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


Life’s little Adventures

Julie Imus.

Julie Imus is a visually challenged American artist residing in Iowa. A lover of nature, animals and the outdoors, she is an adventurer whose faith in God has given her the ability to overcome the challenges of oil painting with very little sight.

She was always interested in painting from an early age and learnt to paint even better between art classes at school and the Bob Ross programs. Bob Ross was an American landscape painter and television host who was best known as the creator and host of The Joy of Painting, a television program that aired in the US and several other countries between 1983 and 1994.

In June of 2007 Julie lost the vision in her left eye, after already having had retinal damage in her right eye. At that point she thought she would never paint again but in the fall of 2011, she felt God very strongly told her to go back to painting, and as she says, “by God’s, hand I am still able to do so.”

The Hiding Place
Oil on canvas. 16 x 20 inch

“This painting came into existence because of a Bob Ross lesson I was watching one day. In this particular episode, Bob was instructing viewers how to make a whole forest of trees in a simple way. I was keen to try out this method and started thinking about the woods and remembered how i used to ride in the woods years ago, and seeing a fawn hiding in the bushes. So here we see how a childhood adventure, Bob Ross instruction, my imagination and love of nature collectively gave me what I needed to paint this piece.”

Winter Feed
Oil on canvas. 18 x 24 inch

Julie’s brother Jay is a hunter, and currently elk hunting in Colorado. He had told her, one day a few weeks previously, that he would like a painting of a whitetail buck deer, something to fit into a “woodsy” theme going through his house. So she painted Winter Feed for his birthday in September, a great addition to his collection.

Wild Within


Oil on canvas. 16 x 20 inch

“As some of you may know, I love horses and rode daily when I was a kid. The only times i did not ride were on stormy days and very cold winter days. One day i saw a photo online of this horse, and i thought she was so gorgeous I had to paint her. I want to do some black and white paintings as i think they look so good.

While I was painting this, a thought occurred to me, and I began to wonder how many domesticated horses would love to just run wild, hence the title of this painting. This is one painting i really enjoyed doing and my plan is to paint more black and white horses, and probably just adding one color for interest.”

To see more of Julie’s paintings or to commission her, contact by clicking here for the Julie Imus Art page on Facebook

Images used with the permission of Julie Imus. 2015

Note: Originally posted on September 19, 2015

Split Rock Winter.

The winter season usually brings a refreshing outlook to our environment. I say refreshing because it is usually accompanied with snow flakes and snow, and the joy of a landscape filled with cold white flakes, well that’s what i hear the kids say they like about the snow!

Julie Imus recently moved back to Minnesota from Arizona, a place she had lived in for many years with her husband John. The long summer months in Arizona had provided Julie a place where she was inspired by the greenery, wildlife and sometimes the relics of abandoned trucks in the fields. But now the family are settling in Minnesota, we were keen to see how this new environment would inspire or influence Julie’s latest paintings. This new landscape was not just a different landscape to paint from but it has given Julie an opportunity to try out paints and paintings in ways she had never done before. So, here we see 4 serene paintings, calm and peaceful in their depiction but also fiery in their visual possibilities. Hot summers may have shown Julie’s works in its predominantly fiery composition, but the winter weather here reveals its fiery possibility, almost like the calm before the Storm!

MaMoMi: What has been the biggest changes for you and your art practice since you left Arizona to move back to Minnesota?
Julie Imus: It has been an interesting year to say the least as I never thought I would be doing so many oil paintings. I also never thought we’d move back to Minnesota from Arizona at the beginning of the cold season, but i truly did miss my family here in Minnesota, and am thrilled to be back. After finally finding a house to live in I thought it was time to begin painting again, and what better way to start than with COLD paintings. The biggest immediate change was trying to get the new art room organized and finding the right space to paint in, as the room here was much smaller than the one in Arizona. Trying to put everything in a spot where things were easy to get to was also a challenge and lighting was an issue as well, but it has all been figured out now and the space works well for me. Since moving I have met a few people who love my work and I have just been commissioned to do 3 paintings, so being back here was definitely a good move for my art.
Split Rock Winter
Oil on Canvas

My son Clayton called me one morning to tell me about an art contest. The Minnesota Vikings, a professional American football team based in Minneapolis, are building a new football stadium and looking to hang works of local artists in the new stadium and Clayton wanted me to enter the contest. I decided to add things pertaining to Minnesota in my entries, and one well know place is the Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota. It is in the far North East part of the state on Lake Superior, and is very cold up there. So this was my first choice for the contest.

MaMoMi: Does the cold weather change how you view and reproduce your subject matter?
Julie: Yes, the colder weather has definitely given me new inspiration. I have always loved the winters here, but i think i took the beauty of the snow for granted. But my time away from the winter weather, snow and the cold as given my painting a new lease of life! There is so much beauty in the snow, God surely knew what he was doing when he made it! The way dead grass pokes up through the snow is wonderful, and when you add a fence post and a barn, and a few trees, then you have a great painting. There is just so much life in the winter, and I know people think winter is a lifeless time of year in nature, which really isn’t true.

The snow does affect the way I view my subject matter because it is a little harder for me to see when outdoors. I am a visually impaired artist and because the snow is so bright, and coupled with the bright sunshine, it makes working outdoors a bit more challenging as the light can be overpowering. Many times i am not even able to see a wall in front of me, and sometimes when out walking the dogs and i call out to them, its kind of amusing when I think they are still running around when they were already at my feet!
Quiet Snow Fall
Oil on Canvas

With the misty snowy days in mind I decided to do another snow scene and I really enjoyed doing this one. A friend of mine had taken some photos in Northern Minnesota last summer and I borrowed the trees from that photo, added an old cabin and snow, and called the painting Quiet Snowfall. It is so wonderful to be back in my home state, having my son and grandchildren so close and other family, plus there is so much painting inspiration here for me…what a blessing!

There is just so much life in the winter, … and people think winter is a lifeless time of year… which really isn’t true.”

December Snow
Oil on Canvas

This is another painting I decided to enter into a contest. The rule for this contest was for the submission to be one that used the artists techniques of a similar painting, one that he had done on his television series. So I watched the video, changed it up to make my own version of it, and then entered it in the contest. The result Is this painting called December Snow.

MaMoMi: Are you thinking of changing your painting medium?
Julie: I was rather amused when you asked about changing my medium. My favorite painting medium is oil paint, but I have been thinking about using a mix of mediums. I may try acrylics mixed with charcoal and pastels as it seems that I can get better detail in my paintings. I am currently doing some more research on it and hope to start experimenting with that soon.
Minnesota Morning
Oil on canvas

I wanted to give water-based oil paint a try, so I picked up and trialled black and white paint. As we had the dogs out by a lake one morning I snapped a photo of the sun shining on the lake, and the result of that photo was the painting I call Minnesota Morning. This was fun to do because I took the photograph of this location myself whereas in the past I would use someone else’s photos. I also felt a real sense of achievement because, of all the paintings I have done, this was the first using just black and white paint. My husband loved this one so much it is now hanging in his work office.


To commission a painting or purchase one of the paintings listed, please contact Julie’s Art via telephone at 641-390-1738 (Minnesota, US) or via her Facebook art page

Article written by Andrew Mashigo, for MaMoMi
Twitter: @mamomi_i