Module 1, Week 9

Week 9 – Experiential Design

This week had us listening to Susanna and Sam Winston discussing the different ways we can start to introduce types of medium in our design to put across a certain message.

it really stood out to me how much you are able to convey a certain message just by using a specific type of medium. A vital element to this type of design is letting go of the controlling side of your brain, accepting mistakes and learning to love the work you’ve produced. Something I’ve been trying hard to do for the past few weeks.

The Acid Rain posters to me stood out the most because of the strong and powerful message they told. I also loved the video, the juxtaposition of the relaxing music combined with the really powerful message meant the words stood out to you more. Their use of litmus paper for the billboards meant anyone can understand the message – there was no interpretation needed. I think seeing it turn red in front of you would be terrifying.

In looking for more examples of using something physical to convey your message, I turned to looking at Experiential Design.

The use of design to create environments that communicate a message is so fascinating, it’s not just using a certain medium to create something physical, but turning that on it’s head – using the environment to communicate the message so that environment has it’s own say.

This field is also known as Environmental Design and has to be one of the earliest forms of design ever. Since we can remember, humans have used their surroundings to convey a message or to draw on. We used to carve pens out of objects around us and draw on the walls. Hieroglyphics, cave drawings, stained glass – all of this is use of an environmental object to portray a certain message, be it religious, historical…

Take, for example, Googles Kirkland campus – made up of very similar looking buildings. The green, non-urban environment inspired the designers to use tactile materials that also reflected Google’s colourful branding. The believe in the Montessori way of learning by using all 5 senses, and so incorporated this into their wayfinding designs.

As the light shifts from day to day and season to season, the dimensionality of the signs creates a changing shadow play, making them highly memorable.

This took me back to spending years in Washington DC and admiring the sheer amount of stone carvings there are around the whole city. York is known for it’s stone masons and the beautiful, scary, awe-inspiring gargoyles dotted around the Minster. Both these cities, although culturally and geographical different, have used hand carved stone around the cities. They’ve both gone back to the wonderful, original and crafted art of Stone Masonry. I find it amazing that two completely different places take inspiration from the same craft.

In 2018 I attended the stone making festival at York Minster and it was amazing – to see so many hands on stone carvers working away. they had a contest and bidding wars over the carved stone. York Minster still has it’s on site stone masons working away at restoring the centuries old carvings found all round the minster.

I found the below picture and paragraph from York Minsters Website:

Masons’ marks

Each mason has their own unique ‘mason’s mark’ – a symbol carved into each stone they finish to show the person who carved it. Historically, they were used to indicate that a piece of work was finished so that the mason could be paid. Masons marks have been found on stones in parts of the cathedral dating back to 1154. The same mason’s marks used by craftsmen working on the Minster have also been found on other local churches, showing they historically travelled from building to building for work.

I find it fascinating how the marks made by the masons are also found on other projects around the local area, suggesting their craftsmanship was used elsewhere.

To use your own local environment and to put your own stamp on it is inspiring and my research into Environmental Design has highlighted just how much design is truly everywhere we are!

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