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DSI at BWxD14

Reflection on BWxD14 by DSI Director Jeremy Beaudry

I had the great pleasure to attend for the second time A Better World By Design in Providence, RI, an annual gathering of students, educators, and professionals which is organized by students at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. Many kudos go out to the student organizers and volunteers, who have consistently managed one of the most engaging and well-run design conferences I have been to — from the delicious meals and efficient waste management (diligent recycling and composting) to the roster of impressive presenters to the energizing social events. Accompanying me were 2nd year graduate student, Davis Hermann, and post-graduate fellow, Min Yeh, who share some of their reflections on the conference in subsequent posts (part II and part III).

We go to BWxD to meet with other like-minded students and practitioners who share our belief that designers have an important role to play in making meaningful change in the world, whether our own backyards or further afield in more remote locations with a host a partners and stakeholders. The conference presents an amazing opportunity to share the work we do at UArts and connect with potential partners and guests, possible employers for our students, and future DSI graduate students. With so many connections made and stories exchanged, I ended the weekend with an overwhelming sense of having found a real community of people (from within design but also other disciplines) who are passionate about the power of design help create the sustainable, just world we wish to see.

A few highlights for me personally:

>> Marc O’Brien, BWxD veteran and super-connector, kicked off the conference with a series of stories pointing to the power and importance of relationships in creating the foundation for how we do good work — together. Marc also facilitated a couple of really well-run design thinking workshops that demonstrated how smart people with a couple of hours and clear scaffold can generate a great deal of creative approaches to any number of problems.

>> Friday ended with a bang. The last speaker session paired talks by Sarah Williams, Director of the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT, and Michael Ben-Eli, founder of the Sustainability Laboratory. Sarah presented several detailed case studies of projects by the Civic Data Design Lab which demonstrate the use of dynamic data and spatial mapping to discovery deep patterns and insights within complex socio-spatial issues. Michael took us on an ambitious philosophical journey exploring the “cosmic function of design” and the many great challenges we face in the face of catastrophic, irreversible climate change. He argued for design as a force for sustainability which can and should account for interdependency, contain entropy, and enhance and maintain diversity. Paired together, these two talks expressed a wonderful synthesis of both the context of our most pressing challenges as well as the tools we might use to address them. I carried these thoughts with me as we found our way later Friday night to the BWxD BBQ & beer party, where we met lots of new friends and strained to hear about each others’ projects over the very loud and danceable music.

>> I met too many interesting people to recount here, yet the clear highlight for me of the conference was learning about so many designers, initiatives, programs and small- to mid-sized design firms who are really making a place for themselves in this emerging space of social design. Granted, we social designers have much to do to evaluate the impact we’re having, as well as to problematize our work and methods and mature as a field (if it could be called that). But the community is here and it is robust and the opportunities are exciting.

Read reflections by Davis Hermann (2nd Year graduate student) and Min Yeh (post-graduate fellow).

DSI at BWxD14
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 at 10:42 am by Jeremy Beaudry.
Reaching Across Cultures: International Design Initiatives at The University of the Arts
DesignPhiladelphia 2013
ThursdayOctober 17
6:00PM to 8:00PM
Terra Hall, University of the Arts
211 South Broad Street
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With the increasing complexity of social, technological, and ecological challenges, design practice has subsequently expanded its focus to become a significant agent of social transformation and innovation. Designers have at their disposal a number of tools and methods which give them a unique ability to partner with communities, organizations, and businesses to help initiate meaningful change. But how do these design tools and methods translate across cultural, linguistic, and geographical lines? And how do the underlying assumptions and values embedded within these practices sit within other cultural contexts? How do designers most appropriately enter into these cultures? Reflecting on these questions, students and faculty from the undergraduate and graduate Industrial Design programs at The University of the Arts will discuss two recent design collaborations in Kenya and Beirut, Lebanon that explore the challenges inherent for designers working in global contexts.

In this DesignPhiladelphia blog feature, Prof. Jeremy Beaudry explains further the motivations and objectives for the event: http://www.designphiladelphia.org/?p=2506

Reaching Across Cultures: International Design Initiatives at The University of the Arts
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 at 3:55 pm by azahn123.
MiD at Museum and the Web

Electrofolksonogram

We, MiD, were offered the chance to display some of our work at the Museum and the Web reception a few weeks ago. Museum and the Web is a conference to showcase emerging technologies and their use in the museum context. We brought four projects to demonstrate and they were all a hit. We were told this was the best part of the whole conference. The response was so well, in fact, that some of the projects are pursuing further development with museums.

The projects included the Pixel, Collabritique, Art Amplified, Electrofolksonogram. Pixel allows you to see through someone else’s eyes. In this way it exposes what you are looking at to someone else. Creating a critical dialogue around the shared visual experience. Collabritique is an interactive environment where users can begin a conversation about an art piece. Art Amplified makes use of augmented reality, specifically the Layar app, to provide access to relevant contextual information about a given art piece. Finally, the Electrofolksonogram uses EEG technology to compare your brain waves and to your personal preferences to provide suggestions on other works that may be of interest to you.

MiD at Museum and the Web
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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 at 3:15 am by azahn123.