How did you first become interested in design?
My dad started remodeling my childhood house the year I was born. (Almost three decades later, he's still working on it.) Our dining room didn't have drywall for a few years, but the trade-off for a stimulating creative environment surrounded by tools and building was worth it. In high school, I won a scholarship to attend a two-week summer class at MCAD. That was the beginning of my thinking about design in a more intentional way.
“The creative ideas we stumble upon in Continuing Education classes are the summation of lifetimes of experience.”
What inspires you artistically?
My friends and teachers have been a huge inspiration and continue to push me artistically. I'm also currently taking an illustration course through Continuing Education. I love drawing and find it easy to do on my own, but something about being in a room full of fellow artists adds something to the process and inspires you in a different way.
Nienstaedt teaching Continuing Education students
What do you think is unique about design classes at MCAD?
Instructors do a good job of incorporating space for exploration. The classes I've seen allow students to go in a direction that makes sense to them and to hopefully find techniques and themes that they're passionate about.
What do you find rewarding about teaching Continuing Education students?
Continuing Education students bring a different set of perspectives and experiences to their work. Furniture design is all about problem-solving skills, and it's very gratifying to work with students to find new solutions. The creative ideas we stumble upon in Continuing Education classes are the summation of lifetimes of experience.
Do you have a story or a favorite memory or experience while teaching?
I've seen a lot of CE students make gifts for important people in their lives—a guitar stand for a son, a table for a sister, a ring box for a fiancé. I don't get to see the way these objects will fit into the lives for which they are built, but the care and devotion the students take is an inspiring and humbling reminder of the reasons it's important to make things by hand.
Nienstaedt in MCAD's 3D Shop.
What three words would you use to describe the learning environment at MCAD?
Questioning. Purposeful. Fun!
If you could condense your experience and knowledge into one tip for aspiring artists, what would it be?
Look for a job in details. That's life advice, too!
Additional Continuing Education Interviews