UC San Diego is a distinguished part of the University of California System and a “Public Ivy”. Noted for its extraordinary commitment to science and engineering—UCSD’s annual research budget is more than $1b—it’s considered one of the top 15 research universities in the world.

The school was originally established in 1903 as the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and officially joined the UC System in 1960 becoming the University of California San Diego. Bordering the Pacific Ocean, UCSD sits on approximately 1,200 acres of pristine coastal woodland in La Jolla, CA.

UCSD boasts six undergraduate colleges, five academic divisions and five graduate and professional schools. The total campus enrollment in 2016 was approximately 35,800 students with 28,127 undergraduates and 7,689 postgraduates.

According to the London-based Times Higher Education World University Rankings, UC San Diego was named the fifth best public university across the globe. U.S. News & World Report has included UC San Diego among the nation’s top 10 public universities. 


In September 2017, UCSD opened the doors to a new graduate housing facility and one of the nation’s largest graduate housing communities. It’s called Mesa Nueva, and it’s expected to win the coveted LEED Gold certification.

Towards the end of the project, the housing team at UCSD reached out to DCI. They were looking for design input.

As part of this massive project, they had built 850 fully furnished single studio apartments in three of the five contiguous Mesa Nueva buildings for graduate students.

Each studio came furnished with a bed and a desk. However, the housing team felt that something was missing.

We came in to consult with our interior design team. Right away, we noticed a few things that we felt would add some needed functionality while complementing the existing furniture set.

Three Pieces To Complete the Puzzle

To start the creative process, we did room renders and shared different concepts. The UCSD team loved our ideas and so we continued to develop them.

The first thing that jumped out was there was nowhere to eat. The studio needed a multi-function table. Students need a place to sit down and eat apart from their study desk and bed. The table needed to accommodate a guest if they wanted to eat, work, or study with friends.

So we developed a custom table with collapsible leaves that could fold out. We also created a set of stylish and economical stools that fit under the table so they wouldn’t take up extra space.

Our goal was to create something versatile that students could use to meet different needs. So the table is custom size to fit in the studio space, counter height with a drawer for storage, and it can double as a TV stand. We also created an orange shelf under the drawer to play off the orange cabinetry in the studio.

Second, there was no drawer space in the apartment, so we proposed a stylish 8-drawer dresser with custom size and look to match the core design motifs in the room.

This is a beautiful contemporary dresser with modern design highlights that accomplished a number of key things. Functionally, it provided students with the much- needed drawer space while at the same time elevating the design of the room.

It’s also custom sized to fit by the entry door for use as a convenient countertop and functional surface.

In terms of design, the dresser features metal feet and a distinct modern design. The top two drawers accentuate the modern style with a sleek white look.

Third, we created a third “C-Table”. Made from metal and wood laminate, we custom designed it with to best work with the dimensions of the room and the bed height.

The idea with the C-Table is that it can serve as a tv stand or laptop stand in bed when it’s upright or it can be used as a small side-table.
Together, these three items filled a functional and aesthetic hole in the overall composition of the the studio apartment.

Local Manufacturing

Finally, in line with UCSD’s leadership in the field of sustainability, all of this furniture was made locally just 22 miles away from the University in Chula Vista, CA.

DCI’s commitment to supporting local economies with locally manufactured furniture is a hallmark of our business and part of our sustainability mission.

View Case Study (PDF)

Project Location: La Jolla, CA

Project Size: 850 Bed Spaces

Building Type: Graduate Student Housing: Single Studio Apartments

Project Team: UCSD & DCI

Product List: Counter Height Table with Foldout Leaves and Stools, C-Table, 8-Drawer Dresser

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