July 28, 2014

Eastern Michigan furniture design class helps design, create an environmentally friendly workspace at Ecology Center

by Emily Vontom, Published December 07, 2011

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YPSILANTI - An Eastern Michigan University professor and his students have teamed up with the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor to design and create workstations for the center's newly renovated offices in the Handicraft Building in downtown Ann Arbor, Mich.

John DeHoog, a professor in Eastern's art department, and the students from his Introduction to Furniture Design class, worked closely with the Ecology Center to renovate and create a low-budget workspace with green materials.

"They were taking a vacant office space of relatively low quality, and planning to transform it to house the Ecology Center and achieve a LEED Gold rating in the process," said DeHoog. "We were able to work with the challenges of a real-world project, complete with deadlines, budgets and client needs."

DeHoog's students designed and built the furniture with reclaimed materials from the office renovation. The class used glues, paints and topcoats that were environmentally friendly and non-toxic. The topcoat, for example, was made from cheese whey and contained no volatile organic compounds.

In addition to the workstations, the students put together an entry desk and screen as well as a conference table, bench and other details that helped enhance and unify the office space.

"The final result of the project was the design and production of 10 workstations that set the visual tone for the rest of the interior," said DeHoog. "The new space for the Ecology Center is really an impressive model for how to renovate and furnish with sustainable materials, while at the same time achieving a high level of design and function."

Emily Vontom

evontom@emich.edu

734.487.6895

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