UVA Arts, University of Virginia

Vol 09 Winter 18 Library
Rae Swain
School of Architecture

[Design + Make] Workshops

Last summer, a group of high school students experienced the design process first-hand and explored what it means to be a maker when the UVA School of Architecture kicked off a series of [Design + Make] Workshops with a creative look at a common household item. Design + Make: The Art of the Spoon invited students to engage in a concept-to-production workflow, utilizing both digital and hand making tools, in order to design and craft a bespoke spoon over the course of a one-day workshop. The event was taught by Melissa Goldman, FABLAB Manager & Kyle Sturgeon, Assistant Dean and Lecturer at the School of Architecture. With backgrounds in architecture and extensive expertise in fabrication, they, along with current UVA students, helped participants craft novel, functional, and beautiful hand-held objects. To kick off the workshop, each student developed a custom design iteration of a spoon which was articulated through hand sketches and digital modeling software. As students engaged the design process, translating formal concepts into both analog and digital representational techniques, they learned how design evolves through each unique method of visualization. Emphasis was also placed on iterations, giving participants a chance to experiment and test multiple design ideas. 

Student working in UVA School of Architecture FABLAB
(Photo: Rae Swain)

In the School of Architecture’s FABLAB, students were provided safety training for both digital and hand-crafting processes. As participants’ designs were translated within digital modeling software (Rhino) into CNC cut files, they witnessed the rapid prototyping process first hand, often for the first time. Each student then refined their creations through sanding and finishing with hand tools. Participants of the [Design + Make] workshop left with a better understanding of how the design process, even for a simple everyday object like a spoon, is an iterative series of translations between hand and digital media. Reflecting on teaching the workshop and others like it, Assistant Dean Kyle Sturgeon remarked, “This is always such a great experience. When we demystify the design process, high school students become empowered to more readily engage their own creative skills and to realize original design ideas. You can really see them learning through making.” With the success of the summer workshop, the School of Architecture has continued this initiative through subsequent workshops on designing and making.

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