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Architecture, design students make water videos in 'Blitz'

Friday, September 13, 2013

LAWRENCE — Over Labor Day weekend 38 students from the departments of Architecture and Design produced videos on the subject of water, part of an intensive design workshop.

The event was a "48 Hour Blitz,” facilitated by designer and entrepreneur John Bielenberg. He runs an organization called Future Partners and had given a Hallmark Design Symposium lecture.

The idea of a blitz is to teach participants rapid-cycle design techniques, leadership practices and to raise social consciousness. Bielenberg’s workshops take an imaginative approach to helping participants make the world a better place. He tries to get students to discard convention and to jump what he calls the innovation gap. He challenges them “be bold, get out, think wrong, make stuff, bet small and move fast.”

The students went out into the Lawrence community and asked people questions about water. After working through exercises designed to help them “think wrong,” the interdepartmental teams worked day and night producing 48-second videos that expressed their ideas Their only directive was to “make it legendary.”

“The timing of the workshop was perfect,” said Shannon Criss, associate professor of architecture. “Coming at the start of the semester, it ignited some useful approaches that we can incorporate in our studios.”

Work in the professional world is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary, and faculty in different departments the School of Architecture, Design and Planning have made it a goal to provide opportunities for their students to work together. “Part of the purpose of putting students from different departments into interdisciplinary groups was get them into a completely different design environment. Collaboration instead of competition,” said design professor Lance Rake.

 “Architecture and Design students bring different but complementary knowledge and points of view, said Andrea Herstowski, associate professor and interim chair of the Design Department. “Getting them to work together can produce amazing results.” 

“This project was rewarding because we came up with a fun solution in an unorthodox manner, and more importantly, a solution we were proud of,” Taylor Stelter, Olathe, who is studying industrial design.

Students were also extremely enthusiastic about the outcome. “It was enjoyable and rewarding to work with people from various disciplines, as everyone had something unique to contribute,” adds Clair Pederson, Seattle. She is studying visual communications in the Design Department.

John Bielenberg was recently awarded the American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal for his innovative investigations into the practice and understanding of design, and leadership in the “design for good” movement.

The videos produced by the students during the blitz can be viewed here.

Bielenberg’s Future Partners website is here.