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Battle of the Bands: Product Design class showdown

French Renaissance alt rock met space cowboy country from the future in one Product Design class at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). Students in Storytelling: Compelling Narrative of the Design Process were tasked with creating a band, complete with newly designed instruments, stage plots and lighting, costumes and even a feature on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Following a visit to Exciting Events, a local event planning and production company, students leveraged one or more of the technologies from the field trip to enhance the story of their band, as well as gaining a real-world understanding of aspects of event production from the perspective of a product designer. Jacob Otto ’11 (Industrial Design), Director of Creative Design at Exciting Events, gave students a tour of the company and joined the class at MIAD a few weeks later to critique materials and judge the battle of the bands.

“The purpose of the project was teamwork, this idea of how do you manage the effort,” explained Product Design instructor Larry Murphy. “There are certain deliverables that I asked for, and certain things that they came up with on their own. How do you manage that workload? How do you get it done? How do you divide and conquer, if you will?” Murphy often takes his students on field trips, last year taking his class to Walker’s Point Tattoo Company for a project.

Students worked in groups of four to develop two bands: Fievre, an alt rock band inspired by the French Renaissance and Hayjay and the Double D’s, a band from the future sent back in time to revive country music. Both groups conceptualized new instruments and designed props, sets, swag and costumes in keeping with their respective themes. Of course, both bands were also featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

“It was fun to watch their approach change and how they wanted to work certain things in after they talked to [Jacob] for a couple hours,” says Murphy. “Watching them progress through the work is always one of the most interesting things for me in this job.” VisTec 3, Murphy says, is all about “figuring it out.”

In a major upset, neither band was selected as the winner at the end of the class period, instead ending on a note of collaboration as both bands played a set together.

Learn more about MIAD’s Product Design major!

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