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Senior’s career at Delta ‘flows’ from Product Design internships

Peyton Hartis

Peyton Hartis

“First touch” can mean a lot of things. Think sports and weddings. But also think design.

The first touch for Peyton Hartis’ senior project, Tac-Table, occurred during a furniture design project in the Product Design major’s junior year.

“Studio classes were especially impactful for me,” says Hartis. “I took a lot of different classes. Working with professionals in the sponsored studio classes was also helpful, like on projects with Delta Faucets, General Motors and Generac.”

Hartis excelled at these projects so much that she subsequently had a total of three internships with Delta, one with Steelcase and one with McCaw/Budsberg Current Projects. And after graduation, she’s starting full-time in June as an Industrial Designer at Delta.

A black and white sketch of a person sitting at an assistive desk with an iPad on a stand.

Peyton Hartis, “Tac-Table,” 2024.

“My Steelcase internship also influenced my senior project as we were building pieces of furniture for a classroom, and I learned a lot of different techniques,” she explains. I was able to build a piece of furniture for myself, and I wanted to make a piece of furniture in the education space.”

Tac-Table is a bespoke desk for Sam, a visually impaired 6th grader who is on the autism spectrum. Hartis says the project focuses on “what would help a visually impaired student, from elementary school on up, on their path and what would be the best environment for them.”

“I began reaching out to professionals who teach visually impaired students. One of them put me into contact with Sam’s mom, who provided input into his needs.

“The project is geared toward one person because each person has a unique way of learning. It is not a mass-produced piece of furniture. I would like to see it implemented or placed within a classroom. See where teachers could expand on it.”

That is not outside the realm of possibility for Hartis. In addition to placing first in the Delta design project at MIAD, a faucet Hartis designed during her internship – Kylo – is now for sale and her Brizo collection releases in 2026.

Hartis came to MIAD from the Dallas area, originally to major in Communication Design, she says. “I switched my major my first year because I really liked the fabrication classes. We were making lightboxes, and I had so much fun [retired] Professor Bruce Grudzinski suggested I look into Product Design.”

During her sophomore year [and the pandemic], Hartis found other faculty especially impactful. “The faculty in the 3D lab were an amazing team of support helping me with any questions and setting up specific times to learn new skills.

Reflecting on MIAD’s 50th anniversary, Hartis says that “as more content becomes available online, we’ll see a complete change in how students learn new techniques. Along with advancements in technology, we have only an inkling for what is to come and change our lives.”

Hartis’ project is on view with those of 210 seniors at the MIAD 2024 Senior Exhibition, April 19 – May 11. MIAD Galleries are open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., at 273 E. Erie St., Milwaukee, WI 53202

View Hartis’ online portfolio, including Bundle, an ottoman she designed and built during her last three weeks as an intern in Steelcase’s Model Shop.

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