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What is Collaborative Design? Step 2: Process

Posted May 17, 2013 in Classes & PresentationsCollaborative Design

Samantha Macy is a Collaborative Design major who is interested in printmaking. This is the second post in a series about the Collaborative Design program. Click here for the first post, "What is Collaborative Design? Step 1: Research"

After we finished researching exhibit design, my class decided how we would go about creating an exhibit. This took us a while to do, because we didn't exactly know where to start. We researched finished exhibits, and we researched the different ways exhibits are physically put together, but we didn't learn a lot about how to do all of the design that goes into it. In retrospect, it was beneficial to avoid mimicking someone else's design process. At the end of our project, the process is what we sold, the process was the heart of our finished work. I'm not sure that it works like this with other design disciplines - process is important to all designers, but for us, our process was our product.

We knew that we could do a test run of our exhibit system with the Chairmania collection - George Beylerian's miniature chairs, and see what users thought of it at SiTE:LAB Workflow, as a part of an art exhibit at the old public museum building. Other than that, we were free to do whatever we imagined.

First, we claimed a space. In the old public museum building, the second floor is divided into several rooms, each with different arrangements of display cases in the walls. We picked a room that was open in the middle, with large cases in the walls, and we started holding classes in our exhibit space. We each claimed cases in our room and tried to think of topics for our cases. We all went at different rates, doing our own research and deciding what artifacts we needed. At this point, some of my classmates connected with designers to collaborate on their cases.

I connected with Ken Krayer, who suggested that I focus on the idea of copies and imitation for my case. He suggested the idea of the adirondack chair, and following that chair through its various iterations. For years, people have used handmade chairs of rough wood as outdoor furniture. This evolved into a DIY project, people would make it from patterns in magazines. From there, wood adirondack chairs are mass produced in a similar form. After that, plastic chairs were mass produced in the same form, complete with fake wood grain. This idea of copying a copy was interesting, and there were several chairs in the Chairmania collection that related to it.

Throughout the process, we were always working together. We talked about how things were going every time we had class, and that provided a great deal of support - when you're struggling with something, it's good to know that others are there to help.

These are some of the chairs in the Chairmania collection. In this class, we toured the archives several times to find artifacts for our cases, and to look at the Chairmania chairs.

These are small dioramas in boxes. In the past, the public museum loaned these dioramas out to local schools. This type of miniature traveling exhibit provided inspiration for our exhibit.

http://www.kcad.edu/programs/undergraduate/collaborative-design/To manage the tasks that our class needed to do, we made a lot of lists like this. In our class, it was important for each of us to take responsibility for some group tasks, to make sure that everything got done.

The next post in this series will be about our final product and presentation.

Click here for more information on Collaborative Design.

~ Words and photos by Samantha Macy 


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