Hit the Road In Your Airstream To See The “Pursuit” Prototype Trailer at The Columbus College of Art & Design; Then Put Your Feet Up at Packard Library

CCAD's Pursuit Airstream prototype Airstreamers, organize a caravan, put on your beret and point your travel trailer toward the Columbus College of Art and Design! There, you’ll see a clever prototype of an Airstream that can function simultaneously as a mobile office and cozy living space, entirely designed and built by CCAD students.

As part of its MindMarket initiative to connect student learning experiences with real-world business needs, CCAD approached Airstream last summer about the possibility of students developing a prototype trailer for possible commercial production. Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler agreed to the project and asked students to develop a mobile office/living space concept that would appeal to a younger market.

About 120 students — representing all nine majors offered at CCAD — collaborated on the 16-week project. First, they constructed a cardboard mock-up of the trailer to see whether their design for the kitchenette and other areas of the interior would function. Then, they squeezed the iconic riveted aluminum trailer shell that Airstream provided into the design labs and got to work.

Students in fine arts, industrial design and construction created sleek interior features, such as cabinetry for the galley and lavatory, collapsible dinette furniture and doors designed to open so they could not only create new spaces, but also provide privacy by blocking off the bathing and sleeping areas from the spaces for dining and working.

Glassblowing and photography majors created objects to decorate the interior. Cinematic arts majors made a documentary of the project. Animators drew a cartoon character named “Wally” in honor of Airstream founder Wally Byam. Advertising and graphic design students undertook market CCAD's Pursuit Airstream prototype research and crafted a promotional campaign geared for young potential customers like travel writers, photographers and entrepreneurial artists who ply their wares at art shows around the country. Featuring the tagline, “Your gateway to wonderful work freedom starts now,” the campaign includes a prospective crowd-sourced website where Airstreamers can share details of their travel adventures. Students in illustration and photography created images and materials for the campaign. Fashion majors created an Airstream-branded line of clothing and accessories, including travel bags, jackets and even bow ties.

On May 7, students squeezed their 23-foot “Pursuit” into the Canzani Center Gallery, with just a half-inch of clearance on either side.

I’ve admired Airstreams at the Country Living Fair and at their Jackson Center factory, but this is the model that I’m most tempted to back into my contentious driveway and call home. Here are some of the clever space-maximizing features that I like best.

Although it’s made an appearance on some Airstream models, a rear hatch door hasn’t been included on a trailer of that length. To capitalize on the concept of a traveling home office, students designed the rear hatch of the Airstream to lift up and open, allowing the trailer’s owner to work at a desk while enjoying the feeling of being outdoors.

CCAD's Pursuit Airstream prototype

Who could resist relaxing by a campfire outside a door lined with a trio of potted plants?

CCAD's Pursuit Airstream prototype

After pulling out Irish oatmeal, whole wheat flour and baking mixes from narrow sliding galley cabinets like Rachael Ray does on 30 Minute Meals, reach for magnetic spice containers handily affixed above the range.

CCAD's Pursuit Airstream prototype

Remote and wireless-controlled LED lighting fixtures from Panic Lighting illuminate the interior, like over the inviting twin-sized bed in the rear of the Airstream.

CCAD's Pursuit Airstream prototype

Even the books the students artfully arranged on shelves throughout the trailer were thematically appropriate. I was tempted to sit down in the dinette, prop up my feet on the footstool that nests underneath one of the chairs, and spend the rest of the afternoon reading Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life; Picasso as a Book Artist, by Abraham Horodisch; Old Mr. Boston: Deluxe Official Bartender’s Guide; The Miniature House, by Faith Eaton and Nick Nicholson; The Garden: A Celebration, edited by Howard Loxton; and Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, and Maybe Even the World, by Warren Berger.

CCAD's Pursuit Airstream prototype

The Pursuit is parked in the Canzani Center Gallery until June 27 as part of CCAD’s 135th annual student exhibition. The free exhibit is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The gallery is located on the first floor of the Canzani Center, on the southeast corner of Cleveland Avenue and Gay Street.

For me, no trip to CCAD is complete without having a picnic in the Canzani Center’s lower-level courtyard…Courtyard, CCAD Canzani Center

and stopping by Packard Library to sit in an Eames-inspired chair and read the latest issue of American Art, the journal of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  The library houses more than 57,000 books and 275 serials related to art, design and the liberal arts. Students can also access slides, digital images, and sketching and drawing aids such as skulls, mannequins and a replica human skeleton.

Packard Library, CCAD

Browse hundreds of art- and architecture-related subjects in picture files housed in filing cabinets labeled like this…

Packard Library, CCAD

But remember not to cut the magazines, which have all been coded with this clever star color guide.Packard Library, CCAD

You can also visit the CCAD Archives, located in the back of the library on the right. Here, you can study primary sources that reveal how the school has evolved since its founding in 1879, first providing instruction in needlework, ecclesiastical embroidery and china painting and then offering courses in subjects like drawing, painting, sculpture, lettering, color theory, composition, perspective and illustration.

Before you leave, draw a small picture of your favorite animal or recommend a book on a dry-erase easel.Packard Library, CCAD

What animal would you draw, or what one book would you recommend?

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