Posters Friday, June 8th, 2018

Sustainability through Making, Non-Traditional Materials, and the Design Process

Todd Barsanti, Professor, Sheridan College

Makers have this incredible, positive view of the future. And more importantly, they believe they’re capable of changing it.

“Sustainability is the wicked problem of design in the 21st century.” —Wahl, D.C., 2006

We live in precarious times. The social, economic, and environmental problems we face are wicked in scope and designers have a role to play in creatively addressing them. But to do so, designers must be comfortable beginning a process that might have unknown outcomes. They must be open to allowing the content and materials they work with to help shape their creative processes. Getting young designers comfortable Making their design, through the use of non-traditional materials, from the outset of their educational experience, is key in developing creative minds that don’t shy away from projects where the outcomes are not predictable.

This presentation will show examples of student process work and final solutions—from a foundations-level design curriculum—that move beyond thumbnails on the page or vectors on the screen. Examples that were driven by the challenges that arose in working with food, natural elements, and goods manufactured for other purposes. I will also demonstrate how the Elements and Principles of Design—requisite of any foundations design course—can still be covered when working with non-traditional materials.

Lastly, I will share my personal experiences from a one-week design residency where I put many of the techniques I encourage my students to experiment with, into practice. These experiences have helped me to de-mystify processes that students may not embrace from the outset since they may fall outside of what they have come to understand as their own creative capabilities.

David Kelley, founder of IDEO, once said: “Makers have this incredible, positive view of the future. And more importantly, they believe they’re capable of changing it.” As students embrace processes where they are physically Making their designs, they gain comfort in creative curiosity and set themselves up for lifelong learning.

And that is sustainable.