KI Celebrates Partnership with UW-Milwaukee, Exhibits Public Seating Prototype

Prototype, research on display now through October 30 at Discovery World in Milwaukee, WI.

GREEN BAY, WIS. – KI and students in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP) are exhibiting an exciting public seating prototype (called “DRIFT”) now through October 30, 2012 at Discovery World, Milwaukee’s premier science and technology museum.

The exhibition showcases the unique blade and foam structure of DRIFT, along with models, research and drawings from the design process created during a KI-sponsored collaborative studio with UWM.

The KI and UWM collaborative studio is a trilogy partnership that brings together industry and manufacturing with academia and the architecture and design community. Videos about the collaboration and the making of the DRIFT can be seen below.

“The DRIFT project contemplates the nature of public space, the role of furniture within gathering spaces and how such space may be transformed to encourage new paradigms of use and value,” says Grace La, associate professor of UWM SARUP, director of the studio and principal of LA DALLMAN. “Recognizing an array of natural body positions and new relationships with technology, the project offers an informal landscape of flexible seating, collaborative opportunities and intensified ergonomic potential.”

The DRIFT project also serves as a lantern, integrating both lighting and electrical power needs to provide an inviting and intimate scale; this design strategy inherently critiques the typically vast and anonymous nature of many public spaces today. 

“Providing students with hands-on experience in studying the relationship between physical space and human-scaled objects, such as furniture, was tremendously rewarding,” says Amy Kiefer, vice president of education, KI. “As a leader in the education market, KI was able to deliver key insights and expertise that helped to guide the students in the concept, design and development of DRIFT. And we’re excited to share the results of their hard work and real-world creative execution with the public.”

“One of the truly distinct aspects of the KI and UWM studio exhibition is its demonstration of the ability to leverage the Midwestern manufacturing base to teach students about design and fabrication,” says Paul Krajniak, executive director, Discovery World. “The prototype is designed as a repetitive ‘blade’ and foam structure, utilizing straightforward CNC technology to achieve shaping of infinite and supple variation. It is a simple idea, with rich inspirations and beautiful execution.”

“SARUP appreciates the opportunity for our students to interact with specialists and experts outside the field of architecture,” says Robert Greenstreet, dean, SARUP. “We appreciate the commitment by KI to help us offer students truly unique educational experiences.”

The research of the KI and UWM collaborative studio was featured at the 2010 Metropolis Conference at ICFF, and the work has resulted in the design of 25 objects, 2  full-scale prototypes, 16 auditoria-related projects, 6 future learning environments and 13 hypothetical residential halls to date. Over 70 students have participated in the studio since its inception in 2008.

“It has been an incredible learning experience to prototype a project and to collaborate with this group. The studio enhances the culture of the school and offers a model for practice which I deeply value,” says Adriana Arteaga, UWM SARUP graduate student. The students have won numerous awards in UWM's Annual Design Awards program; these awards recognize the unique curricular model between industry, academia and the professional architecture and design communities.

DRIFT is a new public seating prototype developed by KI in partnership with students from UW-Milwaukee.

DRIFT is a new public seating prototype developed by KI in partnership with students from UW-Milwaukee. Photo by Dustin Koch

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