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Column | Meera Komarraju: With industry collaboration, SIU School of Art and Design is on top the game
Column | On Campus

Column | Meera Komarraju: With industry collaboration, SIU School of Art and Design is on top the game

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SIU Industrial Design students work in the Design Program’s undergraduate studio.

Boasting 2D and 3D art specializations, a variety of design options, and art education and art History programs, the School of Art and Design at SIU Carbondale offers students numerous opportunities for hands-on instruction every day.



Student-driven research and creative activity requires active participation in their education, and creation of their own art and design concepts, lesson plans, and papers in the several studios, labs, and classrooms around the School of Art and Design. In addition, the design program has incorporated “real-world,” hands-on collaborations with industry partners directly into its curriculum. This ensures that industrial design students and many communication design students will have the opportunity to work on design research with real outcomes for an industry partner through the program’s Design Research Studio (DRS).

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These collaborations help generate funds for the design program that assist with the purchase of equipment, supplies, and the annual Design Days event.

The DRS aims to leverage the creativity, intellectual ability, technical resources, and diverse experience of the design faculty and students in exploring client driven design opportunities. The DRS applies its strengths in design methodology, collaborative problem solving, 2D and 3D design, and sustainable design practices in the pursuit of innovative, user-centered design solutions. The resulting outcomes assist client partners to achieve the twin goals of meeting business objectives while advancing new collaborative learning models.


A Symrise “Taste for Life” trade show booth is pictured.

Since 2011, students and faculty have collaborated with Symrise Inc., Landscape Brands, Harman/Yurbuds, Blade Maid/Cornerstone Marketing, School Outfitters, Emerson Tool Company, Tom’s Bite Light for Jerdon Innovation, and most recently with Anova — an outdoor furnishing company in St. Louis who has hired many design program graduates. Through the DRS, these collaborations have generated over $60,000 in the past nine years.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the students from the spring AD383 Industrial Design Practicum course completed a seven-week, design research project for industry partner Anova. The nine students and faculty member developed new chair/seating concepts for commercial use, that both expanded on the well-known Anova brand offerings, while offering a unique selling proposition to landscape architects who advertised the new chairs.

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Over seven weeks, students sketched initial concepts, made digital renderings of intermediate concepts, developed 3D models, made mock-ups, and virtually presented their 27 concepts (three each) to the Anova team of designers, marketing specialists, and the company leadership. The work was well received and hopefully a few of them make it to market.

As highlighted, industry collaborations are critical to the School of Art and Design’s leadership in art and design education regionally and nationally.

Meera Komarraju is the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.


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