Seminar Discussion Group 1


“I Stood Up” at Chrisp Street is a pop-up encounter that transforms an unused shop space into a one-day workshop place. A shop that is usually closed and empty – passers-by and neighbors were attracted by the pop-up aesthetic. They joined with genuine curiosity, finding pictures of nature/biodiversity taken in their own surroundings; they stumbled into workshops, which explored different elements of fashion (meanings, roles, values, procedures).

Through these activities, people disrupt their ordinary perception of the environment, and access new ones: by re-considering nature through pictures and conversations, they notice elements of unexpected interest and beauty; discovering new value in their natural surroundings that is usually both neglected and unseen, due to an aggressive urban deterioration of the area. They ultimately strengthen the connection with the ordinary context by seeing, appreciating, and understanding details through different eyes.

Moreover, this encounter valued the immediacy of the interaction. Participants wandering through the spaces created open conversations spontaneously woven around the self, nature, and the outside: offering people new chances to place their own self in the space and time of the changing neighbourhood, where they are usually alienated.

At the photo-booth, participants ‘testified’ their thoughts in exchange for an I Stood Up t-shirt (its design inspired by local natural elements) – a picture was taken of them wearing it before they take it away. This participative experience of fashion is a symbolic process of identity reconstruction: the t-shirt representing a building block for self-identity, as well as the icon of the relational identity with the locale and its community. Through fashion, identity becomes a value connected to the place where people belong. This encounter nurtures the relationship of citizens with their environment. It enhances and liberates chatting – the neutrality of the space allows people to talk about personal perception and feelings. It liberates interests and the content of conversations that may inspire them with new ideas of their own wellbeing rooted in local surroundings and ordinary time and space.

This encounter suggests some design specificity about the qualities of a place:

  • The neutrality of the space helps to create open access.
  • The aesthetic of the pop-up, (unfinished, not-polished), can be implicitly identified as opportunity for interaction, and have inspired more easily, participative feelings and the desire to explore.
  • The engagement creates appreciation of the experience.
  • It is possible that a too polished aesthetic would drive instead more consumerist and sterile attitudes.

The use of images in the exhibition leverages their possibility to represent or evoke symbolic, immaterial, multiple meanings that is indeed a skill of design – visual literacy. 

These elements of the visual aesthetic are traces of typical design attention to the context. This capability is resourceful: triggering the participants towards deeper self-placement and environmental understanding.

Weaving People and Places Seminar
Central Saint Martins, 1 July 2016

Seminar Discussion Group 10

1000 Coats

1000 Coats brings threads together from diverse communities to make a rich tapestry of global life with disparate and often isolated communities to a shared point of connection. Each person playing an intrinsic role in the making of the coats, skills exchange, learning and the rebuilding of communities. The project creates an intergenerational interest group that comes together at different points on their own journeys. Communities will merge and arise in a technologically evolving world to make something real and tangible. The work makes a statement for the arts generally about non-monetary exchange and is symbolic of a collective future.

Weaving People and Places Seminar
Central Saint Martins, 1 July 2016

Seminar Discussion Group 7

The Unlikeliness of us

At the very surface of things, our encounter could be seen as simply one between two individuals: a young arts student and an elder, engaging in a creative activity together over the course of a few months. Yet underneath the surface, it has been an encounter between worlds of experience, a sharing of personal histories and lessons of life, a translation between cultures and timeframes. Different communities – previously generally living alongside one another – built bridges, yet also existing ones were reinforced. This encounter took place within the context of a shared physical space, in formal and informal activities, leading to an exchange between and a discovery of the other and of oneself through the other.

Although it initially felt like a staged experiment in social interaction to some, participants soon came to realise that this type of experimentation can also be (re)framed as a simple, down-to-earth everyday activity.

Art – beautifully phrased by one of our participants as “a commitment to speculation” – fulfilled a humble role in framing our encounter, giving focus and a sense of direction. It helped to shape a space in which honesty, curiosity and trust between people could be grown, propelled forward by each individual’s commitment. More than art as an activity or the result thereof, the ‘encounter’ itself became a form of art to us.

Weaving People and Places Seminar
Central Saint Martins, 1 July 2016


The Home Community & Library: Tacit Knowledge and New Ways of Seeing

Alison Prendiville

The Home Community and Library project was delivered under the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded Public Collaboration Lab – a one year strategic research collaboration between London Borough of Camden, its citizens and the University of the Arts London (UAL).

This seven-month design for service project, undertaken by MDes Service Design students, applied a human-centred and highly participatory approach to understand the challenges faced by the current Home Library users; a service that currently delivers books to people who are homebound, most often the frail and elderly and those people with mental health issues.

Through the design ethnographic fieldwork, the students revealed the tacit knowledge, the hidden values and the fragility of the existing service and proposed a service concept that would magnify the relational values of the current system whilst also transforming it into a long-term joined up wellbeing and early intervention new service development.

By profiling interests, on a new digital platform based on the users reading material, DVD choices and audio material, the new service proposed a more entangled and connected network for current home library users to link up neighbours, family and other council services around their interests, to provide a soft touch approach to offering information, activities and practical interventions to sustain independent living.

Habit(at) – I Stood Up For (Bio)diversity at Chrisp Street

Dilys Williams and Renee Cuoco

Habit(AT) is a research project led by Professor Dilys Williams, which seeks to explore our habits of living through fashion’s actions, relationships and locations, framed in the context of the city. Invited to take part in the 2015 Being Human Festival, we explored ideas from Habit(AT) through a pop up exhibition in a disused shoe shop at Chrisp Street Market in Poplar, East London – I Stood Up for (Bio)diversity. The area surrounding Chrisp Street is one of the most densely populated in the UK, and it is classed as deficient in providing access to nature for its citizens. With this as a starting point we set out to explore the local community’s thoughts and ideas about nature and biodiversity, using fashion as a means to facilitate a dialogue.

Leading up to the event we took time to walk the local streets, noticing places where nature is conceived, made, acquired, cared for or retired. Photographing and mapping our journey, these findings became the foundation for our event. Working with the MA Fashion Futures course at London College of Fashion, we invited students to follow a similar process, to observe and capture how fashion is conceived, made, acquired, cared for and retired within the local community. We shared our noticing findings through an exhibition of work and a series of participatory design activities, developed from earlier work on the project (Corby, Williams et al 2015) with 140 people that came through the empty shoe store in the course of a day. We invited participants to talk about nature in their local community in exchange for an I Stood Up t-shirt, especially designed for the Chrisp Street locale, and we then took photographs of each participant wearing the t-shirt as a visual representation of the personal conversations captured throughout the day. Once collated, these images begin to weave together to form a spectacle of the community; chiming, diversifying, identifying them in time and place.

Millbank Stories

Shibboleth Shechter

‘Millbank Stories’ is a collaborative project between Millbank Creative Works (MCW), a community social enterprise based in the Millbank neighbourhood and students and staff of BA(Hons) Interior and Spatial Design (ISD), Chelsea College of Arts.

The project aims to progress establishing a creative local ecosystem in Millbank, with Chelsea College of Arts as ‘creative community anchor’ and to further the authors pedagogic inquiry, exploring what skills and tools designers need to enable, and to participate in community building processes and how these competences can be taught and learned within the curriculum.

‘Millbank Stories’ has three phases:

Collecting stories took place during October 2015. Students were asked to use creative approaches to compile local stories, to explore and understand the community- in- Millbank1Manzini, E. (2016) Communities in a Highly Connected World [online] Cultures of Resilience Available at: [Accessed 15 June 2016] and initiate dialogues and encounters with spaces and people, establishing nodes for communing2Ibid.

Sharing stories took place during November 2015 in the form of a ‘Storytelling Procession’, composed of ‘stalls on wheels’ constructed from locally found, sourced, recycled and up-cycled objects. It travelled around Millbank to share collected local stories. Design objects were used to physically connect community nodes, to draw people together, to overcome barriers and create new spaces of possibilities3Ibid , encounters and collaborations.

Plotting stories was launched in January 2016 at the first joint exhibition between staff and students of the college and Millbank residents. Students exhibited the procession structures and video recordings of the event. Millbank Creative Works showcased artisan collages by residents depicting the local area; a project sponsored by the local city council.

The show in the Cookhouse Gallery at Chelsea College of Arts, was co-curated by Sophie Pradere (a Chelsea graduate), MCW and ISD students, had around 400 visitors, including residents, councilors and the wider Chelsea College of Arts community. It made visual the emerging creative local ecosystem and was the first step towards plotting a long-term resilient, local creative eco-system.

References   [ + ]

1. Manzini, E. (2016) Communities in a Highly Connected World [online] Cultures of Resilience Available at: [Accessed 15 June 2016]
2. Ibid
3. Ibid

Lets Sort It Out (LSIO) and Calithorpe Living Lab

Jane Penty

Lets Sort It Out (LSiO) and Calthorpe Living Lab are two local community facing projects that year two students and staff on BA Product Design at Central Saint Martins (CSM) were involved in between January and June 2016. Both projects involved groups of eighteen students and adopted a Human Centred Design approach with varying levels of co-design and were located within the curriculum unit of ‘User behaviours and experiences’.

The first, LSiO, was a collaboration with Camden Council’s Environmental Services facilitated by the Public Collaboration Lab at CSM. The challenge put to the students was: are there design interventions that can help increase our residents’ engagement with recycling and decrease the cross-contamination of waste streams? Apart from the obvious environmental and social imperative, the Council pays £50/ton more for their non-recycled waste, so pragmatically in the context of public sector cuts, increasing recycling means more money for other services. The students worked with residents on two council estates, Chalcott, a high-rise estate and Kilburn Vale, a low-rise estate.

The second project was with the Calthorpe Living Lab, a pioneering urban closed-loop model acting as both an educational resource and an inspiration for it’s community users and visitors to reflect and act on issues around food, waste and sustainability. The Living Lab is fully integrated into the Calthorpe Project (Gray’s Inn Road) building on its thirty years as a local resource and oasis serving all ages and sectors of the community. Students were asked to use their design skills to create a clear message about the Living Lab’s closed-loop system and an engaging experience for visitors and regular user groups through all it’s physical touch points: the café, food growing areas and micro-anaerobic digester, to ensure a thriving and viable model of urban resilience.

1000 Coats

Whitney Mcveigh

1000 Coats is a performance and collaboration with London College of Fashion and a chosen charity that will involve a hundred women sewing ten coats each. The sewing of the coats will take place over several days in London. The simple patterns for the coats will be designed ahead of time and fabric cut and ready. The project will be set up as an installation and performance and will include women of all backgrounds and communities.

This is an idea that came to light after listening to Camilla Batmanghelidjh on the radio in 2013 saying “all we need is a thousand coats”. I wondered why a fashion house hadn’t come on board and other charities to produce a range of coats for children. A thousand coats will be made and at the end each coat will be embroidered with the words ‘human fabric’. The coats will then be given away and it would be both an act of service and a comment on the role of art and women’s lives. The work makes references to Lewis Hyde’s The Gift stating traditionally that art was gifted and not stagnant in a museum or institution.

Reciprocal Loops: Uncritical Care

Angela Hodgson-Teall and Juliet Smith

Presented by Glanith & Klenz Arts
London College of Communication, March 2016

Blind drawing (eyes closed) with another, making Mobius strips or loops with only one side; rhythms from a cello and poems from Baudelaire, form trust of a challenging but empathic kind. The performance made social sculptures (as collaborative drawing event and performance) inspired by healthcare staff from a hospital in South-East London, where I have done extensive research into the tandem arenas of art and medicine. The practice uses splenic palpation, double blind drawing and Caminhando (walking with scissors along a Mobius strip), interactions of a challenging but empathic nature.

Both the experiments within the healthcare environment and those within the art establishment show the importance of a family or team based approach to empathy, as people engaged with one another through the processes, the results suggested that drawing was useful. The staff of the Trust not only enjoyed taking part in the research but also appreciated the arts research community coming to the hospital, and the opportunity for shared learning to take place in both institutions.

The groups have grappled with the changes in the collaborative working structures of the hospitals and this practice and research was found to be valuable in showing a way forward and giving a small space to which staff belong.

Design thinking for prison industries

Lorraine Gamman, Adam Thorpe and Praveen Nahar

Design thinking for prison industries: exchanging design tools, methods and processes with prisons in London and Ahmedabad to build inmate resilience


Lorraine Gamman, UAL


Adam Thorpe, UAL


Praveen Nahar, NID

We believe that designing spaces inside and outside prison to foster development of the skills and mindset that ‘re-entry’ from prison back to wider society requires, is what is needed to address the problem of recidivism. Also that understanding people and place should be central to the conception and realization of strategies for releasing prisoners as ‘returning citizens’.

Funded by the Arts Humanities Research council, between 2014-16, our project aims to help break the cycle of recidivism by reframing prison industries as holistic ‘creative hubs’ that could better equip inmates to find employment opportunities on release. Delivered at HMP Thameside in the UK and Sabarmarti Jail in India, the project draws on design to address the gap that currently exists between ‘vocational’ and ‘educational’ approaches to increasing employability amongst prisoners.

Designers from Central Saint Martins in London and NID in Ahmedabad, have introduced ‘design-thinking’ to inmates in accessible and visual ways so that inmate learning can occur in pragmatic vocational contexts. Makeright – a label being created by inmates and DACRC in both cities – is exploring social enterprise as a way of sustaining these activities. The paper above explains our current thinking.