San Diego State University Furniture Design Program
The mission of the Furniture Design Program and the School of Art, Design, and Art History is to foster and nurture a strong philosophy of cross-disciplinary and collaborative learning that is based in the traditional processes of craft and material, while encouraging sculptural, innovative, and experimental endeavors within the field. The School seeks not only to merge areas within its own boundaries but with other programs within the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts and the greater San Diego State University.

The Furniture Program continues to expand its reputation for its unique and diverse work produced by its students. Through the leadership of Professor Wendy Maruyama, the program has grown 10-fold at the undergraduate and graduate level, due in great part to the vast improvements made to its facilities, and the funds provided by private and non-profit support. The program has gained a second full-time faculty member, Matthew Hebert, in 2007. This is the first time since its founding in 1962 that this prestigious program has gained a second faculty to augment and expand its offerings. This is a clear demonstration of SDSU’s support and confidence in the Furniture Design Program.

The crafts field is undergoing a major metamorphosis and is expanding to enormous proportions through diversifying styles, approaches and markets. Also aiding in this transformation is its (re)appropriation by sculptors, painters, and video and installation artists. The boundaries are being blurred between craft and fine art. In fact, the furniture coming out of SDSU has demonstrated this phenomenon long before it became prevalent. Many furniture programs have chosen a specificity within the broader field, whether that means focusing on design for industry (Rhode Island School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design), retaining a traditional technical program (College of the Redwoods), or maintaining a fine arts department utilizing wood within its sculpture program (UMASS Dartmouth). SDSU’s Furniture Program chooses to continue to focus on Furniture that is cross-disciplinary in nature, and with the addition of Matthew Hebert to its faculty, to expand to other materials, technology and methodologies.

Through this expansion, the Furniture Program seeks to serve not only its own students but also students from sculpture, ceramics, painting, and metalworking/jewelry. We already have an established record of safety and a series of thorough syllabi in woodworking, now we strive to apply that same sensibility to accommodating the creative use of other materials, such as fiberglass and other composites, steel, aluminum, and plastics. In addition to exposing the students to traditional means of working with wood and these other materials we plan to introduce them to computer aided design and fabrication such as CAD, rapid prototyping, CAM/CNC cutting etc.

Too often these digital technologies are narrowly limited to design for industry, and mention of them often evokes images of bottom line driven mass production i.e. IKEA, Target, etc. While these applications are certainly valid, these technologies have vast potential to further the creative process in ways never before imagined. Bringing these digital technologies into SDSU’s Furniture Program will push the boundaries of how materials are used opening avenues for exploration not navigable using conventional and traditional methods.

Materials other than wood (i.e. steel, plastics, stone) have long been commonplace in design for industry, yet less common in craft based educational settings. Most schools are limited in their ability to widen their offerings in so many areas. We seek to collaborate with the existing studios within the School of Art, Design and Art History, maximizing the use of existing resources, but diversifying their functions to become more creative and versatile in our offerings. In addition to the Furniture facility, which has a complete woodworking facility, there is a large sculpture facility and a substantial jewelry/metalsmithing facility.

About the Faculty:

Matthew Hebert is an artist engaged in the development of sculptural works of furniture. His interests include interactivity, relational forms and the integration technology into his sculptures. His sculptural furniture pieces create possibilities for new forms of interaction with objects, the environment and other people. His work is concerned with the technologization of the built environment and its impact on our culture and our personal experiences. Currently, he is creating a body of work that incorporates simple solar pow-ered mechanisms and robotics and deals with the conception of craft in our digital times. Matthew received a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture at University Of California, Berkeley. He received an MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts, with a focus on wood/furniture. He comes to SDSU after teaching at University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the School of the Art Institute in Chicago.

Wendy Maruyama has headed the Furniture Program since 1989; prior to arriving at San Diego State University, she headed the Furniture Programs at California College of Arts (and Crafts) in Oakland, CA and the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville, TN. She received her MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology and studied woodworking and furniture design under Jere Osgood and Alphonse Mattia at Program in Artisanry at Boston University. She received her BA in Art at San Diego State University in 1974. She has been making studio furniture for over 37 years, and has been teaching at the college level for 27 years. Her most recent work has taken on a narrative direction, with a focus on ethnicity, gender, and family history. She has exhibited and traveled widely, and her work is represented in museums and collections worldwide.