Digital technologies have enabled incredible breakthroughs in the design disciplines over the last few decades and, more recently, the pivot to virtual learning and work has had an unprecedented effect on daily life across the globe. Such changes have also brought the importance of physical space, materiality, and hands-on making to the forefront of design education and practice.
Starting this semester, a new gift to the school’s Interior Design program will provide our students with even more opportunities to explore, understand, and celebrate the role of craft and artisanship in interior environments. Thanks to a generous gift from Dallas-based interior designer Emily Summers, the Emily Summers Fund for Craft & Artisanship in Interior Design will bring recognized leaders and emerging voices in the fields of applied arts and design to the school for demonstrations, workshops, and lectures exploring craft, making, and fabrication as areas with profound potential for innovation.
Known herself for her use of unexpected materials and the integration of architecture, art, and interior design, Emily Summers has a long-standing relationship with the School of Architecture. She began her career in 1979 and has since collaborated with many well-known architects, including members of our faculty, and artists from around the world.
To kick off the five-year initiative, the Interior Design program has invited Lonneke Gordijn of the Amsterdam-based art collective Studio DRIFT for a five-day, hands-on workshop with students, starting Monday, March 28. That week Gordijn will also give a public lecture in-person in Jessen Auditorium on Wednesday, March 30 at 12:30 p.m. titled “Connected Experiences.” The lecture is free and open to the public and will also be live-streamed on the Texas Architecture YouTube channel.
“This initiative will significantly advance our program’s capacity to advance interiors as a cutting-edge field,” said Igor Siddiqui, Director for Interior Design. “The work of Studio DRIFT exemplifies our interest in the synthesis of art, design, and technology as well as in the complex relationship between physical and virtual worlds that define our time.”
Gordijn and her co-founder Ralph Nauta established Studio DRIFT in 2007. The studio has since become internationally renowned for its site-specific installations, experiential environments, interactive sculptures as well as performances that combine traditional and emerging techniques of artistic production. Much of the studio’s work explores the fluctuating relationships between nature, technology, and people, often investigating the hybridity between physical and virtual worlds. Their art is in the permanent collections of museums like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Studio DRIFT’s kinetic installations and sculptures were recently presented at the Shed in New York City. Among their iconic creations is Dandelight, a light fixture made of individual dandelion heads applied by hand to LED lights, juxtaposing a labor-intensive process of craftsmanship against a mass-produced device.
Studio DRIFT is the first of several global experts in the field working with interior design students thanks to the Emily Summers Fund for Craft & Artisanship in Interior Design. The Interior Design program envisions this curricular offering as a unique opportunity to further develop its culture of making and craft in relation to issues of materiality, technology, sustainability, experience, and authorship. By embedding other craft-related arts like furniture design, installation, textiles, and lighting into the educational experience; supporting travel to visit ateliers, workshops, and factories; and funding workshops, lectures, and collaborations with internationally renowned experts in the field, the program will provide each cohort of undergraduate and graduate interior design students with a diverse and hands-on understanding of the expansiveness of interior design as a discipline.