pepperdine university

Case Study: Pepperdine University

In Blog, case study, Design Resource, Occupancy, Repurpose by Morgan Dix

Summary: Pepperdine needed to increase occupancy, upgrade their design standard, and come up with a sustainable solution to deal with their retiring furniture stock. Together, we developed an innovative solution that responded to all three of these requirements.

Name: Pepperdine University: Raising Standards in Design & Sustainability

Location: Malibu, CA

Size: Ongoing

Building Type: Residence Halls

Project Team: DCI, Pepperdine University

Product List: Bed, desk, mobile pedestal, stackable dresser, wardrobe


Pepperdine is a private Christian research university with an undergraduate population of 3,474 with an additional 4,294 graduate students.

Nestled among 830 acres of pristine and mountainous Pacific Ocean coastline near Malibu, CA and featuring sandy mediterranean architecture, Pepperdine is one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States.

Founded in 1937, it boasts an undergraduate College, a School of Law, a Graduate School of Education and Psychology, the Graziadio School of Business and Management, and the School of Public Policy.

Process & Approach

In 2009, Pepperdine approached DCI with three problems.

First, they had a space issue. They needed to increase occupancy for on-campus student housing. Could we help them achieve this goal immediately, without adding new residence halls?

Converting their double rooms into thoughtfully designed triples presented the best solution.

Second, they wanted to upgrade the design standard on campus. Could we help them elevate their design aesthetic across the campus, starting with their residence halls?

Finally, at the end of the project, they would have to dispose of a sizeable amount of old student housing furnishings. They were concerned about doing this in the greenest way possible, and could we help them?

Phase 1 – Increase Occupancy

Our first course of action was to look at their spaces and evaluate it for the triple option. Next, based on this research, we developed floor plans and furniture designs.

Obviously, to increase occupancy, we needed to think creatively and space was at a premium. In that spirit, the team at Pepperdine wanted to create more storage space under the loft.

In order to maximize space, we customized a wardrobe and desk to go under the loft. And in order to accomplish this, we needed to alter the standard furniture design.

Phase 2 – Improve Design Standard

Our next consideration was design. Pepperdine wanted to get away from the standard dorm room furniture look to reflect a more classy and contemporary feel. The details and styling were important in establishing this design upgrade.

First, we worked with the Pepperdine team to choose a distinguishing dark stain for the furniture and a custom laminate. This style look was a complementary counterpoint to the bright and sweeping ocean views. We also developed a customized guard rail on the bunk bed to give the furniture a more refined look.

Phase 3 – Repurposing Old Furniture

AT DCI, we are passionate about protecting the environment and using business to advance the values of sustainability. Therefore, it was natural for us to embrace Pepperdine’s desire to find a green way to dispose of their old furniture.

Initially, we coordinated the reuse of their furniture and delivered much of it to Habitat for Humanity ReStore where the sale of used furniture supports habitat for humanity. In addition, one of our lead account reps remembered a small private school in need and who couldn’t afford new furniture.

We were able to broker a mutually beneficial deal between Pepperdine and the private school to repurpose 250 sets of Pepperdine furniture at a significant markdown to the small private school that needed furniture but lacked funding.


The Pepperdine partnership yielded an array of benefits that surpassed everyone’s expectations.

First, the University was so pleased with the initial design upgrade to their residence halls that DCI was invited to progressively upgrade throughout campus, and we are now entering our fourth year of this process.

Second, we created an original and tailored product for their environment that allowed the university to convert double rooms into triple rooms and house more students on campus.

Third, we created a powerful win-win with our furniture repurposing program. Pepperdine benefited financially, the small private school got furniture it couldn’t otherwise afford, and the biosphere (and the landfill) was spared more waste.

Want to read about more of these projects? You can check out our full profile of case studies here.


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(Photos via Flickr CC: CampusGrottoMatt McGee)