Application & Interactions – Week 5: Competitive Context

Week 5 Lecture & Resources

Jessica Hische & Marian Bantjes at Design Indaba 2013

This design talk from two well-known lettering artists provided some useful food for thought on success and women in design.

– Your studies are what you make of them. Make the most of it and connect with the people on your course
– Being obsessed with your passions is no bad thing and can fuel your fire to pursue it as a creative career
– Jess worked for Louise (Fili?), from whom she learned a great deal – it’s good to receive mentoring and support from experienced industry professionals – but you can learn from others outside the field (mentors might not be obvious – they can come in many guises)
– Inspiration is everywhere, and anything can spark off an idea
– Influences are different from the spark of inspiration
– Resource material is different again
– Carving out a niche of what you’re good at/what you love doing creatively can mean people recognise this and come to view you as a specialist
– Being a woman in the field of design… does it always need to be philosophised? There are very few prominent female designers, especially in the speaking circuit
– It’s hard to maintain success, as opposed to the journey of actually becoming successful (as a woman?) in design in the first place


Guest Lecture

John Stack, Digital Director of the Science Museum (London)

  • wk5-guest-lecture-pt1

Research

Visit to Making Nuno Exhibition

This week I visited Making Nuno, an exhibition on innovative Japanese textiles by designer Sudō Reiko at the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, which was presented in partnership with Japan House London and the Centre for Heritage Art & Textiles in Hong Kong.

It was beautifully curated and I was particularly struck by the way seemingly ordinary objects and materials like fabric, paper, and artefacts from the textile manufacturing process(es) such as reels of fibre, silkscreens for printing and punch cards for weaving patterns on a loom were elevated. This was achieved by displaying them selectively with a minimalist aesthetic and a relatively unique approach to designing the lighting around the exhibition.

As an experience, it was very inspiring and I think the exhibition design was highly successful and engaging throughout because it was so unusual – to a Western audience at least. I also thought the use of paper and fabrics as the background for video projections was really innovative.

I found the textile process films both mesmerising and evocative, particularly as a former textiles student myself. They also provided a soundtrack to the wider exhibition, with the sounds of the textile manufacturing processes creating a rhythmic aural backdrop, like the mechanical movements of producing a woven fabric on a loom.


Visit to National Museum of Scotland

By contrast, on the same afternoon, I also visited the National Museum of Scotland. This is more comparable to a traditional museum experience – it has a vast collection of artefacts from natural history to world cultures, fashion, science and technology. So its remit is probably not unlike that of the Science Museum in London.

Housed in a merger of two quite different buildings, it comprises a Victorian-era structure (inspired by the Crystal Palace in London), shown above, and leads through to a more contemporary building hewn from stone, which houses the newer Museum of Scotland.

When I visited, it was notable that a large proportion of the more interactive displays were temporarily disabled or turned off, with a note stating this measure was due to (Covid-related) hygiene reasons. I thought this was unfortunate, particularly for younger visitors, who often enjoy engaging with them, but somewhat understandable, given the current circumstances.


Workshop Challenge

Notes on the different industry-set briefs

  1. Creative Conscience – Global Competition
    This brief really appeals to me, particularly as mental health is a subject close to my heart. I also like the idea of “design for good” where you can have a positive impact on the world.
  2. D&AD – New Blood Awards
    The D&AD New Blood Awards is an iconic annual competition, and it could be an interesting option to explore as the challenge is to work with the Adidas brand, to engage a young target audience (17-25 year olds) in a key city, using the power of sport as a catalyst for change.
  3. Live Collaboration
    This would involve working in collaboration with an organisation or individual I have an established relationship with, and developing a project brief with them, which could be interesting. Possible orgs to consider: National Trust for Scotland, Project Scotland, Glasgow Subway, Storm the Palace (band).
  4. Science Museum – Research & Development
    An opportunity to delve into the vast digital archive of the Science Museum in London and develop a way to help make it more accessible. This project could be realised in the tangible or virtual world and the tool can be created in a number of different formats (e.g. digital, interactive, built, animated, etc.).

Initial thoughts

The Creative Conscience brief really appeals to me, particularly as mental health is a subject close to my heart. I also like the idea of “design for good” where you can have a positive impact on the world.

I thought about how there’s often so little education about looking after our own mental health, so I could develop a kind of “mental health first-aid kit” with resources and support. My thinking is this could be a physical object, akin to the traditional medical ones.


Rethink

On reflection, I have decided to take on the Science Museum Research & Development brief. Once I was able to digest the brief in more detail, it really felt too good an opportunity to miss, given that we can have direct contact with John Stack, the Digital Director. It’s also a wonderful chance to explore the extensive archives.

The Science Museum Group collection encompasses 7.3million items spanning science, technology, engineering, medicine, transport and media, and together they tell the story of how civilisation as we know it has evolved over the last 3,000 years.

The Science Museum Group includes:
Science Museum (London)
Science + Media Museum (Bradford)
Railway Museum (York)
Science + Industry Museum (Manchester)
Locomotion (Shildon)

Target audience: Young adults, aged 18-30 with an interest in science, history, society & culture. Motivated by curiosity. This could potentially be a global audience, not restricted to just those who have visited the Science Museum Group museums in person.

I was interested to note that in their most recent annual review, the Science Museum Group also talked about the challenges of navigating the last 18 months and bringing their offering to a much wider (sometimes “captive”) global audience than ever before, as well as using it as an opportunity to increase engagement with visitors, both in the real world and virtually.

“The pandemic brought into sharp relief our mission to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians and technologists – exactly the people who have so brilliantly developed tests, vaccines and therapies.” (Science Museum Group 2021)


Case Studies for Workshop Challenge

1. Tim Walker – Victoria & Albert Museum

Exhibition view of Wonderful Things at the V&A Museum in London, 2019.

Tim Walker created an exhibition called Wonderful Things, inspired by the V&A Museum’s collection and archives. It was particularly interesting that the V&A chose to work with a photographer known for his work in the world of fashion. He delved into the vast range of objects, exploring the museum buildings and its contents, and
conceived an imaginative series of photoshoots, including one
influenced by the museum’s photograph of the Bayeux Tapestry.  

This was then developed into an immersive and fantastical exhibition, in collaboration with set designer Shona Heath. The result was a unique experience for visitors, with a real sense of theatre, including giant scrapbooks, stained glass, photography inspired by the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, and even a dragon inspired by a snuffbox. 

I think this project was highly successful, and an incredibly innovative way to bring the collection of a cultural institution to life with creative, visual storytelling. One of the reasons I believe the exhibition is effective is that it is an extremely engaging and unusual approach, which would appeal to a wide audience, potentially much broader than the typical V&A visitors. This inherently visual world would be something many people would be interested in exploring.


2. ISO Design – Gallery of Lost Art

ISO Design is a creative studio that specialises in design-led projects for the cultural sector. In 2012, they collaborated with Tate and Channel 4 to create an immersive online exhibition, called the Gallery of Lost Art. This took the form of an interactive, layered, digital experience where visitors to the website could learn about art that has vanished, for an assortment of reasons: theft, rejection, erasure, being discarded, or simply due to the ephemeral nature of the piece. The artworks were revitalised through archival photography, films, interviews and essays for viewers to delve into and form their own conclusions.

The project won several awards and generated a wealth of press, racking up an online reach of 3.4 million with over 600,000 page views from 153 countries. In an ironic twist, the website itself was erased after 12 months. I feel that this was an effective way to show an archive of work that essentially doesn’t exist in the tangible world, so realising it as a digital experience makes perfect sense. I like the idea that it pioneered and encouraged the exploration of what could be described as “ghost art” and the stories behind how the artworks were lost to the world.


3. Case study #3


Reflection on the week

After this week’s guest lecture from John Stack, I started to rethink my choice of brief. Originally I had thought about the Creative Conscience brief as my preferred option, but John’s talk gave me a much greater sense of the possibilities for exploration with the research & development brief and the vast range of artefacts to plunder within the Science Museum archives. I also looked through some examples of work Stuart shared by other Falmouth MA Graphic Design students who have previously tackled this brief, which gave a flavour of the wide range of potential creative options.


References

Creative Conscience. Available at https://www.creative-conscience.org.uk/ [accessed 17/0/2021]

D&AD. ‘D&AD New Blood Awards.’ Available at https://www.dandad.org/en/d-ad-new-blood-awards/
[accessed 18/10/2021]

Design Indaba. 2013. Marian Bantjes & Jessica Hische on becoming (and staying) successful. Available at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmOPjmJgOs4&feature=emb_imp_woyt [accessed 15/10/2021]

Design Indaba. 2015. Michael Bierut on how to think like a designer. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RanfCx18gi4 [accessed 08/11/2021]

FILIPPETTI, Jenny. 2012. ‘The Tate Gallery of Lost Art.’ Design Boom. Available at https://www.designboom.com/art/the-tate-gallery-of-lost-art/ [accessed 14/11/2021]

ISO Design. ‘Lost Art — Online installation.’ Available at
http://isodesign.co.uk/projects/gallery-of-lost-art [accessed 14/11/2021]

Lost Art. Available at http://galleryoflostart.com/ [accessed 14/11/2021]

Science Museum. Available at https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/ [accessed 16/10/2021]

Science Museum Group. ‘Annual Review.’ Available at:
https://www.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/about-us/annual-review/ [accessed 01/11/2021]

Science Museum Group. 2021. Science Museum Group Annual Review 2020-21. London: Science Museum Group.

TOLLEY, Stuart. 2021. ‘Science Museum + Falmouth University (MA Graphic Design)’ Science Museum Group Digital Lab. Available at https://lab.sciencemuseum.org.uk/science-museum-falmouth-university-ma-graphic-design-8000c758c335 [accessed 19/10/2021]

Victoria & Albert Museum. 2021. ‘Inside the Tim Walker: Wonderful Things exhibition.’ Available at https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/inside-the-tim-walker-wonderful-things-exhibition [accessed 10/11/2021]

Victoria & Albert Museum. 2021. ‘Tim Walker’s Soldiers of Tomorrow photoshoot.’ Available at https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/tim-walkers-soldiers-of-tomorrow [accessed 10/11/2021]

Victoria & Albert Museum. 2021. ‘Tim Walker: Wonderful Things’ Available at https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/tim-walker [accessed 10/11/2021]