writing; and NetLink Technologies Inc .

Dates are being finalized for the show to travel to the John Blank Center for the Arts in Michigan City, the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, the University Art Gallery at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, the Richmond Art Museum, the Evansville Museum of Art and Northern Illinois University in Dekalb.

The INDesign jurors selected designs that demonstrate form, function, efficiency, ergonomics, innovation and aesthetics, Visser says. One selected design is a collapsible shovel made by Ackeret Engineering Inc., which fits in a toolbox. Other products include household tools, such as a toilet brush and teakettle, designed by internationally known designer and Indiana native Michael Graves. Also featured are a teething ring, a kitchen faucet, a folding ladder and a titanium bicycle.

"All of these products are fascinating and remind us that art is a part of our daily lives," says Stephanie Cleary, a junior in industrial design from Floyd Knobs, Ind. "It's amazing how much art and design is involved in making a shovel or a chair."

One example is the Part #19 chair, which has 18 components that adjust to the user when they recline, shift and sit. The user is the 19th part.

Cleary, who was one of three Purdue students who interned for INDesign, says the Q-2100 AR Lens-Coater is another example of how art and design can improve the function of a machine. The device requires little human intervention to dispense anti-reflective coatings on eyeglass lenses, speeding up the process.

Cleary and Ashley Spangler, a junior in industrial design from Greensburg, Ind., designed pedestals for the products and assisted with the exhibit design. Michael Guerin, a junior in visual communication design from Winchester, Mass., designed the Web site and opening announcement. He also created exhibit panels.

Other students in Visser's industrial design class interviewed designers and visited their studios to write artist biographies for the exhibit.

"Through this assignment students learn about the motivation behind the product, the design process and what kind of technology was used to make the product," Visser says.

The exhibit also is geared to teaching high school students about the career possibilities in industrial design.

Spangler says she wishes she would have known about industrial design before she started college. She knew she could draw, but she wasn't sure what career options were available.

"I wanted to be able to apply drawing," she says. "Now, I use my drawing skills to develop various design ideas. The sketching, which is part of the idea development, is my favorite part of the design process."

Purdue's industrial design curriculum focuses on the study of material and processes, original design projects and methodology. Specific courses look at rapid sketching, rendering and model-making techniques. Computer courses in portfolio preparation and presentation techniques also are available. More than 100 students are majoring in industrial design.

Purdue industrial design graduates have found jobs in corporations and consulting firms focusing on the design and development of products for manufacture use. Also, industrial design students have worked in transportation, commercial and residential equipment, recreation, medical equipment, electronics and exhibits.

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Steve Visser, (765) 494-2295, SVisser@sla.purdue.edu

Stephanie Cleary, clearys@purdue.edu

Ashley Spangler, anspangl@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: INDesign opens Saturday (1/24) at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, 102 S. 10th St. The exhibit runs through April 10. Exhibit dates are being finalized with the John Blank Center for the Arts in Michigan City, the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, University Art Gallery at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Richmond Art Museum, Evansville Museum of Art and Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. For more information regarding these venues visit the INDesign web site.

PHOTO CAPTION:
Purdue University students (from left) Michael Guerin, a junior in visual communication design from Winchester, Mass.; Ashley Spangler, a junior in industrial design from Greensburg, Ind.; and Stephanie Cleary, a junior in industrial design from Floyd Knobs, Ind., consult with Steve Visser, professor of industrial design, about the products to be displayed at the INDesign exhibit. Visser and three of his students have assisted with the organization of the Midwest's first art exhibit, INDesign, that showcases art industrial product designs such as machines, furniture and toys. In industrial design, artists not only make aesthetic products, but they also design appliances, tools and equipment to be more ergonomically correct and user friendly, and at the same time improve the function of the product. INDesign opens Jan. 24 at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, 102 S. 10th St. The exhibit runs through April 10. More than 20 companies with ties to Indiana are represented in the INDesign exhibit. INDesign was curated by the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2004/visser.indesign.jpeg


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