School of Design
Mr. Andrew Phillips
Chair of the School of Design
Applied Arts & Architecture
Ms. Buonaiuto, Fine Arts
Ms. Haines, Fine Arts
Ms. Shelley, Digital Arts
Mr. Fargali, Digital Arts, 3D Design
Mr. Davis, Digital Arts, Game Design
The Fine Arts combine observational drawing and making to cultivate a cohesive artistry through 2D mediums. Students discover their own visual style and identity through drawing, painting, and illustration. In class, students explore a variety of making practices including: drawing, painting, collage, illustration, photography, printmaking, and sculpting.
This major is primarily analog and celebrates handmade artwork. Some projects use Procreate or Adobe Sketch. The goal is for each student to develop their own individual style and identity through courses in drawing, painting, and illustration. We study through observation and generate unique ideas through 2D mediums.
Career fields include: Fine Arts, Illustration, Muralist, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, and Textile Design.
Majors Teachers: Ms. Mia Buonaiuto (Middle School Fine Arts) and Ms. Julia Haines (High School Fine Arts)
Ms. Mia Buonaiuto
Middle School Fine Arts
Mia Buonaiuto joined String Theory Schools as the Fine Arts teacher at Performing Arts, Vine Campus in 2021. Ms. Buonaiuto was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico to sculptors and got to be raised surrounded by art. She received her BFA in painting from the University of Arkansas. For six years, Ms. Buonaiutoworked as the Operations Director and resident artist at the Mount Gretna School of Art, a summer painting residence for College aged students. She has exhibited her paintings around the country. Ms. Buonaiuto has lived in Philadelphia for seven years now where she enjoys making art, gardening and of course, being with her students.
Ms. Julia Haines
High School Fine Arts
Julia Haines joined String Theory Schools as the High School Fine Arts teacher in 2021. She received her BFA in Fiber & Material Studies with a Certificate in Education from Tyler School of Art (Temple University). Currently, she is obtaining her MFA in Fine Art from The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Ms. Haines is a visual artist and educator who has worked in several private and public educational institutions such as The Barnes Foundation, The Handworks Studio, and The School District of Philadelphia. In her art practice, Ms. Haines has created art installations and artwork for Anthropologie, The Rittenhouse Fine Arts Festival, and The National Liberty Museum.
The Digital Arts combine artistry with digital technology. In the Digital Arts, a designer uses 2D and 3D media to create still, animated, multimedia, and/or interactive artwork. Drawing, sculpting, patterning, texturing, and using the elements and principles of art are daily practices.
This major is primarily digital. Adobe Suite, Blender, Onshape, Photoshop, Unity are some of the programs utilized in this course. We develop your artistic and technical abilities to build digital content in 2D and 3D formats. We experiment to create cross platform immersive content and environments.
Career fields include: Animation, Game Design, Graphic Design, Interactive Design, 3D Rendering, Social Media Design, Textile Design, and Video Game Design.
Majors Teachers: Ms. Shelley (Middle School Digital Design), Mr. Fargali (3d Design), Mr. Davis (Game Design)
The Applied Arts combine aesthetics, user needs, and problem solving skills. In the applied arts a designer responds to open-ended problems and creates objects, spaces, and places that are both functional and beautiful. Drawing, drafting, and model building are daily practices.
This major is about half analog and half digital:
Analog: Technical Drafting, Model Building.
Digital: Procreate, Sketchbook, SketchUp, Adobe Suite.
We develop your understanding of the spaces and places we inhabit. We study and design functional objects, interior spaces, and buildings.
Career fields include: Architecture, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Furniture Design, Industrial Design, and Product Design.
Majors Teacher: Mr. Phillips
Mr. Andrew Phillips
Chair of the School of Design | Applied Arts & Architecture
Andrew Phillips joined Performing Arts, Vine Campus in 2020. He is an architect turned educator with degrees from The Pennsylvania State University (B.S. Arch and B. Arch ‘ 88), Harvard University (M. Arch ’93), and The University of Pennsylvania (Ed.D ’22). His design firm, dommertphillips, p.c., received numerous awards and accolades over its twenty year span. Mr. Phillips served on the graduate and undergraduate architecture faculties at The University of Pennsylvania for fifteen years before joining The Charter High School for Architecture + Design in 2009. At CHAD he served as the Director of Design Education and a member of the administrative executive team. CHAD’s design curriculum became a national standard-setting model for secondary design education. He now continues that legacy at String. Mr. Phillips leads the Fallingwater Teachers’ Residency Program, professional development programs on Design Thinking and the Design Process, has a variety of published works, and is a frequent speaker on K-12 Design Education. In his spare time, he is an amateur ceramicist and walks his Jack Russell, Tonto.
Experience Design (XD)
Experience Design, or XD, is from the career term “UX/UI” or User Experience and User Interface Design. Students examine the level of engagement and satisfaction that the user (customer) derives from a product or service and the relevance of the experience to their needs and context.
This major is primarily digital. Canva, Sketchbook, Adobe Photoshop Express, Adobe Rush, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Draw are some of the programs utilized during the school year. In the XD Major, we develop your entrepreneurial instincts to create graphic designs and branding experiences for target audiences and markets.
Career fields include: Brand Design, Creative Director, Graphic Design, Social Media Design, UX/UI Design, and Website Design.