Job title: Idea-Instiller

Both of us have been adjunct faculty at the Woodbury University School of Architecture for the past 3-5 years. We view teaching both as a responsibility towards the next generation of designers, and as a necessary component to a practice that is interested in staying vibrant and relevant.

At Woodbury we have taught several design studio courses whose main objectives were to develop students’ design, representation and presentation skills. These courses also incorporated field-research of case-studies, visual analysis of project sites, physical model building experience, digital fabrication, software instruction as well as in-class development of conceptual, analytical and critical design skills.

Design education takes the form of lectures, computer-lab demonstrations, field visits, workshops and formal juried presentations. While Donatella and Bojána taught several classes independently or in collaboration with other Woodbury faculty, one important aspect to the courses we author is establishing a link between the academic environment and the design professions by collaborating with outside institutions, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (with exhibition designers Jodie Bass and Priscilla Fraser) and Casa Libre.

In the Spring of 2013, Donatella and Bojána were part of a 3-person faculty team selected by Paulette Singley, the director of the Woodbury Rome Center for Architecture and Culture (RCAC) to co-author and co-teach an urban design studio and a contemporary issues seminar to a group of architecture students studying abroad in Italy. The program focuses on observation and analysis of the socio-historic urban fabric as experienced by the students’ living there. The Spring semester studio projects investigated adaptive re-use on an urban scale, building upon the observed trend of creative, politically and ethnically diverse communities re-colonizing a historic industrial district (Rione XX) along the East bank of the Tiber River.

Among other artifacts, one of the outcomes of the contemporary issues seminar was a semester-long postcard series produced by students, showcasing a variety of representational techniques learned throughout the semester. Each postcard represented a student’s personal understanding of Rome through the filter of a conceptual and recording technique required by the assignment. The series culminated in a set of 10 postcards designed and silk-screened by the student group in the Rome studio space.

Rione XX Postcard Workshop Rome

The program also embraced students’ point of view as somewhere between outsiders and locals in Rome. Acknowledging their familiarity with the city by the end of their stay, they earned the title and skills of a traveler, and were asked to incorporate and bring home several pieces of Rome in their studio work.

Studio work from the Rome Spring students was showcased as “vehicles of transmission” – cast artifacts, postcards, digital files and models transported in Poste Italiane mailing boxes – at Woodbury University’s Wedge Gallery between September 27th and October 15th, 2013. The exhibition, designed by Donatella, Bojána and Rome studio co-faculty, Thurman Grant simply unfolded the traveling artifacts in a red-painted room that cast the classic Roman tint on all drawings, models, sketchbooks. In addition, chalk-lines used to invoke major, city-shaping floods of the River Tiber and postcards hung like drying laundry served to further infuse the gallery with an atmosphere of Rome.

Wedge Gallery 2013 September

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