DESIGN EDUCATION: Fostering Cross-Cultural Design with my Students

Danae Colomer, Gazpacho video portion of Food as Opera project.

Taste of New York/Food as Opera

Last summer I restructured my Exhibition Design class to function as a team-based creative lab. Eager to explore a different research methodology, I met with another faculty member, Robin Drake and we developed a theoretical design research process we labelled, “Billboarding.”
What exactly is Billboarding?
Our method helped the students to document free-flowing ideas. We decided that our students would work using huge sheets of paper, (basically we replaced the small sketchbook). Each student either taped their sheets on the outer classroom walls, or spread out over a few desks.

I looked at a few successful case studies, that might help us understand how to tackle design ideas. Most importantly, I posed a few questions. How does one develop an idea to pinpoint a user experience? What makes an idea successful? I wanted my students to conduct primary research and not rely solely on google or wiki.
The students used a method I use for developing ideas, mind-mapping or concept mapping, to think through their ideation processes. Design Educator, Andrea Marks book Writing for Visual Thinkers: A Guide for Artist and Designers, was reviewed on the AIGA design education site and offers an excellent example of this mapping process.
Here’s an excerpt of AIGA_WFVT_Excerpt.

Throughout the three-week course, I reviewed hands-on methods for creating brainstorming maps, ethnographic research, (we used the AIGA Ethnographic Primer), free-flowing methods of sketching, prototyping, quickly generating ideas and creating concrete final solutions. I wanted my students to understand what they are thinking about, and to demonstrate their thoughts on paper with words, symbols, and sketching. through the prototyping phase work in teams, system thinking.
Ultimately, I want my students to live with their ideas, to Immerse themselves in their own thinking and to walk around and look at the work of others in the class. Most of all I wanted them to be confident about their creativity, and to develop systematic ways of thinking.
Along the way, I wanted them to feel comfortable in the creative space where they could have open conversations. I enjoyed creating a space where all the “ism” could be openly discussed, from culturalism, racism, feminism, gender, and more.

Featured Above and Below are examples of various students projects. These all represent “Food as Opera,” a proposed food expo to be held at Lincoln Center.

Ultimately, I believe food brings people of all cultures together.

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About The Author

Michele Washington

I am a designer, design critic and educator, I love doodling and tinkering with objects that I collect from my global travels.

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03 2010

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