This fall term, the School of Art and Design has launched a new class: an in-house design agency called A+D Projects. This one-of-a-kind class has only just begun, but is already aimed to revolutionize Portland State’s design program.
According to Kate Bingaman-Burt, professional designer, assistant professor at PSU and founder of A+D Projects, the university has lacked a fully operational design studio within the graphic design department for some time. The department provides graphic design work by employing students, but the school does not assist the center with the demands for its own design work.
“All of us have an incredible need for design work, but we don’t have anyone who works on design at this school,” Bingaman-Burt said.
Bingaman-Burt brought this problem to the attention of the school, which, in turn, gave her an empty classroom that had previously been used for storage. With a little cleaning up and clearing out, the room was then transformed into A+D Projects.
The class is intended to fill the design gap while giving much- needed experience to the students who work within the class. However, the experience
Bingaman-Burt intends to teach isn’t job experience—something many graphic design students already have—but teamwork.
A+D Projects is made up of 15 high-performing, talented graphic design students who are then broken up into separate, smaller teams, with each team running their own independent studio. The premise behind the class is that students within these teams will learn how to run their own studio, develop leadership skills and learn how to function as a collective.
“I’m in the role of the teacher, but I have to take a step back and let them learn,”
“I’m really excited about A+D Projects,” said Jordan Hoagbin, a junior in PSU’s graphic design program and member of the new project. “I think a lot of the things that I haven’t enjoyed about Portland State has been the disconnect between different departments, different programs, etc.”
“I love what the graphic design program has done to create a sense of community within itself and beyond the classroom, and this class is a step into bringing the sense of community to the university as a whole and giving students the experience of working with actual clients, with projects that will have impact… I’m excited that the projects we’ll be doing will affect the experience at the School of Art and Design directly and immediately,” Hoagbin said.
“This is the first time this class has been offered,” Hoagbin continued. “We are the first batch of students, and all of us were hand selected by faculty, so I’m really excited to be working with such capable people and seeing the impact we can make on the school as a whole.”
The excitement over the potential and opportunity provided by a program of this kind is echoed by the staff directly involved with it.
“I’m hugely excited about working with everyone on the A+D Projects team,” said PSU professor and A+D adviser Sean Schumacher. “Each term, the class will rotate between myself, Kate Bingaman-Burt and Briar Levit. As advisers, we do work together to advance things as a whole, but as each of us has different things that we’ll bring to the studio. I think the class will take on a bit of the personality of each of us as the year goes on.”
Despite the class’ emphasis on change and development from semester to semester, Schumacher emphasized that the students are what come first at A+D Projects.
“The students…are the heart and soul of what we’ll be doing. Each has their own background, their own specialties and their own interests, and as they work together, they’ll be able to contribute to the visual culture and affect the visibility of the new School of Art and Design in a hugely positive way. Ultimately, too, it’s their talent and their generosity with their time that has made this idea possible and will make the School of Art and Design a better place for everyone—students and teachers alike,” Schumacher said.
As part of Design Week Portland, A+D Projects will be hosting an open house event to celebrate the opening of the new design studio on Oct. 8.
More information and future updates about the program can be found at http://psu.gd