Accepted Paper:

Social. Critical. Practical. Modeling a Post-Digital Design Lab  


Matthew Wizinsky (University of Cincinnati)

Paper short abstract:

Case studies, working models plus digital and post-digital techniques from a variety of student- and community-engaged collaborations are used to model a vision for the contemporary design lab.

Paper long abstract:

Design practices are expanding along many trajectories, shattering traditional distinctions made by domain, media, discipline and even intention. Meanwhile, design education faces an identity crisis as educators cannot possibly predict the courses their students' careers and lives might take. Digital tools of fabrication, production and distribution are undermining hierarchical models of learning and working. This produces new—more organic, yet also more unstable—interdisciplinary creative collaboratives. At the nexus of these uncertainties, one of the most traditional paradigms of design as an intellectual, cultural or educational activity stands strong: learning by making.

Through case studies, working models and techniques, I will report on experiences at the intersection of: teaching interdisciplinary digital design studios at the University level; operating a University-embedded media lab; and various hybrid models of collaborative practices, including students of graphic, industrial, and fashion design, architecture, public health, and computer science, as well as grade school students and citizen-participants from community organizations. The power of collaboration is leveraged by diverse and fluid workflows employing digital and post-digital techniques for inquiry, exploration, experimentation, visualization, prototyping and other modes of productive learning. These hybrid practices build upon the strengths of both practical and academic worlds. Self-initiated, research-driven projects demand interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches, producing projects that are socially-engaged, critical, and sometimes even practical. Undertaken in the context of design education, the rewards are not just the projects themselves but the spirit of hybrid autonomy invested in those students who share in this experience.

Panel T019
Science and Technology through Critical Art Practice