SiteStudio Participants Design Seating for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

Posted December 12, 2018 in Faculty, Product Design, Public, Student, Painting, Industrial Design, Alumni

SiteStudio was founded in 2013 by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) Painting Professor Margaret Vega as a grass roots response to enhance quality “maker” experiences for children in the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) community. As the founder and director of SiteStudio, Vega initially developed projects with GRPS’s César E. Chávez Elementary. In 2014, SiteStudio expanded to include an artist/designer-in-residence program, which has inspired and led to the installation of murals in Roosevelt Park and at KCAD’s Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) in Grand Rapids, Mich. SiteStudio has also established pop-up creative spaces, presented its Build a Bridge project at both César E. Chávez Elementary and Southwest Community Campus, and held yearly spring break camps at KCAD.

In early 2017, Vega introduced the Children Designing for Children project, allowing SiteStudio participants from Southwest Community Campus’ 7th and 8th grades to work on designing the “Happy Pod” for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. Other collaborators in this project include Grandville Arts and Humanities and KCAD.

In the fall of 2018, Fernando Ramirez, SiteStudio’s current designer-in-residence and a 2015 graduate of KCAD’s Industrial Design program, worked closely with Vega and SiteStudio Assistant Director Tatsuki Hakoyama to develop a curriculum for the next Children Designing for Children project, centered on industrial design practice, design thinking methodology, and maker skills. Under the creative direction of the SiteStudio team, Ramirez, KCAD Industrial Design Associate Professor Jon Moroney, and KCAD Industrial Design student mentors, 30 Southwest Community Campus 8th grade students committed two hours a week for six weeks to design and build seating for the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Photo courtesy Tatsuki Hakoyama, SiteStudio

Working collaboratively in six teams, students visited KCAD’s Industrial Design program spaces and toured the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, where discussions focused on empathy, design, and play. They then concentrated on an aspect of creative problem solving with round table discussions, using drawing and model making as a language to examine all aspects of design development. The students measured and tested their ideas and prepared verbal presentations, which they presented to jurors from Steelcase, the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, and Fleetwood Design Group.


Photos courtesy Tatsuki Hakoyama, SiteStudio

An exhibition titled ImagineDesign, which opens at 6:00 pm on Thursday, December 13, 2018 in the atrium of KCAD’s 17 Fountain St. NW building, will feature drawings and models created by students and their mentors through this year’s SiteStudio: Children Designing for Children project. This exhibition will be on display at KCAD through December 21, 2018, and will then travel to the Southwest Community Campus to be displayed in the main lobby.

An opening reception will be held on December 13, 2018 from 6:00 – 7:30 pm at KCAD with an awards presentation at 6:30 pm. An award for Best Solution will be presented by Dr. Robert Connors, president of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; an award for Best Development and Creativity will be presented by Santiago Carral, industrial designer at Steelcase; and an award for Best System and Feasibility will be presented by Leslie Bellavance, president of KCAD. The winning design will be built by Steelcase as a working prototype and installed in the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in early 2019.

SiteStudio is excited to continue working with GRPS students, the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Steelcase, and KCAD for the next two years on the subsequent iteration of the Children Designing for Children project.