This past spring, Joseph Altshuler, in anticipation of curating a physical Design Show, enjoyed the opportunity to converse with and peek into the studio work of the cohorts of graduating students working in the Master of Architecture, Master of Design in Designed Objects, and Master of Design in Fashion, Body and Garment degree programs. While the physical show would not come to pass, these intimate conversations about the creative process reify a belief in design’s agency to reformulate the familiar in order to produce more pleasurable futures. The thoughts below summarize Joseph’s reactions to the artists’ work (many of whom have contributed to this online platform), teasing out some common threads of design inquiry that became even more apparent while grappling with COVID-influenced cultural shifts.
The world will never be the same. From casual social distancing to more stringent shelter-in-place orders, people all over the world are finding themselves intensifying their relationships to their physical homes as well as to their feelings of being at home. The rooms and furniture within our homes assume new roles and multiple identities. Our bedroom, once a space reserved for rest and romance has now assumed additional roles as an office, a fitness center, a snack bar, and a digital library. For some, living physically housebound but digitally hyper-connected is re-casting their homes as a new kind of workplace, abounding with video conferences, domestic labor, and delivery orders. For others engaged in providing essential services and material sustenance for our communities, a sharply active and vulnerable lifestyle prompts a newfound longing for the safety and security embedded in our sense of home.
This year’s exhibition occupies digital rather than physical space. Many of the artists/designers/scholars create work from home just as they re-imagine and speculate on other forms of home-ness, designing new narratives, models, material crafts, and modes of empowerment. One cluster of work explores homes away from home, telling stories about displacement from places of origin, diaspora, and belonging. Another cluster of work re-energizes material craft techniques that originate from our homes, exploring cultural heritage and alternative futures for vernacular technologies. Still another cluster of work considers how the pride and critique of our homelands and home-cultures empower new voices to reclaim identities and redefine our communities.
The Future of Our Plans is the perfect antidote to any lingering cabin fever. Take pleasure as you digitally dig in—possibly in physical isolation, but definitely in social solidarity.