When Stefan Ching, executive chef and owner of the classic Lower East Side gastropub the Clerkenwell, decided to rebrand the restaurant, he left the task in the capable hands of eight seniors in SVA’s BFA Advertising and Graphic Design Department. John Allen, Anne De Lillo, Pedro Messias, Kony Oh, Nicholas Saint Onge, Alex Stikeleather, Liz Vautour, and Rachel Wiley got the opportunity to collaborate with Ching through Life Insurance, a course taught by Doug Jaeger, former Art Directors Club president and co-founder of the boutique design consultancy company JaegerSloan. Jaeger initially proposed the class last spring as a weekly meet-and-greet with various leaders in business, but has since evolved into executing large scale, real world projects, like the one undertaken at Kupersmith.
Under Jaeger’s supervision, the students created their own full-service design agency called 21thru24, which has been conceptualizing and executing changes for the project which will culminate in a re-launch on November 11, as Kupersmith (49 Clinton Street, New York City). “Part of the course is having classes in actual professional settings to get perspective from founders of varied creative companies,” Jaeger said. “It has been really exciting seeing this group work…and now, with their own hands, is transforming a business on the Lower East Side.”
“I don’t think anyone knew what to expect from the class,” Liz Vautour, 21thru24’s spokesperson said. “Overall, it has been one of the most overwhelming, exciting, frustrating, and satisfying things I have ever been a part of.” Over the last two months, students have acquired a number or technical skills, but for many, the most important may be learning how to work with others. “The real and unanticipated challenge for me was internal communication,” Vautour added. “We’re all students, taking multiple classes and in some case working multiple jobs, so it was often hard to coordinate our efforts in the most effect way possible. I have always thought of myself as a good communicator, but this project brought any shortcomings I might have had to light, and I’ve had the opportunity to adjust my performance accordingly. I think those kinds of lessons are totally invaluable and I have no doubt that they will serve me well when I graduate in May.”
Students have also been fortunate to make professional connections through the course, visiting companies including Grind, Behance, Mucca Design, and Night Agency, each expressing enthusiasm for each student’s potential and making themselves available as future resources. Working with clients to implement something real outside the classroom provides important challenges that aren’t always addressed in more traditional courses. “Since finishing my three-year term as President of the Art Director’s Club, which was a significant time commitment, I wanted a way to share what I have learned with the next generation of creative talent,” Jaeger reflected. “I am excited to have SVA as a platform to do this, and excited to see what impact this class can make.”
Images: (top, clockwise): Rachel Willey, John Allen, Anne Di Lillo, Alex Stikeleather, Pedro Messias, Nicholas Saint Onge, Liz Vautour, and Kony Oh. (middle) Stefan Ching. (bottom) John Allen.