Learn about design and help a local social enterprise

Design workshops: sharing perspectives and imagining Newbold House together

Do you live in or around Forres and would love to find out more about the world of design, while helping your local community?

One of our design research teams, called Leapfrog, are hopping….sorry… hoping, that you can come and join them for a design workshop which is going to help shape the future of social enterprise, Newbold House.

Women taking part in a Leapfrog workshop

A Leapfrog design workshop in action!

Leapfrog is a £1.2m three year Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project, which aims to transform public sector consultation through design. The project sees close creative collaboration with Highlands and Islands and Moray community partners to design and evaluate new approaches for better engagement.

In this case, the team plan to design a tool that will capture and share all the great ideas that come from people who are interested in different aspects of the Newbold Trust.

Leapfrog PhD researcher, Mirian Calvo tells us a little more:

“The tool aims to inspire great new ideas and share them with the intention of engaging with people towards the refurbishment of Newbold House, alongside advice on how this can make a meaningful contribution to the local community.

“For the tool to be a success, we need the the knowledge and experience of the local community, so we are looking for willing participants to join us for these exciting co-design workshops.

“We don’t exactly know what will go into the tool, only that it will be creative, sharable and all the content will be designed by people who potentially could benefit from the future services and facilities of Newbold House.

Leapfrog research activity

Designing design tools: get creative, learn about design…and help your local community!

Are you interested? If so, Mirian would love to hear from you. To book a place please email her: [email protected]

Leapfrog is a collaboration between ImaginationLancaster at Lancaster University, and The Innovation School at The Glasgow School of Art. The team make all the tools, which are free to use and can be fond on the Leapfrog website.

 


GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus: An experience to never forget


International students wowed by the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus

The summer holidays may be in full swing but the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus keeps busy with many visitors and activities.

We regularly host students and faculty from all over the world. Our location on the Altyre Estate outside Forres gives us an ideal opportunity to showcase life and work in the Highlands and Islands and Moray to a global audience who are interested in the region for research and study. 

Last week was no exception with some very special guests. Ten undergraduates from the US came to the campus as part of the prestigious Fulbright Programme.

Fulbright students outside GSA Highlands and Islands

Fulbright students outside GSA Highlands and Islands

The Fulbright Scotland Summer Institute on Technology, Innovation and Creativity is a three-week cultural and academic programme for US students, hosted by the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde. As part of the programme, students explore Scotland’s culture, history and creative and technological industries. As our campus has only recently opened, this was the first time the we have hosted the cohort here.

If you’d like a sneak peak of the day, GSA product design student and intern at the campus, Sean Fegan has produced a video of the day to give you a flavour of what happened…

GSA Highlands and Islands – Fulbright students’ visit from The Glasgow School of Art on Vimeo.

The students took part in seminars in key GSA Design Innovation projects including digital health in rural economies and water and textile interdependency in the circular economy. So what exactly does that mean? 

GSA’s Dr Paul Smith hosted a workshop in the sunshine and explains:

“We spent a really great morning exploring the circular economy in textiles with some exceptionally bright students here on the scholarship. Circular economy is a significant step towards addressing the complexities of a more sustainable future, and the ten undergraduates showed real enthusiasm and intelligence with the task we set them. 

We asked them to work in teams to deconstruct the whole product ecology of a familiar textiles product and then reimagine it in a more circular material future. They looked at the origins of materials, the manufacturing processes, distribution and post use. They scrutinised the whole products life and then came up with some amazing sustainable alternatives. It was an inspiring and very illuminating time.”

20 year old Carly McCarthy, a student of Science, Technology and Society at Butler University in Indianapolis and 19-year old Jacob Easley, a Mechanical Engineering student from Mississippi State University with the outcome of their design workshop at the GSA's Highlands and Islands campus

20 year old Carly McCarthy, a student of Science, Technology and Society at Butler University in Indianapolis and 19-year old Jacob Easley, a Mechanical Engineering student from Mississippi State University with the outcome of their design workshop at the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus

19 year old Jacob Easley, a Mechanical Engineering student from Mississippi State University said: “Going to the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus was an experience I’ll never forget. Even during the short time I was there I was pushed to expand my thinking of what design really is.”

You can find out more information about the Fulbright Programme, or check out GSA’s press release about the visit.

And if that’s whetted your appetite to find out more about the campus then please visit our online pages.


In pictures: Design Innovation students unveil their projects in Moray


Return of the Winter School projects

The spirit of Winter School returned to the GSA’s Highlands and Islands Creative Campus this week with. Glasgow-based MDES Design Innovation students travelled north to join their Forres counterparts for a special session to present the outcomes of their group projects.

The projects started at Winter School in January when teams of students worked with community groups and businesses from the Moray area to explore the theme of Innovation from Tradition. You can read more about Winter School and what happened in our blogs from the event, or watch the film here.

The local organisations were invited back to the campus this week to see the outcomes, give their feedback and discuss how the findings could be used in the future. The event on Tuesday involved presentations from 12 groups, covering subjects including arts, music, food and drink and the third sector.

There was also an exhibition of the project summaries, which were exhibited in the GSA’s Reid Building last month.

Presentation audience

The audience at the MDES student presentations at GSA Highlands and Islands. Image credit: Paul Campbell

Forres-based MDES group with community organisations

The Forres-based MDES students with Jackie Mclaren, of tsiMORAY (third from left) and Debbie Heron, of FACT (third from right). Image credit: Paul Campbell

Projects proposed included immersive visitor experiences at Knockando Woolmill; a service to match volunteers with suitable experiences, a whisky subscription box and a festival to encourage more civic participation.

The community and business organisations were impressed to hear the progress that the students had made.

Knockando Woolmill student group

Julie Schack Petersen and Junyuan Chen with Emma Nicolson, Marketing and Merchandising Manager at Knockando Woolmill (centre). Image credit: Paul Campbell

Students presenting Johnstons of Elgin project

Puja Parekh and Andrea Farias present their project, Re-imagining Johnstons of Elgin. Image credit: Paul Campbell

Now the students are in the final stage of their programmes: their final solo project. Their work will continue throughout the summer, culminating in their projects being shown at Graduate Degree Show on 1-8 September.

To find out more about studying Design Innovation, visit our Teaching pages.

Student project summaries on display

Project summaries on display at GSA Highlands and Islands. Image credit: Paul Campbell


Bridging the volunteer gap


An update on the Forres students’ project

Our pioneering MDES Design Innovation students in Forres have reached another milestone in their studies – completion and presentation of their Stage 2 project.

This is the project that has its roots in Winter School, when Masters students from GSA worked with local businesses and community organisations.

The students worked to a research question of: “How can volunteering act as a two-way bridge between Syrian New Scots and the Forres community?”. They then engaged in an immersive research and design development phase with local groups. During this time the focus shifted from refugees themselves to volunteering practices in Moray.

You can read about the earlier stages of the project in our previous blog, Life at the Creative Campus: the teaching studio.

During their research activity, the students identified that the number of organisations in Scotland that rely on volunteers has rapidly increased and it is not uncommon for job seekers to find themselves being “voluntold”, i.e. forced to take a volunteering placement in order to receive their benefit package.

MDES volunteering

The Forres MDES students do some volunteering.

The students identified that this is in opposition to the very ethos of volunteering and that having not freely elected to volunteer, voluntolds are difficult to place. This creates challenges across recruitment, engagement and retention.

Addressing the challenge

To address this challenge, the students proposed a series of design concepts before finally refining their idea. Here one of the students, Finn describes their proposal in more detail:

“Bridge was designed to meet the challenges of ‘voluntelling’ as experienced by Scotland’s third sector. 

“Bridge is a service for connecting volunteers and volunteer organisations, through mini-experiences: short taster sessions offered by an organisation. It uses digital moodboards, an emotive collage of volunteer’s skills and interests or of an organisation’s experiences and values, to create an audial and visual profile. This profile can then be used to match or recommend mini-experiences based upon personal preferences, creating the opportunity for people to make an informed choice about which organisations they would like to work with and bringing freedom back to Scotland’s voluntary sector. 

“Volunteers placed within a context that they identify with and enjoy are more likely to make a valuable and sustainable contribution. Similarly, reducing the challenge of recruitment and retention of suitable volunteers could potentially have been both financial and time-saving impacts for organisations. 

“Bridge has an easy-to-use interface and can be downloaded as an app or used at pop-up events. As volunteers build up their portfolio of ‘mini-experiences’, this contributes to their work experience profile and can support them in future job-seeking.”

Communicating a concept is an important design skill and the students worked hard to refine their project into a clear and articulate message that was presented to the wider teaching and academic cohort at GSA’s Creative Campus.

Next steps

It’s now hoped that the idea could be disseminated by Scotland’s Third Sector Interface Network.

In addition, the students have recently submitted their project process journals (PPJs), a reflective record of their individual personal journal through the project for final assessment. The PPJs document the highs and lows of design activity, including any thoughts, ideas and decisions made throughout the 12-week project and are an important part of the learning experience.

The students are now working towards further dissemination of Bridge: first, a group exhibition to be held in Glasgow on May 22 with their MDES counterparts in Glasgow, and a final presentation on June 6 that will welcome the businesses and community organisations back to see the final concepts that have been developed.

To find out more about our MDES programmes, visit our Teaching pages on our website.

MDES student presentation

The MDES students giving their presentation at GSA Highlands and Islands. Image credit: Jane Candlish


Why you should visit this Moray social enterprise


Join a new collaboration with the community on Saturday

In our recent blog about the Teaching Studio at the Creative Campus in the Highlands and Islands, we discussed how our students are beginning to form strong ties with the local community.

Collaboration with local businesses and organisations is a central aspect of the MDes Design Innovation programmes, and provides invaluable experience for the students’ future careers.

Now, an event on Saturday (April 15) shows how GSA’s design students and local citizens can work together. Moray Waste Busters is hosting a pop-up café at their premises near Forres from 10am-3pm.

Here Finn Fullarton-Pegg, studying Design Innovation and Transformation Design at the Creative Campus, tells the InDI blog more about the project.

Finn Fullarton-Pegg

“Moray Waste Busters (MWB) is a fascinating organisation to work with. Their business model takes used household and garden items, ensure their quality before resale, and pours the proceeds back into the local community: turning trash into social capital.

“MWB has plans to diversify their re-use/recycle operation to cover more than furniture and electrical equipment, as well as continuing to provide a fun day out for their customers.

“As part of a wider collaboration between InDI’s Fergus Fullarton Pegg and Waste Busters, I’ve spent the past two months working with some of the staff. Together we’ve been exploring their visions for Waste Busters’ future, and the role that design can play in bringing those visions to life.

“One common suggestion among staff has been to open a café in partnership with another local social enterprise, Ray’s Opportunities. This organisation has a similar ethos to MWB, providing disadvantaged adults with the opportunity to learn a trade in a community café.

“The possibility of opening a café at MWB raises important questions, including: ‘Will this add to, or detract from, the familiar Waste Busters experience?’ At this point, design practice urges us to be adventurous, to prototype early and discover the successes and failures of ideas quickly.

“So on Easter Saturday (April 15), Moray Waste Busters is teaming up with Ray’s Opportunities to host a pop-up café for the public.

“The two social enterprises are working together to combine the adventure of bargain hunting with Ray’s delicious coffee and cake.

“As well as promising to be a fun day out for everyone who comes down, the café is also intended as a platform for engaging the public in Waste Busters’ future plans.

“And it’s an opportunity for the staff at Waste Busters to experiment with what kind of cafe they would like to see on their site in the future. All the furnishings and adornments will be taken from the venture’s extensive store of secondhand items. None of us know what the café will end up looking like but I think we can expect something eclectic, kitsch and vintage.”

The event takes place at Moray Waste Busters on Saturday from 10am-3pm.

To find out more about our MDES programmes and how you can apply to study here from September, click here.

Moray Waste Busters pop-up cafe poster


Learning from Locality: an international residency


International residency programme visits the Creative Campus

Students from Belgium, France and Scotland came together in Findhorn and visited the GSA’s Highlands and Islands Creative Campus last week for a vibrant residency programme.

The GSA’s campus outside Forres has opened up new opportunities for staff and students to visit the area to research, work and study.

“We enjoyed the tranquillity of the GSA’s Highlands and Islands Creative Campus. It introduced us to other aspects of Scotland’s landscapes and environments,” explained Mark Luyten from Sint Lucas Antwerpen College of Art and Design.

Group of students and staff on residency on Findhorn Bay

Students and staff from the Locality II Residency visit Findhorn Bay. Image credit: Michael Mersinis

The residency, entitled Locality II, brought together postgraduate students from the areas of Fine Art and Design to discuss and respond to the theme of locality. Considering the Scottish landscape, its history and setting was central to the research. Students focussed on the importance of space and place in relation to their own work and that of the wider group.

The aim of Locality II was to ‘rupture the classical definition of specialism and to allow collaboration between different specialisms, schools and countries’. Students joined the residency programme from three schools across Europe: The GSA, École européenne supérieure d’art de Bretagne (EESAB) in Quimper, France and Sint Lucas Antwerpen College of Art and Design.

“We visited Forres and were shown around the Creative Campus staying for the afternoon where we all enjoyed student presentations,” explains Eimer Birkbeck from EESAB.

Learning in locality

Residency organisers chose the Forres location as an ‘ideal platform’ to explore the north of Scotland and immerse students in diverse aspects of locality. As well as time on campus, the students visited Culloden Battlefield, the Sueno’s Stone, the Falconer Museum in Forres and Findhorn village where the group stayed for the week. 

Small cottage nestled amongst trees and a field

Grounds around the campus: an inspiring location for artists and designers. Image credit: Paul Campbell

 Students considered themes including:

– Inhabited land
– The weather as a mechanism of forming the land
– The use of land within agriculture
– History of the natural landscape

“The opportunity to be displaced and placed again within a land that has its own rhythm and rules was a great privilege. There are certain qualities in the Scottish landscape that are truly unique. This particular sense of place permeated our thoughts and actions during the residency”.
Michael Mersinis, The Glasgow School of Art

The residency was the second part of a three year project, with the first part having taken place in Le Guilvinec in France and the third part taking place in Antwerp in Belgium.

What next?

For more information on Locality II please contact the GSA’s Michael Mersinis, Lecturer in Fine Art Photography, [email protected] or Thomas Greenough, Head of International Academic Development, [email protected].

Find out more about The Glasgow School of Art’s Highlands and Islands Creative Campus.

*Featured image of Findhorn sunset by Oliver Pilcher


Another chance to Re-Mantle and Make

InDI researchers are offering another opportunity to take part in the Re-Mantle and Make project.

Designers are invited to sign up for the second Re-Make-A-Thon, this time at the GSA’s new Highlands and Islands Creative Campus in Forres.

The project is a six-month feasibility study into researching the potential for developing a circular economy within the textile manufacturing sector. In a circular economy, resources are used and re-used for as long as possible. Designers with an interest in these themes are particularly encouraged to join in.

Women with piles of material. Re-Mantle

Participants in the Re-Make-A-Thon get to grips with the materials. Image credit: Louise Mather

During the first Re-Make-A-Thon in Glasgow, textile designers from across Scotland were given a brief that asked them to transform surplus materials from local textile manufacturers into a prototype circular collar that could be worn with different garments.

They spent a day working on their designs, with some fascinating results. You can read more and see pictures from the day-long workshop on the Re-Mantle and Make website.

Now the team is preparing for their next session, which will take place at Blairs Steading, Altyre Estate, on Thursday February 2, from 9am-7pm.

If you are interested in taking part or would like more information, please contact Zoe Prosser, [email protected]

More information on Re-Mantle and Make is also available on our previous blog.

The Glasgow School of Art has secured funding for the study from the Royal College of Art, London, which is leading a larger project: Future Makespaces in Redistributed Manufacturing, a two-year research initiative funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This wider piece of work explores the role of maker spaces in redistributed manufacturing.

InDI’s work is in partnership with Kalopsia Collective – a micro-manufacturing unit based in Edinburgh, and MakLab Maker Space in Glasgow.

Presenting the designs at Re-Mantle and Make

One of the designers presenting their collar designs. Image credit: Louise Mather