Born in a moment of crisis and criticism towards contemporary arts and design education curriculum in the UK, design discussions started as a self-organised series of seminars between a small group of disgruntled third year bachelors design students studying in London. This project sits at the intersection of research into alternative approaches to learning in non-institutional environments, and the experimentation of different working methods for collective or collaborative knowledge communities.
The purpose of the project was to establish a student-led space to address the obvious gaps institutional curricula had left in our education, and have the possibility to enrich our student experience by learning from each other and with each other. The combination of casual and focused dialogue allowed the group to become more and more capable to think and act collectively, to understand the value of horizontal collaboration and of sharing. The project continued past the group’s BA graduation, resulting in a workshop in France in 2016, one in Italy in 2019, and the re-establishment of this model in 2020, with a student group in Lund, Sweden.
The relationship informality and spontaneity have with processes of learning was deeply explored and experimented with throughout the different iterations of the project. This went from the early understanding of physical space as an influential factor in discussions, to the organisation of co-living situations in which learning, thinking, and doing continuously overlapped, to the significance provided by natural and isolated environments for collective intellectual activity, to the active interfacing with other formal learning spaces and methods in processes of renovation.
Overall, the dialogical and conversational approach remained a constant throughout the 5 years, and was fine-tuned to become an increasingly effective tool for collective learning and designing.