Design as Activity Intensive with Desktop Magazine

  • April 2014

The Idea for this Workshop was sparked by Desktop Magazine's March issue, entitled "Design as Activity". I suggested that it would be a good idea to flesh the theme of this issue (which is all about the value of Process to Design) with an embodied, event that puts the theory of the edition into Practice. 

The mix of people who were attracted to this workshop, was exciting, and I was happy to see a group of exceptionally bright and adventurous students from Monash. Other collaborators were Jack Mussett from Motherbird, Paul Marcus Fuog of Field Experiments, and Bonnie Abbott, Editor of Double Days, and Desktop Magazine. 

Monash is fortunate to have thought provoking educators such as Warren Taylor and Andrew Ashton, who encourage students to do things differently. Bonnie started the day calmly, with writing. Students had to write creatively about objects to help them understand new approaches to thinking about design problems. A very handy tool.

For Design as Activity, I delivered a Typographic activity, focussing on the experimental nature of type, and the way in which completely new letterforms can emerge when we work with different tools and materials at a larger than usual scale (which is unfamiliar to us). I wanted to take students away from the computer, to use their whole bodies to make fonts to encourage divergent thinking. Using rolls of tape, toilet paper, and string, their goal was to make large scale zigzag lettering and make passerby's hallucinate! 

Paul Marcus Fuog (who I am compelled to say bears an uncanny resemblance to a younger Robert Redford) had a clearly written brief, that had students up and moving. Using objects to explore and problem solve on the go, to arrive at new and unexpected destinations using "making" as research. 

Finally, Jack Mussett shared the secrets of how Motherbird have created many of their very slick and seductive images over the years, and how emotion (via music) can impact design outcomes.

The Meadow oozed with character, and was a welcoming and comfortable space. I couldn't recommend it highly enough if you need a venue, and the catering was delicious. Kirby who runs the space was incredibly helpful and definitely added to the day.