Live@ICFF, Editor’s Pick: Maryland Institute College of Arts

The Maryland Institute College of Arts debuts an elegant, blissfully jargon-free student presentation.

One of my chief complaints about design education today is: not nearly enough time is spent teaching basic presentation skills. Whenever I’m at a thesis presentation (especially at an architecture school), I want to scream: “Stop showing me all this detail! Begin at the beginning! Tell me your story.” In fact I’d argue that the ability to present—and not the ability to draw or render or prototype—is the crucial survival tool for young designers. It’s all well and good to want to change the world, but to paraphrase Philip Johnson: first, you gotta get the job.

All of which is a roundabout way of introducing a strong student presentation, which debuted this weekend at ICFF. “Greener Groceries” is a collaboration between two programs at the Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA): the Environmental Design BFA program (led by Inna Alesina) and the Graphic Design MFA program (led by the inimitable Ellen Lupton).

The students looked at a host of ideas for greening what and how we eat—everything from product-design solutions (reusable packaging, innovative shopping bags, print-on-demand labeling) to architecture (underground food storage) and infrastructure (a mobile farmer’s market). What was especially refreshing here were the clean, clear, altogether elegant ways they were presented. Each solution posed a question, provided a succinct student response, and paired them with either a model demonstrating the idea or a visual that instantly crystallized it. It was an elegant pairing of disciplines, done without fuzz, with a minimum of words (all of them blissfully jargon free!) and maximum impact.

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