Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering - Design and Director of Redesigning Theater
Michael comes to the d.school with over twenty years of experience as a teacher, builder, manifestor, and facilitator in a variety of creative fields.
His early fascination with design and engineering came from his father’s diligent efforts to raise Michael to follow in his footsteps as an orthopedic surgeon. When not dissecting road kill or spending time in the operating room with his father, he was rebuilding cars and motorcycles at his stepfather’s auto body shop.
These two influences were apparent in Michael’s early work. He found success as a sculptor, fabricator, and product designer, earning his BFA from Alfred University School of Art and Design and MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Even in school Michael was a maverick, building wild sculptures that wedded different materials, exploring the intersection between anatomy and mechanics, always with a challenging social commentary.
In 1999 Michael set out to reinvent the idea of arts education, founding an art school that encourages a truly non-competitive learning environment. The Crucible started with only a conceptual design and a grant for $1,750, growing rapidly under Michael’s leadership to become the nation’s largest nonprofit industrial arts education facility. Michael designed facilities and programs that house 70 faculty and over 8,000 students annually.
Michael’s ability to approach creative challenges with tenacity and innovation made him a leader in the worlds of art and theater, opening new frontiers for cross-disciplinary collaboration. As part of The Crucible’s marketing and development outreach he designed, directed, and produced stunning theatrical events uniting industrial arts processes with stagecraft and all manner of performing arts. His Fire Arts Festivals, Fire Operas, and Fire Ballets defined a new genre of entertainment in the Bay Area and attracted extremely diverse audiences from around the country.
After twelve years at the helm, Michael retired from The Crucible to seek out new creative challenges, and found them at Stanford. As the Director of ReDesigning Theater he is bringing his experience to bear, applying design thinking to spearhead a new artistic genre of live performance appealing to the 21- to 35-year-old demographic. This appeals to Michael’s innate desire to shake up the status quo, explode preconceived notions, bring together disparate disciplines, and flaunt convention with flair and good humor.
When not trying to reinvent the world, Michael enjoys restoring his 1875 Victorian home, building in his studio, and conducting experimental cooking adventures. Learn more about ReDesigning Theater here. You can see his work at michaelsturtz.com.