Super Studio : PS Bridge
Site Partner: LAUSD
Instructor: Christopher Michlig
Mentor: Patty Kovic
Description - Los Angeles Unified School District consists of Los Angeles and all or portions of several adjoining
Southern California cities. LAUSD has its own police force, enrolls a third of the preschoolers in Los Angeles
County, and operates almost as many buses as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
LAUSD cafeterias serve about 500,000 meals a day, rivaling the output of local McDonald's restaurants.
LAUSD has a reputation for extremely crowded schools, high drop-out and expulsion rates, low academic
performance in many schools, poor maintenance and administrative problems.
Students in this Super Studio will work with discarded and broken LAUSD school furniture, and taking advantage of
sustainability disorientation, will transform this discarded furniture into a Super Product— imbued with new
functionality. These Super Products will be auctioned at the Otis Spring Fashion Auction with monies raised for the
Otis Educational Scholarship fund. A Wicked Problem requires a team based and interdisciplinary approach.
Students will both work broadly to investigate the social, financial educational and opera-tional issues involved as
well as in a focused, product oriented approach.
Design leadership—PS Bridge will situate students in a social leadership role, using their ability to think
creatively, to make connections, and synthesize novel solutions. PS Bridge will immerse students in the
complexities of design as a change agent and teach them to design in response to LAUSD’s complex constellation
of inefficiencies. Engaging LAUSD stakeholders (administrators, educators, students, parents, neighbors, etc.),
students will conduct hands on research to identify design opportunities, and develop design responses, with an
emphasis on the efficient re-use of obsolescent furniture accumulated by the district.
Dynamic group work—This course will involve many stakeholders and students will be expected to manage and
work effectively as a group. To address this, the research phase of the studio will be collective in every phase of
development. PS Bridge students will be encouraged to effectively communicate their ideas to others, delegate tasks
and responsibilities and work efficiently as a team to meet clearly defined deadlines and benchmarks.
New methodologies, materials, techniques—PS Bridge will take a comprehensive and holistic approach to
design that includes a broad range of cultural, material, ecological, and expressive strategies. Specifically, students
will develop furniture-esque design responses that address the volatile and complex social, educational, and fiscal
issues endemic to LAUSD.
The course will follow a studio format with reviews and critiques to develop all phases (listed below). Reviews will
be multidisciplinary, inviting critics from Art, Architecture, Graphic Design, Music, Planning, History, Education,
• RESEARCH | IMMERSION The focus of the first part of the class will be to become familiar with
LAUSD’s particular challenges through a series of site visits and design assignments. Research will be largely
qualitative and interview based.
• SITE PARTNER | Students will engage in a critical, meaningful, productive relationship with the chosen
• FINAL PROJECT Students will develop an individual final project in response to an identified need,
issue, or problem. Final projects should be contextual, adaptive, and in response to a specific issue. Each project
must clearly articulate how the design responds to the issue. Additionally, each project will make innovative use of
broken and discarded LAUSD furniture.
Glossary | Shared Language |
To be developed during class . . .
Week 1 | January 18
Introduction | Precedents | Reflection
Following an introduction of the course and review of the syllabus, Instructors will give brief presentations on course
precedents and related projects.
HW: Read “Design Like you Give a Damn” by Cameron Sinclair - post a 300 word response on the course ning
Research + Analysis
Week 2 | January 25
Effective Teamwork | Systems Thinking
Instructors will lead the studio in a series of collaborative/teambuilding exercises to familiarize students with ways
to work effectively as a group, resolve conflicts, and optimize individual effectiveness within the context of a group.
Following the team-buildings exercises, instructors will introduce students to the nuts+bolts of “systems thinking”
with an information graphics presentation.
In class exercise:
Working individually, students will identify an OTIS-specific issue, relate it to the system it is implicated in, and
propose a change students should forecast the effectiveness and impact of their change to that system.
HW: Create a visual diagram of the identified issue, the system it is implicated in, and the proposed change. Post
completed diagram to the course ning site.
Week 3 | February 1
Systems Thinking Cont.| Ethnography
Students will have a pin-up and discussion about their “systems thinking” diagrams.
Instructors will give a brief presentation on design ethnography and interview techniques in preparation for
forthcoming interviews at DaVinci School (weeks 7-8).
Students will work collaboratively to develop a “qualitative interview” questionnaire and use it to conduct a
“practice” survey in the OTIS community.
HW: Read “PASSPORT: Continuum Field Work”, and post a 300 word reply to the course ning site.
HW: Bring all interview materials gathered during the “OTIS Interviews” to class for pin-up and discussion.
Week 4 | February 8
Site Partner Research Cont. | Needs.
Students will pin-up and discuss “Otis Interview” results.
Instructors will give brief presentations on ”needs” in relation to the unique characteristics of LAUSD. Alternative
“quality of life” indicators such as Bhutan’s “Gross National Happiness Index” and Catherine Austin Fitts’
“Popsicle Index” will be used as case studies for measuring social and psychological well-being in the spirit of a
holistic design approach.
HW: ,Write a 150 word interpretation of what a “need” is, as well as a 150 word personal design
Week 5 | February 15
GUEST PRESENTER | Habitat For Humanity | Questionnaire construction |
A representative from Habitat for Humanity will make a presentation on the success of the Habitat For Humanity
“ReStore” program outlets - their social enterprise which sells used and surplus building materials at a fraction of
retail prices, raising money and diverting materials away from landfills.
Students will work collectively to create the questionnaire(s) to be used in the field at DaVinci School. Stakeholders
to be interviewed include; teachers, administrators, facilities workers, school nurse(s), parents, students, etc.
HW: Read “In The Field: Participating, Observing and Jotting Notes”, by Emerson, Fretz, Shaw, and post a 300
word reply to the course ning site.
Week 6 | February 22
SITE VISIT | Raw Materials Assessment | Questionnaire Construction Cont.
Class will meet at XYZ to document and assess available, accumulated obsolescent furniture, fixtures, materials.
Students will work on-site to finalize their questionnaires for the interviews the following week.
HW: Create 10 ideation sketches exploring the reuse potentials of the available obsolescent materials.
Finalize Qualitative questionnaire.
Week 7| | March 1
Field Interviews | Round 1
The studio will work collectively to conduct interviews at DaVinci SChool.
Week 8 | March 8
Field Interviews | Round 2
The studio will work collectively to complete interviews at Davinci School.
Week 9 - TERM
Synthesis | Design Development
During the remainder of the course, students will work with their groups to develop and realize their projects.
Weekly assignments will be given by the instructors to facilitate a timely, organized and engaging coordination of
each group’s project. Guest speakers, lectures pertinent to the theme and goal of the class, as well as group
critiques will take place regularly to enrich the project development process.
Week 9 | March 15
Guest Speaker | Julie Deamer
Founder and Executive Director of Outpost For Contemporary Art Julie Deamer will give a talk about the role of
fundraising and grant writing in relation to art + design.
Week 10 | March 29
Studio Work Day
Week 11 | April 5
Guest Speaker | TBA
Studio Work Day
Week 12 | April 12
Studio Work Day
Week 13 | April 19
Presentation | Final Project Proposal | Dry Run | Dress Rehearsal
Groups will present a proposal for their group project, relating their proposals to their work with their site-partner-
specific issue, contextualizing their project within concepts covered during the course, and discuss the conceptual
and material ways in which their project may develop.
Week 14 | April 26
Presentation | Publication, Exhibition, Auction
Upon completion of each individual project, students will give presentations of their final project before the class.
Completion of the course will also result in the form of a publication, exhibition +/or auction.
Week 15 | May 5
NO CLASS | All hands on deck for Senior Show