Every year, Academy of Art University students from various departments come together to collaborate in a corporate-sponsor class. For 2021, they were tasked to embark on a project for Stellantis.
Stellantis, produced from the merger of two industry giants: Fiat Chrysler Automobile and PSA Peugeot Citroën, launched on January 19, 2021. Expectedly, they wanted to promote themselves as a new Brand. For the School of Industrial Design IND 494 Corporate Sponsor Course students, this was a perfect opportunity to showcase their fresh ideas and teamwork.
Their brief was clear-cut and concise: help redefine a new Stellantis brand that reflects on the learnings of 2020, and promote Stellantis as a steward of global, social, and economic sustainability.
That, and they have to do this course completely online.
No Distance Is Too Great for Distant Learning
With everyone taking their courses online, it did indeed seem to be quite the challenge for the students to ensure that their teams were working smoothly and efficiently. After all, not only did they have to do this online and off-campus, the participating students were also coming from different departments.
Apart from the School of Industrial Design, there were also students participating from the School of Interaction & UX/UI Design (formerly Web Design & New Media), and School of Interior Design & Architecture.
With the Academy’s facilities and technology specifically geared towards maximizing the online learning experience, however, this was one concern they could easily get off their plate. Instead, they could simply focus on the task at hand: creating their ideas and then building it to reality.
Step 1: IDEATION
The first step to completing this task was Ideation. Each student came up with a theme that was in line with the brief of Stellantis. Among them were global warming, social inequality, social health, transportation designs for the future, rethinking humanity in relation to nature, solar power in cars, and more.
In order to create teams to break down this massive class, the students then had to find those that had the same idea as theirs. From there, five teams were created: Moment, Gaia, Global, Symnity, Neo, and Intermezzo.
“Academy of Art is a very diverse school already, and I think that helps us a lot as designers,” said Summer Donaldson, student from the School of Interior Architecture & Design. “I think that’s the beauty of a project like this. I don’t know where you’re coming from, and I don’t know why you want to do this, but we need to talk about it. And I think that helps us as designers grow.”
Watch Part 1 of the Stellantis Corporate Sponsor Project here
Fresh Ideas for Real-World Problems
Throughout the duration of the project, Stellantis made sure to be present and provide feedback. This helped the students stay on track, and in the right direction. With this much involvement, it was clear that this was no ordinary class project.
Stellantis was a real-world client tapping into students for their fresh ideas to solve real-world problems, while the students in return got real-world experience. As School of Industrial Design instructor Tom Collom noted, it’s collaborations like this that “benefits both parties.”
For Stellantis’ Core Design Group Director, Tim Anness, it was a collaboration that ticked all the boxes and met the brief. “ I think what made this partnership really rewarding was the optimism, at the end of the day. I think what we hoped to find–and we did–is this boundless possibilities of where the project could go.”
Watch Part 2 of the Stellantis Corporate Sponsor Project here
Real Opportunities, Online or In-Campus
Academy of Art University’s curriculum is intended to provide the students theoretical know-how and practical skills to help fulfill their potentials in art, design, and technology. This partnership with Stellantis is clear proof that no matter the mode of learning, Academy students will have the same access to opportunities for meaningful projects during their time in school.
Students, whether online or in-campus, could work on projects with big brands and real-world clients. These not only help to improve their skills and build their portfolio, but also provide them with the real-world experience that can give them a leg up once they set out on their journey to building their careers after graduation.
For School of Industrial Design director, Antonio Borja, it’s all about creating meaningful and productive work.
“We really are looking at what the world is today, and we analyze it, and then we come up with different ideas, and then we synthesize those ideas to really change the world around us through good design.”Antonio Borja, Director, School of Industrial Design
Watch Part 3 of the Stellantis Corporate Sponsor Project here
Academy of Art University has consistently worked with major industry brands for the Corporate Sponsor Course, including Alfa Romeo & Maserati, General Motors, and Subaru, among others. The Academy is also among the pioneers of online education in the country, having founded the program since 2004. This experience in managing distant learning is what makes even these types of collaborative courses possible, no matter where the students may be.