Title

Waste and Makers: Applying making orientated design practice to a complex community problem

Abstract

In a changing world how do we prepare students to engage with global and community challenges, and embed approaches to designing that are sensitive to both human and material agency? This paper explores a recent undergraduate design project that incorporates elements of community engagement, placemaking, the local and global waste crisis, and design for manufacture. It takes a holistic pedagogical approach that brings together critical and creative material approaches with human centred design methods, and considers the benefits this can provide to students in developing a sense of personal agency. We ask whether addressing a ‘wicked’ community problem can help students on a design course grounded in material and making, enhance their awareness of their value as hands-on, creative problem solvers. Placing the students as experts, working with stakeholders and users within a complex context and listening to multiple voices, propelled a drive to situate themselves, their interests and material approaches in relation to the brief. They addressed a challenging, resistant real world problem affecting a local urban area; domestic waste bins that are kept permanently on the streets. This impacts on the identity of the area and obstructs public walkways; a visible facet of global challenges associated with waste. Students engaged in intensive collective research in the affected community, and this was the basis for developing creative product solutions to storing waste and dealing with the problem. The paper records observations on the students’ experience based on an exploratory thematic analysis of data collected, from their responses to the brief and to a self evaluation questionnaire.

Keywords:

designer agency, making, criticality, waste, materiality

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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Jul 9th, 12:00 AM

Waste and Makers: Applying making orientated design practice to a complex community problem

In a changing world how do we prepare students to engage with global and community challenges, and embed approaches to designing that are sensitive to both human and material agency? This paper explores a recent undergraduate design project that incorporates elements of community engagement, placemaking, the local and global waste crisis, and design for manufacture. It takes a holistic pedagogical approach that brings together critical and creative material approaches with human centred design methods, and considers the benefits this can provide to students in developing a sense of personal agency. We ask whether addressing a ‘wicked’ community problem can help students on a design course grounded in material and making, enhance their awareness of their value as hands-on, creative problem solvers. Placing the students as experts, working with stakeholders and users within a complex context and listening to multiple voices, propelled a drive to situate themselves, their interests and material approaches in relation to the brief. They addressed a challenging, resistant real world problem affecting a local urban area; domestic waste bins that are kept permanently on the streets. This impacts on the identity of the area and obstructs public walkways; a visible facet of global challenges associated with waste. Students engaged in intensive collective research in the affected community, and this was the basis for developing creative product solutions to storing waste and dealing with the problem. The paper records observations on the students’ experience based on an exploratory thematic analysis of data collected, from their responses to the brief and to a self evaluation questionnaire.