Resilience Narratives: Shifting imperatives of material-making during times of crisis

This paper reflects on acts of resilience that have catalysed a radical rethinking of the future of material-making in design curricula.

Finding new ways to socially reconnect is imperative for educators and students working from home during COVID-19 lockdowns. Material-making courses have strong potential to nurture well-being and to re-build communities that have fractured with the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. Focusing on the Object Design disciplinary area in the Bachelor of Design at the School of Art & Design UNSW, the practice of making is introduced as a framework for re-building social engagement and well-being during times of crisis through strategies of resilience. Resilience is evident in the commitment by educators to overcome the significant hurdle to rapidly transition courses to online that are normally delivered in blended face-to-face and online modes. Adapting material-making courses to online learning environments shifts expectations regarding material use and craft skill. For design students in lockdown the resourceful use of alternative materials and processes including everyday items sourced from the home to create models, prototypes or artefacts demonstrates acts of resilience. The paper concludes that the designs produced by students during the lockdowns are emblematic of resilience narratives in which conceptual provocations that frame project briefs found new resonance when examined in the context of personal and collective trauma.

Key words: material-making, object design, resilience, craft, COVID-19 pandemic

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