Error in custom script module

Students get taste of real world designing for Room & Board

By University Communications
April 18, 2017
From left, UW-Stout students Joe Rosewicz, Marcus Kucek, seated, and Dylan Darst take a break in a UW-Stout industrial design lab. They each won $1,000 scholarships from Room & Board for product designs that the company may produce.

Photo: From left, UW-Stout students Joe Rosewicz, Marcus Kucek, seated,
and Dylan Darst take a break in a UW-Stout industrial design lab. They
each won $1,000 scholarships from Room & Board for product designs
that the company may produce.


Joe Rosewicz and 17 other industrial design majors at University of Wisconsin-Stout recently learned firsthand what life as a designer will be like when they graduate.

Because they’re seniors, the experience couldn’t have come at a better time.

Working directly with professional designers from Room & Board, a Minneapolis-based company known for modern, artisan-crafted furniture and accessories, each student had three weeks to design a product for the company, with the possibility of their design being manufactured and sold by Room & Board.

“I gained a lot of knowledge about the furniture industry. I have new appreciation for the design of furniture and living environments,” said Rosewicz, from the Milwaukee suburb of Sussex. “I learned what it’s really like to work as a furniture designer and how fast-paced it is.”

The experience had an even better ending for Rosewicz and two classmates, whose work was judged by company employees as the best in class. Each of them received $1,000 and the opportunity to have Room & Board turn their designs into company products.

The other winners are Dylan Darst, of Minneapolis, and Marcus Kucek, of Waukesha.

The company also donated $2,000 to UW-Stout’s industrial design program.

The project was set up as a contest in Industrial Design Senior Studio II taught by Associate Professor Jennifer Astwood. Students presented their final design ideas at Room & Board headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn., to about 30 employees, including the company president.

“It was amazing to see the beautiful facilities like Room & Board had that we could have the opportunity to work at once we graduate,” Rosewicz said.

The final presentation was the third time students met with Room & Board representatives during the project. The first two times, a small group of Room & Board officials came to campus to introduce the project and to provide feedback about halfway through the design process.

Brian Linehan, a 2010 UW-Stout graduate and Room & Board merchandise associate, helped coordinate the project with Astwood. He has volunteered to critique students’ work in the past as well.

“Working with the students was a great experience for Room & Board and something we hope to do more of in the future,” Linehan said. “The work presented to us was professional, fresh and inspiring. Choosing winners was no easy task. Having graduated from UW-Stout, it is awesome to see the program so clearly thriving and growing.”

Students created products either for the company’s outdoor or microapartment lines. They worked in teams of three, each designing a product, but the three products were required to correlate visually and functionally, Astwood said.

“Room & Board was really happy with the results they created, what the options were. The students were professional, and they were impressed with that and their insightfulness throughout the design process,” Astwood said.

UW-Stout students, faculty and Room & Board employees gather after students presented their product designs at company headquarters in Minneapolis.

Rosewicz designed a light fixture to be used along a patio, sidewalk or wall. When looking at the company’s outdoor product line, he didn’t see such a product.

“After some research I found that the mood of a midafternoon to evening picnic was based largely on the lighting of that area. It sets the mood and leads the user into the experience in the environment. Many existing sidewalk lights are on posts or sticks. I wanted to design a product that was cleaner and closer to the ground,” he said.

Rosewicz credited his teammates for helping “push the light to be something that was not simply a standalone unit but the binding element that brought together the three of our designs.

“It’s so inspiring to work and build off the awesome design community here at Stout. We are competitive only to push each other’s capabilities and promote the growth of the entire program. No student gets where they are alone. We are a great family, and I am proud to be a part of it, to graduate with the skills and mindset to shape our future.”

“I am very excited to see where my concept will go, and it would be and honor to have it further developed and sold by Room & Board,” Rosewicz said.

Darst designed a modular shelf with two stationary white quartz shelves to hold plants, or other wet or moist objects. The product also has 12 movable wooden shelves for further display options.

“I saw that all of Room & Board’s shelving and wall storage was only wood and that there was an opportunity to mix quartz and wood and have it be not only aesthetically pleasing but have it also serve a meaningful purpose,” Darst said. “The shelf stays true to Room & Board’s clean and simple aesthetic while still being highly functional and customizable.”

Darst said it was “challenging to design high quality products while still keeping it simple, functional, and maintaining a high level of sophistication.”

Kucek design a powder-coated steel coffee table. With a modular design, it also can function as two smaller side tables. Each module has a cavity for an item such as a planter, ice bucket or glass-encased gas lantern.

“My group's designs are unique and marketable because they are fresh and bold-looking, while still having a similar design language to some of Room & Board's existing outdoor furniture,” Kucek said.

“This experience gave me a chance to work with a real company or client, and I've gained more knowledge of materials and manufacturing processes. Furthermore, collaboration within a group often helps me develop my design sensibilities and style,” he said.

###

Photos

Bottom Photo: UW-Stout students, faculty and Room & Board employees gather after students presented their product designs at company headquarters in Minneapolis. Professors Erik Evensen and Jennifer Astwood are front row, second and third from left.