Sara Jaffe

Sara Jaffe

You have to be determined to be a designer. Sara Jaffe , Adjunct Faculty , The Art Institute of California—San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

Designing and re-designing and applying what you learn so it becomes inherent in how you think. Developing commitment to process and the time it takes to create something meaningful and well developed. Learning to listen and apply information is essential.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Learning from each other and learning how to listen, get feedback and collaborate on ideas to create the final design—as that is what goes on in real life.

What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I was studying Political Theory as an undergraduate and created my own major called Politics and Environment at University of California-Berkeley. I started taking City Planning and Architecture classes and decided to get my M. Arch as I was interested in the profession. 

Architecture focused on space and creativity. This lead me to design and build house remodels with four other students in my program after graduation. I then apprenticed to several furniture makers and learned my craft as a furniture designer and builder. I then decided to move out of the shop and began working on interior design projects with other firms and later on my own. I now design custom furniture and have several collections available to designers and architects.

The path was not straightforward, but evolved along with my interests and creativity. You have to be determined to be a designer.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

I refer to real-life requirements and situations and expectations when I teach. I constantly refer to what will be needed once students are out of school.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

Commit to the process and the time it takes to learn your skills and become a designer and to develop thoughtful projects.