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Creativity & Design Update: Designed to Impress

Daintry Duffy Zaterka '88
This year, Upper School students in Fay’s Advanced 3D Design class tackled several design challenges that drew on students’ creativity and tested their ability to design for a specific audience.
Great design often starts with a good problem to solve. This year, Upper School students in Fay’s Advanced 3D Design class—taught by Director of Creativity and Design David Dixon and Technology and Design Teacher Andrew Shirley—tackled several design challenges that drew on students’ creativity and tested their ability to design for a specific audience.
The Power of Branding
In the fall term, the class partnered with Sentry West Lincoln Mazda, a car dealership based in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, on two separate design briefs. The first challenge was to redesign the Sentry West logo and strapline for a refreshed 2019 letterhead and website. This project provided students with the opportunity to study branding and explore how the powerful combination of a simple image and words can convey meaning to a customer.
The second phase of the project was to design a takeaway gift for Sentry West customers that would be small in size but reflective of the company’s brand and customer base. Both challenges required students to synthesize what they had learned about the Mazda and Lincoln company brands and communicate their understanding through their design work. “The students’ designs needed to reinforce the company’s reputation for precision, craftsmanship, and reliability and to intentionally represent those qualities,” says David. Students designed a wide variety of products that included earbuds, a portable speaker, and a power bank, all of which incorporated design and logo elements that echoed the Sentry car brands. In January, students presented their logo, strapline, and product designs to the Sentry West staff.
Architecture to Build Community
The Advanced 3D Design students also challenged themselves with an architectural project that addressed a need that they identified on the Fay campus. Students worked in small groups on this project and created small-scale models to accompany their proposals. Among their ideas were the Igloo, “an eco- friendly hangout space for working out, studying, eating, and more”; a dedicated indoor play and hangout space for Lower School students; an outdoor community space on the current Root Building Patio; and a round science building that would fit on the open grassy space inside Harlow Circle.
Innovating for Maximum Performance
At the beginning of the spring term, Advanced 3D Design students took on a design brief for Bose Corporation, which is based locally in Framingham, Massachusetts. Working with Fay parent Ben Davies P’30, Engineer Leader at Bose, students were tasked with proposing mechanical alterations to the company’s Frames product, a pair of sunglasses with built- in speakers. The objective of the brief was to design adjustability into the glasses so that users could customize the fit and acoustic performance of their glasses.
The Fay designers started the project with a tour of the Bose Rapid Prototype Lab, a professional scale open-plan version of Fay’s makerspace, where designers and engineers have all the tools at hand to develop and test concepts and ideas. The space, in itself, was a source of inspiration to the Fay students. “It’s light, airy, open, and flexible, and nobody is cramped or sitting on top of one another,” notes David. “You can move easily between the spaces, and everything is carefully arranged and designed to be accessible. You immediately know that you are walking into a place that supports imagination and creativity.”
Bose engineers mentored the Fay designers, helping them talk through and evaluate their ideas. Once students had sketched designs and built prototypes, they each gave a two-minute presentation at Bose. The Bose design team was impressed by the students’ approaches as well as their confidence and ability to articulate their ideas. David notes that one of the senior design directors commented that he wished he had this kind of experience when he was in school!
Passion Projects
The capstone experience of Advanced 3D Design was a “passion project” where students were given free rein to design or create something that was important to them. Students could choose any type of design project that sparked their imagination. “My goal for them was to end the year on a high note exploring their creativity and enjoying the freedom that provides,” says David.
Students presented their projects, alongside a portfolio of their work from the year, in an exhibit in the Mars Room at the end of May. The passion projects reflected not only the creativity and technical ability of the Fay designers but also the staggering breadth of their fields of interest. The designs and prototypes included a sturdier music stand, plans for an underwater café, a modern glass-paneled redesign of Steward Dormitory, and a working copy of “Faynopoly,” a Fay version of the classic Monopoly game.
The passion project was the ideal vehicle for Fay designers to express their interests. Anna Yang ’19, for example, is particularly interested in renewable energy and addressing the problem of climate change. Her project featured clear solar panels that could be used to replace any type of glass. While the panels would look like flat glass, they would incorporate tiny prisms to capture ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light. “I was able to design something to improve people’s lives, and that’s one of my ideals,” she says.
Matias Ortiz ’19 knew that he wanted his passion project to connect to his love of music. He thought about creating a song or a new instrument but decided to build his own guitar. Working without instructions, Matias figured out the building process on his own. Over many weeks, he cut, sandpapered, and painted pieces, cut the strings and holes in the plastic, and glued the pieces together. The project was the perfect culminating piece for Matias to round out his classroom experience.
“Throughout the year, we have done a lot of sketching and designing,” he notes. “We have used a number of apps, but I wanted to use my own hands.” Building the guitar gave him a chance to see the entire design process through to the very end. “I can start with my own ideas, make a sketch, know what it’s going to look like, and now I can actually build it.”

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