Body Craft: Form, Function + New Material

Visual Studies

Fall 2012 + Spring 2013

Amanda Parkes, instructor

Human‐centered design has emerged as one of the tenets of contemporary culture. Studies in ergonomics have taught designers to revere the form and abilities of the body as the standard for analysis in interaction. Yet, our notion of the body is changing. New technologies allow our bodies to become enhanced, augmented, expanded in functionality and altered in form. Ubiquitous and embedded technologies allow the devices we carry and the garments we wear to converge into a ’secondary skin’ which functions as an extension of ourselves creating our own mobile personal environment. In addition to this convergence, new tools for creation are allowing designers to explore biomimickry in their design process in more transformative and temporal ways. Blurring the line between wearables and structures, this course explored evolving issues in ‘universal design’ and how our changing concept of the body alters how and what we strive to design for ourselves.

The course mixed studio design work with lectures, readings, discussion and critique. Through a combination of producing objects and engaging in critical reflection, students were encouraged to develop a design practice, which innovated technically in process and materials.