DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Super Studio : PS Bridge 

7:00pm-10:00pm, Tuesday 

Site Partner: LAUSD 

 

Instructor: Christopher Michlig 

email: cmichlig@otis.edu 

 

Mentor: Patty Kovic 

email: pkovic@otis.edu 

 

 

 

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. 

 

Studio 

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, 

etc. 

 

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 

site-partner.     

 

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 

site.  

 

WEEK 2-10 

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 

philosophy/statement. 

 

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  

 

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 

 

 

 

 

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.