Creativity Flourishes at DesignPhiladelphia

Jefferson’s CoLab wins Impact Award and other highlights from the 10-day festival.

CoLab Philadelphia, the 1960s remodeled Airstream trailer near the Cherry Street Pier entrance, shined brightly during DesignPhiladelphia’s kickoff party. And it wasn’t just because of its polished metallic appearance.

The multiuse trailer, designed to bring health programming directly “to the people” in public venues, earned the Impact Award from DesignPhiladelphia. The 10-day festival highlights design excellence, supports economic opportunities for local designers and demonstrates the impact of design on our everyday lives.

Jefferson’s Health Design Lab developed CoLab in partnership with Impact Services, New Kensington CDC, KieranTimberlake, Ballinger and Cohere; its initial programming focused on the city’s Kensington section.

“CoLab is all about the communities we serve,” says Robert Pugliese, director of innovation design at Jefferson and Health Design Lab co-founder. “It’s about bringing a focus to communities who are not being paid attention to. It’s about listening. It’s about responding to people’s healthcare needs, and it’s about bringing people together.”

Dr. Bon Ku, Jefferson’s assistant dean for health and design and Health Design Lab co-founder and director, says winning the award for social impact shows CoLab’s potential. “This can really impact some of the hardest-hit communities in our city.”

Along with CoLab, the University—sponsoring the festival for the third year in a row—claims strong ties to three other DesignPhiladelphia Best in Design finalists:

  • The brainstorm of two faculty members, Park in a Truck is a simple, fast and cost-effective community effort that beautifies open spaces in underserved neighborhoods, one lot at a time.
  • Hapti, a wearable fitness tracker for runners, provides real-time feedback information via an intuitive haptic language. Class of 2019 industrial design alumni Gaige DeHaven, Adam Hecht and John Murphy worked on Hapti as their senior capstone project at Jefferson.
  • Developed in part by industrial design alumna Kyra Ellzysmith ’09, the craft workshop Loyalty Leather specializes in durable leather accessories.

Health, landscape architecture and industrial design make up just a few areas Jefferson has covered during the festival, which runs until Oct. 13. University faculty and staff also will offer programs on art therapy, fashion merchandising and management, surface imaging, geodesign and more.

Rendering of driverless car of city street
The Geodesign Forum will cover autonomous vehicles' impact on our future landscape.

The Rise of Driverless Cars

Much like the groundbreaking transition from horse-drawn to gas- and electric-powered vehicles a century ago, the world soon will see a similar paradigm shift with the rise of driverless cars (aka autonomous vehicles or AV).

“Designers need to understand what’s looming in the advent of AV and begin to address those issues before they grow out of control,” says Jim Querry, a landscape architect and director of Jefferson’s geospatial technology for geodesign program.

Anticipating the ubiquity of AV—especially in urban areas—Querry invited Chris Jandoli, an expert on new mobility, to present at the Geodesign Forum during DesignPhiladelphia.

Jefferson is poised to lead the conversation on AV, Querry says. The University’s geodesign program exposes students to geospatial technologies, such as 3-D simulation modeling, that help designers address urban design and planning challenges in innovative ways.

“We’re constantly looking ahead to identify trends that may affect the urban landscape as well as emerging technologies to help guide those models,” he says. “AV has the potential to have a profound impact on the landscape, and we’re interested in understanding the potential and helping to guide solutions.”

New mobility also should be a large component of initiatives for smart and healthy cities, the subject of a forum that Jefferson hosted earlier this year, Querry adds. “Whether it involves pedestrian safety, walkability, traffic reduction, less pollution or energy savings through approaches such as route optimization, autonomous and connected vehicles seem destined to play a major role in achieving those sustainability goals.”

Fashion merchandising and management students created window displays for the Manayunk DesignCrawl.

Real-World Learning

Testing their real-world skills, 20 students in Jefferson’s visual merchandising class created window displays for LILA Fashion International, Nicole Miller Philadelphia, Pineapple on Main, and Liberty and Lace Bridal as part of DesignPhiladelphia’s Manayunk DesignCrawl.

“The project required students to apply their research of visual merchandising and branding into practical use,” says Camille Avent, fashion merchandising and management professor. “They set up meetings, researched their store image, effectively communicated their ideas and installed the displays under the direction of the retailer.”

The displays will be up throughout the festival, and as a result of the project’s success, several students received internship and employment offers in retailing, buying and store operations in Manayunk, she says.

Surface imaging exists at the intersection of art, design, engineering and business.

Additional Jefferson DesignPhiladelphia Events

Art Therapy Introductory Workshop. Participants will create while learning about art as a psychotherapy tool for physical and emotional release, personal development and growth, insight, trauma processing, skill-building and enhancing communication.

A Healthier Future for Philadelphia, by Design. Discover how to apply design-thinking strategies to identify and take actionable steps in envisioning a healthier future for Philadelphia by coping with sources of health-related stress.

Surface Imaging Symposium. Learn about this emerging discipline that exists at the intersection of art, design, engineering and business. During the Surface Imaging Installation, check out projects from four Jefferson alumni.

Design Factory Global Network: Current Projects. The Design Factory Global Network, with Jefferson as its first North American member, is an international group of innovation hubs in universities and research organizations. See current projects and how it has collaborated efficiently across cultures, time zones and organizational boundaries.

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