I have enjoyed the opportunity to watch a new program at Kendall develop from a “suggestion” to a reality that graduates students who go on to successful careers. In 2002, Kendall implemented a program in Metals/Jewlery Design—known, in fact, as the Allesee Metals/Jewelry Design program in honor of Maggie Allesee, a woman who, like Helen Kendall, had both the vision and the generosity to make the idea a reality.
Eight years old at the start of the 2010-2011 academic year, this program remains relatively small, but its graduates have achieved a striking level of success. Beginning with this post and continuing through a number of posts, I’d like to share some of the story of that program.
The program began at the urging of Milford High School (Milford, Michigan), a high school that has a particularly strong metals/jewelry program. Encouraged by Andrea Bronson, the high school teacher who had created Milford’s strong and highly-respected program, Linda McMurry and I attended a meeting with a number of jewelry store owners in that area of Michigan, who were requesting that there be a program which would prepare students to work in the commercial world.
From my point of view, the challenge and opportunity rests in this program's ability to navigate the intellectual and commercial. And that navigation has always been embodied in one of Kendall’s earliest and best known programs: Furniture Design, which navigates that space where design meets manufacturability and marketability.
For David Kendall, good design that could not be manufactured and that, once manufactured, could not be sold was not of much interest. A jewelry design program that could join the strength of creativity and design with a knowledge of what materials can do and how designs might appeal to the market--to people who might actually wear the jewelry--became the goal as Kendall sought to develop a metals/jewelry program that would—in a previous post—"romance the commercial and the intellectual.”
Beginning with those early conversations and developing with Linda’s assistance, the Metals/Jewelry Design Program is now chaired by Phillip Renato, whose alumni will be the subjects of some subsequent posts.