Welcoming New Furniture in Clay Studio

On January 30, the Museum welcomed brand new tables and stools in Clay Studio designed and fabricated by San Diego State University (SDSU) School of Art + Design students. This was the result of a year-long collaboration with students in SDSU’s first ever course, Community Partnership in Applied Design, along with Assistant Professor Adam J. Manley, to enhance our popular outdoor studio space. A morning reception was held that day to celebrate the collaboration and the student’s achievements with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Guests then explored the uniquely artistic and functional design elements of the new furniture before the Museum opened to the public.

The Collaboration with SDSU

The new Clay Studio furniture project with SDSU has been a year in the making. Last spring, the students designed the prototype set of tables and stools for Clay Studio, which were then tested over the summer at the Museum for durability, maintenance and safety. In the process, Assistant Professor Adam Manley and his students received plenty of feedback on how to meet the needs of the children, their caregivers, and the Museum staff utilizing the furniture. The feedback included making the tables slightly taller to accommodate adults, as well as using sturdier wheels that allow the staff to easily move the tables around.

However, the main goal of this project was not only to provide new functional furniture for Clay Studio, but also to foster creativity and imagination in our community. The collaboration on this project between SDSU and the Museum honed students’ design skills and provided valuable workforce development opportunities.

“Being able to work with The New Children’s Museum gave me a glimpse of what it’s like to work and design a product for a client,” said one of the students, Lisa Nguyen, in this SDSU news article. “It’s taught me how to carefully and fully think about my ideas and the many perspectives that need to be considered. When I was designing my benches, I had to think about the children who would be using them and playing around near them. I had to make sure it was safe and durable, while still remembering that the museum is a creative space.”

The tables and stools are now in full use in Clay Studio, providing a canvas for visitors’ clay masterpieces. Additional benches for the space are still being designed and will be completed late spring.

The Clay Studio furniture project was made possible in part by the Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation and Tony and Cristina Yahyai. Clay Studio is open every day and free with Museum admission. Check our website to see what we’re currently sculpting in the studio!

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