Darrick Borowski, AIA
Adjunct Professor, Design Studio

MATERIAL/PHENOMENAL documents the explorations of students in a Second Year Design Studio at the School of Visual Arts, Interior Design/Built Environments (SVA ID/BE) in New York City. The course is designed in two-parts—Fall (Performance) and Spring (Meaning)—with the second semester building on the first.

The Fall semester’s focus, performance, emphasizes design driven by the relative fitness for an intended function.  Decisions are encouraged to come out of the performative qualities of material, form, and spatial phenomena with an emphasis on the human experience of the built environment.

In the Spring, while still maintaining our focus on performance, we add in the role of ‘meaning’ as a consideration in our design process. We also delve more deeply into ‘spatial performance’ looking more closely at the role of phenomena in our experience of space. We also consider the role of story-telling and narrative in creating a sense of place while seeking alternative sources for uncovering unexpected design concepts.

Projects include a working prototype of a cardboard chair, an installation harnessing material properties and form to manipulate natural phenomena (light, sound, wind, wave motion, air quality, etc…), new models of housing via shared and micro-apartments, the classic “nine square grid”, and others. The year culminates in a large group project which emphasizes the nature of making space as a political act via a changing program each year. Topics have included community, sanctuary, gentrification, gender equity, and restorative justice.

Process, iteration, and multidisciplinary research are emphasized. Design is conducted via many modes of work – reading, research, drawing, modeling, writing, and presenting.