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Behind the Brand: The Architecture and Manufacturing of Global and Cultural Legacies

Instructor: Teman Evans and Jennifer Harmon
Location: : United Kingdom, Ireland, Amsterdam, Italy, USA: Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan
Dates Abroad: May 7- June 31, 2013(Europe Loop), June 3 - June 17, 2013(U.S. Loop)

The studio will trace the architectural lineage of manufacturing and branding beginning with the Industrial Revolution. Students will travel as industrial tourists and an intensive study tour through Europe and the U.S. will begin in Coalbrookdale, England (the birthplace of the industrial revolution and manufacturing). As a framework for the studio, students will work in pairs and each team will be assigned a brand category (e.g. auto, chocolate, spirits, paper, pottery, etc.). Each product category consists of a European and an American counterpart that will be assigned to a member of each team. For example, Team Auto includes Fiat (factory in Torino, Italy), whose old factory has now been converted into a hotel while the new factory has a logo only visible from Google Earth, alongside Ford (in Dearborn, MI). The Spirits category consists of Glenkinchie (with factory in Edinburgh, Scotland UK) and Maker's Mark, produced in Loretto, KY in a dry county that allows the factory to manufacture a brand that cannot be consumed within the context. As students travel to each of these sites of industrial mass production they will work independently but also in teams to compare and contrast the cultures of production within their product category. At the same time they will re-confront the images projected by their respective brands, but now informed by knowledge of what happens behind the brand curtain.

Though the primary means of documenting this process will be the notebook/journal, the factories will themselves push back against traditional modes of documentation. Many of these sites do not allow photography on industrial tours while others intentionally conceal certain aspects of the manufacturing process, so students will be challenged to invent new means of recording information and constructing informative narratives for each product. At the end of their tour the students will return to the University of Michigan campus to recompose their research in a graphically presentable format.


A Month of Nomadic Living from Martin Elliott on Vimeo.

Nomadic travels: Behind the Brand Travel Course  
Video credit: Martin Elliot, Bachelor of Science in Architecture '14
Music credit: Wayward,​  'Only Flaw'

Course Blog: bbtravels13.tumblr.com

See the Studio Proposal (PDF 5.3MB)

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