This work aimed at enabling students to accelerate innovation through impactful new digital fabrication technologies and integrative collaboration processes. A residential developer and design firm engaged K-State to design and produce artful outdoor furnishings to bring flair and enhanced well-being to Midtown, an emerging residential neighborhood in downtown Denver, Colorado. This design/build project brought together creative students in Interior Architecture and Product Design from the College of Architecture, Planning and Design with the prototype and fabrication capabilities of the Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AMI) of the College of Engineering. Students engaged in a digital fabrication class conducted a client-focused design charrette, an intensive collaborative planning session that provides a forum for ideas and feedback. Using the same tools they will use in industry to translate ideas from the creative realm to physical reality, students digitally modeled and 3D-printed their designs with prototyping expertise provided by staff at AMI. Client approved designs were fabricated and shipped to the installation location in the fall of 2014.
Midtown neighborhood residents reported back that the furniture is engaging and useful. It fits the contemporary environment of the neighborhood, draws people into public spaces, and brings artful design to everyday objects. This unique collaboration between design students and engineering expertise has continued, with a second round of furniture commissioned in 2015.