Design As Activity Intensive: What a workout!

Published:  March 24, 2014
Lucy Waddington

desktop’s intern and Design As Activity Intensive attendee Lucy Wadington writes up a recap of the big day—

Continuing desktop’s exploration of Design as Activity in the current print issue, a group of like-minded design enthusiasts gathered at The Meadow in Melbourne on Saturday. In partnership with Old School New School (OSNS), desktop put together an ‘intensive’ day of practice-focused workshops that represented the graphic design practice in four parts: design writing, typography, research and image generation. Throwing away the conventions of talk-sit-listen style workshops, guests were encouraged to use their creative intuition to move away from stale habits and explore new means of creation and experimentation.

Welcome packs await the attendees. Photo by Joyce Wong

Following an obligatory moment of biscuit eating and tea drinking, desktop’s editor Bonnie Abbott got our cognitive gears grinding when she introduced the topic of writing about design. Attendees, encouraged to bring a unique object of their own with them, were given a warm-up exercise, analysing its form and function, as well as thinking about its more abstract characteristics, such as what voice the object might have and what it may become when it ‘dies’.

Bonnie Abbott, desktop’s editor, runs the Writing session. Photo by Joyce Wong

Writing about design artefacts in ‘absurd’ ways. Photo by Joyce Wong

Veronica Grow from OSNS conducted the typography-focused session, moving the desk-bound designers into the challenging space of the outside world. Taking inspiration from Dutch type designers Underware, participants were asked to create a physical typeface from reels of wool, tape or paper to form a single thought-provoking word that interacted with its enviroment. Scrambling to find a suitable urban canvas for their environmental design pieces, attendees hopped on top of bins and leaned over railings to create type that existed outside usual contexts and conventions.

Veronica Grow takes the Type session. Photo by Joyce Wong

Outside type from Veronica Grow’s Type session. Photo by Joyce Wong

Attendees form type from various materials in the Type session. Photo by Joyce Wong

The Type session saw type forms reacting to their environments. Photo by Joyce Wong

After a highly anticipated catered lunch from Gas, Paul Marcus Fuog of U-P guided the attendees through the potential of research in design practice. Welcoming new processes for exploration and discovery, guests uncovered the benefits of solving problems with an open mind. Asked to choose one of the many eclectic decorative and domestic objects within the space, groups had to find a link between their objects using an adjective. To force, to erase, to compliment and to join, became popular choices as a variety of abstract solutions bubbled to the surface.

Paul Fuog heads up the Research session. Photo by Joyce Wong

Research session experiments end up everywhere—on the floor…

…or using the attendees themselves. Photo by Joyce Wong

To finish off the day, Jack Mussett from Motherbird ran a musically focused session, music being a powerful and inspiring medium that can be overlooked in the design world. Supplied with basic craft materials and beautiful paper from K.W.Doggett, the adult attendees indulged in their more playful sides as they created visual representations of three distinct pieces of music. From tactile semi-sculptural pieces to meticulously measured and sliced sections of paper, the room was littered with the aftermath of a creative frenzy.

Jack Mussett of Motherbird heads up the Image session. Photo by Joyce Wong

Attendees are encouraged to experiment with materials under the influence of different music. Photo by Joyce Wong

Experimental results in the Image session. Photo by Joyce Wong

A mixture of everyday craft items were used in the image session. Photo by Joyce Wong

Each quarter of the intensive aimed to introduce a broader graphic design practice, free from restrictions that the office or studio may inflict – encouraging attendees to open their minds to new or overlooked approaches to the creative process, without the pressure of perfectly finished work, but rather an invigorating new set of tools to apply to their individual needs.

For more information on the structure of the workshop, read the original post on the Design As Activity Intensive.

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