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Art & Engineering Workshop

"'Vertical thinking is concerned with digging the same hole
deeper. Lateral thinking is concerned with digging the
hole somewhere else.'
-Edward de Bono (MD) 

- CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

Background

NAFASI approached me to host a workshop in our makerspace for artists in their Academy residency. During conversations, NAFASI repeatedly mentioned "lateral thinking" and hoped the studio could provide their students with a lesson in thinking outside the box and engendering the practice of coming up with many ideas during the art process. 

 

I conducted interviews with the main educator of The Nafasi Art Academy, attended a NAFASI art exhibition and conducted secondary research. Sources cited below. 

Research Insights

I conducted interviews with the main educator of The Nafasi Art Academy, attended a NAFASI art exhibition and conducted secondary research. Sources cited below. 

WE DELIVER

WORLDWIDE

"There is a gap within the community between art & engineering/technology."

How can we dismantle the perception that art & engineering are disparate & unrelated? 

"Students artists require more skills in coming up with multiple &/or alternative ideas (lateral thinking)" 

How can we teach artists to test out, experiment & pursue ideas in excess of their very first one?

"Most makerspace programming for artists involves fabrication work alone." 
 

How can makerspaces offer design thinking/innovation training applicable to the artistic process? 

Sweeny, Robert W. "Making and breaking in an art education makerspace." Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship 6.1 (2017): 1-10.

Jacobs, Jessica. "Intersections in design thinking and art thinking: Towards interdisciplinary innovation." Creativity. Theories–Research-Applications 5.1 (2018): 4-25.

Plattner, Hasso. "An introduction to design thinking." Iinstitute of Design at Stanford (2013): 1-15.

GONZALES, ROMINA A. "Raw Art in the Mind of Lateral Thinkers."

De Bono, Edward. "Information processing and new ideas—lateral and vertical thinking." The Journal of Creative Behavior 3.3 (1969): 159-171.

Concept Generation

1. Research insights revealed that general sentiment was that art and engineering were completely divorced. If art students were going to feel welcome & confident upon entry into the design studio, a makerspace inside an engineering university, the workshop would have to break down the walls imposed between the art & engineering.

 

2.  The course should meet the primary goal of my client- teach the students lateral thinking - that is, practical methods towards coming up with many creative ideas. 

Art students can become members & have access to fabrication technology easily. For this workshop, it was imperative we share another one of the studio's offering- human centered design thinking. However, whereas the products & devices created by engineers have specific design objectives within the design process- the very nature of the artistic process involved not having a set destination in mind. 

3. The course should introduce students to design thinking while respecting the freedom inherent within the artistic process. 

Towards synthesizing these, I compiled methods, mindsets and cognitive strategies applied by educators in the three realms the course would embody - art thinking (centering student background) , lateral thinking (desired outcome) and design thinking (makerspace strength) . 

ART THINKING*

Cognitive Strategies

Metacognition

Prolonged Research

Creating resource banks of information 

Problem creating

Delayed Closure

Reflection

Thematic Coherence

Mindsets

Emotional Engagement

Tolerance of Ambiguity

Intuition

*Jacobs, Jessica. "Intersections in design thinking and art thinking: Towards interdisciplinary innovation." Creativity. Theories–Research-Applications 5.1 (2018): 4-25.

LATERAL THINKING*

Characteristics

Perceptual Thinking

Comfort with being wrong

Chance

Techniques

Awareness

Use of random stimulation

Generate alternatives

Alteration

*De Bono, Edward. "Information processing and new ideas—lateral and vertical thinking." The Journal of Creative Behavior 3.3 (1969): 159-171.

DESIGN THINKING*

Methods

Research

Problem definition

Brainstorming

Prototype

Test 

Iterate

Deploy

Mindsets

Creative Confidence

Empathy

Embrace ambiguity

Iterate

*The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design: Design Kit. , 2015. 

Combined, common themes began to emerge across the three fields.  

EMOTION

Emotional Engagement

Intuition

Awareness

Empathy

DATA COLLECTION

Prolonged Research

Resource banks

Research

CHANGING AFTER FEEDBACK

Delayed Closure

Reflection

Alteration

Test, iterate

Tolerance of ambiguity Comfort with being wrong

Creative Confidence

Prototyping

Problem creating

Generate alternatives

Brainstorm

Use of random stimulation

GENERATIVE PROCESSES

BUILD FIRST!

ART, LATERAL & DESIGN THINKING

Given this information, I circled back to the NAFASI Academy artist educator for feedback. He mentioned two notes: 

1. It was essential to include engineering students into the course as well. 

2. Most art is generated from emotion. Our workshop should mirror those needs. 

I incorporated this feedback into the design of the final course.

Course outline

Workshop Objectives:

  1. Introduce NAFASI Academy Students to makerspace model.

  2. Explore intersections of engineering and art.

  3. Demonstrate function and use cases of emergent technology.

  4. Understand human-centered design thinking process.

  5. Create physical exploration of human emotion using design thinking methodologies, lateral thinking cognitive strategies and makerspace rapid prototyping resources.

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The course comprised of two sections: 

1. Art and Engineering Discussion session - here students would explore the intersection of the two by sharing their own conceptions of the gap, discussing how the two were distinct & seeing how artists leverage engineering methods in various ways within their work. 

2. Design Thinking for Artists Workshop - based on the d.school's Design Thinking in One Hour handout, this session was aimed at having students understand and use design thinking & lateral thinking methods. As there isn't always a 'goal' in art creation, students were tasked to use these methods to create a physical embodiment of a human emotion.

 

Please click the images below for course resources.  

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Course in Action

Reflection