14 July, 2009

Students Design an Artistic Abuse Awareness Approach

Chairity: Students’ designs raise awareness of domestic violence

11-06-08 Chairs
Published On:
 Thursday, November 6, 2008

ASU interior design students have built chairs to take a stand against domestic violence.

Seniors in a work-environments design studio designed chairs as part of a project with the Phoenix Family Advocacy Center, which helps victims of domestic abuse. The chairs will be displayed in this week’s First Fridays art walk downtown and will go to a charity auction in mid-November.

Josie Urban, Jodie Smith and Jenny Kern won a scholarship from the International Interior Design Association for their chair, which resembles a bus stop and draws inspiration from graphic artist Barbara Kruger. Kruger’s work contains industrial, mass-produced images with statements set on top of the pictures. The bus-stop chair was designed to emphasize the industrial aspect of Kruger’s work.

“It seemed really daunting at first,” Urban said. “There was an infinite number of [design] possibilities.”

The 31 students involved in the project formed groups to design 11 chairs over five weeks. Each group chose an artist as inspiration and set out to build a chair.

They spent two weeks designing a proposal, one building a scale model and two more building the actual chair. Students could spend no more than $100 on their design and had to get items or services donated from local companies.

“It was a good way to get the community involved,” Urban said. “People were really generous.”

At the beginning of the semester, an employee of the Family Advocacy Center brought a victim of domestic abuse to speak with students about the cause.

Smith, a designer of the bus-stop chair, said the speakers put a personal and emotional face on the organization.

“[The project is] to understand what they’re about and promote their mission in various ways,” Smith said. “People don’t know about it. That was really inspirational.”

Interior design senior Stephanie Fanger worked with her group to build a chair inspired by New York graffiti artist Lady Pink.

“Since she’s a graffiti artist, we thought she would reflect the violence,” Fanger said.

The forms used in the chair were fluid and colorful, representing the motions used to spray paint graffiti on a wall.

“This is the most emotionally and physically draining project,” Fanger said.

Working on the project from conception to construction was an experience that encompassed all aspects of design.

“I learned how to design quickly and on a budget,” she said. “Once you build a full-scale model, you realize the constraints.”

Faculty associate Bill Furman is a design instructor who helped students through the design process.

He said the most interesting aspect of the project is seeing how students incorporate the inspiration of artists and domestic violence into their chairs.

One group chose a philosopher as their artistic inspiration, which presented an unusual challenge, Furman said.

“They had to come up with their own visual of the philosophy, which previously had no visual representation,” he said. “It’s really interesting what they do with their ideas.”

The chairs will be auctioned off at the Phoenix Art Museum on Nov. 19. The CHAIRity Benefit Dinner brought in about $16,000 last year for the Phoenix Family Advocacy Center.

“The underlying theme here is to talk about domestic violence,” Furman said. “[The project] brings awareness to that issue.”

Reach the reporter at adam.sneed@asu.edu

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