Designing for the Divide was a national event we conceived that brought designers from across the country (and beyond) to meet with members of the community to see how design methods have helped positive collaborative work get done. It was born from frustration of watching our Congress in a stalemate, among other divides.
One hundred and fifty people attended the event (the schedule of which can still
be seen at
www.designingforthedivide.org). It was to launch us into the world of designing
for social change. We have since partnered in other conferences, such as The Building
Conference and Expo described on the home page. One of the keynote
speakers, Yossi Lemel, a famous international poster artist working for social justice,
was commissioned to design a 70×100cm poster for the event, that was signed and given
to each attendee.
He was also one of the jurors for the international call for posters show that was
part of the conference. Cultivate Compassion, by one of our seniors, Halley Kurtz,
was selected for this show. Our ceramics department was brought in
to create mugs for the conference as part of the green mission to eliminate waste
from paper coffee cups.
To encourage fun and demonstrate design thinking, we also wore “divide” t-shirts
which had been split and re-sewn and zipped together with different colors. You
could demonstrate how “divided” or not you were, by where the talon landed. The
sophomore class also created giveaway buttons about the various issues that divide
us, as icebreakers. You could see with whom you agreed, perhaps surprisingly.
Other events we have generated have been Arti
licious, an event for high school students and parents to explore careers in art
and design. It featured a life-size trivia game with a 3 ft die. We also created
pARTicipate, an event and show that asked art students from all disciplines to
make work about the stereotypes in West Virginia, and what should be done about
them if true, how to dispel them if false. Results were captured in a book/catalogue.
WVU CERAMICS DEPARTMENT MADE 150 MUGS FOR ATTENDEES
FREE BUTTONS WERE AVAILABLE AT REGISTRATION
For us, the process of designing a conference began with analyzing all of the conferences we had ever attended and picking up the things we liked, changing the things that diminished the experience, then adding features we would like to have seen. Our goal was to make it involve all of the attendees from disparate backgrounds and to create workshop experiences after listening to inspiring ideas. We wanted people to take home usable information and energy. Then it was about endless phone calls, meetings, and emails to organize it all and design the artifacts needed. We involved many students.
YOSSI LEMEL, FROM ISRAEL, DESIGNED THE CONFERENCE POSTER GIVEAWAY
HALLEY KURTZ, POSTER FROM JURIED DESIGN FOR THE DIVIDE SHOW
ALL STUDENT GUIDES WORE THESE SHIRTS