Through empathy and design, MIAD students change daily lives of MPS students with special needs
MILWAUKEE (March 28, 2019) … In an emotional moment this week, Industrial Design juniors from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design presented assistive devices they designed to individual Manitoba Elementary & Middle School students with special needs. The MIAD students have worked with the individual Milwaukee Public School (MPS) students to learn how to help them meet daily challenges and design solutions to improve their lives and make school a little easier. Devices MIAD students designed include:
- a grip to isolate a student’s finger and enable the student to use an iPad
- a device with sensory items to help calm a student with anxiety
- a fidget game to help engage students and help them focus on classwork
- a board mounted to a student’s desk with interactive learning games
- grips and holders to allow students to hold markers and painting tools independently
This project is part of a 24-year collaboration with MPS. The two-month, team-based collaboration exemplifies MIAD’s commitment to the Greater Milwaukee community and applying innovative solutions and emerging technologies to address design challenges.
“The project sensitizes students to consider all members of society as future design clients – the young and the old, the able-bodied and disabled – within an intensive, iterative process of needs assessment, research, concept and model development, and evaluation,” said Pascal Malassigné, FIDSA, MIAD Professor of Industrial Design.
Applying technology and creativity in design
MIAD students used resources college-wide – including 3D printers, laser cutters, the Textiles Lab, and the 3D and Sculpture Lab – to create their devices. After creating an initial design, MIAD students shared it with the MPS students and their teachers to gain feedback and incorporated the feedback into the final designs.
“It was a good opportunity to use resources available to students and expand my abilities with craft and materials. It’s also nice to do something for someone else and know it could help them the rest of their life,” said James Brosnan ’20, who used his personal experience with dyslexia to inform decisions he made while designing an interactive learning board that mounts to the student’s desk.
Zoya Chicks ’20 worked with a 4th grader to create a product that isolates the student’s finger to enable her to use an iPad. The 4th grader had been previously using a sock with a hole in it for this purpose. “The brace isolates the finger so the student can use the iPad with educational apps. I wanted it to be comfortable for her,” Chicks said.
The project Gordy Russell ’20 designed originally included only an engagement band that helps a student with anxiety remain calm. After he met the student and saw her current chair, he decided to design a completely new chair and engagement band. He cut the chair on the college’s CNC machine and assembled it in the 3D Lab. He approached Permobil in New Berlin, Wisc., a company that develops and manufactures wheelchairs, for help creating the cushion and ensuring the materials used were comfortable and easily washable.
The MPS/MIAD collaboration was conceived and is carried out by Sue Loesl, MPS Adaptive Art Therapist, and Malassigné. Loesl retires at the end of this school year. Malassigné is an internationally known lecturer and author, and was a research industrial designer at the Atlanta and Milwaukee Veterans Affair Medical Center for 30 years, devoting his non-teaching activities to designing assistive and mobility products for individuals with disabilities.
Collaborations with the community, businesses and nonprofits
This collaboration is one of many MIAD has with community, business and nonprofit partners. The collaborations help students gain the professional skills they need to launch successful careers, and benefit the clients.
Other collaborations include Communication Design and Illustration projects with 88Nine and Colectivo Coffee, and an Industrial Design project with Delta Faucet, which resulted in the company patenting an unprecedented 10 student designs this year.
Unfinished Legacy, a brand started by Milwaukee artist Brema Brema, enjoyed a promotional video created by current Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design senior Hannah Davis for her Digital Media: Video Production elective course in fall 2022. The semester-long project culminated in a three-minute video and three shorter clips advertising the brand.
The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA), located in West Bend, has announced its “Ten at Ten” exhibition celebrating the work of ten emerging artists for the tenth anniversary in its new Mothership building. Two MIAD alumni, Lindsey Yeager ’21 (New Studio Practice: Fine Arts & Illustration) and Eduardo Zavala ’22 (NSP: Fine Arts), were selected to show work at the exhibition.
During her final year at MIAD, Zachary Ochoa’s senior thesis was majorly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ochoa ’20 (New Studio Practice: Fine Arts) bounced back by creating a fantastical universe of paintings featuring Girl Hero, a trans Mickey Mouse-esque warrior.
Milwaukee is fast becoming a national hotspot for basketball. Not only is the city home to NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks, it recently played a pivotal role in creating the newly designed Michael Jordan Trophy, awarded to the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player of the year. Milwaukee’s Vanguard Sculpture Services, the “best fine art foundry on planet Earth,” according to their website, poured and cast the final trophy.
Milwaukee high schoolers are getting a head start on their creative careers through the Design Internship at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. The free, year-long program was recently approved for a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to expand the program for 2023-2024.