A group of students from Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) recently presented prototype ideas to representatives from the Jackson Center, Ohio-based travel-trailer manufacturer.
“We created the MindMarket to unleash the power of our students’ creativity and fresh ideas for client companies and organizations,” said Dennison W. Griffith, president of CCAD.
“Working with an iconic brand such as Airstream—with its deep appreciation for design—is an incredible learning opportunity for our students as we prepare them to take their skills into the work world.”
About 170 students in teams from CCAD’s nine majors will design and build a full-scale prototype of a new mobile office and living space that will be built out as a full prototype by end of the semester.
“Airstream chose the CCAD MindMarket to create a new product concept because we value the perspective of millennials, who are our future customers,” said Bob Wheeler, president and chief executive officer of Airstream.
“Having a leading art and design college just an hour away from our facility is exciting for our product development efforts and allows us to bring students to the factory throughout the process so they understand the manufacturing implications of their design choices.”
The concept is a trailer that frees workers from the traditional office space by offering mobility and livability. Potential buyers probably would fit one of four personas, as envisioned by the students: the nomadic freelancer, the creative merchant, the remote researcher, and the brand promoter.
“These kinds of people already buy our trailers, but usually they take an existing one and adapt it to what they need,” said Mollie Hansen, Airstream’s vice president of marketing.
“This project is about how we can adapt a trailer to what they need.”
Several other design schools have sought partnerships with Airstream, Hansen said, but CCAD was the first proposal that made sense — especially because of its proximity to its factory in Jackson Center in northwestern Ohio. The students are close enough to visit, understand Airstream’s processes, and interact with Airstream designers and engineers.
Airstream’s signature aluminum, bullet-shaped exterior will frame the design. The interior is in the planning phase, but the students imagine features that accommodate living, studio, office, retail, and promotional space for individual or company buyers.
Industrial and Interior Design majors are creating the initial concepts, with Advertising & Graphic Design majors and Illustration students collaborating on the sales campaign for the product.
Cinematic Arts students will create a documentary of the project, while Animation and Photography students document the project and support the promotional campaigns. Fashion Design majors will create a line of Airstream branded sportswear for the target buyers. Fine Arts students will create many of the interior décor elements.
Once the design concept is finalized in early March, Airstream will build a trailer frame based on the students’ specifications. By May, students will build out a prototype for Airstream to evaluate for final production.
“The outcome is only successful if it’s something that we can really utilize,” Hansen said.
Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD)
Columbus College of Art & Design, founded in 1879, is one of the oldest and largest private art and design colleges in the United States with more than 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students. CCAD offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Fine Arts.
Undergraduate students choose from nine majors: photography, industrial design, advertising and graphic design, animation, illustration, fine arts, fashion design, interior design and cinematic arts.
Following founder Wally Byam’s credo, “Let’s not make changes, let’s only make improvements” Airstream has remained a timeless classic
A division of Thor Industries, Airstream is based in Jackson Center, Ohio.
Address: 419 West Pike Street, P.O. Box 629, Jackson Center, OH 45334-0629
Phone: (877) 596-6111
I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band, I saw a needle that winked its eye. But I think I will have seen everything When I see an Airstream fly.
—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo