We love hearing from design students! Joseph Gonzalez is a Product Designer from New York City currently studying at Parsons The New School for Design. He also practices Graphic Design and Photography. His work can be found at http://joegonzo.tumblr.com. He recently attended a weekend workshop hosted by David Trubridge at Parsons. Below, he shares his experience:
Recently, students from across the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons The New School for Design came together to participate in a storytelling workshop led by the New Zealand designer David Trubridge. The weekend-long event was a mad-dash mash-up of architecture, interior design, product design and lighting design students working together to convey a story through designed objects.
The workshop kicked off with a lecture by Trubridge, where he spoke of the current ghettoization of the design process. Many people see themselves as an artist, a designer or a craftsperson, but too few realize these three identities are inseparable. Product designers like myself particularly suffer the bias David mentioned: valuing design as somehow more meaningful than the other parts of the process. Personally it was a challenge to put this aside.
Following the lecture, the team members came together and bonded over finding surprisingly similar stories to tell despite their diverse backgrounds. There were stories of intimacy, culture, loss of innocence, friendship and personal growth. I worked with fellow product design student Laura Yeh and interior design student Jessica Kang to tell a story about discovering one’s self-identity. The three of us have all made drastic changes in the direction of our lives to try to follow our passion, and this inspired our project. By the time of the first review with David, we had this concept in hand, but it became clear that the next challenge was to further develop ways to physically express these abstract ideas.
Our group spent hours bending metal frames and laser cutting shapes that were ultimately never used. Our table was scattered with cardboard, metal wire, muslin sheets, aluminum bands, and Mylar. We originally planned to have five separate objects, but that quickly seemed less and less possible. At the second review, Daniel Michalik, the Parsons professor who organized the workshop, advised that the groups work with fewer materials and “dig deep instead of wide.” David then reassured the group that this experimentation was not in vain, but very much part of the journey.
Afterward, the groups reconvened, redesigned and rapidly constructed. Scraps and discarded ideas were scattered about the floor, the air was thick with spray paint, and the laser cutters burned through the night. Our team limited our materials to cardboard, paper tape and aluminum. We made three hanging spheres that represented different stages of personal development. We built quickly and intuitively without having the form perfectly plotted. Some students remained that night until they were kicked out of the building, and we all arrived early the next morning to make the most of the last hours before the final review. With little time left we suddenly decided to take over an unused classroom as our exhibition space. We spent the last hour hanging our spheres and arranging the space.
The resulting projects surprised both the reviewers and students alike. Along with David Trubridge, the final reviewer included Pete Oyler and Nora Mattingly of Assembly Design; Chad Phillips, Director of Retail for the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum; Daniel Michalik; Rama Chorpash, Director of Product Design at Parsons; and Mark Bechtel, Assistant Professor of Product Design at Parsons. The projects ranged from surprisingly functional pillows to installation pieces. We were all excited not only to present what we accomplished but also to continue building on these ideas. The experience built new interdisciplinary connections and opened us to varying perspectives of the design process.
Photos courtesy of Parsons The New School for Design. Special thanks to Joseph Gonzalez.