Last semester, Michael Graves College students in the Industrial Design II course collaborated with Donald Strum and Rob Van Varick, Principals of Product Design and Graphic Design, for Michael Graves Architecture & Design (MGA&D). Collaboration is a meaningful way for Michael Graves College at Kean University to maintain and grow their relationship with the office of Michael Graves and to fulfill the legacy inherent in the college that carries his name (and philosophy). The project was for each student to design the ideal desk. Since product designers are only as good as their clients who realize their designs through manufacture, before we initiated the project, we wanted to find an industry partner to complete the loop. We were fortunate that DuPont generously agreed to provide Corian and Solid Tops of Brooklyn agreed to fabricate selected projects.

Like a chair, a desk can represent power, protection, status, collaboration, or division. – Donald Strum

Donald Strum, Principal of Product Design and Graphic Design at Michael Graves Architecture & Design, comments on the collaboration objectives, “Throughout history, chairs have embodied meaning and values that connect people on an intellectual, emotional, aesthetic, cultural, and even spiritual level (In Now I Sit Me Down, Witold Rybczynski wrote a dynamic history of the chair). But what meaning does a desk hold? It provides a flat or sloped surface at which one can read, write and do other work; a desk may or may not have drawers to organize documents and supplies. Like a chair, a desk can represent power, protection, status, collaboration, or division. Picture the Oval Office. The Resolute desk stands out and imprints itself as a symbol of the most powerful person in the world, while in this case, the President’s chair provides no metaphor.

With all the diverse ways people work today, and utilize horizontal surfaces to get the job done, what meaning does the desk hold and is it still relevant? Design and express your vision of a desk that utilizes Corian® material in some manner.”