Beyond the Studio: Collaboration and Learning Outside the Formal Design Studio

By Muireann McMahon and Louise Kiernan.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Design Studio is seen as an integral part of all design practice, both professional and educational. It is the creative environment where ideas are conceived, developed and shared amongst the collective. In the design student’s eyes, however it can sometimes have associations with ‘work’ and assignments causing negative connotations. These associations can dilute the creative atmosphere of the studio and lead to strategic learning on the students’ part where they strive for marks instead of a holistic learning experience.

This paper explores student design ‘work’, undertaken outside the conventional studio setting, through a series of novel design-based activities which emphasise collaboration and participation. The intention of these is to encourage voluntary (not assessment driven) participation in creative practices within an environment that is fun and light-hearted. The first activity was a co-design project between design students and community partners. The second involved a number of short multi-disciplinary projects between Product Design, Marketing and Architecture students, using a design slam format (short design challenges where the ideas developed during these projects are generated and realised over a limited period of time). The final activity was a strategy used to encourage informal interclass dialogue between design students through an open platform where parity exists between students and lecturers. This paper draws together the experiences of both students and tutors from these activities and reflects on how informal learning activities can engage, excite and encourage students to become more pro-active in their own teaching and learning experiences.

Keywords: Product Design, Design Education, Collaboration, Peer Learning, Non Formal Learning

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.449-462. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.929MB).

Muireann McMahon

Lecturer, Department of Design & Technology, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Muireann McMahon is currently lecturing in Product Design at the Unviveristy of Limerick, Ireland where she is involed in teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate students. She has previously worked as an Assistant Lecturer at the Institute of Technology, Carlow and in the commercial furniture and interior industry. She holds a BDes. in Industrial Design (NCAD, Dublin) and an MSc. in Sustainable Product Design (Bournemouth University). She is currently studying for a PhD in the area of Social Sustainability in Design Education. Part-time studying at Loughborough Design School.

Louise Kiernan

Lecturer, Department of Design & Technology, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Louise Kiernan is a qualified Industrial Designer with fifteen years experience working as a product designer and design engineer in industry. She has worked in Ireland and the U.K in the manufacturing sector. She is currently lecturing on the Product Design and Technology course at the University of Limerick where she is also studying for a PhD. Her PhD investigates Tools skills and methods for product designers in an evolving field and its impact for teaching strategies.


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