Jon Esser, Associate Dean of the Purchase College School of the Arts, recently conducted a one-week intensive “Green” Furniture workshop at the Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA) in Mexico City. Purchase College has an exchange program with UIA that was initiated in 2005. The students used materials taken from the environment of Mexico City and its surroundings and transformed these materials into functional furniture: tables, chairs, cabinets, shelves, etc.
UIA is situated in Santa Fe, an up-and-coming neighborhood over a ridge just beyond the Mexico City limits. Santa Fe is filled with gleaming office towers, elaborate corporate headquarters and several universities. Ironically, this fashionable district was until recently a solid waste dump for Mexico City. “It was the history of solid waste and recycling that inspired me to conduct a one-week intensive studio project with Ibero students using recycled materials,” said Esser, who is a member of the New Media faculty at Purchase. He is the recipient of a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Creativity and Academic Achievement as well as a research grant from IBM Watson Labs. His work includes mixed media, digital prints and interactive sculpture.
The UIA students ranged from freshmen to juniors and were all industrial design majors. Their approaches to the workshop varied considerably in style and technique. Some made use of the computer numeric controlled router to fabricate parts of their projects, others preferred to work by hand. Some chose to work individually, others worked as design teams. With the aid of UIA’s facilities and support staff, a wide variety of work was on display by the end of the week.
This year UIA and Purchase are sending their first students abroad as part of this program. The program is set up so that students who have completed a year of study at their home institution will be eligible to study at the exchange institution for a semester or a year. The initial phase will focus on the study of Graphic Design. Students from Iberoamericana will study at the Purchase College School of the Arts, School of Art+Design. Purchase students will study under the Design Department at Iberoamericana.
Art and design at the two schools compliment each other well. Purchase has more fine art offerings, while UIA has more applied art programs. Purchase and UIA are working on a dual degree program that will allow Graphic Design students to receive degrees in “Transamerican” Design.
UIA is also seeking to establish a dual degree program in New Media. UIA has established the first Interactive Media program in Central/South America and recently received funding from Microsoft for their concentration in computer gaming design.