Design and Play: Exploring Designer Maker User

The Design Museum | 9 September 2017

The Design and Play tour of the Designer Maker User collection at the Design Museum was our opportunity to review the impact of play in design, taking a view of creative play and concluding with an opportunity to design and make unique objects.

Taking a tour of Design Museum’s permanent collection, the Designer Maker User exhibition, you note that the almost 1,000 items of twentieth and twenty-first century design objects on display viewed design through the angles of and the continuing interaction between the designer, manufacturer and user.

Image: The meet and greet prior to the tour, and start of the tour at the entrance of the Designer Maker User exhibition
Image credit: MaMoMi images © All rights reserved
Photographs: Ryan Prince Art

The Timeline of Design
The pre-industrial era was a period when everyday objects were made by craftsmen in a process shaped by skill and precedent. The rapid growth of Industrialisation from the 18th century introduced greater possibilities for creating designs in great volume but many observers and users still wanted to protect the dignity of craftsmanship.

Rejecting Industrialisation gained momentary drive in the mid 19th century but the opportunity to deliver mass-produced products, made in less time, and meeting standardised specifications with the use of machine production realised through batch production, made business sense and encouraged the modern designer to embrace the idea of machine and industry.

Creative Play
Many experts believe that a child’s early experience of play have a formative effect on their motor skills and on their psychological and emotional development. This tour draws on the benefits of play in the design process, particularly highlighting traditional crafting and making processes, using elements of creative play that explores our senses as we explore various materials and different elements of creativity.

Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul” – Friedrich Froebel, Designer (1782 – 1852)

Edited Images_09

Image: At the Creative Play display, Designer Maker User exhibition
Image credit: MaMoMi images © All rights reserved
Photograph: Ryan Prince Art

The Creative Workshop
The design of a product involves a range of steps that can include goal setting, research, getting a design brief, fabrication, testing and implementation. This tour and workshop helps us better understand the uniqueness of traditional craft-making methods while sharing the benefits of mechanised mass-production methods. But we will make sure it is also about play and having fun.

Play is an important part of the growth of a child but as we develop into adults, we stop playing so much. We get so bugged-down by work that we forget the value of play. During this workshop led by Lynn Cox, a visually impaired creative practitioner and freelance disability and visual equality trainer, we use craft-making processes to create several objects of design.

Image: Workshop activity in the Creative workshop
Image credit: MaMoMi images © All rights reserved
Photograph: Ryan Prince Art

Closing Note: Advocating for social Inclusion
An important goal of an access programme is to provide accommodations that enables individuals with a disability to participate fully and independently in social life, and the museum encourages its disabled visitors to participate in its public programme.

One way of approaching this, from a personal point of view, is to enhance opportunities and encourage an environment where able and disabled visitors can together participate in public events. The idea that events or activities should be reserved only for a particular audience causes or promotes marginalisation, or put in another way, social exclusion. Social Inclusion challenges barriers, values and behaviours, and by creating an inclusive learning environment, we actively support the goals of an inclusive society.

Social Inclusion is the process of improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of people, disadvantaged on the basis of their identity, to take part in society.” – World Bank, 2013

The Design Museum’s multisensory tours are a key event for our disabled visitors but we also encourage other audiences to participate in our tours and events, especially when it does not deny a disabled visitor the opportunity to participate in the said event(s).

This Design and Play tour had its highest ratio of sighted participants to date, making up approximately half the number of participants, and is something we will continue to monitor and advocate. It is important to us that we continue to be an agency of positive social change.

A huge thank you goes to Bernard Hay, Producer, Adult Learning, Design Museum, to Lynn Cox, our workshop facilitator, and our sighted guides for their continued support.

Our next tour:
The next tour at the Design Museum is on Saturday 18th of November and will visit the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition, taking a snapshot of the very best in innovative and contemporary design from the past year. More information to be published soon.

Andrew Mashigo
Founder and Freelance facilitator
MaMoMi

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