Boston, MA — December 08, 2013
This month, CreativeMornings revolves around Making. What is Making? What does Making mean to designers, teachers, universities and studios? December’s CreativeMornings is hosted by Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a long time supporter of Design Museum Boston. We asked the CreativeMornings team a few questions about the impact of Making in their environments.
“History has shown that new ideas can come about accidentally. That’s certainly great, but for the design world, we can’t rely on accidents to pave the way to new techniques and ways of observing the world, it’s our responsibility to experiment with tools for discovery.”
Matthew Trimble, founder of RadLab, CreativeMornings presenter
“Making is a great opportunity to look at the collaboration between the art and design fields.”
Judith Anderson, Chair of the Industrial Design department at MassArt
“There are two sides of making – you can make for yourself or you can make for others.”
Patrick Luteran, alumni of MassArt, Advancement Assistant in Alumni Relations
DMB: How do you think events like CreativeMornings impact the MassArt community?
Anderson: It’s a great opportunity for the students. It’s important that students can meet people in the profession, and be able to exchange ideas, and hear what’s going on around Boston, because it is a really rich environment for design and creativity.
DMB: What can a guest expect from the CreativeMornings event on Friday the 13th?
Trimble: I’m definitely going to talk about a footwear project that we did with New Balance, and a hand rehabilitation device that we’ve been developing for the past few years. I’m going to talk about our role on the side of design and our role on the side of fabrication, all in the context of making.
DMB: We see that you have taught at various schools in various cities. Through your diverse teaching experience, what is the main lesson that you like to leave people with?
Trimble: The importance of collaborative work, so not standing up and talking about your project or your building, because I think all that does is promote a 20th century kind of egotism that doesn’t acknowledge the ecology and network of designers, producers, manufacturers and craftsmen necessary for design projects. I try to cultivate a sense of collaboration by distributing responsibilities, even if in small groups, such that they rely on one another and their skillsets to bring the project to fruition.
Another thing I try to teach is to have an indifference to specific technologies and software, because as designers, our primary responsibility should be realizing ideas in physical form and focusing on bringing concepts to life; allowing those concepts to manifest themselves through the software applications and the machines that are appropriate to the concept, rather than saying, “I really like using this machine and it happens to be available, so what are the things I can make with this machine?” It’s an idea that the tools that you use should always be subservient to the ideas that you’re interested in.
DMB: Can you describe why discussing ‘Making’ is important for students at MassArt?
Anderson: I’m excited about the making aspect of this connecting with design. I personally think that understanding the craft aspect and bringing it into the design field is an important thing to understand. I do a project with one of our studio classes, called Making and Selling. It’s basically from the start, to actually putting a product on the market, but within a time frame of a course schedule. They start with an idea, they make a small batch for production, and then we do a pop-up venue to sell the products they designed.
It’s a great way to see the intricacies of taking an idea and making it into a product. We have some very nice facilities on campus to use, like laser cutting and 3D printing, and more, so students are able to go into the craft aspect of producing objects, while also looking at the next level of mass production. It also spawns them to take the idea further, and turn it into more professional methodologies for a larger scale.
DMB: What do you think is the main inspiration behind Making, on a personal level and a wider, global level?
Luteran: I think that it’s important for artists to find the balance between making for themselves and making for others. Learning in my architecture studio courses here at Massart, how to design for people, human factors, large groups, etc, taught me that there’s definitely a balance that needs to be achieved for your happiness and sanity as an artist. From an architecture and design standpoint, it’s helping better people’s lives – Maybe that’s making art that helps people be happy, that helps people heal, or brings people together in a time of tragedy. I think art and design are really powerful and most people are unaware of the roles they play in everyday life. This is part of the modern-day artists’ responsibility.
DMB: How would you define the general school of thought among the students and professors at MassArt?
Luteran: I think that the basis of MassArt is collaboration. It’s something that the college is focusing on moving forward with some of their capital projects, with efforts in unifying the campus. MassArt is a small community, a small school, and the only public-funded art school in the country, which we are definitely proud of here. We don’t have the most funding, but the facilities that we have here are second to none, and we’re really lucky to have super dedicated faculty – they’re all practicing artists, and they’re here because they want to be here. It’s all about a sense of community, and you know, the make-due can-do fearless attitude.
DMB: Do you think that there is a big disparity between the fine arts and design at MassArt, since MassArt isn’t solely focused on design? Is there a big divide between the two?
Luteran: There can be. As a former design student, I can say that the design majors are in the Tower building, when the ceramics and glass-blowing students, all the fine arts majors, were way over in the North and South Hall. There’s physically a lot of space between the two. Though, there is such a wide variety of disciplines at MassArt that when you’re here you can create a balance between fine arts and design courses. The offerings that are here for you far outweigh what you can do in 4 years. As as student, if you feel there is a divide, then there will be, but if you go around campus and meet people, you’re going to have a really great experience – that’s what I found.
DMB: The DMB community has a healthy number of MassArt alumni involved from day one. What do you think MassArt faculty and alumni leave current students with?
Anderson: I think it’s tenacity. Really understanding what we can do as designers and what they can do as designers to change and improve our environment, and looking at the possibilities and their capabilities to make an impact. They can provide quality solutions, improvements and ideas to our overall lifestyle. I guess the main thing is that MassArt nurtures the idea that you can, and there’s a lot of energy and momentum behind that. We have very talented students that graduate from our program and go off and do many great things. Looking at that network and the alums, the current students feel that the vision is possible for them, and they can connect.
DMB: MassArt has been with DMB from the start. The museum is grateful for MassArt’s support. What do you see in the future of local organizations like Radlab and DMB?
Anderson: I think it’s important for a community, not just Boston, any local community, to understand the relevance and impact that design can have in terms of improving not just products but also services and community based support. The fact that DMB is a grassroots– it started out as a vision between two people– for people with like-minded creativity to come together, is a great thing for Boston in general. In the future, I see even more organizations starting locally, connecting and utilizing momentum and resources from other smaller groups. It can even spread from city to city. I can see other organizations starting up with particular focuses, but still sharing resources in terms of what others are doing, and feeding back and forth like the relationship between Radlab and Design Museum Boston. It’d be nice to become more of a cultural substance within the community as a whole, and then more and more people would understand and know about it.
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