Module 3 Week 10: Workshop Challenge

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Outputs Required

Well done for completing Designer, Author, Maker – Case Studies Exploring Trends and Outputs of Influential Studios. Next week we will start on a new theme, Market Research – Revealing Gaps, Targets and Audiences for a New Product or Service Idea.

Please complete all tasks below, as they count towards your final grade.

  1. Research, analyse and comment on the role of designer as author and as maker.
  2. Imagine and communicate 10 initial ideas for a series of outputs you could make as an author.

Author and Maker

  • Find two examples of designers who demonstrate authorial / making expertise in the delivery of a component of their practice. Is it their sole output, are they passion projects or are they opportunities where they saw a gap in the market?
  • Upload onto the Ideas Wall and discuss.
  • Think about a series of outputs you could make as an author.
  • Generate 10 ideas for discussion, upload to the Ideas Wall and elaborate further on the blog. Please note, this is the first step of you considering one idea that will be researched and potentially launched as an authorised artefact through the last part of this module.
Module 3 Week 10
My visit to The Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain

I took a few days off work and drove from Bordeaux into Spain. I want to see the famous Guggenheim Museum for myself and get inspired this way.

Example One: Olafur Eliasson – Artist, Mathematician, Scientist and activist

Olafur Eliasson is a Danish-Icelandic artist who puts the experience of the viewers at the centre of his art. A central strand in his artistic practice is a desire to draw the viewer’s attention to some of today’s most urgent issues:  around 30 artworks created by the artist between 1990 and today – sculptures, photographs, paintings and installations – play with reflections and shifting colours to challenge the way we navigate and perceive the environment. Through materials such as moss, water, glacial ice, fog, light and reflective metals, Eliasson encourages viewers to reflect upon their understanding and perception of the physical world that surrounds them.

Eliasson’s art grows from an interest in perception, movement, embodied experience and feelings of self. The following are central to his artistic endeavours: a concern with nature, inspired by time spent in Iceland; his research in geometry; and his ongoing investigations into how we perceive, feel about and shape the world around us. Studio Olafur Eliasson, his Berlin-based studio, is a space for work but also for encounters and dialogues which bring together a diverse team of skilled craftsmen, architects, archivists, researchers, administrators, cooks, programmers, art historians and specialised technicians.

His practice extends beyond making artworks, exhibitions, and public interventions to include architectural projects. Convinced that art can have a strong impact on the world outside the museum, Eliasson has created solar lamps for off-grid communities, conceived artistic workshops for asylum seekers and refugees, created art installations to raise awareness of the climate emergency, and, in September 2019, he was named Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “Art”, Eliasson says, “is not the object but what the object does to the world”.  

About a week ago, I was lucky enough to visit his exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. I was astounded by the diversity of his works! The exhibition was spread across a whole floor of the gallery and each room offered a completely different experience via a diversity of mediums. I noticed a consistent feature in his work was a clear fascination with the complex mathematical principles that underlie natural phenomena, which in turn makes people perceive nature in a new, raw and elemental, way. 

In terms of Eliasson’s ‘activist’ works, a particularly striking example is his creation of a product that can help people survive. The ‘Little Sun’ is a solar charged light in the shape of a sunflower. He has said, “who said design can’t change the world?”- and he has empowered Third World communities with these lights, which can be hung around people’s necks to help guide them in the dark. The project was also created to help develop entrepreneurship in Third World communities, giving scope for local businesses to start selling these lights, in turn creating jobs and stimulating the development of educational programmes – particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. To create these lights, he partnered with an engineer called Frederik Ottensen and launched ‘Little Sun’ in 2012. By doing this they brought clean, reliable and affordable energy to 1.1 billion people living without electricity. ‘Little Sun is transforming lives through the power of solar energy and intelligent design.’ (‘Little Sun’ leaflet) 

I think that Eliasson is the perfect example of an artist/designer who uses his design skills to create beautiful exhibitions but also to create community and social projects that are forward thinking and can dramatically change people’s lives in practical ways. It is clear that ‘Little Sun’ was a passion project where he saw a gap in people’s lives and created/engineered a design solution to fill this gap and make a significant social difference. 

This is the type of designer I aspire to be. 

Example 2: Fashion designer, sustainability and innovation within fabric design 

Issey Miyake is a Japanese fashion designer, now aged 82. Throughout his career, he has been known for his innovative technology-driven clothing design. He was born in 1938 in Hiroshima, Japan. He went on to study graphic design in Tokyo and it wasn’t until the 1970s that he founded Miyake Design Studio where he created widely admired, high end women’s fashion.  

The intrinsic values in Mikaye’s designs were very feminist for his time: comfortable and flexible movement as well as ease of care and production. Even in the 1980s, Miyake was looking to influence not only fashion trends to favour more comfortable and wearable garments for women, but he was also looking to support and streamline the production process. He was inspired by different forms of art and design and was not afraid to look beyond the fashion industry for inspiration. He was inspired by Dame Lucie Rie for her substantial ceramic and porcelain buttons which he integrated into his designs. On the other hand, he was responsible for designing the Steve Jobs signature black polo neck which has become a staple of Apple’s corporate image. He became one of the co-directors for 21_21 Design Sight, Japan’s first design Museum, which involved working to support many designers and artists. 

Since the early 2000’s, Miyake’s passion for creating sustainability throughout the fashion industry is shown broadly through his works. In 2007 he collaborated with Reality Team Lab where he embarked on a long project which resulted in a new and innovative production method being established called 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE in 2010. This brand name refers to the way in which a piece of cloth (1D) takes a three-dimensional shape (3D) which is then folded into a flat (2D) shape and then, when worn, “transforms it into a presence that transcends time and dimensions” (5D). 

He collaborated with computer scientists who created shapes through software that could then be folded into 3D formed garments that people could wear. The base material was recycled polyester fabric that had undergone a series of changes and developments. The fabric represents what he sees as an imperative modern-day garment-making aim: “Clothes that bring joy and happiness to the wearer”. 

Issay Miyake does not just make clothes but, above and beyond this, he improves and supports the production principles of “Regeneration and Re-creation” in new ventures.

A series of 10 outputs I could create as an author

Idea One 

I would return to the migrant project that I developed in the second section of this module and try and devise a design solution to support the safety of migrants’ in their challenging oceanic journeys. I would begin by collecting primary market research in the form of a questionnaire distributed to the migrants associated with Les Collectif des Migrants de Bordeaux, a collective that I have been involved with for around 6 months.

Idea Two 

I would do further research in association with, and expand, the 3,000-word piece that I wrote on Pierre De Lancre, a notorious seventeenth-century witch hunter based in Bordeaux. I would like to print a full publication comprising unusual, extraordinary and shocking articles about the history of my locality. I would do this through extensive research in museums, local archives and libraries around Bordeaux. 

Idea Three

Research, compile and present 3 colour-forecast reports on the colours expected to be in fashion in 2022 using information within global economic, environmental and behavioural models: Primary and secondary market research studies to try and identify trends and tendencies that are likely to influence colour choice at this time.  

Idea Four

Throwing old paintings into new relief by creating a (technologically and architecturally) ‘modern’ exhibition surrounding one of my favourite paintings, ‘The Raft of the Medusa’ by Theodore Gericault, placing it in a modern setting, using advanced technology to illuminate and breathe life into the development of and inspiration behind the paintings, the interplay of tradition and modernity resulting in the enhancement of both. 

Idea Five

A self-portrait videography projects looking at the differences between French and English forms of expression (and by extension perception of the world?). Using videography to show how we express (and perceive) things differently and the struggle to communicate when things are ‘lost in translation’.  

Idea Six

A series of print designs that can be used across stationery, fabrics, interior design and wallpapers that reflect on the locality of where the prints are produced.

Idea Seven 

A ‘Design for Good’ festival, showcasing a selection of examples of socially- conscious design projects over time – e.g. Little Sun, solar panel lights etc. 

Idea Eight

Developing a series of free online workshops in different languages for migrants when they move to Bordeaux. The workshops would cover subtleties in the French culture and practical information to aid settlement and advancement in France, as well as providing a basic French-language course to follow.

Idea Nine

I would develop a new form of typography to help dyslexics. I am dyslexic myself and would be fascinated to try and identify typographical shapes, colours and layouts that could aid the dyslexic reading experience. 

Idea Ten  

Developing an infographic visualisation to show the horrendous effects of the 1958 earthquake in Lituya Bay, Alaska, which resulted in a tsunami that, at 1720 feet, was recorded as the largest ever. I would like specifically to show the effects it had on the landscape, vegetation and natural habitats within the area. 

Reflections

I was initially worried about having to come up with ten different ideas as I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to think of one. However, I knew the first idea already and after I had put that one down on paper, the rest just flowed. This week challenged me to think about and discuss personal ideas that I could potentially put out into the world. This, in a sense, was frightening as I didn’t know what people might think of my thoughts that were not yet fully formed ideas but my peers were very encouraging and made me feel like I had a safe place to discuss potential project ideas without thinking too much about the logistics of the project.

Peer Feedback

I asked a few people on the course what they thought of my ten different ideas and I had some very positive feedback on my idea one. This was my prefered idea so I really felt that talking to my graphic design family, helped me to have the confidence to push my ideas forward and be confident in them.

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