Material attachment to design

micro pen to macro space


© George Verghese cover to design brief


In my previous blog, I have discussed the integration of intensive studios into interior design curriculum in order to offer more opportunities for multi-disciplinary academic and professional collaboration. My first intensive inter-disciplinary two-week studio was with George Verghese CEO of Material Advances and Practice INC. and an expert on advanced material technology and spatial design. The studio was based at the University of South Australia and was open to second and third-year students. The aims and objectives of the studio was to teach students the value of designing a space (macro) from a material joint (micro) through the experimentation and manipulation of materiality, form, scale, spatial functions and human occupation.




         Clip  Knot 1  TG  Ball and socket  Pen

Part1 : Different material junctions chosen by students


The studio consisted of two parts, each running for 1 week. In Part 1, each student chose a material joint from an everyday object, which could be: press-stud, fasteners, plugs, ball and socket, universal joint, knots, pens, tongue and groove, or a clip. Each day students were asked to draw this material junction using different combinations and arrangements for the micro analysis of form and scale. This generated a macro analysis for spatial experience and human occupation. This design pedagogy allowed students to break away from seeing the junction in its original function and to start imagining it (through its manipulation) on a macro inhabited scale.



3D arrangements of different material junctions


By the third day students were building 3D models based on the raw design ideas and arrangements generated during the intensive two days. The 3D models explored the spatial occupation and the restrictions forced by the relationship between materiality, form and scale. Usually, in a given interior design brief students select materiality and detailing at the end. In this studio students commenced from a material junction, which then informed the whole design experience, the micro affected the macro. In order to gain the best design outcome, students wanted to research new materiality due to the  simultaneous relationship between detail, form, material and space.



Part 2 was the second week of the intensive studio. Students worked independently with minimum academic supervision to transform their 3D arrangements into different spatial experiences and functions based on their material technology and detail research and design. On a macro scale the material junction was transformed into a stage, exhibition, retail fit out, residential apartment, nightclub, restaurant and others.

Ball and socket joint to an exhibition space

Fitzgerald, rylie 100063806


The outcomes revealed the curiosity of the students and the rich new material technology available to designers. Apart from the usual, concrete, glass, timber and steel, which usually students revert to in a design studio material board, this design pedagogy offered a whole new world of material referencing and research. It also,  demonstrated to students the significance of design, materiality and detailing, which is the strength of the interior design profession. This studio was offered ten years ago and its pedagogy is still relevant. These types of studios allow experimentation. Just as we encourage our students to experiment with their design process, these intensive studios are experimentation playgrounds for the innovation in design education.


Is experiment only encouraged to design students and not their educators?






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