Weeknotes 3: Face Melting Stuff

  • This week has disappeared.
  • We don’t get a bank holiday in Denmark so Monday was just another day. The office has felt like a disaster movie because everyone went to CHI.
  • I ran a short drawing workshop with the IT product students on Tuesday. I shamelessly borrowed some of the techniques that my brilliant colleagues Matt, Ilyana and Thandi have shown me over the years — much love to them for that. I’m hoping to do some more with this too working with a group who are interested in developing the ways they visualise ideas, and how they use drawing. They have mainly been taught (in my view pretty odd) formal techniques from industrial design, rather than ways to ideate and speculate through drawing.
  • Positive feelings all around about the secondment proposal I’ve been putting together with Forestry England. I’m super excited about the collaboration. Narrative CV’s are a bit of a drag though, they seemed to come along just when I thought I’d figured out how to write a regular CV.
  • In fermentation news I made wild garlic kimchi last week, and it’s just ready now. Proper face melting stuff. Delicious.
  • I read an interview with Kristina Höök about her notion of somaesthetic design in Diseña journal earlier in the week. It’s interesting, but I would have appreciated a brief intro to soma design, having only read a couple of bits in the past. Some bits I really appreciated: namely the call to slow down the design process (perhaps relating to Stengers calls for slow science, though the connection isn’t made explicit in the interview). I related to it in terms of thinking about the teaching I have been doing here in Aarhus, especially where briefs are structured in such a way that a technological ‘solution’ has to be found by the students within a set period (and that they have to make ‘working’ prototypes). I have thought this for a while, but it strikes me that a fundamental shift in the expectations of student work needs to take place if we are to setup the conditions whereby designers are encouraged, or rather permitted to slow down and to not keep trying to ‘fix’ things. In the brief I ran last term I gave the students an exit route, to not design — if they could provide some reasoning or explanation (that they could submit in any medium/way they liked) to not ‘intervene’ or design anything in the settings where they had been conducting research then they would be marked just like anyone else (though none of them took that up). One quote from that interview:

‘[…] it is important to do this work to offer alternatives to the commercial, capitalist, fast, quick solution because we can see that it is not making the world super happy right now. I don’t want to say that all the digital tools that we have are garbage. Of course, a lot of it is amazing. We have done fantastic things, but we also have a world in distress when it comes to sustainability, and not only sustainability in terms of taking care of nature, but also sustainability in the sense of people being stressed and having bodies with problems like diabetes and heart issues and burnout and all these things, right? And we have to care about that as designers. How do we care about that? Well, I think there is no quick fix, so we need to engage. There is no other way’

  • It really seems like a really obvious point, and I think these are conversations we have been having at Goldsmiths and in SCD circles for years, but that doesn’t seem to have permeated into other design traditions, or is perhaps only just?

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