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K-State Today

October 14, 2015

Interior architecture & product design students visit Steelcase University in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Submitted by Thom Jackson

Fourth-year students from APDesign's interior architecture & product design department visited Steelcase University and Steelcase headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Oct. 1.

Steelcase is one of the largest contract furniture manufacturing companies in the U.S. This visit was made possible through a Steelcase Research Grant. Interior architecture & product design associate professor Vibhavari Jani received the grant to develop and execute a collaborative research project with Steelcase's Education and Workspace Future research groups. The visit was hosted by Steelcase workspace consultant Kate Ward.

During their visit, students were exposed to various design and research initiatives of Steelcase, and experienced varieties of new work environment concepts. They also viewed new product and furniture lines, and toured their education and corporate office facilities. The visit started with an introduction of "Power of Place" and a tour of Steelcase's Leadership Collaborative, Evolving Workplace and Work Cafe concept in action.

Later in the morning, students were hosted by Turnstone general manager Brian Shapland, who shared their new products with the students. After lunch, students participated in a Design Thinking workshop hosted by Andrew Kim, manager, WorkSpace Futures; Gabriela Scarritt; and Aileen Strickand, design, Interior Design. The Steelcase visit ended with students visiting the Meyer May House, designed by master architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Steelcase purchased and renovated this design icon and hosts visitors on occasions like this.

Jani said that this visit inspired her students in understanding the importance of the design research process of product and furniture design and development, and how good buildings, products and furniture designs shape our lives. She believes that these kinds of experiences and exposures enhance the students' knowledge and creativity.

With the help of the Steelcase Research Grant, Jani is developing a collaborative research project to gather insights on understanding how project and team-based collaborative learning occurs in various academic domains and settings. The focus of this research study will be on informal learning settings and how these environments support collaborative project or team-based learning.

Associate professor Neal Hubble and visiting assistant professor Christopher Manzo also accompanied the students.