Camp Studio

Elpitha Tsoutsounakis
University of Utah

Elpitha Tsoutsounakis, IDSA
Assistant Professor
Multi-Disciplinary Design Program
University of Utah

This paper describes a model for a fourteen week design studio focused on outdoor products for first year undergraduate (B.S. Design) students in the new Multi-Disciplinary Design program at the University of Utah. The studio followed a traditional development path from research, idea conception, ideation and final refinement and presentation. This studio challenged the students to identify an opportunity to design a product that facilitates an experience between man and nature while minimizing impact. In addition, the studio utilized three main components that served as a pedagogical foundation for the class. The first component was first-person engagement; this allowed students to experience the use of outdoor products and identify opportunities during a weekend camping trip. The second component was a theoretical and practical exploration of the concept of sustainability through readings, discussion and precedent analysis. The students were assigned readings on ecology, the relationship of man and nature, and cradle-to-cradle practices. After a studio camping trip to the Valley of Fire in southern Nevada, they were tasked with exploring a particular theme in regards to research and precedents – energy, shelter, transport, waste, food & water and storage – and developed their own problem statements in response to their observations and insights. The third component was active participation and engagement with the Outdoor Industry Association and the Outdoor Retailers Show as well as mentorship from industry professionals throughout the course.