At the start of the year I chose Materials Innovation as my expanded practice subject. I hoped that I would broaden my knowledge and skills in order to enrich my own graphic design practice. I felt that this subject in particular would be useful to me as it is something completely new and not included on the main graphics course. I am very interested in taking my own practice away from the computer screen and felt that learning more about the variety and possibilities of materials would be a perfect way to facilitate this.
Now that the expanded practice course is over I can really appreciate all that I have learnt over its duration. It’s opened my eyes to a more in depth understanding of processes I already knew about like 3D printing, and has taught me new ones I had never encountered such as ‘grown materials’ and biomimicry.
Having this blog space to continue my learning beyond the lectures has been a great way to explore these subjects at my own pace. Using the tutors advice as well as the suggested reading list I have found a whole breadth of subjects and creative communities I had not discovered before. I can now conduct focused research and am following several materials based websites and blogs and constantly referring to these for my own practice. Materia, the Institute of Making and Next Nature have become particularly useful resources for research and inspiration.
The subjects we have covered have been fascinating and have quite honestly changed the way I look at materials, especially our relationship with the environment. The work we did on materials origins and grown materials both stuck with me in terms of how designers need to behave in the present and future. When you really research into the processes and destructive methods, as well as the wasteful and harmful bi-products of so many commonplace items it is quite shocking. Even as someone who is eco-concious it’s really changed my perspective and made me want to be a more eco-friendly designer. I can say without doubt that I will be considering these elements much more when choosing design materials in the future and I’m quite looking forward to considering this as part of the problem solving aspect of design. I am already looking at materials I can use for business cards and our magazine project and some of the products I’ve learnt about such as Piñatex provide fresh ideas.
It seems from what I’ve learnt on this course and my own research that as a society we are on the verge of really revolutionary innovations, in particular the subjects of biomimicry and 3D printing got me excited about future prospects. As a result of taking this course I’m really happy to be a part of that movement and the way we shape our world for the better. The notion of cities which work in tandem with nature was an idea which really stood out for me. I have seen proposals and fantastical illustrations of this kind of thing before but to be honest it all seemed like the work of science fiction. Having now looked into the technology behind these ideas I have realised that actually more is possible than I had previously believed. I’m much less skeptical than I was and more interested in how these ideas can be realised.
Another benefit of this course has been the opportunity to work with students from the other design courses. Hearing their perspective on the subject has fed into my own thoughts and I have really enjoyed adding fashion, interior and spatial design into my own research. It’s interesting to note the differences in approach between the courses, I feel as a graphics student that we are perhaps more adept at the communication side of things whilst fashion student for example seem to have a more introspective and uniquely creative style. It’s great to see how these skills interact and compliment each other.
I think in terms of my own engagement and input with the course I did well in making the most out of it. I have tried to use the blog as a personal development tool and feel I have achieved this well. If I could change anything I would find more time to do deeper and more varied research into the subjects we have touched on as I feel at times it has been hard to focus fully due to all of the other things I have going on.
Overall I’m really glad I chose Materials Innovation; I have learnt so much and can’t wait to continue to implement it in my own practice!