"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 boarders and disciplines.
Such traces sit at the intersection of design and user experience. Rather than predicting object or environment interaction or navigation, we will search out 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 latent needs of those that use/experience them, and that create an emotional connection with us as human beings. How 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. After the first three weeks, the studio will spend five weeks engaged in activities that model the 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 contribute to your strategic thinking, and notions of sustainability, empathy, and understanding of what constitutes creative success.
Suggested readings, resources and preparatory activities
- Ted Hulme, What Can We Learn From Shortcuts?
- Anthea Hamilton – The Squash, Tate Britain, London, until 8 October 2018
- Beazley Designs of the Year 2018, Design Museum, London, 12 September 2018 – 6 January 2019
- The London Design Festival 2018, Various events, various venues, London, 15 – 23 September 2018
- Emotional States, The London Design Biennale 2018, Somerset House, London, 4 – 23 September
- London Nights, Museum of London, 11 May – 11 November
- Moor, R, Tracing (and erasing) New York’s Lines of Desire, The New Yorker
- Ballard, S, Z Joyce, L Muller, 'FCJ-20’, in: Networked Utopias (Issue 20, p.6)
- Surowiecki, J, The Wisdom of Crowds (Doubleday, 2004)
- Benz, P, Experience Design, (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014)
- Batra, R, C, Seifert, D, Brei (eds), The psychology of design: creating consumer appeal (Routledge, 2016)
- Bachelard, Gaston, The Poetics of Space, (Beacon Press, 1992)
- 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)
- 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)
- Simmel, Georg, The Metropolis and Mental Life 1903, Blackwell Publishing
Studio 01: Imperfect Theories
Things can lead to theories. They can point to a way of seeing artefacts or objects that is more significant than the thing itself.
Studio 02: Narrative, Storytelling and Time
This studio focus on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We particularly focus on time in narrative, and the studio undertakes a brief aesthetics of time and thinks about how art and culture has imagined time.
Studio 03: Memento
The Memento research studio employs a critical, layered and multi-disciplinary approach to the problems around memory and society.
Studio 04: Knowing Audiences
In this studio we will be thinking about audiences, how they can be understood, theorised and researched.
Studio 05: Small Encounters
Emma Davenport and Gina Pierce
Textiles present exciting material and theoretical opportunities for us to think through our practice, to make sense of the world around us in the past, present and future.
Studio 06: 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 07: Meaningful Work
"The aim of art is to destroy the curse of labour by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy the hope of producing something worth the exercise." William Morris
Studio 08: The Liminal
This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.
Studio 09: The Form of the Text
Studio 9 encourages you to approach the dissertation as a crafted textual project. Through workshops and seminars we will consider some of the elements and activities of which the dissertation is comprised, and look at innovative and exciting ways to work with the form of the text, and the act of building it.
Studio 10: Science Fiction Futurity
The utopia of technology never quite arrived. In the 1960s, you often hear, we were promised flying cars, space settlements, robot butlers and the end of work. But then, curiously, the horizon of futurity diminished.
Studio 11: Commonism
Commonism – with an o in the middle – explores how political activism, participatory design processes, interventionism, collective action and shared authorship are transforming the world of art, architecture and design.
Studio 12: 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 13: Data Stories
Dissertations produced in this studio will be informed by critical research into how data is collected and then used as raw material with which to make or mediate architecture, design and art work.
Studio 14: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture, and Liberation through Music and Performance
This interdisciplinary studio reflects the widening of music and film studies in the last thirty years to include popular music, and popular culture linking art, music, film, advertising, social issues and minority struggles for liberation.
Studio 15: London Walking
Walking as a mode of art practice has its roots in the Dada and Situationist movements of the early twentieth century, with significant developments during the conceptual ‘turn’ of the 1960s.
Studio 16: 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.