Some of our recent design education has come from instructors who have offered us exclusive inside looks at summer intensives: Francis Bitonti's "New Skins: Computational Design for Fashion" Workshop at Pratt DAHRC and the Brian Anderson's "Immediate Objects: Explorations in 3D Printing" at the SAIC. This time around, we have a guest post by a student, Vivian Chan of Simon Fraser University's School of Interactive Arts + Technology. Under the tutelage of instructor Russell Taylor, she and a dozen of her classmates spent six weeks in Europe this summer, traveling halfway around the world from Vancouver to the Netherlands to film and research designers in a unique and unforgettable Field School program.
By Vivian Chan
As part of the biennial SIAT Dutch Design field school, we travelled to the Netherlands in order to interview and document Dutch designers, their work, their process and design culture. The field school is a part of SFU's study abroad program consisting of three courses: IAT 395 in the semester beforehand to prepare and research, IAT 396 the in-field course, and IAT 397 upon return to synthesize our research and experience into the videos and website.
During our time in the Netherlands, we spoke with 20 prominent Dutch designers such as Piet Hein Eek, Phillips Design (above) and Ineke Hans, as well as some up and coming designers like Formafantasma and Scholten & Baijings. We have officially launched our website, and all of our work and research has been documented and is now ready to be viewed in the form of short interviews and cultural films.
We all had a part in the video editing process. For the interviews, we paired up and each pair had 3–4 interviews that they would conduct on our own. The pairings matched up a student that was more proficient with video editing and another that could help in less technical ways such as gathering the video content and helping determine the structure and story behind the videos. We studied the designers' past works and design approach, then developed questions that would establish credibility, as well as get them to open up and discuss the ideas, the methodology, the challenges and the thought processes behind their work.
I think with our group, about half of the team had prior video production experience mostly through previous SIAT course projects, but none of us were experts. There were a few talented amateur photographers whose skills and knowledge were transferable and very helpful when evaluating shots. During our preparation and research course, we did a couple of practice interview videos with designers in Vancouver and Seattle, and we also had video assignments to finish while we were in-field.
It was a definitely a learning process to become as efficient and skilled as we were by the end of the program. In-field, we each had specific roles depending on what we were interested and skilled in. If we were not interested in doing hands-on film work, there were other roles such as equipment management or note-taking.
In the rest of the SIAT program, we sometimes feel disconnected from the real world since our projects are usually for hypothetical clients and situations, so it was an incredible opportunity to be able to have a dialogue with so many current design professionals that are really in-tune with and successful in the design industry. It was valuable to witness their process and projects, and see what designers of other cultures and perspectives are creating.