"Design needs to be plugged into human behaviour. Design dissolves in behaviour."
Desire Paths may be visible as traces of use or wear that signpost preferred methods of interaction, be that with object or environment (including the body). The implicit claim is that they represent an unbiased indication of our authentic response and suggest frequency of real world engagement. They show up as patterns and deviations, experienced in all aspects of our daily lives and have the capacity to affect and shape our ideas. They are seen in diverse contexts such as landscaping, urban planning, user interfaces in technology and in the ways in which we respond to the objects we wear and use. They make explicit our desires for speed, ease, comfort, novelty and beauty.
Though a concept born in the physical world, Desire Paths may also be interpreted as metaphor for anarchism, viewed as evidence of deviation, an "inability or unwillingness to do what we’re told" (Moor) or a "record of collective disobedience" (Ballard). They may be an inherent or learned aspect of individual creativity, or emerge through "the wisdom of crowds" (Surowiecki, 2004) and have the capacity to express essential values beyond borders and disciplines.
Such traces sit at the intersection of design and user experience. Rather than predicting object, environmentor interface interaction or navigation, we will search for evidence of desire paths, exploring implications and opportunities. From a ‘me’ to ‘we’ focus, the aim is to support a practice to produce experiences that serve, empower and enchant through audience encounters, outcomes that resonate with the needs of those that use/experience them, and that create an emotional connection with us as human beings. Could this approach contribute to your creative practice?
Paths of Desire is for those seeking to explore their practice methodology and/or grow audience desire for their work. The Studio will spend the seminar weeks engaged in activities that model the research and development of a dissertation, before moving into individual tutorials. You will experience each other as a valuable resource in testing and confirming authentic areas of interest, and in developing the confidence to identify and set up key primary research experiences. Through readings, short pieces of writing, talks, exhibition and site visits, and the sharing of individual ideas and research findings, this studio aims to explore what is most important to you, contributing to your strategic thinking, a more sustainable practice, your capacity for empathy and creative success in the process.
Suggested readings, resources and preparatory activities
Over the Summer – visit, read, view:
- Ideas in Motion: Borders, Bodies and the Universe, Tate Modern, London, 11 to 16 June 2019
- The London Design Festival 2019, Designed by Junya Ishigami, 21 June to 6 October 2019
- Serpentine Pavilion 2019, Designed by Junya Ishigami, 21 June to 6 October 2019
- Simmel, Georg, The Metropolis and Mental Life 1903, Essay, Blackwell Publishing (PDF)
- What Can We Learn From Shortcuts? Ted Hume, TED Talk, 2016
During the year:
- Beazley Designs of the Year 2019, Design Museum, London, September 2019 to January 2020
- Olafur Eliasson – In Real Life Tate, London, July 11 2019 to 5 January 2020
- Tim Walker – An immersive journey into fantastical worlds, V&A, London, opens 21 September 2019
- 24/7 – A major exhibition exploring the non-stop nature of modern lives, Somerset House, London, 31 October 2019 to 1 March 2020
- Ballard, S, Z Joyce, L Muller, 'FCJ-20’, in: Networked Utopias (Issue 20, p.6)
- Batra, R, C, Seifert, D, Brei (eds), The psychology of design: creating consumer appeal (Routledge, 20
- Benz, P, Experience Design, (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014)
- Chapman, Jonathan, Emotionally Durable Design: Objects, Experiences, and Empathy, (London: Earthscan, 2005)
- Ingold, T, Making: anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture (London: Routledge, 2013)
- Irvine, William B, On Desire: Why We Want What We Want, (Oxford University Press, 2006)
- Moor, R, Tracing (and erasing) New York’s Lines of Desire, The New Yorker (20 February, 2017)
- Norman, Donald A, Living with Complexity, (MIT Press, 2011)
- Papanek, Victor, Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, (Thames and Hudson, 1985)
- Pezeu-Massabuau, Jacques, A Philosophy of Discomfort, (Reaktion Books, 2012)
- Rose, David, Enchanted Objects: Innovation, Design, and the Future of Technology (2014)
- Schroeder, Timothy, Three Faces of Desire, (Oxford University Press, 2004)
- Schwartzman, Madeline, See Yourself Sensing: Redefining Human Perception (London: Black Dog Pub, 2011)
- Surowiecki, J, The Wisdom of Crowds (Doubleday, 2004)
Studio 01: ideas in places
This studio prescribes a direct treatment of place, whether subjective or objective.
Studio 02: Narrative and Storytelling
This studio focuses on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We will particularly consider how narrative intersects with, and informs, identity.
Studio 03: The Conquest of Joy
This studio encourages dialogues around the cultural production at a time when narratives founded on certainty have ceased to make sense.
Studio 04: Bullshit, propaganda and post-truth
This studio will look at the emergence of the notion of ‘post truth’ and explore links between other ideas around propaganda and Harry Frankfurt’s argument about ‘bullshit’. We will consider the usefulness of these ideas, and how they can be explored in creative practice.
Studio 05: Meaningful Work
This studio will consider the value of making -in itself, independent of the product or outcome, exploring the idea of craft as meaningful work.
Studio 06: Writing Rough
What are the outer limits of the essay? Write on the edge of the possible in a rich, researched and evidenced discussion which creatively explores the expanded field of the essay.
Studio 07: Thinking with Ruins
This studio pays heed to these cultural forms and persuasions but asks, how might we productively think with ruins in the present?
Studio 08: The things you can tell just by looking (or, Oriented Writing)
Writing tells us who we are and how each of us thinks and interprets the world.
Studio 09: Le Marteau Sans Maître
Digging through the deepest layers of archaeological time, André Leroi-Gourhan (La geste et la parole, 1964) concluded that for millions of years, human culture and technology evolved without complex language, rational planning or abstract ‘thinking at a distance’.
Studio 10: Globalism
For good or ill, we live in a global world. Whilst this may appear to be obvious, globalism is only a relatively recent term as is the phenomenon itself. What do we mean by this? How did we arrive in this place?
Studio 11: Performative Acts: Art, Architecture and Writing
Nico de Oliveira
In the last decade or so we have moved from objects to subjects or audiences. In parallel, the word performative has been adapted from a theoretical term to a key rubric within the discourse of contemporary art, architecture and beyond.
Studio 12: Decay, Repair and Back Again
Things break down and decay. In this studio you will experiment repair as strategy to negotiate breakdown, and you will practice mining patina and weathering for information and stories.
Studio 13: ‘If I stay silent nothing will change’: Identity, Politics, Social Change and Creative Culture(s)
This cross-disciplinary studio considers how power, culture, politics, identity, representation, activism, social media, and mass culture theory intersect with a range of arts practices, including photography, architecture, design and fine art, film studies, fashion and music, sound, pop art, and theatre.
Studio 14: A Material World
As the title suggests, this Studio will be based on the processes that are intrinsic to the design and making of textiles, however it will also be looking at the materiality of these textiles as objects.
Studio 15: Souvenir
This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts.