V&A Design Technology Symposium

In September 2017, secondary schools across the UK start teaching a new GCSE in Design & Technology. As part of its ongoing work in education, The V&A Museum organised a special one day symposium DT Teachers to support them in the teaching of the new GCSE.

We were thrilled to hear that the new system actively encourages students to take risks:
Top marks are only available to students who stretch and improve their skills, abilities and knowledge of materials, processes, technology and making.

Teachers at one of the two workshops led by Beep Studio

Teachers at one of the two workshops led by Beep Studio



Beep Studio was invited along to run two creative sessions on Briefing and Ideation.
Attendees shared their thoughts about the new GCSE, how it relates to the way they teach now, and how they explain the design process to students unused to such open ended exercises.

Working in groups, the teachers produced evolving maps of the briefing process by loosely recording their conversations, jotting points on post-it notes, arranging the information, and finding patterns. These finally came together as powerful, insightful, and revealing diagrams.

The conversations that developed were rich and deep, and the teachers enjoyed the role reversal of becoming students and tackling a design task with an undetermined outcome.

Visual Minutes

Attendees heard talks from educationalists, exam boards, designers, and new V&A Director Tristram Hunt. At this point our work was done, so we sat back, opened our sketchbooks, and drew a set of visual minutes. Here are our highlights.

Talks began with an introduction from schools programme manager Cara Williams and Director Tristram Hunt, who gave an overview of the museum's history, from its beginnings in the Great Exhibition of 1851, through to the newly opened Exhibition Road entrance.

Talks began with an introduction from schools programme manager Cara Williams and Director Tristram Hunt, who gave an overview of the museum's history, from its beginnings in the Great Exhibition of 1851, through to the newly opened Exhibition Road entrance.

Sarah Campbell, Head of Education at the V&A, interviewing Louise Attwood, who wrote the new GCSE syllabus for education charity AQA.

Sarah Campbell, Head of Education at the V&A, interviewing Louise Attwood, who wrote the new GCSE syllabus for education charity AQA.

Andy Mitchell of the Design & Technology Association spoke about encouraging high ambitions, hard work, and learning through failure as part of the new syllabus.

Andy Mitchell of the Design & Technology Association spoke about encouraging high ambitions, hard work, and learning through failure as part of the new syllabus.

One teacher spoke of the struggle they have keeping up with ever-changing software. However, this may be a misplaced worry, since the role of the teacher is changing, moving from that of a 'keeper of the knowledge' who has all the answers, to that of a 'facilitator', encouraging students to research and pick up skills through online resources.

One teacher spoke of the struggle they have keeping up with ever-changing software.
However, this may be a misplaced worry, since the role of the teacher is changing, moving from that of a 'keeper of the knowledge' who has all the answers, to that of a 'facilitator', encouraging students to research and pick up skills through online resources.

V&A Curator Johanna Agerman-Ross spoke about designs including the Eames work with plywood and a chair modelled on a paper cup. The Eames leg splint reminded me again of my grandfather, who as a design exercise had to carve leg splints from pine, holding them up to the light to check their wafer-thinness was consistent.

V&A Curator Johanna Agerman-Ross spoke about designs including the Eames work with plywood and a chair modelled on a paper cup. The Eames leg splint reminded me again of my grandfather, who as a design exercise had to carve leg splints from pine, holding them up to the light to check their wafer-thinness was consistent.

V&A Engineering Resident Julian Melchiorri speaking on his work to create a synthetic leaf from materials including silk, spinach, and etched metal.

V&A Engineering Resident Julian Melchiorri speaking on his work to create a synthetic leaf from materials including silk, spinach, and etched metal.

Clerkenwell Design Week

Clerkenwell Design Week rolls around so fast! This year we found ourselves shuttling between Clerkenwell and Kensington,  launching urinals and marshalling bloodthirsty teenagers and drink fuelled designers.

Tuesday saw the London launch of 'Fountain '17', an exhibition of artworks based on Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain', which has its centenary this year. As probably the most influential artwork of the 20th Century, this is a very difficult subject to tackle. It has been discussed and dissected ad nauseam by critics, and is still capable of stoking the question '...but is it Art?'

One way around the problem is to make a joke of it - but to do so the joke has to be a damn good one. We particularly liked the monument to the detritus often found blocking urinal outlets: a gigantic piece of chewing gum by Desmond Brett. Also worthy of note was Assemble's experiment with slip-marbling a WC pan.

For our part, we un-asked the question by looking at the object in an abstracted, geometric way. Read and see more here: 

Fountain '17 launch event at Ideal Standard showroom, Clerkenwell.

Fountain '17 launch event at Ideal Standard showroom, Clerkenwell.

 

Wednesday saw us back in Clerkenwell, where we joined forces with the exuberant Trevor Flynn of Drawing at Work and brilliant designer Anahi Copponex. Anahi runs fascinating courses on 'Pattern Cutting for Architects', and during the evening she ran a session on body adornment using long loops of synthetic whalebone - the stuff used to make modern corsets and hoop skirts. Whilst life drawing continued upstairs, we tutored a group in experimental folding techniques. As always when designers cut loose, things got wild, culminating in a fashion parade.

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

Drawing at Work at Desso for Clerkenwell Design Week

Drawing at Work at Desso for Clerkenwell Design Week

We rounded off the week with a return visit to the Design Museum, where we'd been invited to work with an extremely sparky bunch of young people at the Museum's monthly Sunday Workshop. After a quick collaborative warm up exercise, we guided attendees (ages 12-16) through our approach to drawing systems, stories, and processes. They responded with an array of insightful, well considered, beautiful - and in one case, surprisingly gory - pictures.

See more on our work with the Design Museum here.
 

Design Ventura

We had a fantastic studio outing to the Design Museum last week, running a design masterclass for some extremely sparky students from across the UK. Sneak peek below, and full story here!

Photo ©Miles Willis/Design Museum

Photo ©Miles Willis/Design Museum