Starting a new semester at Carnegie Mellon's School of Design, gives us a chance to look back as well as forwards.
Just a year ago, we arrived and leapt into the year. This time last year, it was all new, and we taught 3 classes - Loops studio - a semester long self-developed project with Seniors (4th years to anyone outside of this system). Some stunning work was produced, and as our introduction to teaching here it was a great experience.
In the Spring (the snow semester) we ran two classes.
The Grad studio - a project on Pittsburgh as a Digital City produced some fabulous work. Some really sticks out in the memory:
Jesse Schafer's Parking Meter (buy an old on on Ebay, hack it, and create a super-localised ticketing scheme to get people to discover the street they usually drive through).
WesJohnson's delightful shared space for bird and man made us enjoy how technology could be really backgrounded. Clarence Yung's Café with added collaborators was a delight to be in, good coffee plus a profile of someone looking for someone to collaborate with. Scott Sykora's light panel game for road-crossers in East Liberty was a great example of simple ideas done superbly.
And we had the delight of being sponsored by Citrix, particularly Uday Gajendar, which was fascinating. If only we could have got to use their technology in the work the students were doing! Amazing pixel spraying could have been appropriated in all kinds of nooks and crannys of the City!
In the Happy Lab (for different ages) we ran an exploration into what design can do in the area of well-being, and an attempt at an antidote to the *cool* of critical design. A confusing way of doing things for many, as it was a different to what they had had before, and it sadly took us all longer to get going, and many of our planned intentions were shelved. Still, a small book came out of it, of some delightful thinking and a little making...like Carson's Dolls, and Hannah's reframed fruit labels, Joey's bike lane mats and Sarah Calandro's Good mood/Bad mood badges.
We did plenty of work with the Faculty here, running some workshops, and brought some fine people here to work with us - John Thackara, Rachel Abrams, Timon Botez. We played with the Architecture department with talks, city branding tutorials, crits, and the such. We've had initial contact with the Tepper Business School, folk at Intel, seminars for older people...all sorts of things.
We got to work with the folks in Garfield for the Six % Place Project, which was a great eye-opener to what other parts of Pittsburgh are like.
Now this year, so far we are working on some new things and co-teaching a new format of classes with some of the faculty here in the form of Labs.
Nick is working on a Play Lab, and I'm working on the Wonder Lab. Wonder is all about bringing the world inside the studio - in as many forms as we can...and including developing our own methods for doing this. Play's about prototyping and prototyping and prototyping....
So far we're getting it up and running, and a new group of really sharp motivated Seniors are playing with us. Its going to be a really absorbing time.
New collaborations are being planned, new initiatives, new thinking and doing. It's going to be a great year!